Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum attracts record number of international visitors in fiscal 2015

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

It has been learned that 1,495,065 people visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in fiscal 2015, the year which marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, which runs the museum, announced on April 20 that this was the fifth largest number since the museum opened in 1955. The number of visitors fell in fiscal 2014 when the east building was closed because of renovation work. Compared to fiscal 2014, the number of visitors rose by 13.8 percent. The number of international visitors has risen by 44.6 percent to 338,891, a record high.

The museum attracted over 1.4 million visitors for the first time since 2009. The greatest number, 1,593,280, was recorded in 1991 after the museum’s main building reopened after a renovation.

The number of international visitors has increased for the fourth straight year, growing by 104,531 from fiscal 2014. The foundation believes that the museum’s high ranking on a travel website added momentum to the increase, in addition to the rising number of international visitors to Japan. Another big factor was the World Scout Jamboree, a worldwide event for Boy Scouts, held in Yamaguchi Prefecture last summer. About 27,000 participants of the event visited the museum.

The number of groups of mainly students on school trips that visited the museum increased from fiscal 2014 by 2.2 percent to 4,364. The number of elementary and junior high school students who visited the museum on school trips rose by 9.2 percent to 334,798.

The east building of the museum has been closed since September 2014 as part of renovations on the entire museum for seismic reinforcements. During a press conference held at City Hall on April 20, Kenji Shiga, the director of the museum, said, “I thought the closing of the east building would have an impact (on the number of visitors), but more than that, high marks have been given to the exhibits that convey the reality of the atomic bombing.” When the east building reopens this October, the museum’s main building will then close. Mr. Shiga added that measures will be taken to provide a good environment for visitors so that the number of visitors will continue to grow.

The foundation also announced the number of visitors to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. The number in fiscal 2015 was 313,891, a 24.3 percent increase from fiscal 2014. International visitors increased by 65.9 percent to 66,029. The number of atomic bomb victims whose names and photographs are newly registered at the hall has grown by 60 percent, or 857, compared to fiscal 2014. According to an official at the hall, awareness of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing spurred people to visit the hall or register names and photographs of victims.

(Originally published on April 21, 2016)