Photos of designing Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, 60 years ago, are newly found

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

It was learned on July 15 that photos depicting scenes of the designing of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park 60 years ago have been stored at a company in Tokyo. The park was conceived as a symbol of the revival of the A-bombed city. The ten photos include an image of Kenzo Tange (1913-2005), who later became a world-renowned architect, gazing at a plaster model of the park. An official of the Hiroshima Municipal Archives said, “These photos are a new discovery. They are valuable materials showing important scenes of the reconstruction of Hiroshima.”

The photos were taken in 1949 when the City of Hiroshima was conducting the design competition for the park. Upon the request of Kenzo Tange, then an assistant professor at Tokyo University, a company in Tokyo called Ueno Sekkoumokei Seisakusho Co. preserved the photos. The company made plaster models of Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum for Mr. Tange.

The photo in which Mr. Tange studies the model of the park was taken in the company’s workshop from that time. The model includes a huge arch, as a symbol of peace, at the site where the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims now sits. Mr. Tange had incorporated the arch into his original design and envisioned it standing 60 meters tall and 120 meters wide.

Another photo shows what is believed to be a design team member pulling a cart which bears a model of Peace Memorial Hall, from the company to Tokyo University. The hall was constructed at the present location of the East Building of Peace Memorial Museum.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the promulgation of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law, which served as the driving force for the construction of the park. The Hiroshima Municipal Archives will hold a special exhibit on Peace Memorial Park and Kenzo Tange between July 18 and August 9 at Peace Memorial Museum. The exhibit includes letters sent by Mr. Tange at the time he was engaged in designing the park. The contents of the letters were acknowledged this past January and will be shown to the public for the first time.

The Archives, provided with data for making prints, has made a prompt decision to exhibit these newly found photos as well. “These are valuable materials that capture moments when the core site for the reconstruction of Hiroshima would soon be brought to life from the planning stage,” said the official. “We can appreciate the atmosphere of Japan after the war from such things as the workshop and the cart.”


Peace Memorial Park
After the war ended, the City of Hiroshima envisioned constructing a peace memorial park in the former Nakajima District, which had been devastated in the atomic bombing. The city solicited architectural designs nationwide in April 1949, and, among 145 entries, selected the design created by Kenzo Tange in an announcement made on August 6, 1949. Mr. Tange’s design features the Atomic Bomb Dome as the symbol of the memory of the atomic bombing, placing the dome on an axis in line with the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and Peace Memorial Museum. The park and its facilities, including Peace Memorial Museum, were completed by 1955. The central government designated Peace Memorial Museum as an Important Cultural Property in 2006, and Peace Memorial Park as a Place of Scenic Beauty in 2007.

(Originally published on July 16, 2009)