Number of visitors to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum declines by 9.4% in fiscal 2018

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

The number of visitors to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in fiscal 2018, between April 2018 and March 2019, totaled 1,522,453 people, the museum announced on April 5. This is the sixth largest number since the museum opened in 1955, but a decrease of 158,470 (9.4 percent) from the figure of fiscal 2017. According to the museum, this decrease was partly due to people’s hesitation to travel to the area after it was hit by torrential rain last July. The museum also said that some people held off visiting the museum because the main building will reopen after renovations on April 25. On the other hand, the number of international visitors reached 434,838, breaking the record for six consecutive years.

As for monthly figures, the number of visitors in July 2018, when torrential rain caused huge damage to the Hiroshima area, fell by 27.5 percent from that of the same month of the previous year. In August the decrease was 21.1 percent. In all months, except March 2019, the number of visitors declined from that of the previous year. Since the museum has been partly closed while the main building is renovated, some people may be putting off their visit until it reopens, the museum said.

Meanwhile, the number of international visitors increased by 42,171 (10.7 percent), accounting for 28.6 percent of the total number of visitors. The museum said that this was partly due to the overall rise in the number of international visitors to Japan and that the peace museum, which is located in the Peace Memorial Park, was ranked the second most popular tourist site in Japan by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, based on users’ feedback. Fushimiinari Shrine in Kyoto was ranked number one.

Takuo Takigawa, the museum director, said that the exhibits in the renovated museum will more clearly convey the suffering and sorrow of the A-bomb victims and their family members. He hopes that the number of visitors in fiscal 2019 will reach 1.7 million, about the same as that of fiscal 2016 when then U.S. President Barack Obama paid a visit to the museum.

The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, which is also located in the park, announced the number of visitors to the hall in fiscal 2018. The total number was 433,912, breaking the record for five straight years. The number of international visitors totaled a new high of 159,312. By month, international visitors accounted for 52.0 percent of all visitors in April 2018.

Masaki Kano, director of the hall, said, “While the peace museum is crowded, the hall seems to receive a favorable response from visitors as they can take their time viewing the memoirs by A-bomb survivors and thinking about each survivor.” According to the hall, it will seek to provide better service to international visitors through such efforts as making leaflets in more languages.


Renovation of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The museum’s main building opened in 1955, and the east building opened in 1994. In March 2014, the City of Hiroshima began full-scale renovations of the main building, an important national cultural property, with the aim of better conveying the devastation caused by the atomic bombing and the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons as well as making the museum earthquake resistant. The east building was closed in September 2014 to renovate its exhibition space and reopened in April 2017. Then the main building was closed for interior renovations and quakeproofing. The seismic reinforcement work will be completed by the end of fiscal 2019.

(Originally published on April 8, 2019)