Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
Cultural Japan Asia And The Pacific Hiroshima Prefecture

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), is a stark and powerful symbol of the achievement of world peace for more than half a century following the unleashing of the most destructive force ever created by humanity.

In 1910 the Hiroshima Prefectural Assembly decided to build the Hiroshima Commercial Exhibition Hall to promote industrial production in the prefecture. Work started on a site on the east side of the Motoyasu River, to the designs of the Czech architect Jan Letzel, in 1914 and was completed the following year. In 1933 its name was changed to the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.

When the first atom bomb exploded over Hiroshima at 8.15 on the morning of 6 August 1945, causing the deaths of 140,000 people, this building was the only one left standing near the hypocentre of the bomb blast, albeit in skeletal form. It was preserved in that state when reconstruction of the city began, and became known as the Genbaku (Atomic Bomb) Dome.

In 1966 Hiroshima City Council adopted a resolution that the dome should be preserved in perpetuity. The Peace Memorial Park, in which the dome is the principal landmark, was laid out between 1950 and 1964. The Peace Memorial Museum in the park was opened in 1955. Since 1952 the park has been the scene of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, held annually on 6 August.

The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall was a three-storey brick building with a five-storey central core topped by a steel-framed elliptical dome clad with copper. It covered 1,023 m2 and stood to a height of 25 m. The exterior walls were faced with stone and cement plaster. The dome was reached via a staircase located at the central entrance. The main building, some 150 m from the hypocentre of the explosion, was almost completely shattered and gutted: the roof and floor collapsed, along with most of the interior walls from the second floor upwards. However, because the force of the blast came from almost directly above, the foundations of the core section of the building under the dome remained standing. The remains of the fountain that had stood in the Western-style garden on the south side of the hall also survive. In its present form the building preserves in every detail its exact state after the blast.

The authenticity of the Genbaku Dome is not open to challenge: the ruined structure stands exactly as it did after the atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. The only interventions since that time have been minimal, designed to ensure the continuing stability of the ruins. This may be likened to work carried out on archaeological sites around the world.