One of the most popular cities to visit outside of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto is Hiroshima. It’s not like the other cities where there are tons of otaku shops, clothing shops, or traditional Japanese culture. Even so, Hiroshima is rich with history. After all, it’s a city that still shows remnants of World War II and proudly displays memorials, monuments, and peace offerings from foreign countries.
One such monument is the Atomic Bomb Dome. Just across from the Heiwakinen garden where the Peace Memorial and museum are located and nestled on the Ota river, the Atomic Bomb Dome is a fantastic site to see and remember. This particular building was 0.1 miles or 175yds (160m) away from the atomic bomb when it exploded.
For me it was a little surreal standing near this building and thinking of the people who died instantly inside. Did they know it was coming? Did they have time to say good-bye to their loved ones? Do the Japanese people still hate Americans for what we did? And not just the bomb, but the radiation poisoning that tortured and killed people years, decades later?
That thought cut deep for me while I was gazing at the building, its metal framework exposed. Yet, despite my unease at being in a location where such devastation was caused by my people, I’m glad I went. It wasn’t just about seeing the memorials. It wasn’t just about remembering or paying my respects to the dead. My favorite part about visiting Hiroshima was seeing how well the city re-built after the bomb and how well it’s thriving now. The ability of the Japanese people to recover after such a catastrophe is something to be admired, it not embodied.