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Fukuyama and around


To most, Hiroshima will need little in the way of introduction, being forever synonymous with the events of August 6th 1945 and its aftermath. Of the millions that visit the city each year many do so to pay respects at the Peace Park.

The centrepiece is called the A-Bomb Dome - the skeleton of a domed building that survived the blast. In fact reminders of the atomic bomb remain all over the city, not least in the Peace Memorial Park in the heart of the town. Among the memorials within this sombre park are the Peace Memorial Hall, Peace Memorial Museum and a Peace Flame in front of the Memorial Centotaph which burns and will continue to do so until the last remaining atomic weapons have been permanently taken out of service.

Perhaps the most moving monument is the Children's Peace Memorial which celebrates the desire for long life and happiness traditionally expressed in the folding of paper cranes. You may see groups of schoolchildren adding more paper cranes strung together in rainbow garlands to the millions that already surround the base of the memorial.

Hiroshima today is a thriving, vibrant city which still manages to retain a good deal of its old charm - an example being the trams which continue to lumber through the city. Other attractions here include Hiroshima-jo (Hiroshima Castle) - a very typical Japanese castle from the late 16th century and Shukkei-en (garden) with its year round displays of colourful flora and dazzlingly bright carp pools. In the years since the war Hiroshima has been rebuilt into a fairly typical industrial city (Mazda has a huge factory there). It has covered shopping arcades, lively department stores (with plenty of eager consumers) and a helpful information office. The city’s streetcar system is not extensive but it is efficient and provides announcements of stops in both Japanese and English.

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, about 1 km south of Hiroshima Station, contains many modern reflections on the events of August 6th 1945, as does the surrounding garden - Hijiyama-koen - which incorporates many modern sculptures as well as offering some excellent views back across the city.

Only 30 mi/45 km from Hiroshima on the JR Sanyo railway line in Iwakuni is the most famous bridge in Japan the Kintai-kyo. Built in 1673 the Brocade Sash Bridge is composed of five gracefully arched spans. The bridge was originally meant for the sole use of samurai - all others were forbidden to step upon it. Vestiges of the Edo-period castle town can be seen in the vicinity of the bridge.

Two nearby villages are famous for their pottery. Bizen has been producing its distinct deep brown pottery for the past 1 000 years. Hagi only began crafting pottery 300 years ago when master craftsmen were kidnapped from Korea to learn the secrets of their art.  


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