Our journey to Hiroshima and for most of Japan up until that point was again, a model of efficiency. Right after we left the fish market, McPho and I caught the Shinkansen out to Okayama from Tokyo Station. There, we were to transfer for another train bound for Hiroshima. I can't say it enough times. Every connecting bus and train was packed closely together on our schedule and they always left on time. You know that feeling where you run down the stairs of a subway and jump into a car right as the doors are closing? It felt similar to that during our entire journey. A brief stopover in Okayama allowed us to grab some food and fresh mochi, the most we saw of that city was outside the station where we sat down to eat.
Hiroshima is the last major city in Japan with an extensive tram network called the Hiroden. Since we were pressed for time, we took the tram from the train station to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
The A-Bomb Dome, is the largest monument in the park and the very first thing you see when you get off the tram. Located on the northeastern edge of the park, across from a small canal where all the other monuments are, the nuclear explosion was 150 meters away from the building, and it was the closest structure left standing.
We walked through the park where various monuments were situated before arriving at the museum located south of the park. With so much focus on peace in the city (proclaimed the City of Peace in 1949 by the Japanese Parliament) we saw what must have been Japanese hippies playing music in one of the canals surrounding the park.
Of all the monuments in the park (an extensive list can be found here), the Children's Peace Monument was the most touching and my favorite (probably because of the story associated with it). Dedicated to the children who died from the bombing, the statue is based on the story of Sadako Sasaki who folded 1,000 paper cranes before her death, believing that it would cure her. She eventually passed away as a result of the radiation from the bomb.
The museum was extremely detailed, if our history lessons were presented in such a manner, I think I would have had a much easier time learning. It was an incredibly somber experience. It goes into such depth, I repeatedly came across tidbits that were never mentioned in our textbooks (or I simply forgot).
President Truman was interested in ending the war before the Russians entered (even though Japan was close to surrendering). The bomb would likely intimidate the Russians and allow the U.S. to deny the Russians a 'share of the peace that we were going to impose on Japan.' So in an attempt to beatout the Russians, the decision to use the bomb was horribly affected by desires other than to save American lives. A more indepth account can be found here.
Another interesting fact, even though the Japanese flag, Nisshōki , has been in use since the 1800s, it wasn't officially adopted nationally until 1999. In addition to other historical sites in Hiroshima that we didn't have time to tour, we missed seeing the Manga Library Museum (all the better since the one in Kyoto wasn't that great) and the Mazda Museum (which I would like to eventually see on a future trip).
Following the Peace Museum, McPho and I rushed back to the station where we took a train to Miyajima.