As a military family, we are given the opportunity to have travel experiences that most people only dream of. We have the privilege of living in some amazing places and countries. Our family felt very lucky to have the chance to PCS to Iwakuni, Japan in the summer of 2019. We knew it was going to be an adventure like no other, especially for our kids. The rich history and culture in Japan are beyond amazing and sometimes even overwhelming.
Living in Iwakuni, we were close to several large cities. The most notable city was Hiroshima, which is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Iwakuni. We visited Hiroshima quite often to shop and enjoy the delicious local cuisine. However, one day in the spring of 2021 we decided to take the train to Hiroshima and see parts of this beautiful city we had not yet had the chance to visit. We always knew we wanted to visit Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima-Peace Memorial Museum, and the Atomic Bomb Dome. The Peace Memorial Park was established after World War II, at the exact location where the atomic bomb detonated on August 6th, 1945. What we experienced is something that will be with us always.
With the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom (which were gorgeous), the first thing to catch our eyes was the skeletal remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome. It was the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall and one of the few buildings that were not completely destroyed when the atomic bomb hit. Seeing it in person stirred a lot of different emotions in me and my family. Learning the history of this dreadful day growing up never quite prepares you for viewing the destruction that the A-Bomb caused. Seeing the devastation in person and knowing that approximately 80,000 lives were lost on that day right near where you stood, takes your breath away. The Children’s Peace Monument was one of my favorite memorials, with thousands of colorful paper cranes encased in glass to protect them. The colors and beauty along with the stone, dome-shaped monument topped with a bronze statue of a young girl lifting a golden paper crane had us speechless. The paper cranes have been folded by children from all over the world and are sent to Hiroshima each year. I encourage you to read the history of this monument and how it honors Sadako Sasaki and her story. I have provided a link below where there is information on the Children’s Peace Memorial and how you can send paper cranes to honor the children who were injured or died during this very sad time in history.
The rest of our day was spent walking around the park reading the history of the various memorials and enjoying the cherry blossoms. As you look at the Cenotaph which contains the names of all the victims, you can see the Peace Flame which has been burning since 1964. Both align to show the A-Bomb Dome in the background. We were unable to tour the Peace Memorial Museum due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time.
Visiting Hiroshima was something we did often. However, experiencing all of the Atomic Bomb sites was something that we will always remember. History is not always an easy thing to look back at, but it was important for us to show our kids the importance of remembering and honoring the lives lost. The Japanese people are truly amazing and have created a sacred place to pay their respects to a day that will live in infamy.
Sending Paper Cranes: https://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/site/english/158105.html