Architecture and Memory
Course description and objectives
Resources and links
Requirements and grading
Who we are
Discussion and debate
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
Visiting Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, filled with monuments and memorials to the bombing of the city was an intense experience. I can't think of another time that I've felt so reverent and moved by memorials, especially outdoor ones. A focal point of the park is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome. It is the ruins of a Commercial Exhibition Hall, and was one of the few concrete buildings in a city otherwise filled with wooden structures, which were destroyed in the subsequent fires. Despite its location very near the hypocenter of the bomb's detonation and the physical contortion and rending of its walls, much of the building still stands. To me, this memorial was raw and honest, but with very little shock value; instead, for me, it showcased the power of the destructive event and the uniting need for such an event to never happen again.
A smaller memorial at the base of the dome; memorials like this filled the park. Here, more than anywhere else on my trip, I wanted to be able to read Japanese.
View from across the river; the ruins stand unapologetically in the midst of a bustling, planned urban landscape.
Just across the river from the A-Bomb Dome is the Children's Peace Memorial, with a statue of Sadako Sasaki. (I think most American school children have read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes...) The cases behind the memorial are filled with thousands of paper cranes folded by children worldwide. I brought a few cranes to leave in the memorial.
Across the road from the children's memorial is a grand axis with a monument to peace featuring a fountain and an eternal flame.
Beyond the fountain is a cenotaph holding the names of all the victims of the bombing. (A cenotaph is a monument or marker remembering people or a person whose body is buried elsewhere.) You can see Sadako among the trees from this spot.
And finally, if you look through the cenotaph, the fountain/flame monument, and the dome at the opposite end of the park is framed, uniting the park's axis. Despite the multitude of memorials, museums and monuments in the park, the dome seems to be the gateway and focal point to the experience. To me, the entire landscape seemed sacred.