Los Alamos Historical Museum team in front of Cenotaph with tour guide. Courtesy photo
Diorama representing Hiroshima after atomic bombing. Courtesy photo
Exhibit in HPMM. Courtesy photo
On Tuesday, April 5, our Los Alamos Historical Museum team started the day with a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (HPMM) guided by Yasuyoshi Komizo, chairperson of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, and Kenji Shiga, director of HPMM.
Komizo explained each exhibit and described the history behind artifacts in the museum. HPMM’s exhibitions focus on expressing the atomic bombing from the viewpoint of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) by telling individuals’ stories through photographs, three dimensional artifacts and first-person narratives. The exhibition presents the bomb’s effects in three categories: heat rays, blast, and radiation.
The first image as you enter the museum is the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, taken by the U.S. military, followed by photographs taken by Japanese from the ground near Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. The next room has a large diorama representing the leveled city of Hiroshima after the bombing, a number of artifacts that once belonged to mobilized junior high school students, and a life-size replica of Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Next, the effects of the atomic bomb on structures are shown with displays of damaged pieces from iconic structures such as Aioi Bridge and the former Bank of Japan: Hiroshima Branch.
Lastly, the museum displays photos of and information about the effects of radiation on people.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park has monuments to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In the center of the park, a cenotaph holds the names of all known victims of the bombing. The cenotaph carries the epitaph “let all the souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.” It is aligned to frame the Peace Flame and A-Bomb Dome, which are north of it. The Peace Flame has burned continuously since it was lit in 1964 and is to remain lit until nuclear weapons are abolished. The A-Bomb Dome was formerly the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest building to the hypocenter that remained at least partially standing. The Dome was left as it was after the bombing to remember those who were killed. There are many other monuments in the park. The park is often full of people, especially locals who picnic, walk, and use the space to enjoy everyday life.
On Wednesday, our last day in Hiroshima, we visited Hiroshima Castle. The castle was constructed in 1590 but destroyed in the atomic bombing in 1945. It was then rebuilt in 1950. Cherry blossoms were abundant, and locals picnicked and walked throughout the castle’s peaceful grounds. Next, we visited the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. The Hall collects atomic bomb memories and testimonies as well as names and photographs of victims. Within the Hall is a place for hibakusha or families of those killed by the bomb to register names. For dinner, we were invited into the home of Takako Sogabe. Sogabe is the niece of Davis and Ikuko Begay, residents of Albuquerque. Davis is the Honorary Consul General of Japan, and Ikuko is from Hiroshima.
Judith Stauber and Chairperson Yasuyoshi Komizo touring HPMM. Courtesy photo
Ground photos of mushroom cloud over Hiroshima. Courtesy photo
Cenotaph framing Flame of Peace and A-Bomb Dome. Courtesy photo
Life-size replica of Little Boy. Courtesy photo
A-Bomb Dome. Courtesy photo