Museums & Galleries in Hiroshima Listing 博物館, 広島
Hiroshima, a port city in south western Japan, is most famous for the tragic events of August 1945, when the city suffered the world's first atomic bomb attack. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum remains the most famous and most visited museum in the city but Hiroshima city and Hiroshima Prefecture have a variety of other interesting museums.
See below for a list of museums in Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 広島平和記念資料館
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is a must-see for visitors to Hiroshima. The linear, concrete building has been expanded to comprise the newer East Building and the West Building. Visitors enter through the East Building.
The ground floor (1F) sets the scene for the nuclear bombing, including information on the Manhattan Project - the US development of the atom bomb - and the reasons it was dropped on Japan and Hiroshima in particular are analysed.
The Main Building (i.e. west building) has the most shocking exhibits including twisted and melted bottles, coins, Buddhist statues, roof tiles, burnt clothing, ceramics, even golf clubs. The fireball reached temperatures of 5,000 degrees centigrade and left black shadows on stone steps where humans had been sitting or standing.
Dioramas of wax figures with their skin falling and photos of the victims and their terrible injuries and suffering are extremely saddening.
Further exhibits detail the damage caused by the heat rays, black rain, the blast and radiation. The effects of radiation continue to cause suffering for the estimated 300,000 surviving hibakusha (atomic bombing survivors).
There is a particularly poignant panel display dedicated to the young girl Sadako Sasaki, who lost her fight for life against radiation-related sickness, despite her determination to survive by folding a thousand paper cranes.
Finally visitors emerge from the darkened museum to a light-filled corridor as you exit. On your right here is a guest book and photographs of world leaders, including US President Barrack Obama, who have made the pilgrimage to Hiroshima.
Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
When it opened in 1989 Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art was the first public museum in Japan to be devoted solely to contemporary art. The museum was designed by renowned architect Kisho Kurokawa and is mostly modeled on traditional Japanese storehouse design.
Most of the museum is built below ground so that the skyline of Hijiyama was not disturbed. The entrance features a circular cloister with an opening that points towards the epicenter of the atomic blast.
The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art's permanent collection features modern art by both Japanese and foreign artists including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Henry Moore.
Hiroshima City Transportation Museum
The Hiroshima City Transportation Museum, is a fun museum located close to Chorakuji Station on the Astram Line in Asaminami-ku. The museum is now more commonly referred to as the Numaji Transportation Museum (ヌマジ交通ミュージアム) on official literature.
The Numaji Transportation Museum has an eclectic collection of exhibits related to all forms of transport. The entrance floor includes the museum shop, a small family restaurant and a library. Also on this floor is a Craft Room where special "Science Shows" are held.
The second Exhibition Floor has over 2,000 models of cars, planes, ships and trains from around the world in glass cases. There are also interactive simulation games such as driving the Astram and videos.
Hiroshima Children's Museum
Hiroshima Children's Museum includes a popular 340-seat planetarium on the 4th floor with a changing program of shows every three months according to the season and a number of other special events including looking at the stars without commentary but with background music on Wednesdays at 12.30pm and a star show with live music on the last Sunday of the month beginning at 4pm.
The exhibits on the other three floors of the Hiroshima Children's Museum include the Exploration Hall on the first floor introducing kids to the basics of science in a fun way.
The second floor is named Dr. Scitech's Research Laboratory and is an amusing introduction into applied science with the aid of interactive exhibits looking at the science behind everyday appliances such as TVs and cameras. There is also a model train set laid out in a futuristic cityscape.
The third floor has an exhibition space dedicated to astronomy including a solar telescope and a work shop where children can try their hand at assembling various things to gain a practical understanding of science.
Hiroshima Museum of Art
The Hiroshima Museum of Art was established in 1978 by Hiroshima Bank to celebrate its centenary. The Hiroshima Museum of Art is located in Central Park in the heart of Hiroshima city, close to Hiroshima Castle.
The Hiroshima Museum of Art exhibits both modern European paintings, with an emphasis on the French Impressionists, and contemporary Japanese oil paintings from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) to the present day.
The over 90 works of modern European art include paintings by Bonnard, Braque, Chagall, Degas, Delacroix, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Millet, Monet, Munch, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau, Sisley, Utrillo and Van Gogh.
The Japanese collection has paintings by the likes of Chu Asai, Rei Kamoi, Ryusei Kishida, Ryohei Koizo, Morikazu Kumagai, Seiki Kuroda and Yuzo Saiki.
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum
The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum is located close to the Shukkeien Garden. The museum's permanent collection of 4,500 pieces is rotated four times a year. The collection both Japanese art and art from the Asian mainland. Pieces includes Imari ceramics, byobu folding screens, and folk art by such artists such as Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai. More modern pieces include work by Salvador Dali, Nihonga painter Ikuo Hirayama, Isamu Noguchi and Hiroshima-born sculptor, Katsuzo Entsuba.
The Mazda Museum has become a popular attraction for foreign visitors who flock to the free morning English language tours of the museum and production line.
The tour begins, after a short bus journey to the museum, with a short, introductory video to Mazda, its products and company history.
Mazda began life in 1920 in Hiroshima and made its first automobile in the 1930's - a three-wheel autoricksaw. Mazda is still headquartered in Hiroshima and has a similar economic effect on the city as Toyota has to Toyota city and Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture. The site where the museum is located also houses Mazda's private port, workers' housing and the assembly plants.
The 90-minute tour then moves to an exhibition area of Mazda models from the very first autorickshaw to its latest models.
Other sections are devoted to Mazda's rotary engine where a Mazda racing car that won at 1991 Le Mans 24-hour race is on display and the manufacturing process is explained. Visitors also exhibits of future developments planned by the company for its next-generation models.
JMSDF Kure Museum
The JMSDF Kure Museum is mainly dedicated to the mine-sweeping activities of the JMSDF from the end of World War II, when the seas around Japan had been heavily mined by Allied forces, until the present day including Japanese minesweepers in action during the First Gulf War in Iraq.
The first two floors of the JMSDF Kure Museum contain exhibits on the history of the JMSDF, the JMSDF today, mine-sweeping techniques and the different kinds of mines in use in the world's oceans during conflict and the history of minesweepers and the use of helicopters to destroy mines.
The third floor focuses on submarines including life in a submarine, the history of submarines, torpedoes and submarine rescue. From this floor visitors can access the 76m-long Akishio SS-579 submarine which was launched in Kobe in 1985 and served until 2004.
The low, cramped quarters show how life was for the 75 submariners of the ship's crew under the ocean. Visitors can also peer through the periscope into Hiroshima Bay.
In April 2005, on the anniversary of the sinking of the Yamato, a new museum opened in Kure, Hiroshima, once the largest naval shipyard in the Orient, and where the Yamato was built.
Outside the museum are artifacts taken from the wreck after it was discovered in 1985, including one of the huge guns and a propeller, but the centerpiece of the museum is a 1:10 scale model of the battleship.
At 26 meters in length, it is impressive, and cost 200 million yen, being built by the same company that built the original.
The museum also has displays on the history of shipbuilding in Kure, a floor of mainly interactive displays on the science and technology of ships, a room including a 2-man kamikaze sub, a Mitsubishi Zero, and other war materials.
When launched in 1940, the battleship Yamato was the biggest warship in the world. 263 meters long, with a displacement of 65,000 tonnes, she had numerous unique and innovative features, including the biggest naval guns in the world that fired 1.36 tonne shells from its 18.1 inch barrels, but it was also largely obsolete as the day of the battleship had passed to be replaced by aircraft carrier groups.
Irifuneyama Memorial Museum
The Irifuneyama Memorial Museum in Kure is a collection of historical buildings that have been gathered at this site. They include a small, tatami-floored rest house where Admiral Togo was resident during his stay in Kure as commander of Kure Naval Station from 1890 to 1891, a powder-magazine building dating from 1899, the clock tower of the former Kure Naval Arsenal and the residence of the commander-in-chief of the former Kure naval base. The site also includes the Kure Municipal Museum of Historical Materials and Modern Archives.
Museum of Naval History
The Museum of Naval History in Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture is located inside a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force base, which serves as an Officer Cadet School.
A visit to the Museum of Naval History includes a tour of the buildings of the former Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, which was established in Etajima in 1888. The museum itself was constructed in 1936 using donations from former Naval Academy graduates "in order to preserve the history and traditions of the Imperial Japanese navy."
The museum was closed in 1945 at the end of World War II and many of its documents destroyed to prevent them falling into enemy hands but the museum was reopened and restored in the 1950's.
Nagato Museum of Shipbuilding History
The Nagato Museum of Shipbuilding History on Kurahashi Island, Hiroshima Prefecture is located on the beautiful and historic Katsuragahama Beach. It is from this pine tree-lined stretch of sand that Japanese envoys were sent to the Kingdom of Silla (or Shiragi to the Japanese) on the Korean Peninsula during the Nara Period of Japanese history.
These events are recorded in the Manyoshu (万葉集), a collection of Japanese poetry from the period.
The boats would leave Nagato (the old name for Kurahashi) stay close to shore and island hop through the Inland Sea, round Kyushu and then cross the Sea of Japan to Korea via Hirado, in Nagasaki Prefecture, Iki and Tsushima islands.
Shotoen Garden & Museum
Shotoen (松濤園) is a collection of historic buildings set in landscaped gardens on the seashore in Sannose, Shimokamagari. Shotoen has a variety of displays connected to the elite maritime travellers of the Seto Inland Sea during the Edo Period.
Kamigari, as Sannose was formerly known, was an official kaieki, the maritime equivalent of the post stations found along the important highways of Edo Japan, such as the Tokaido and Nakasendo, and as such it had a series of lodgings for elite travellers known as honjin.
When the daimyo and their retinues travelled up to Edo (Tokyo) for the obligatory period of residence there known as sankin kotai they would lodge here and the Dutch from Dejima in Nagasaki also stayed here on their journeys to Edo, as did the Ryukyuan missions from Okinawa, but the largest groups seem to have been the Korean emissaries on their diplomatic missions to appear before the shogun in Edo.
Other Museums in Hiroshima
Other museums in Hiroshima include the Poison Gas Museum on Okunoshima. The museum opened in 1988 and is a good example of one of the many smaller "peace" museums scattered across Japan (such as the Ritsumeikan Peace Museum in Kyoto) that seek to display and preserve the memory of the less than savory aspects of Japan's wartime history. The Poison Gas Museum, like these other museums, was created by local citizens and local government and go against the national government that would rather deny, hide, or ignore that part of Japanese history.
The Iwakuni Art Museum in Iwakuni is a large, private museum with a wide selection of objects and materials relating to samurai. There is plenty of weaponry, including swords, armor, helmets, daggers, and firearms, as well as art objects such as glassware, lacquer-ware, ceramics etc. Each season a special exhibition is shown featuring objects from the museum's large collection that reflect on that particular season. There is a fair amount of information in English.
The Kure Municipal Museum of Art is close to the Irifuneyama Memorial Museum and has a collection of mostly Japanese art (with a few pieces by foreign artists) from the 1940's to the present.
The Waterworks Museum on the Futabanosato Historical Walking Trail is housed in an old pumping station built in 1898.
The Hiroshima City Museum of History & Traditional Crafts is housed in an historic red brick building dating from 1911.
The Hiroshima City Health Sciences Museum has a range of exhibits on health issues that affect people from infancy to old age.