Hiroshima is the principal city of the Chugoku Region and home to over a million inhabitants and the largest city in the Chugoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The city’s name, means “Broad Island” in Japanese. When the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction. After the war, great efforts were taken to rebuild the city. Predictions that the city would be uninhabitable proved false.
Hiroshima was established on the river delta coastline of the Seto Inland Sea in 1589 by the powerful warlord Mori Terumoto, who made it his capital after leaving Koriyama Castle in Aki Province. Hiroshima Castle was quickly built, and in 1593 Terumoto moved in. Terumoto was on the losing side at the Battle of Sekigahara. The winner of the battle, Tokugawa Ieyasu, deprived Mori Terumoto of most of his fiefs including Hiroshima and gave Aki Province to Masanori Fukushima, a daimyo who had supported Tokugawa.Read More
After the han was abolished in 1871, the city became the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture. Hiroshima became a major urban center during the imperial period, as the Japanese economy shifted from primarily rural to urban industries. The San’yo Railway was extended to Hiroshima in 1894, and a rail line from the main station to the harbor was constructed for military transportation during the First Sino-Japanese War. During that war, the Japanese government moved temporarily to Hiroshima, and Emperor Meiji maintained his headquarters at Hiroshima Castle from September 15, 1894, to April 27, 1895. The significance of Hiroshima for the Japanese government can be discerned from the fact that the first round of talks between Chinese and Japanese representatives to end the Sino-Japanese War was held in Hiroshima, from February 1 to February 4, 1895.Further industrialization in Hiroshima was stimulated during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, which required development and production of military supplies. The Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall was constructed in 1915 as a center for trade and exhibition of new products. Later, its name was changed to Hiroshima Prefectural Product Exhibition Hall, and again to Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
During World War I, Hiroshima became a focal point of military activity, as the Japanese government entered the war on the Allied side. About 500 German prisoners of war were held in Ninoshima Island in Hiroshima Bay. During World War II, the 2nd General Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at Ujina port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was a key center for shipping. The bombing of Tokyo and other cities in Japan during World War II caused widespread destruction and hundreds of thousands of deaths. After the war, great efforts were taken to rebuild the city. Predictions that the city would be uninhabitable proved false.
Oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima because it was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.
Places To See:
- Peace Park:
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a memorial park in the center of Hiroshima, Japan. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims (of whom there may have been as many as 140,000). The park was built on an open field that was created by the explosion. Today there are a number of memorials and monuments, museums, and lecture halls, which draw over a million visitors annually. The annual 6 August Peace Memorial Ceremony, which is sponsored by the city of Hiroshima, is also held in the park. The purpose of the Peace Memorial Park is to not only memorialize the victims, but also to establish the memory of nuclear horrors and advocate world peace.
- Shukkeien Garden:
Construction began in 1620 during the Edo period at the order of Asano Nagaakira, daimyo of the Hiroshima han. The seventh lord of the han summoned an expert in the construction of Japanese gardens from Kyoto, who greatly reconstructed Shukkei-en. The entire garden is connected by a path which winds around the pond at the center of the garden. The path passes through all of Shukkeien’s various miniaturized sceneries. Following this path around the garden is the best way to enjoy Shukkeien.
Since the Meiji period, the garden served as the villa of the Asano family. When under Emperor Meiji the Imperial General Headquarters were relocated to Hiroshima, the emperor briefly lodged at the villa. The gardens were opened to the public, and in 1940 the Asano family donated them to Hiroshima Prefecture. Being a short walk from Ground zero of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, Shukkei-en suffered extensive damage, and then became a refuge for victims of the war. After renovations, it reopened in 1951.
- Mazda Museum:
The Mazda Motor Corporation, founded in Hiroshima in 1920, still retains its corporate headquarters in the city of its origins. In addition to the headquarters, Mazda owns a large plot of coastal land which accommodates research and development laboratories, factories, and shipping facilities. The company museum and part of a factory are made available for public viewing.
The museum offers an overview of Mazda’s history, a look into the technology of its automobiles and the prospects for its future developments. The tour then passes through an actual vehicle assembly line, where visitors can see a variety of different car models being produced. At the end of the tour there is a shop featuring Mazda goods.