Hiroshima Travel Guide   広島

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View of the Dome of Hiroshima.

Lanterns memorial ceremony in Hiroshima

Lanterns memorial ceremony in Hiroshima.

Fireworks Hiroshima

Fireworks in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Okonomiyaki

Hiroshima okonomiyaki.

War and Peace

Hiroshima: what's in a name? Firstly, a trauma: the target of the first atomic bomb, when the atrocity of nuclear effects were first revealed to mankind. Secondly, an ideal: one of radical pacifism, and a constant reminder to the world of the true face of war. And finally, a unique atmosphere: a mixture of a tragic past and an unshakable faith in the future.

"Wide Island" is the literal meaning of the name "Hiroshima". The city was founded in 1589 on the largest island in the delta where Ota River meets the Seto Inland Sea. The medieval lord Mori Terumoto (1553-1625) established his castle to enjoy its advantageous location and proximity to the shrine on the island of Miyajima. The city took on a national importance at the dawning of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), when the rapid industrialization of the country turned Hiroshima into the logistical base of the Japanese Imperial Army.

On August 6, 1945, at a quarter past eight in the morning, both the city and world history  changed in a matter of seconds. The force of the explosion razed buildings and gardens, leaving only a charred plain. More than 250,000 people died in the fire or as a result of exposure to radiation.

"You saw nothing in Hiroshima"

This is the phrase repeated by the Japanese lover in Alain Resnais's 1959 film,  Hiroshima My Love. A poem of love and death, the movie illustrates the unspeakable, and reflects the crucial issue of memory facing the anxiety of forgetting. "You saw nothing in Hiroshima." The effects are invisible, cleared away by a hasty rebuilding. The only remnant, the remains of the dome in the Peace Park stand in silent pain. Despite the reluctance of the American and Chinese governments, the monument was listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco on December 5, 1996.

Maybe there there's nothing to see, but instead to feel. There is a confusing, tiny nagging feeling in the air. The shadow of past suffering can be seen in the smiles of old women, the trembling leaves of the surviving trees in Ikari Shrine. Yet in the face of despair, Hiroshima imposed its faith in the future. Martyr then miracle, this city saw the worst and best of mankind. Walking along the garden paths of Shukkei-en is sufficient to measure the magic of such a renaissance.