Photos of Taishoya Kimono Shop, formerly housed in Rest House building, now on display at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

An exhibit that looks back at the Taishoya Kimono Shop is now being held on the first basement floor of the east building of the Peace Memorial Museum in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. The shop was once housed in the building now known as the Rest House, an A-bombed building located in the Peace Memorial Park. In this exhibition, valuable photographs are on display for the first time, including a color image of the area around the shop taken in November 1945. The exhibit will run until the end of July. Admission is free.

The shop was established in 1912, and became a well-known kimono shop in Hiroshima. In 1929, the owners constructed a new reinforced concrete building of three floors and a basement in Nakajima Honmachi. It was forced to close in 1943 because the Japanese government tightened control over private businesses after the war broke out. The building was then used as the Fuel Hall, and was hit by the atomic bombing in 1945.

With about 60 photographs and other materials, the exhibition conveys the history and background of the shop, such as the fact that a kimono wholesaler in Osaka provided funds to help open the shop; the appearance of the shop, both inside and outside, which adopted a very attractive and modern design among the buildings in Nakajima Honmachi, one of the city’s main commercial districts at the time; and images of the building before and after the atomic bombing.

A color photograph of the area, taken in November 1945, is also on display at the exhibit. It shows the A-bombed landscape with reinforced concrete buildings like the Fuel Hall still standing amid the ruins. H.J. Peterson, a member of the U.S. Army’s Strategic Bombing Survey, took the photo and donated it to the museum in 1991.

A staff member of the museum said, “We would like visitors to know that this building has been part of Hiroshima’s history from its glorious pre-war days to the post-war period.” The city is now renovating the Rest House building to restore its appearance to the time of its original construction. It is scheduled to reopen in July 2020.

(Originally published on April 15, 2019)