In Hiroshima the Memorial Peace Museum is apparently THE place to bring elementary school children.
A group of elementary school students waits to enter the museum. Groups of elementary schoolers always react to Westerners by waving enthusiastically and shouting greetings in nearly incomprehensible English.
This scale model depicts Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945. At the far left is the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which served as the aiming point for the bomb. Above it is the turquoise roof of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, later known as the A-Bomb Dome.
This model shows the city on the following day. All of the wooden buildings have been destroyed, either by the initial blast or by the fires that raged uncontrolled for most of the day. The roof was torn off the Industrial Promotion Hall and the interior gutted.
The white card and red rod show the actual epicenter of the explosion. The bomb missed its target by about 500 meters–not enough to make much difference.
The museum’s presentation was actually more restrained and even-handed than I would have expected. Probably they feel that the facts can speak for themselves without embellishment.
For example they don’t bother to deny that Hiroshima was a legitimate military target. (There is even, perhaps, a degree of civic pride in the city’s contribution to the war effort and its history as the headquarters of the 5th Army Division, and later the 2nd General Army.) The exhibits on the history of the war discuss Japan’s invasion of its neighbors and atrocities like the Rape of Nanking.
Of course the majority of the exhibits focus on the destruction and human cost of the bomb. This also is presented with a good deal of restraint. The most gruesome exhibits are some crayon and pencil drawings by survivors. (There are few photographs of the immediate aftermath. Only one photographer entered the city that day, and he only managed to take 5 pictures.)
The Memorial Cenotaph contains the names of all the A-Bomb victims.
The Peace Flame.
The Children’s Peace Monument.
This teacher seemed eager to expose his students to Westerners.
Children line up to ring the Peace Bell.
The Aioi Bridge can be seen in the background. The original bridge was repaired and put back into service, but this is a replacement built in the 1980s.
The A-Bomb Dome.
In a cemetery near the center of the explosion stone markers were cracked and discolored by the intense heat.
A volunteer guide shows the passbook that identifies him as an A-Bomb survivor.
He was exposed in the womb when his mother entered the city the next day to search for relatives. (His mother later survived a bout with cancer and is now healthy and in her eighties.)