Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
published 17 March 2022
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum exists as testament to past atrocities, an attempt to preserve the consequences of nuclear conflict, and offer motivation for prevention of similar future ones. To never forget the incidents in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to never encourage a similar event. Anywhere. For any reason.
An estimated 70,000 civilians were instantly killed from the blast, upwards of 140,000 ultimately perishing from the initial blast and eventual radioactive nature of the bomb. The obliteration of a five-square-mile swath of Hiroshima from the nuclear reaction of three pounds of the natural earth element uranium unnaturally tailored to violent human endeavor. Such a large scale impact from such a small package weapon, of which today thousands exist albeit with much greater destructive capability.
Pictured above is one of the few buildings still standing as a result of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States over Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. The hypocenter - the location of bomb detonation - was just above this icon of peace, now known as the "A-bomb Dome", the brunt of the shockwave directed downward towards the dome and the supporting walls. As a result, most of this structure remained intact. However, the majority of the city landscape of Hiroshima experienced the force perpendicular to explosion, offering little resistance to such an extreme blow.
Visitors are presented with a visual illustrating the point of detonation of the atomic bomb and the physical remnants of its detonating. For maximum destructive effect, the bomb detonated 600 meters above ground, permitting a shockwave pressure of 40,000 pounds per square inch (most car tires are 35 psi). Within the museum itself, a number of models, photographs, and relics of the atomic event are on display. Models of what the city looked like pre-blast compared with post-blast . . .
. . . photographs of the damage done to buildings and the effects of radiation and burns . . .
. . . and articles of clothing and school items that survived the devastation.
One of the museum's permanent exhibits is dedicated to Sadako Sasaki, an elementary school student suffering from radiation poisoning as a result of the fallout from the atomic blast. Offering a distraction from her ailments, Sadako concentrated on the folding of paper cranes in order to realize her wish of becoming a part of the school running team. Japanese legend states that whoever folds one thousand paper cranes may be granted a wish.
In the spirit of sixth grade Sadako and her thousand paper cranes, visitors are encouraged to learn the craft themselves, to make cranes and not war. (If so inclined, you may contribute your own paper cranes to the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.)
Today Hiroshima has been rebuilt, the city itself a monument to a future of peaceful coexistence, and the Peace Memorial at its heart, serving as a reminder of what never should happen again. With the current events in Eastern Europe a threat of use of such weapons looming in the immediate future, we need to emphasize the path towards peace, for all of humanity. There is no reason for so many innocent to pay such a severe price for the motivation of a maniacal few.
Date of photographs: June 2015
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to find out more.
Read a New York Times article on photographers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Experience a first-hand account of Hiroshima as told by John Hersey