Some placenames are synonymous with tragedy - I happen to live in one. Likewise, Hiroshima brings to mind old footage of a massive white flash and a dust cloud and the untold human cost.
I turned up there with a friend on 12th September 2001 - the day after the 911 attacks, which brought an added dimension of humanity and sadness to the place. Of course, the most important landmark is the Genbaku dome - virtually the only building that wasn't eliminated by the atom bomb.
Originally it was built to promote industry in the area but somehow managed to withstand the blast and so is now the Peace Museum amid the Peace Park. The contents are a must-see. It's hugely moving and will make you think deeply about humanity and the futility of war. While you'll easily be persuaded that nuclear arms should never be used, you'll find there is no mention anywhere in the displays as to why the Americans did what they did.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Hiroshima - which means "wide island" is famously known for its "okonomiyaki" - a kind of exotic pancake cooked on a hot plate. It's mostly egg, bean sprouts (moyashi) and noodles of course served with cabbage. A lot of cabbage as I recall.
Trust me to start with the food!
Hiroshima Castle is also worth a visit - it's a replica of the castle destroyed in the war, and offers great views across the city.
However, the highlight of our trip was a visit to Miyajima, home to the famous and one of the most enduring images of Japan - the floating gate which is a UNESCO heritage site. The tide was out when we were there which meant we could walk right up to it, but also meant that it didn't look quite as magical as it usually does. It dates back to the 6th century but has only been open to "commoners" relatively recently, as it was believed that they would spoil the island's sacredness.
In fact, even now, it's so sacred that death or birth is not allowed near it - just a warning there to anyone who's pregnant or terminally ill!
So don't think of Hiroshima as a place that died in 1945, think of it as a beautiful living place that's worth a visit if you're heading to Japan. Gambatte!
To get a feel of what it was like to have witnessed the bomb, check out this utterly heartbreaking film: www.amazon.co.uk/Grave-Fireflies-DVD-Isao-Takahata/dp/B000TQLJHS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438849093&sr=8-1&keywords=graveyard+of+the+fireflies