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How to Visit Hiroshima

Hiroshima is known across the world as the first city in history to be subjected to an atomic bomb. Although the devastation was immens--and all but incomprehensible--it wasn't absolute. The city of Hiroshima still exists today, and even thrives.Recognizing Hiroshima's tragic legacy, however, is essential to any visit.

Head straight to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in downtown Hiroshima. This site was "Ground Zero" for when the atomic bomb exploded on August 6, 1945. It is now the primary site for dozens of memorials.

Take a look at the A-Bomb Dome, in the center of the park. This architectural landmark was directly underneath the atomic bomb as it detonated, which left its walls standing--while knocking down nearly everything else--for miles around. It has since been preserved as a memorial, and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Walk slowly through the park, in order to find the dozens of smaller memorials which dot this area. Examples of these monuments include the Children's Peace Monument, dedicated to the children who died in the bombing; the Memorial Mound, which houses the unnamed ashes of 70,000 victims; and the Centotaph for Korean Victims, who accounted for at least 45,000 of the casualties.

Take a deep breath, and enter the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Museum, which is the only major building located in the park. This museum provides a history of the war, and Hiroshima's role in the war, up until the bombing. The museum also includes extensive documentation of the bomb's effects, including photographs and artifacts: charred school uniforms, survivor testimony, and a bank stoop with the permanent shadow of a human being, which was etched in by the blast.

Exit the museum and walk to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. This underground exhibit, which you might otherwise miss, includes a Hall of Rememberance. It contains a panorama of the destroyed city, made out of as many tiles as their were estimated victims--140,000.

Exit the park, and take a walk down Peace Boulevard, a 100-meter wide and three and a half kilometer long stretch of tree-lined road that heads straight through the rest of downtown. Downtown Hiroshima, you will notice, is actually bustling: the city of Hiroshima now boasts a population of over a million people.

Enjoy Hiroshima for the modern city that it is, in the face of its tragedy. The city of Hiroshima contains several art museums, one of which even sits next to a Manga Library, located in on the other side of the river from the Memorial Park. Hiroshima is also known for its okonomiyaki, a famous sort of Japanese cabbage pancake.

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