Hiroshima (広島市 Hiroshima-shi) is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The city’s name, 広島, means “Wide Island” in Japanese. Hiroshima gained city status on April 1, 1889. On April 1, 1980, Hiroshima became a designated city. As of 2006, the city had an estimated population of 1,154,391.
Hiroshima is best known as the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (広島平和記念公園 Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Kōen?) 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 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was planned and designed by the Japanese Architect Kenzō Tange at Tange Lab.
The location of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial and residential district. 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.
The first Peace Festival was held in an open area in Jisenji-no-hana (Peace Memorial Park). The festival took place around a wooden peace tower which was built for the occasion. After a silent prayer by the people present, the Peace Bell was rung. Then Mayor Hamai took the platform and read aloud to the world the first Peace Declaration.” World’s first temporary peace bell?
The bell was made by bell-caster Masahiko Katori, holder of important intangible cultural assets (a living national treasure). On its surface a world map without national boundaries symbolising “one world” is embossed. The place where the log hits the bell shows the atomic energy symbol, expressing hope for the abolition of atomic and hydrogen bombs. On the opposite side is a mirror to reflect the heart of the person who rings the bell.
Lotus seeds were planted in the pond surrounding the belfry and every year around the date of the Peace Memorial Day on August 6th beautiful flowers bloom. After the bombing, lotus leaves were placed on people’s wounds to reduce the pain of burns and console their spirits.
The World Peace Bell was installed in 1949.