Hiroshima’s old baseball stadium site, a piece of prime real estate across the street from the UNESCO World Heritage A-bomb Dome Memorial in the center of Hiroshima city, has finally been given a new role, over 12 years since it hosted its final baseball game.
After years of uncertainty, a new retail, event and community space, with nods to its sporting past and position on Kenzo Tange’s “Peace Line”, will be opened to the public on March 31.
The site has never been blessed in the naming department. The original home of the Hiroshima Carp was known, somewhat prosaically, as the Hiroshima Municipal Baseball Stadium, later becoming the Site of the Former Hiroshima Municipal Baseball Stadium. The new development has not one, but three different names, which designate its different sections: Hiroshima Gate Park, Hiroshima Gate Park Plaza and SHIMINT Hiroshima (shimin (citizens) to (and) Hiroshima?)
It will be interesting to see which of these gets adopted by the local populace.
The development is made up of a wide open event space dotted with the occasional grassy mound with some (still young and spindly trees) surrounded by low-rise, retail and restaurant spaces, tastefully designed with natural wooden accents, and a “green ribbon” of park-like spaces.
One of the most impressive parts of the development is the creation of a straight promenade, lined with sakura trees, that follows the “Peace Line” which runs through the north-south axis of Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. The avenue ends with a small hillock down which water flows over an installation made of stone which looks back at the A-bomb Dome. Pieces of paving stones retrieved after the bombing are also embedded in the promenade.
Hiroshima’s “2nd Generation” Peace Bell, which was forged by 13 local metalworking companies from debris left from the A-bombing in 1948, stands on the hill. It was only ever used in one August 6 Peace Memorial Ceremony and has been mostly hidden from view for many, many years, so it is nice to see this symbol of recovery get a prominent location.
One of the most striking buildings in the park is a large covered pavilion. Its design was apparently inspired by the shape of orizuru origami cranes. From afar it looks like it is constructed from wood, but the supports are actually made from metal. Nonetheless, it will provide welcome shade during the summer. In a nod to sustainability, concrete benches at the base of the supports employed carbon capturing technology which reportedly reduced carbon emissions from the construction project by 2 tons (though we were not told the total carbon cost of the project. Read Inbound Ambassador’s look at the facility from a sustainability perspective here). The pavilion looks really cool illuminated at night too.
Kids and Dogs Welcome
A kids play zone has some fun spots for little children in a grassy area and a designated shower and faucet for people with dogs. Dogs on leashes are welcome in the park and there are even a couple of restaurants which allow dogs entry, including one that serves gourmet meals for pampered pets.
Urban Activity Site
A decent area on the east side of the park has been set aside for skaters with some well designed ramps, a half pipe and rails. A skate shop has also set up shop right in front.
Sacred Site of Baseball History
You will find baseball memorabilia throughout the park, including plates marking the location of the former baseball field’s home plate and pitcher’s mound. A rest area used some of the old stadium’s bench outfield seating, the unforgiving nature of which might bring back some memories of long games for our older readers 🙂 The development will, no doubt, bring more attention to the Carp’s “Forest of Victory” monuments which have, until now, been easily missed.
An exhibition space has some cool old photos of the baseball stadium through the years, dating from the start of construction in the post-war years and other memorabilia on display.
Retail and Restaurants
The retail section of Hiroshima gate Park is the SHIMINT area. 15 new businesses will open in the development, several of them for the first time in Hiroshima. The buildings have been kept to 2 storeys high and are quite tastefully designed with efforts to conceal air conditioning units and other unsightly features. Wooden accents (using local and domestically sourced wood) add warmth to the look, making the place feel more parklike than a regular shopping mall. Several of the eateries have terrace seating, including Eggs ‘n Things.
Here is the full list of retail outlets
|Cat Cafe MOFF
|Good spoon pizzeria and cheese
|Sur Fitness Yoga
|Pet Salon BIOGANCE
We were a little disappointed at how sparse and lacking in greenery the central area of the park is. However, we have been told that the event space is booked out just about every weekend over the coming year. It will be interesting to see how the feel of the events matches the colorful branding being projected in the park’s promotional materials… and how hot it feels during the summer. Things kick off with Hiroshima Gate Park Festa which runs from opening day on March 31 to Apr 2, 2023.
March 28, 2023