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Hiroshima

It’s a byword for the Bomb, yet today Hiroshima is a centre for the peace movement that aims to ban it. Nearby Miyajima island offers a scenic side trip to this leafy, laid-back city on the Inland Sea.

Things to do:

Take a tram into the town centre and get off at Genbaku Dome – that’s ‘Atomic Bomb Dome’. Standing on the east bank of the river Kyuohotagawa, it’s now a Peace Memorial and World Heritage Site, one of the few commemorating horror. On August 6, 1945, it was just metres from the Enola Gay’s target: the Aioi Bridge. While the bridge has been rebuilt, the dome remains exactly as it was after the blast. Its smashed, concrete body and skeletal dome serve as a reminder of that day, yet at night the floodlit ruins possess a ghostly beauty. A short walk away in a backstreet you’ll find a silver plaquemarking Ground Zero. It was directly above this point that Little Boy exploded, almost impossible to believe when you look up into a bright blue sky – just as it was at 10 past eight that morning.

Other Genbaku sites include the musty basement of a kimono shop that made one man the closest survivor to the hypocentre. Today it’s known as the Rest House, and if you ask at the desk, they’ll let you go downstairs. It also serves as an information centre for visitors to the Peace Memorial Park.

Situated just downstream from the dome, this park now holds an annual ceremony on August 6 to honour the bomb’s victims. Attended by the Prime Minister, he lays a wreath at the cenotaph, itself aligned with the dome and Flame of Peace. There are many monuments and memorials here, its centrepiece being the museum. Here you will find an all-too gruesome display of items that withstood the blast: from body hair and bones to purses, glasses and clothes – most unforgettable: concrete steps from the entrance to a bank, the shadow of a man still there.

Going out:

Hiroshima’s leafy boulevards have good restaurants, bars and clubs. Our tip: take the ferry to Miyajima. This beautiful island boasts one of Japan’s most famous views: the great red gates of Itsukushima Shrine that seem to float in the sea. The island’s quiet streets are lamplit by night, its tame deer providing company as you find a place to eat.

Stay:

The Hiroshima Peace Hotel is 10 minutes by bus to the park. From £9pn.

 


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