Peace Memorial Park’s Rest House reopens after two-and-a-half-year renovation, displays Hiroshima cityscape prior to atomic bombing

(by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer)

On July 1, the Rest House, an A-bombed building located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Naka Ward), reopened after two-and-a-half years of renovation as a new facility that welcomes visitors from Japan and abroad to Hiroshima and conveys damage caused by the atomic bombing. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still few guests visiting Peace Memorial Park, but Hiroshima citizens visited the new Rest House at its reopening to take in the renovated building.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, containers of antiseptic solution have been placed on each floor of the three-story building, as well as on the basement floor. On the counters of a souvenir shop and a café, where staff and customers come into close contact, transparent partitions have been set up. To prevent clusters of people from forming, Hiroshima City officials say they are now considering imposing a temporary limitation on the number of visitors allowed inside the building during peak admission times.

The third floor—which displays the pre-bombing daily lives of people and the cityscape of the former Nakajima district, now part of Peace Memorial Park—attracted local visitors who viewed the exhibits with keen interest. Mutsuji Kato, 74, a resident of the city’s Minami Ward and a volunteer guide at Peace Memorial Park, gazed intently at the photographs and videos showing images of the pre-war city. “It’s amazing that so many important and interesting materials still exist,” he said. “These exhibits are sure to help me in my work of guiding visitors.”

The Rest House, constructed in 1929, was originally the Taishoya Kimono Shop, but in February 2018, the Hiroshima City government closed the doors of the building. As part of the renovation work, the building’s appearance was altered to make it look as similar as possible to the original building, and a tourist information office, a souvenir shop, and a rest-and-relaxation area with a café were established in the building. The basement, which has been preserved in a condition similar to that at the time of the atomic bombing, includes exhibits regarding the structure’s A-bomb history. The Rest House is generally open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

(Originally published on July 2, 2020)