Today you will hardly find a person, who has never heard of the nuclear bomb explosion over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the World War II. When the U.S. air forces dropped these two bombs on two Japanese states, it was a first reported incident, when nuclear weapon was used for warfare.
The blasts had killed thousands of military and civil people, and numerous other residents got serious injuries and radiation dosages. For years, ground, air and living organisms in this area still carry that radionuclide, which negatively influence the environment. Furthermore, such attack seriously damaged the overall world’s environment, and many researches note Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts as reasons of global warming and ozone hole formation.
Nevertheless, both cities were rebuilt, and today there live and work numerous people. Furthermore, Hiroshima and Nagasaki now attract thousands of foreign tourists every year.
People travel here and are willing to learn the Hiroshima history of this area and see, what is the life after the collapse is like. But here you will not see miles of dead burnt soil and destroyed buildings. Instead, modern Hiroshima today is a normal busy Japanese city. So let us see, how the Japanese managed to handle reconstruction of Hiroshima, and what is Hiroshima now like.
Short facts about Hiroshima
- Today Hiroshima is the biggest city on one of the four Japanese islands, Honsu.
- If translated from Japanese, the name of the city stands for ‘broad island’.
- Hiroshima officially got the status of the city back in 1889, and by 1980 it became recognized as the designated city.
- Population of this city, as the 2006, equals to 1.154.391.
Brief history of Hiroshima
Established on the delta of the river close to the coastline, Hiroshima became another town, which was built by the Japanese warlord Mori Terumoto. He left the Aki Province and was seeking for a place for the new residence. During the imperial period, which took place between 1971 and 1939, Hiroshima was an important urban center and the most meaningful city on Honsu Island. In the early 1880s, here was established a harbor, which made the city an important and powerful trading and shipping place.
By 1894, the Japanese railway was prolonged to reach this city, and this change very positively influenced economical life of the city. During the Sino-Japanese war, the government was headquartered in Hiroshima, and the harbor and railway were used for military purposes. Another important fact about the city is multilinguism of its citizens, as here were many schools. So no wonder, that the rounds of talks took place in this city.
By the end of 19th century, many plants were established in this city, including cotton mills, industrial facilities and those, which produced military supplies. When the World War I started, Hiroshima was an important point of constant military activity, as prisoners from German side were held on one of the islands in the Hiroshima Bay. The end of the imperial period of Japan coincides with the start of the World War II. At this period, Hiroshima also played an important role in the warfare actions, and along with Nagasaki suffered from the nuclear bomb blast.
Reconstruction of Hiroshima
A month after the nuclear bomb explosion, Hiroshima was severely attacked with a typhoon, which ruined almost half of the bridge in the area and caused further damages to the bombed city, which suffered from extremely high radiation level and malnutrition.
As a result of this typhoon, over 3.000 of citizens died and got lethal injuries. Roads and railways were completely destroyed, so at the place of pre-war Hiroshima was a nuclear desert, washed by the sea from one side.
However by 1949, the city was rebuilt with the help of the country’s government, which provided the necessary financial support and even donated the lands, which before belonged to the government and were used specifically for the military purposes. For this purpose, Japanese government even initiated a law regarding Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The same year, there was approved the design of the Memorial Park in the city. In the park there is also a Peace Pagoda, made of steel.
In 1949, the Hiroshima mayor officially proclaimed the city as the City of Peace, so as of that time it became a real attraction for international conferences holding. Here were many conferences on social aspect and peace, and in 1992 there was established associations of guides and interpreters, who helped to facilitate the conferences. It is curious, that the Mayor of Hiroshima is the official president of the association of Mayors for Peace.
Climate in Hiroshima and Nagasaki today
Overall, the climate in the present day Hiroshima may be described as subtropical, thus features modest and mild winters, while the summers are hot.
The city of Hiroshima, Japan today is very much similar to the one in the rest of Japanese islands, which may be described as follows:
- August is the warmest month;
- It is extremely dry here in winters;
- Rainfalls usually take place in June and the beginning of July;
- January here is the coldest month.
The modern Hiroshima nowadays attracts many tourists and is a popular place to visit. Many people come here on business or search for the open vacancies in terms of employment.
Demographics of Hiroshima city today
Population of Hiroshima has changed during the history, in accordance with the certain events in Japan. Changes in the number of population are caused with the life level in the city, as by the end of the World War II the city suffered from malnutrition and many people had to leave with the evacuation waves. Furthermore, numerous people died immediately after the nuclear bomb blast, and many got serious injuries, which lead to death or diseases. Let us consider some official data regarding the demographic situation in this Japanese city.
As reported in 1910, the population of Hiroshima was around 142.000 to 144.000.
- Before the World War II started, the city had slightly over 360.000 of citizens.
- By 1942, when many military officers and soldiers came to the location in Hiroshima, the number of residents boosted up to 420.000.
- After the nuclear bomb blast and serious human losses, the population of the city rapidly decreased up to 137.000.
- According to the reports of 1955, only by this year the population level became equal to the pre-war state.
- As of 2006, the population in the Hiroshima only equals to 1.154.400, while the overall number of people, who live in the metropolitan area, is around 2.044.000.
This data clearly shows, that there exists life even after a nuclear blast, and that it is possible to rebuild the city even after it was attacked with an atom bomb.
How to get to Japan, Hiroshima today
Today Hiroshima is a popular city to visit among the tourists from all over the world.
Hiroshima now may be reached in different ways, and there are several transportation means, which serve the city:
There is an airport in Hiroshima today, and it is positioned around 30 miles to the East of the city. There are regular flights to certain Asian countries (South Korea, Taiwan and China), and also certain local flights. Besides, one may get to the city by train.
For transportation inside of Hiroshima now, there exists an internal light rail system. Locally it is known under the nickname of Hiroden, and is very similar to trains. Also, there exists a moving museum, which serves the tourists and those, who are willing to learn the World War II history of the city. It is curious, that this means of transportation was started back in 1912, but due to several wars and consequent warfare actions was interrupted.
The atomic bomb blast and the typhoon, which hit the city only a month after the nuclear bomb, almost completely ruined this railway, though it was restored, as soon as was considered practical by the government. And there is another curious fact, which is good to know. Hiroshima today has got 300 streetcars, which is the greatest number among all the Japanese cities.
You may also get to Hiroshima and Nagasaki today by means of an automobile, since the city is served by several highways, so may be reached from different nearby cities. Also, you may get to Hiroshima by with a bus. Regardless of the transport you choose, you will certainly enjoy your trip and get acquainted with a truly unique city with the rich culture and interesting historical background.
Culture of Hiroshima and events, worth being visited
Hiroshima and Nagasaki today are modern cities with busy life and rich culture. Many tourists travel here not only to see the place, which was hit with a nuclear bomb and learn how Japanese managed to rebuild these areas to make adequate for living. Here are some cultural events, which may be of interest:
- Flower festival, which takes place every year between May 3 and 5 at the Hiroshima Peace Park;
- From the first Friday to Sunday in June, you are welcome to visit Toukasan event;
- In November, between 18th and 20th, there takes place Ebisu Festival;
- On August, 6, many tourists come to Hiroshima to participate the memorial ceremony.
In Hiroshima there is a symphony orchestra, which is located in Well City and works since 1963. Besides, Hiroshima today offers many excursions to the museums.
The most popular place to visit is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, also known as the Hiroshima bomb site today, which allows everyone to learn more about the nuclear bomb blast in the city in 1945. Besides, there are several art museums and many exhibitions, which help to get closer to that distinctive and exotic Japanese culture and works of arts by the local masters.
If you come to Hiroshima, Japan, today, you certainly have to attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, since it is the most well-known sight of the city. Here you will see the Hiroshima Peace memorial, which is the building, which was the closest one to the hypocenter of the blast, and still managed to withstand the explosion, regardless of certain damages to it.
Also you should take a look at the rebuilt castle of Hiroshima, since here is located the museum of Edo period life in the area.
Places to visit
There are many places in Hiroshima the tourists should visit, when they are here. The first one is the castle, located right in the middle of the city. It is a must to take a picture there, with a traditional pagoda on the background. If you are willing to feel yourself in an old Japanese city, far from the high and modern buildings, you are welcome to take a trip along the Miyajima Machiya street, which may be found right behind the shopping center. By the way, the Omote-Sando shopping centre is a good place to purchase souvenirs and things to bring home from Hiroshima.
Another attraction to see here is an old port, called Tomonoura. It is very nice to walk here, along those old-fashioned bridges and ships. In the city center you may see the building of the old Japan Bank, which was built back in 1936, and was renewed after the bomb blast. The building still has got those ‘scarves’ it got after seeing the ‘Young Boy” in 1945. The building features a beautiful façade, and may be a good background for the tourists’ pictures. The Peace Bell monument is another sight of this Japanese city, which was established to commemorate the victims of the nuclear bomb blast.
Local food and cuisine
Hiroshima present day cuisine is famous for the pancake, known as the okonomiyaki. It is usually cooked right in front of you when you order it, on a hot cooking surface. Inside of the pancake, you will find several ingredients layered. These are cabbage, egg, sliced bacon and bean sprouts. Besides, there are many optional ingredients you might want to order for your okonomiyaki.
The pancake is usually served with noodles, which have got egg and sauce on top.
Hiroshima is famous for its oysters. This city produces around 60% of the overall oyster amount in Japan. You may order oysters in the local restaurants and food stands. Usually, the oysters are eat raw, and are served with rice and soy sauce. However, there are different recipes of baked, grilled or fried oysters you may choose among.
If you would like to taste something spicy, you may try out cold noodles, called tsukemen. They are usually eaten with soy sauce, and are spiced with red pepper. The dish comes served with green vegetables (cucumbers, cabbage) and a boiled egg. Tsukemen is well-known for its spiciness, and you may select the degree of spiciness from one to five.
If you are willing to taste something sweet, you are welcome to order momijimanju. These are small cakes, which are made in shape of maple leaves. Inside, there is filling made of sweet bean paste. This type of dessert is traditional for this area as of 1900s, and is usually machine-made. Today, however, you may find this dessert with numerous other fillings, such as chocolate, cheese and custard.
What is Hiroshima like today?
The present-day Hiroshima is a developed Japanese city, which has got numerous skyscrapers, colleges, universities, parks and highways, and over a million of people successfully live here. Furthermore, many people get employed by the Japanese companies from overseas and come here to work. The city is a real Japanese sight, which attracts thousands of tourists every year, and is an important trading center, since it is located at the seashore and has got a river.
From the architectural point of view, it is fair to say, that the Japanese were precise enough to rebuild certain meaningful buildings, which were almost completely destroyed by the bomb blast.
For instance, they managed to restore the Urakami Cathedral, since after the explosion only its south face was left standing. The Perfectural Industrial Promotion Hall was also restored, and today there is a museum, called the A-Bomb Dome. It is one of the most recognizable Hiroshima sights today.
Hiroshima today also has got many parks and resorts, where people may enjoy the beauty of nature. Importance of nature in the lives of Hiroshima citizens is seen in many details. For instance, the trees, which got a dose of radiation but managed to survive, are considered natural monuments and even have got special plates on them. Besides, in Hiroshima there is held an annual flower fest. In the art museums there are many works of art, which depict beauty of the local nature.
The tree of Gingko Biloba, which grows in this area, may get the age of up to several centuries. This tree very rarely gets sick and may withstand different influences. So, even after the nuclear boomb blast, the trees completely lost their leaves, but then became alive again. Moreover, this is the only kind of trees, which successfully withstood the nuclear bombing. These threes may be still seen in this Japanese city.
The official flower of the city of Hiroshima is oleander. It gained this title after the bomb blast in 1945, as this is the first flower, which blossomed after the nuclear attack. So, regardless of its nuclear past, the name of Hiroshima present still is associated with peace, beauty and art.
Health and medicine
After the bomb blast, many people in Hiroshima died almost immediately due to nuclear gamma rays and flying obstacles. Many citizens were injured. Among those, who managed to survive the nuclear catastrophe, many got serious diseases.
The most common disease among the survivals was cancer, and leukemia, serious damage to the blood with excessive growth of white bodies, was on the second place. Though, it is fair to say, that the majority of survivors did not get cancer, because of radiation. However, throughout the life, 10 more percent of the survivors developed cancer, though this happened quite after the blast.
As for the children of survivors, the majority of them did not have any serious diseases or impact of radionuclide towards their health. Serious DNA alterations and mutations also did not become that offspring. However, there still were noted some differences in genomes, but they are not that dangerous for their health. So, if there is any impact of the radioactive past of the parents to the health of these people, it is minor.
Is it safe to visit Hiroshima?
The short answer for the question is – yes. The city, as well as soil, water and living organisms in this area are free of radiation. The bomb, which was dropped by the U.S. plane in 1945 at Hiroshima blasted above the ground zero in the air, and was not thrown as it is to the ground to explode. This made the radioactive particles release in the air, without digging deeply into the ground. Furthermore, the explosion of the bomb happened due to splitting of the atoms, hence the destructive power of the bomb.
The harmful radioactive particles were received by the people right at the moment of bomb explosion, and the majority of victims died immediately or within a couple of hours. Some people got a huge dose of harmful products, which remained in their bodies and caused serious diseases, such as cancer, leukemia and certain chromosome changes. This all happened due to so-called prompt radiation, and, in specifics, due to the gamma rays, produced during the blast. Luckily, this kind of radiation does not live long.
The second sort of radiation, which is produced with such sort of blast, is residual, or long-term radiation. Its level gets extremely high, when the bomb collapses around the ground zero. In this case, ground and water get strongly poisoned with the radionuclide. But in the cases with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bomb exploded way above the ground. And in such cases, all the poison quickly gets directed into the stratosphere as a cloud, and travels by means of air.
To conclude, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are safe to visit and live in, and the radiation level here is no different from the level in the other cities in the world. So you may safely stay here, eat local food and watch places of interest with no risk to your own health.