Peace Memorial Park

Top choice park in Hiroshima

Image by Keren Su Getty Images

Hugged by rivers on both sides, Peace Memorial Park is a large, leafy space crisscrossed by walkways and dotted with memorials and tranquil spaces for reflection. Its central feature is the long tree-lined Pond of Peace leading to the cenotaph. This curved concrete monument holds the names of all the known victims of the bomb. Also at the pond is the Flame of Peace, set to burn on until all the world's nuclear weapons are destroyed.

Look through the cenotaph down the pond and you'll see it frames the Flame of Peace and the Atomic Bomb Dome across the river – the park was planned so that these features form a straight line, with the Peace Memorial Museum at its southern end.

Just north of the road through the park is the Children's Peace Monument, inspired by Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old at the time of the atomic bomb. When Sadako developed leukaemia at 11 years of age, she decided to fold 1000 paper cranes. In Japan, the crane is the symbol of longevity and happiness, and she believed if she achieved that target she would recover. She died before reaching her goal, but her classmates folded the rest. A monument was built in 1958. Sadako's story inspired a nationwide spate of paper-crane folding that continues to this day. Surrounding the monument are strings of thousands of colourful paper cranes, sent here by schoolchildren from around the country and all over the world.

Nearby is the Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Memorial. Many Koreans were shipped over to work as slave labour during WWII, and Koreans accounted for more than one in 10 of those killed by the atomic bomb. Just north of this memorial is the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound – the ashes of thousands of unclaimed or unidentified victims are interred in a vault below.

There are other monuments and statues throughout the park, and plenty of benches, including those along the riverside looking across to the Atomic Bomb Dome; they make this a pleasant area to take a break and take it all in.