Honkawa Elementary School Peace Museum

Honkawa-Elementary-School-Peace-Museum

The Honkawa Jinjo Higher Elementary School, built in 1928, was the first reinforced concrete school in Hiroshima; this is the only reason the school survived the bombing. It was less than 400 yards away from the hypocenter of the bomb. The interior of the structure was destroyed by fire caused by heat rays following the bombing.

Kiyoko and Kazuko’s Story

Unfortunately, 400 students and 10 teachers lost their lives on that fateful day in 1945; however, an 11-year-old student, Kiyoko Imori, and her friend, Kazuko Aohara, survived the attack. They were inside the school changing shoes when the bomb was detonated. The two girls walked outside only to be met with the death and destruction of their classmates, teachers, and city. Two female teachers, both badly injured, told the girls to get in the river. As they trekked to the water they were joined by another schoolmate, Takagi, who was burned so badly she was unrecognizable. Once they arrived at the river, some teachers placed Takagi in a small boat where she passed away. Kiyoko and Kazuko stayed in the water for hours while chaos and fire rained down around them. They were surrounded by corpses and pieces of buildings. They eventually withdrew from the river and were taken, by rescuers, to an evacuation site. Aohara died 10 days later after being picked up by her father. Imori, now an orphan, eventually left Hiroshima and now lives with her husband in Yokohama. To this day, she suffers from tumors and cancers caused by the radiation from the blast. She attended the 60th anniversary of the bombing with her husband and had the chance to reunite with other survivors. Read more about her compelling story here.

The school had become a field hospital to treat bombing victims and then temporarily it was used as a crematorium. From 1946-1988, the school was returned to its normal schoolhouse function.  In 1988 demolition day came so that a new school could be constructed.   During the construction of the new school, bodies were found that had been discarded after the bombing. These remains received a proper burial.

The basement and part of the school were preserved as a memorial and museum. This is definitely worth a visit.  So, make sure to pick up a brochure that is written in both English and Japanese which will help explain what it is that you are looking at.

Helpful Information

Best Time to Visit: Open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Important Information

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Kristal Ham

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