Hiroshima’s Peace Park (Heiwa-Koen 平和公園) is in the center (Naka-ku) of Hiroshima city. It is the location of the Peace Museum, A-Bomb Dome, Cenotaph, and many statues and monuments in remembrance of Hiroshima’s tragic history and its victims. It is also a beautiful park filled with trees and flowers that Hiroshima residents use and enjoy on a daily basis.
At the north side of the park is the A-bomb dome and at the south end of the park is the Peace Memorial Museum located along Peace boulevard (Heiwa-Odori 平和大通り). The Peace Memorial Museum receives more than a million visitors each year from Japan and all over the world. August is the busiest time for the park as the number of visitors soar around the time of the August 6th memorial ceremony.
It is one of the most visited spots in Japan by overseas visitors and the museum has been consistently ranked in the top 5 places to visit on TripAdvisor and other travel sites for many years.
Peace park is also enjoyed by local Hiroshima residents as a normal park. You will find people sat under the shade of trees playing a quiet game of chess, young aspiring musicians belting out tunes under the bridges, artists painting along the riverside, and lovers having a romantic stroll and when the Sakura flowers are in bloom. One of the most popular times of year for the park is when the cherry blossom lined riverbanks are covered with blue tarps for people picnicking, drinking, singing and enjoying lively Hanami parties.
Annual events held in Peace Park
- Beginning of January – Mid-winter swim
- First week of May (Golden Week holidays) Flower Festival performances
- First week of May (Flower festival) Flower Candle Message
- First week of May (Flower festival) SkatePark and live band performances
- August 6th Memorial Ceremony 8:15 am~
- August 6th evening lantern floating ceremony 6pm~
What I love about Peace Park is that it is a great gathering place in the city center, not only for peace oriented events, but also for friendly get-togethers and daily enjoyment. There is no charge to enter the park, only a minimal entry fee if you want to see the museum.
On a personal note, on 2013 and 2014 I visited the Pearl Harbor museum in Hawaii and the 9-11 memorial in New York and although I thought both were interesting, the style of these places is significantly different from the way Peace Park is presented. An obvious difference is that there is no entry fee, there is no bag search or metal detector or ticket gate.
But I think it’s more than that. Hiroshima’s Peace Park is not run like a museum, it is not simply a place to learn about Hiroshima’s tragic past. It is a wide-open venue with no opening or closing times, no gates to
keep you out, no one checking when you come or go. It is a place where you can sit and ponder whatever you like under beautiful trees, looking at a glistening river, listening to the soft hum of a peace bell being ring. Groups of joggers and cyclists pass through, children play, artists sketch, students will practice their English, people will hang peace cranes, businesspeople will find a spot to have their bento lunches, tourists snap photos. This park is a thriving part of the city center and I always find it, well, “peaceful.” I hope you will plan to spend some time here and enjoy it. This is a kind of optimistic place, monuments and information is about how we can change the future in a more positive way by stopping war, pray for peace, it makes me hopeful for a better tomorrow.
You can access the Peace Park easily by taking a streetcar or bus (from Hiroshima station) to “Genbaku-dome-mae”. If you are in the city center, follow the covered Hondori shopping street all the way until the end when you will find yourself in the park.