Nagasaki is a city with an intense history. Visiting Nagasaki Peace Park when in Nagasaki is a great way to learn about Nagasaki’s history and specifically the tragic circumstances that occurred at the end of World War II and specifically the peace park located within the city.
There is a lot to see and take in at the Nagasaki Peace Park, making it a destination that anyone visiting Nagasaki should seek out and spend an afternoon exploring and reflecting.
History Of Nagasaki
During the Second World War, Nagasaki was the sight of an atomic bombing on August 9th, 1945. Many of the people living in Nagasaki at the time were Korean.
A large majority of those Koreans were forced into providing labor for Japan to assist with their war efforts. Many of these Koreans died as a result of the bombing.
The atomic bomb was dropped by the United States, and they also targeted Hiroshima with another atomic bomb. It is estimated that between the two bombings, over 200,000 people were killed.
These two bombings in Japan are the only times where atomic weapons have ever been used to harm another country. A very big portion of Nagasaki was destroyed during the bombing, taking a lot of effort to rebuild over the following decades.
The History Of The Nagasaki Peace Park
The Nagasaki Peace Park was established in 1955 close to where the atomic bomb exploded. It was built to remember the victims of the Nagasaki bombing, including the Koreans who were killed as a result of being forced into labor by wartime Japan.
There is a yearly commemoration that takes place in the Nagasaki Peace Park on August 9th, where a ceremony is conducted by the mayor.
Over the years, many monuments and other memorial items have been donated to the park from countries around the world.
Attractions Near Nagasaki Peace Park
There are many things to see near the Nagasaki Peace Park, making it a humbling place to visit for a day.
One of the most prominent attractions is the remnants of the Urakami Cathedral, which was the largest church in Japan before the bombing.
The Hypocenter Park
The Hypocenter Park features a large monolith that marks the hypocenter of where the atomic bomb hit. This is the area where the Urakami Cathedral ruins can be viewed.
Within the park is also an area of soil where you can still see bricks and other debris that remain from damaged structures.
The Peace Statue
There is also a statue that was designed by Seibo Kitamura called The Peace Statue. The gorgeous statue depicts a person pointing one hand towards the sky towards nuclear weapons and another towards peace.
Many of the details of the statue were meticulously planned to symbolize a representation of peace. The eyes are closed, as it is common for us to close our eyes when praying.
The legs are also positioned in a specific way. The right leg is folded in a meditative manner, symbolizing Buddha, who is a symbol of peace. The left leg is positioned with its foot on the ground, symbolizing a calling to stand up for peace.
There is also a plaque near the statue to remember the people who passed away during the bombing. The plaque was updated to also remember those who died in later years as a result of radiation poisoning.
The Fountain Of Peace
On one end of the park, there is the Fountain of Peace. It’s a water fountain that was built in 1979 as a way to remember those who died from the bombing.
The symbolism of the water fountain is to serve those who desperately tried to find water to remedy the heat radiating from the bomb.
A plaque sits by the fountain with a somber poem written by Sachiko Yamaguchi, a little girl who experienced the bombing.
The Atomic Bomb Museum
The Atomic Bomb Museum was erected as a reminder to visitors about the devastating effects war can have on a community, as well as the rest of the world.
The construction is very modern and striking to behold. Close to the museum, there is also a Memorial Hall that stands to remember the victims of the bombing of Nagasaki.
Among the monuments, there are also two separate monuments dedicated to the Chinese and Korean victims of the atomic bombing. In the museum, you can learn about how Nagasaki was before the bomb fell, as well as how Nagasaki was able to rebuild.
A lot of the documentation showcasing the after-effects of the bombing is very difficult to view but is a necessary reminder of why history should not repeat itself.
Visiting the Atomic Bomb Museum only costs 200 yen, and it is open between 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. throughout many months of the year. Between September and April, the museum is open until 5:30 p.m.
While sadly, there are few survivors left today, there will occasionally be the privilege to learn about the atomic bombing from a survivor within the museum’s lecture hall.
The Memorial Hall
This breathtaking hall is very unique in that much of it lies underground. It also features water as its main motif, which is beautiful to see. This hall is in place to allow people space to pray for peace, as well as to remember those who were lost in the bombing.
You will be able to see many paper cranes hanging around the park. Paper cranes have become very important to the people of Japan, being a conduit of positive wishes and peace.
The story of paper cranes and their symbolism started with a young survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She folded paper cranes in hopes that she would recover from her injuries.
She sadly passed from leukemia as a result of the bombing, but her memory lives on in paper cranes folded around the world.
How To Get There
There are a few trams that are able to take you close to the Nagasaki Peace Park. The park is also not very far from the JR Nagasaki Station.
Peace Park is located near Urakami, 2 miles north of the city center. It can be reached in ten minutes by tram lines 1 or 3 from JR Nagasaki Station. Peace Park (Heiwa Koen) is the nearest tram station, which is only a short walk away.