Hiroshima gained municipality status on April 1, 1889 and was designated on April 1, 1980 by government ordinance. The city's current mayor is Tadatoshi Akiba who assumed the office on February 23, 1999.
Hiroshima served as the capital of Hiroshima Domain during the Edo period. After the han was abolished in 1871, the city became the capital of Hiroshima prefecture. Hiroshima became a major urban center during the Meiji period as the Japanese economy shifted from primarily rural to urban industries. Ujina Harbor was constructed in the 1880s, allowing Hiroshima to become an important port city. The Sanyo Railroad was extended to Hiroshima in 1894, and a rail line from the main station to the harbor was constructed for military transportation during the First Sino-Japanese War. New industrial plants, including cotton mills, were established in Hiroshima in the late 1800s. Further industrialization in Hiroshima was stimulated during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, which required development and production of military supplies. The Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall was constructed in 1915 as a center for trade and exhibition of new products. Later, its name was changed to Hiroshima Prefectural Product Exhibition Hall, and again to Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
During World War II, the Second Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at Ujina port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was a key center for shipping.
The bombing of Tokyo and other cities in Japan during World War II caused widespread destruction and over 200,000 deaths, nearly all civilians. For example, Toyama, an urban area of 128,000, was nearly 100% destroyed, and incendiary attacks on Tokyo are credited with claiming 90,000 lives. There were numerous such air raids in Hiroshima. To protect against potential firebombings in Hiroshima, students were mobilized to demolish houses and create firebreaks.
On Monday, August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by the crew of the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000. Approximately 69% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, and 6.6% severely damaged.
Research about the effects of the attack was restricted under Allied occupation, and information censored until the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, restoring control to the Japanese.
On September 17, 1945, Hiroshima was struck by the Makurazaki Typhoon (Typhoon Ida), one of the largest typhoons of the Shōwa period. Hiroshima prefecture suffered more than 3,000 deaths and injuries, about half the national total. More than half the bridges in the city were destroyed, along with heavy damage to roads and railroads, further devastating the city.
Hiroshima was rebuilt after the war, with the help from the national government through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law passed in 1949. It provided financial assistance for reconstruction, along with land donated that was previously owned by the national government and used for military purposes. Several U.S. civic leaders and scholars were consulted about the rebuilding plan.
In 1949, a design was selected for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest surviving building to the location of the bomb's detonation, was designated the Genbaku Dome (原爆ドーム) or "Atomic Dome", a part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was opened in 1955 in the Peace Park.
Hiroshima was proclaimed a City of Peace by the Japanese parliament in 1949, at the initiative of its mayor, Shinzo Hamai (1905–1968). As a result, the city of Hiroshima received more international attention as a desirable location for holding international conferences on peace as well as social issues. As part of that effort, the Hiroshima Interpreters' and Guide's Association (HIGA) was established in 1992 in order to facilitate translation services for conferences, and the Hiroshima Peace Institute was established in 1998 within the Hiroshima University. The city government continues to advocate the abolition of all nuclear weapons and the Mayor of Hiroshima is the President of Mayors for Peace, an international Mayoral organization mobilizing cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020 Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign .
|Population as of October 31, 2006|
As of 2006, the city has an estimated population of 1,154,391, while the total population for the metropolitan area was estimated as 2,043,788 in 2000. The total area of the city is 905.08 km², with a density of 1275.4 persons per km².
The population around 1910 was 143,000. Before World War II, Hiroshima's population had grown to 360,000, and peaked at 419,182 in 1942. Following the atomic bombing in 1945, the population dropped to 137,197. By 1955, the city's population had returned to pre-war levels.
Hiroshima is the center of industry for the Chūgoku-Shikoku region, and is by and large centered along the coastal areas. Hiroshima has long been a port city and Hiroshima port or Hiroshima International Airport can be used for the transportation of goods.
Its largest industry is the manufacturing industry with core industries being the production of cars (Mazda) car parts and industrial equipment. Mazda Motor Company, now controlled by the Ford Motor Company, is by far Hiroshima's dominant company. Mazda accounts for 32% of Hiroshima's GDP. Mazda makes many models in Hiroshima for worldwide export, including the popular MX-5/Miata, Mazda Demio(Mazda2), Mazda CX-9 and Mazda RX-8. The Mazda CX-7 has been built there since early 2006. Other Mazda factories are in Hofu and Flat Rock, Michigan.
General machinery and equipment also account for a large portion of exports. Because these industries require research and design capapilities, it has also had the offshoot that Hiroshima has many innovative companies actively engaged in new growth fields (for example, Hiroshima Vehicle Engineering Company [HIVEC]). Many of these companies hold the top market shares in Japan and the world, or are alone in their particular field. Tertiary industries in the wholesale and retail areas are also very developed.
Another result of the concentration of industry is an accumulation of skilled personnel and fundamental technologies. This is considered by business to be a major reason for location in Hiroshima. Business setup costs are also much lower than other large cities in the country and there is a comprehensive system of tax breaks, etc on offer for businesses which locate in Hiroshima. This is especially true of two projects: the Hiroshima Station Urban Development District and the Seifu Shinto area which offer capital installments (up to 501 million yen over 5 years), tax breaks and employee subsidies. Seifu Shinto which translates as West wind, New town is the largest construction project in the region and is an attempt to build "a city within a city." It is attempting to design from the ground up a place to work, play, relax and live.
Hiroshima recently made it onto Lonely Planet's list of the top cities in the world. Commuting times rank amongst the shortest in Japan and the cost of living is lower than other large cities in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, or Fukuoka.
Hiroshima has a professional symphony orchestra, which has performed at Wel City Hiroshima since 1963. There are also many museums in Hiroshima, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, along with several art museums. The Hiroshima Museum of Art, which has a large collection of French renaissance art, opened in 1978. The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum opened in 1968, and is located near Shukkei-en gardens. The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1989, is located near Hijiyama Park. Festivals include Hiroshima Flower Festival and Hiroshima International Animation Festival.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which includes the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, draws many visitors from around the world, especially for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, an annual commemoration held on the date of the atomic bombing. The park also contains a large collection of monuments, including the Children's Peace Monument, the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims and many others.
Hiroshima's rebuilt castle (nicknamed Rijō, meaning Koi Castle) houses a museum of life in the Edo period. Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine is within the walls of the castle. Other attractions in Hiroshima include Shukkei-en, Fudōin, Mitaki-dera, and Hijiyama Park.
Hiroshima is known for okonomiyaki, cooked on a hot-plate (usually right in front of the customer). It is cooked with various ingredients, which are layered rather than mixed together as done with the Osaka version of okonomiyaki. The layers are typically egg, cabbage, moyashi, sliced pork/bacon with optional items (mayonnaise, fried squid, octopus, cheese, mochi, kimchi, etc.), and noodles (soba, udon) topped with another layer of egg and a generous dollop of okonomiyaki sauce (Carp and Otafuku are two popular brands). The amount of cabbage used is usually 3 - 4 times the amount used in the Osaka style, therefore arguably a healthier version. It starts out piled very high and is generally pushed down as the cabbage cooks. The order of the layers may vary slightly depending on the chef's style and preference, and ingredients will vary depending on the preference of the customer.
Hiroshima is home to several professional and non-professional sports teams. Baseball fans immediately recognize the city as the home of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Six-time champions of Japan's Central League, the team has gone on to win the Japan Series three times. Kohei Matsuda, owner of Toyo Kogyo, was primary owner of the team from the 1970s until his death in 2002. The team is now owned by members of the Matsuda family, while Mazda has minority ownership of the team. The Carp play at Hiroshima Municipal Stadium, which was built in 1957. The stadium is located in central Hiroshima, near the A-Bomb Dome. The city is in planning stages for building a new baseball stadium near the JR Hiroshima Station, to be ready for the 2009 season. Sanfrecce Hiroshima is the city's J. League football team. In 1994, the city of Hiroshima hosted the Asian Games.
|Hiroshima Toyo Carp||Baseball||Central League||Hiroshima Municipal Stadium||1950|
|Sanfrecce Hiroshima||Soccer||J. League||Hiroshima Big Arch||1938|
|JT Thunders||Volleyball||V.League||Nekota Kinen Taiikukan||1931|
|Hiroshima Maple Reds||Handball||Japan Handball League||Hirogin no mori Taiikukan||1994|
Hiroshima University was established in 1949, as part of a national restructuring of the education system. One national university was set-up in each prefecture, including Hiroshima University, which combined eight existing institutions (Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, Hiroshima School of Secondary Education, Hiroshima School of Education, Hiroshima Women's School of Secondary Education, Hiroshima School of Education for Youth, Hiroshima Higher School, Hiroshima Higher Technical School, and Hiroshima Municipal Higher Technical School), with the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical College added in 1953.
The Astram Line opened for the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, with one line from central Hiroshima to Seifu Shinto and Hiroshima Big Arch, the main stadium of the Asian Games. Astram uses rubber-tyred metro cars, and provides service to areas towards the suburbs that are not served by Hiroden streetcars. The Skyrail Midorizaka Line is a monorail that operates between Midoriguchi and Midori-Chūō, serving three stops.
The JR West Hiroshima Station offers inter-city rail service, including Sanyō Shinkansen which provides high speed service between Shin-Ōsaka and Fukuoka. Sanyō Shinkansen began providing service to Hiroshima in 1975, when the Osaka-Hakata extension opened. Other rail service includes the Sanyō Main Line, Kabe Line, Geibi Line, and Kure Line.
Ferries are operated by JR Miyajima Ferry and Miyajima Matsudai Kisen to Miyajima. Hiroden provides service to Miyajimaguchi Station, which is located near the ferry terminal for service to Miyajima. Hiroshima Port is the main passenger ferry terminal for Hiroshima, with service to Etajima, Matsuyama, and other destinations. There is also an international ferry terminal which has service to Busan and Ulsan in South Korea, Shanghai, Dalian, Qingdao and Ningbo in China, Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong. There is also a boat taxi service that runs along the ota-gawa channels into the city center.
Hiroshima Airport, located nearby in the city of Mihara, provides air service within Japan to Tokyo, Sapporo, Okinawa, and Sendai. International air service is provided to Seoul, Guam, Bangkok, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, and Dalian. Commuter air service is also available at Hiroshima-Nishi Airport.
Within Japan, Hiroshima has a similar relationship with Nagasaki.