We had even before we went to Japan decided that Hiroshima would be on our itinerary on our Japan journey. Hiroshima is famous all over the world for its sad history of being the first city in the world that got bombed by an atomic bomb.
When we found out that we would actually be in Japan on the annual anniversary of the atomic bombing, the Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony & Peace Memorial Ceremony, we decided to schedule it in so that we would be in Hiroshima on the 6th of August.
And we did not regret it! The Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony with over 10 000 colorful paper lanterns floating peacefully down the river in the dark was breathtakingly stunning! ♥ It is a memory that I will remember for the rest of my life.
We came from Kyoto by train late in the afternoon (after a 1:35 min train ride) and were so stressed and worried that we were too late for the Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony, but the guy in our hotel reception said that it did not start until after dark (around 7 p.m.), and lasted till around 9/10 p.m. So we put our bags into our room and rushed down to the Atomic Bomb Dome.
The Peace Memorial Ceremony & Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony In Hiroshima
In December 1941 Japanese Navy attacks the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was a surprise military strike which led to the USA`s entry into World War II, and the start of the Pacific War.
On the early morning of 6th of August 1945, the USA dropped the fatal atomic bomb over Hiroshima, as well as Nagasaki a few days later. These two bombings were the first and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare. Let`s hope it stays that way.
Within the first two to four months of the bombings, 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki died. Roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians.
On August 15, just days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender.
Each year, on the 6th of August, the Peace Memorial Ceremony & Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony is held in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima.
Once we entered the park around the Atomic Bomb Dome, we were met by thousands of lanterns beautifully decorated by the children of Hiroshima.
Walking around the Atomic Bomb Dome among all these Japanese people who probably had lost family members in the atomic bombing, we felt a sense of calm and humbleness. The atmosphere was dignified, sort of sad but at the same time filled with hope for the future.
It was like mother nature also wanted to participate and show her respect to the anniversary, showing us the full moon just above the Atomic Bomb Dome. It was the perfect setting, making the atmosphere even more special.
There were people everywhere, young and old, mostly Japanese but also a few Western. Even though it was crowded and we were walking in a stream of people, everybody was calm, walked slowly and spoke with a low toned voice. It really was a respectful and dignified atmosphere.
When we got to the Kyuota-gawa river, that runs through Hiroshima, we were met by a beautiful sight. Thousands of paper lanterns were floating peacefully down the river, for the souls of the dead. It was stunning!
You can even send off your own lantern if you want. You can buy a paper lantern (600 Yen = US$ 5) at the reception tent in the Peace Memorial Park from 6:00 am and write a message on it. Then show up at the river bank of the Motoyasu River (on the other side of the river from the Atomic Bomb Dome) between 6 pm and 9 pm and send off your lantern.
It really was breathtaking! All those colorful lanterns with writing and drawings on them gliding calmly down the river while the moon was shining on the sky in all its glory. The atmosphere was kind of magical.
We are so happy that we scheduled our Japan trip so that we could join the Peace Memorial Ceremony. It truly was an unforgettable evening, that will stay with us forever. Hiroshima and it`s sad history will always be in our hearts, and we wish that no other city in the world will experience the same sad destiny.
Peace & Love! ♥
⇒ Hiroshima is on our recommended two weeks Japan Itinerary that you can find here.
- The official webpage for the annual Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony
- The official webpage for the annual Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony
How To Get To Hiroshima
- Train: You can take train practically from all over Japan to Hiroshima. For instance from Tokyo (4 hours, 17540 JPY = 163 us$), Osaka (1,5 hour, 9440 JPY = 88 us$) and Hakata (1,5 hour, 8190 JPY = 76 us$).
- Bus: Long distance buses connect Hiroshima with all major cities in Japan.
- Air: Hiroshima Airport is 40 km east of the city. From here there are flights to all major cities in Japan.
How Much Does It Cost To Attend The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony & Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony
The ceremony is free.
When Is The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony & Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony is held every year on the 6th of August from 8:00 am to 8:45 am at the Peace Memorial Park (Nakajima-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima City).
The Hiroshima Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony is held every year on the 6th of August form 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm on the Motoyasu River (near the Atomic Bomb Dome).
Both ceremonies are free and open to the public so anyone can attend.
Where to stay in Hiroshima
Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima
The Sheraton Grand Hotel is a modern high-end hotel situated in a great location close to the train station with plenty of transport and dining options nearby. The rooms are large, bright and well furnished with comfortable beds and all modern comforts. Breakfast has a good selection of both Japanese and Western food. The Wi-fi is free and fast.
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Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima
Rhiga Royal hotel offers excellent value for money, and its location is fantastic for exploring Hiroshima. The Peace Memorial Park and the city’s buses are both within easy walking distance, and the views overlooking the beautiful Hiroshima Castle are spectacular. Rooms are spacious, well furnished and comfortable with every modern amenities including free Wi-fi. Breakfast is excellent, and there is even a swimming pool!
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Candeo Hotels Hiroshima Hatchobori
Candeo Hotels is a new fresh hotel centrally located within walking distance of the Atomic Bomb Dome, Peace Memorial Park, and public transportation. Rooms are relatively small but tidy, clean and comfortable. The staff speak English and there is a lovely Onsen/hot bath on the roof perfect after a long day sightseeing.
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K’s House operates hostels in a few cities across Japan, and we’ve always found them to be quite excellent, with friendly and helpful staff and clean and comfortable rooms. This one is thankfully no exception. The JR train station and a tram station are just a short walk away making it a great base from which to explore the city. There are both dormitory style rooms, as well as western style private rooms with bathrooms available.
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We used the Lonely Planet`s Japan travel guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below which will take you to Amazon.com (affiliate links):
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Have you ever been to a ceremony that made an impact on you? Please leave a comment in the comment area below. If you like this article and find it useful, please share it on social media. Thank you! 🙂