As Hiroshima moves cautiously into post-shutdown mode, public facilities and attractions are starting to reopen.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to reopen with staggered entry system
Following the reopening of Shukkeien Garden and the Prefectural Art Museum, Hiroshima’s most popular “attraction”, the Peace Memorial Museum is scheduled to reopen on June 1. The museum which has been closed since February 29 is looking to balance its desire to educate as many people about the A-bombing as possible, with keeping the risk of further spreading the Covid-19 virus to a minimum.
With this in mind, a ticketing system is to be implemented that will limit admission to 100 visitors every 30 minutes, allowing a total of around 1800 people a day. No limits will be placed on the amount of time visitors can stay inside. With the exception of family group, group visits will be limited to four people for the time being. Rental of audio guides and volunteer guide services are also suspended.
Last year, up until closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some 1,750,000 people visited the Peace Museum. This averages out to around 5,000 a day, so 1800 is a considerable drop. Comments about how crowded the museum can get, particularly during holidays periods, are quite common on travel review sites such as Trip Advisor. With this in mind, the staggered entry system, combined with extended opening hours, might be something that should be considered even after Covid-19 is eradicated.
The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, also located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is also scheduled to reopen on June 1.
Hiroshima Castle to reopen with some trepidation
Hiroshima Castle keep, with its museum and viewing platform, has also been closed since the end of February due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It too is scheduled to reopen on June 1.
As well as taking the opportunity to give the whole facility and displays a thorough cleaning and some carpet restoration, staff have spent the past 3 months considering how they can reopen to the public safely. As space is constrained in the castle keep, it can easily become a “3 C” spot (Closed space, Crowded place and Close-contact setting) without careful management.
To reduce risk, admission will be controlled by a ticketing system and the ticket booth will be moved to a more spacious position. Infrared temperature monitors are also to be installed, and staff will encourage spacing.
The castle’s popular samurai dress-up corner with costumes, armor will remain closed and use of the headphones in the video exhibition areas and telescopes will not be available.
Of the castle’s annual 300,000 visitors, in a usual year, about a third are from overseas. It will likely take some time for them to return in those kind of numbers, but the castle is planning to broadcast foreign language announcements encouraging “coughing etiquette” and distancing. The aim is to make these visitors feel safe and comfortable, but one wonders how the announcements will affect the experience of visiting the castle.
Hiroshima Castle blue light up
As a gesture of gratitude to the health workers who have been working on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis, Hiroshima’s castle keep will continue to be illuminated in blue every night until June 15.