The atomic bombings over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were the first incidents in recorded history of the use of nuclear warfare. The powerful blasts were immediately responsible for the deaths of thousands of military soldiers and civilians. Others who were not killed upon the impact of the bomb suffered residual illnesses and traumas. Due to the nature of the blasts, the areas surrounding the impacts caused radioactive damages to the soil, air, and natural environment. Some researchers have even suggested that these bombings are responsible for the formation of the hole in the ozone layer and climate change.
The city of Hiroshima was established as a port city and shipping center during the period of Japanese imperialism between 1871 and 1939. By 1894, the railway system in Japan had expanded, and the city became a base for the Japanese imperial military in addition serving as a burgeoning factory town as a result of the industrial revolution. The city has a longstanding military history, and during World War II, Hiroshima was an important location for military planning.
When the bomb hit, over 3,000 Japanese citizens, military and civilians, were instantly killed or fatally wounded. The city’s railway and road system was decimated. Reconstruction efforts began after the war in 1949 through the intervention of the Japanese government. A Memorial Park was constructed in the city featuring a steel monument known as the Peace Pagoda to honor those killed in the bombing. The mayor at the time dubbed Hiroshima the City of Peace, and as time progressed, the city began to host many international forums and conferences, garnering a new kind of attention.
Today, the city is a popular sight for international travelers wishing to learn more about Hiroshima’s role in World War II and the progress the country has made since the war’s conclusion. The climate is considered subtropical with hot summers and mild winters. June and July provide the most precipitation, and January is the coldest month of the year. Though the population of Hiroshima was significantly reduced after the atomic blasts, the city now has a population of over a million with more than another two million citizens living in the periphery. The city is accessible via airplane, train, and roadways.
Hiroshima Tourism and Cultural Events
Culturally, Hiroshima now sponsors many events of interest to locals and tourists. The city holds several festivals throughout the year, including a flower festival, the Toukasan Yukata Festival, the Ebisu Festival, and the memorial ceremony for the historic bombings. The most popular places to visit are the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which offers a thorough history of Japan before and after the nuclear attack. In addition, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and its accompanying Peace Pagoda are worth the visit. The city offers opportunities to view modern buildings in addition to preserved architecture that survived or that was restored after the bombing. Hiroshima also features shopping districts and many high quality restaurants that serve authentic Japanese cuisine.
Presently, Hiroshima now stands as a developed Japanese city, demonstrating its progress after recovering from the damages of World War II. As stated previously, the city itself is home to over a million people who take advantage of the city’s modern infrastructure, work in tall buildings, and even attend colleges and universities. The city is also welcomes many international workers, especially those involved in international trade.
Reconstruction efforts attempted to preserve certain buildings when they could be salvaged. For instance, the Urakami Cathedral, which only had one remaining wall after the atomic blasts, now stands fully rebuilt. Similarly, the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall was reconstructed and now features a famous museum called the A-Bomb Dome.
The city also features many parks and outdoor areas, using nature to beautify the city. Trees that survived the atomic bombings are now considered national monuments. Ginkgo Biloba is the main species of tree that is preserved. These trees are identifiable by small plaques that indicate that they have survived the bombing. Ginkgo Biloba trees can live for centuries, and in Hiroshima they are symbolic for their longevity. The official flower of Hiroshima is the oleander. This flower was selected because it was the first to bloom after the nuclear attack. The flower is regarded as a symbol of peace and natural beauty.
Is Visiting Hiroshima Safe?
Though the nuclear bombing had profound effects for the city and its people, Hiroshima is safe to visit today and free of radiation. Because the bomb that was dropped exploded in the air, radioactive material did not become deeply ingrained into the soil. As such, the city is safe to visit without placing one’s health at risk. Hiroshima has demonstrated significant recovery since the nuclear attack, and it is completely safe to stay there, eat the food, and visit many historic landmarks without jeopardizing one’s health.