Hiroshima - 10th to 12th May 20128:15 am August the 6th 1945, the Enola Gay, an American B29 bomber, dropped the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon. It was given the nickname 'little boy'. The damage it caused was far from little though and this one bomb directly killed 80,000 human beings with nearly that amount dying slowly and painfully over the following years. This was approximately half of the city's population. The bomb also levelled a large portion of the city's buildings...
The people of Hiroshima rather than degenerating into hate and depression from the near annihilation of their city at the end of World War 2 instead decided to make it a symbol of peace and a centre to focus the push for the eradication of nuclear weapons from this planet. Peace Park was created on an open field left by the bomb where buildings had stood. It is immaculately kept and full of monuments to the victims and for peace.
There are bells for world peace, the bells themselves are covered in a representation of a world without borders and you are encouraged to hit it. The spot where it hits has an atomic symbol on it so that you are ridding the world of atomic weapons by banging it.
We also visited Miyajima Island, the home of a magnificent Shinto temple, with its protective Torii Gate in the water itself. Unfortunately the gate had been damaged by a spring storm stronger than our tour operator has ever seen in 22 years and the gate was covered for repair. The island itself was a beautiful experience and blend of the Shinto religion and nature.
All in all Hiroshima was our surprising favourite place in Japan and we left the place feeling uplifted and peaceful after seeing how people can recover and what they can accomplish after such devastation.