When you've spent the past two days in paradise, what better way to force yourself back into reality than a visit to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Museum?
I caught a boat over from Miyajima to Hiroshima in the morning, which, in under an hour, dropped me straight at the Peace Memorial Park. As you enter, the sight of the A-Bomb Dome is a startling vision of the horrifying events that occurred in this city.
The Atomic Bomb Dome is a skeletal domed building which still stands to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb, dropped for the first time in history, exploded some 580 meters above Hiroshima. The hypocenter was only about 160 meters southeast of this building however, because the force of the blast came from almost directly above, part of the walls of the building and the steel frames of the dome on top survived and remained standing in the center of the burnt-out city area. The dome was registered on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage list in December 1996 as a monument that reminds us of the tragedy of the bombing.
I then came across a haunting yet colourful monument to the children lost and killed due to the atomic bomb. This monument was covered with paper cranes, a symbol traced back to a young girl named Sadako Sasaki, who died of leukaemia ten years after the atomic bombing. Sadako was two years old when she was exposed to the A-bomb. She had no apparent injuries and grew into a strong and healthy girl. However, nine years later in the fall when she was in the sixth grade of elementary school, she suddenly developed signs of an illness. In February the following year she was diagnosed with leukaemia and was admitted to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. Believing that folding paper cranes would help her recover, she kept folding them to the end, but on October 25, 1955, after an eight-month struggle with the disease, she passed away.
Sadako's death triggered a campaign to build a monument to pray for world peace and the peaceful repose of the many children killed by the atomic bomb. It's an incredibly tragic story, yet the movement behind it is one of beauty.
Between the Peace Museum and the A-Bomb Dome is the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims. The Cenotaph is an arched tomb for those who died because of the bomb, either because of the initial blast or exposure to radiation. You can see that it lines up perfectly with the A-Bomb Dome.
The museum itself holds personal accounts about the day the atomic bomb exploded that I will never, ever forget. The details shared within the museum are incredibly upsetting, and the media on display is downright disturbing. However, it serves to remind us that we should not take peace for granted and should strive to ensure all atomic weapons are destroyed to avoid this situation from happening again.
On that somber note, I took the boat back to Miyajima and went to pat as many deer as I could to make myself feel better after the harrowing things I had seen just a few hours ago. As it was my last night on the island, I spent quite a bit of time sitting by the beach, witnessing one of the most incredibly sunsets I've ever seen. I know I've raved about both Miyajima and my accommodation here time and time again, but if you ever get the chance to visit this amazing island, please do so! It's definitely been the highlight of my trip thus far.