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Hiroshima Travel Guide

View of the Dome of Hiroshima.

Credit: DR

Lanterns memorial ceremony in Hiroshima.

Credit: DR

Fireworks in Hiroshima.

Credit: DR

Hiroshima okonomiyaki.

Credit: DR

Hiroshima, War and Peace

Hiroshima: What's in a name? Firstly, a trauma: that of the first atomic bomb and the atrocity of nuclear effects revealed to mankind. Secondly, an ideal: that of a radical pacifism and a constant reminder to the world of the true face of war. Finally, last but not least, a unique aura: a mixture of an unpleasant past and an unshakable faith in the future.

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

On August 6, 1945, at a quarter past eight in the morning, both world history and the city 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 the Park of Peace Memorial 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 is printed on the smile of those 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 Shukkei-en is sufficient to measure the magic of such a renaissance.