Guide to Chugoku Region

Hiroshima-jo (Hiroshima Castle)

 In the prefecture of Hiroshima there is a beautiful castle: ”Hiroshima-jo", created as a residence for the Daimyo (feudal lord) Mōri Terumoto in 1590. At that time Hiroshima did not exist as such, but was called Gokamura, which means "five villages".  Subsequently, Gokamura was renamed Hiroshima because he thought of a more shocking name.  "Hiro" was taken from Ōe no Hiromoto, an ancestor of the Mōri family and "Shima" of Fukushima Motonaga, who helped Mōri Terumoto choose the place where the castle would be erected.  Hiroshima literally means "Wide Island."
 The location of Hiroshima-jo was chosen as a place with convenient access to both water and land transportation.  At that time, large-scale construction work began on the castle structures, including its stone walls, fences, towers.  Thus also progress was made in the surrounding territory.
 Although Mori would be degraded by the Tokugawa shogunate after the battle of Sekigahara, Hiroshima Castle continued to be maintained throughout the Edo period by successive feudal lords, from Masanori Fukushima to Nagaakira Asano, whose clan would control the castle, and with it, the domain for twelve generations.  From the 17th century until the Meiji Restoration (1869), Hiroshima Castle experienced a period of peace after the chaos and wars of previous decades.
 Even during the dismantling of many castles during the Meiji Restoration, when wooden and iron accessories were sold from these feudal fortresses to raise funds, the Japanese government saved the "Carp Castle" and made it a military base for the Imperial Army
 As of 1888, this building was used as Headquarters of the Fifth Division and during the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895 as Imperial Headquarters, which housed the supreme military command.  His Majesty Emperor Meiji traveled to Hiroshima and settled for seven months at the base of Hiroshima Castle.  Thanks to this, the city flourished even more and became a kind of capital of Japan.  It also grew economically and industrially.  The castle was designated "National Treasury" in 1931.
 On August 6, 1945, the United States Army dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, completely destroying the beautiful castle and annihilating more than 5,000 people working at the military base.
 With the aim of raising awareness about Hiroshima and its history, this national historic site was erected from the ruins in 1958, with four floors of exhibits.  The castle was built in the image and likeness of the original, only now it is a museum.
 Each floor has different exhibits that portray Hiroshima through images, objects, documents, and so on.  On the first floor, there is a sample about the ancient Hiroshima, the history of the castle, its government, the life inside the castle, its defense and you can even see different castles in the world.  On the second floor, the exhibits express more the daily life and culture of the city, including the Samurai versus the village lifestyle.  On the third floor, there are different weapons and armor displays.  The life and progress of the castle is displayed on the fourth floor.  The fifth floor is an observatory that allows you to admire the city and the area of ​​the castle from the top of it.  A spectacular view.
 Currently, the museum holds special exhibitions about seven times a year, as well as other activities aimed at raising awareness about Hiroshima and the history of Hiroshima.  The reconstruction of the wooden exterior citadel was completed in 1994 and, at the same time, the stone walls and internal fences of the castle, which had remained intact since before the Edo Period, were designated as historical sites.
 The Hiroshima-jo or Hiroshima Castle is a symbol of the city and a place highly recommended to people interested in beauty and history.