Home > Japan In-depth > Scenic Beauty > World Heritage Sites in Japan

World Heritage Sites in Japan

Scenic Beauty

Japan In-depth

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) and Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

'Negative cultural heritage' that tells of the mistakes humanity has made, and
the shrine where the god of the sea resides

Hiroshima prefecture

The Genbaku Dome is the ruin of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall that was destroyed when the first nuclear weapon/atomic bomb in human history was dropped by an American air force bomber on August 6, 1945. Because the atomic blast was almost directly above this spot, the walls of the building were partially spared from destruction, and the characteristic form of the building remained with the iron frame of the dome. This building representing Hiroshima, the first city to fall victim to nuclear bombing is registered as a world heritage site as a symbol of prayer for permanent world peace and the elimination of all nuclear weapons. There are only a few world heritage sites having this kind of negative side, including "Auschwitz = Birkenau Concentration Camp (Poland)" where the Nazi Germans slaughtered Jewish people, the "Island of Goree (Senegal)" that was used as a base in the slave trade and "Robben Island (Republic of South Africa)" where people opposed to apartheid were imprisoned. These sites are registered to remind us of the tragedies that occurred there and to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

On the opposite bank of the Motoyasu River that runs past the Genbaku Dome, is the Peace Memorial Park where you will find the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, Children's Peace Monument and a cenotaph for atomic bomb victims. In front of the Hiroshima Peace City Monument in Peace Memorial Park, a peace memorial ceremony is held on August 6th every year to comfort the spirits of the people who died in the bombing and to pray for world peace.

In Miyajima, counted as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan, there is a cultural heritage site called the "Itsukushima Shinto Shrine" that is dedicated to the God protecting people from sea disasters and wars. It is said that this shrine was constructed around 593; however, after the warlord Tairano Kiyomori (1118-1181) rebuilt it in 1168, it became the magnificent vermilion-lacquered building it is today. The most interesting feature of this shrine is the Torii (a kind of gate symbolizing a shrine) and the Shaden (shrine pavilion) in the sea, which are both submerged at full tide, but at low tide the sea water recedes completely and it is possible to walk out to the gate.

Moreover, the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine has the only stage for Japanese traditional musical "Noh" plays that floats in the sea and where "Noh" is sometimes performed by lamplight.

Genbaku Dome: Hiroshima City, Hiroshima prefecture
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine: Miyajima-cho, Saeki-gun, Hiroshima prefecture


Genbaku Dome: A short walk form the Genbaku Dome mae station The Genbaku Dome mae station is approx. 15 minutes from the Hiroshima Dentetsu Hiroshima station on routes No. 2, 3, 6 or 7. The Hiroshima Dentetsu Hiroshima station is approx. 3-minute walk from the JR Hiroshima station Itsukushima Shinto Shrine: 10-minute walk from the ferry landing, which is approx. 10 minutes from the JR Miyajimaguchi station by ferry. Miyajimaguchi station is approx. 30 minutes from the JR Hiroshima station on the JR Sanyo Honsen Line.