Visitors to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum increase for second year in a row, with record number of international visitors

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

The number of international visitors to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum rose to a record 200,086 in fiscal 2013. Against the backdrop of an increase in tourists to Japan, the surge in visitors is attributed to the fact that the museum in Hiroshima is highly regarded, by word of mouth, too, as a destination for learning about the reality of the atomic bombing.

The total number of visitors to the museum was 1,383,129, a gain of 102,832, or 8 percent, from the previous year. This number has increased for two consecutive years.

The number of international visitors to the museum exceeded 100,000 for the first time in fiscal 2002. In fiscal 2010, the number reached 181,847. Although the next year, fiscal 2011, the number fell to almost half that of the previous year, due to the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, the number then rose to 154,340 in fiscal 2012, an increase of 59.9 percent from fiscal 2011.

The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation commented that the record number of international visitors to the museum is linked to last year’s great surge in tourism to Japan. At the same time, the world’s most popular travel website has ranked the museum as the most popular tourist destination in Japan for international visitors, based on user feedback, for the second year in a row.

On April 16, Carina Petersson, 33, an engineer from Sweden, said, in tears, that her heart ached at the sight of photographs of children who suffered burns in the A-bomb blast and belongings that were left behind by the victims. She said that everyone should visit the museum.

Meanwhile, the number of students who visited the museum in groups, on school trips from elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools, rose slightly to 315,500, an increase of 1,520 or 0.5 percent from the previous year. The total number of groups dropped by 27 to 4,390.

Peace Memorial Museum, which opened in 1955, began a major renovation of the facility in March. Starting this September, the East wing of the museum will close, and starting in fiscal 2016, the main building will close for renovation work. The museum is expected to reopen fully again in fiscal 2018. Kenji Shiga, director of the museum, said at a press conference held at City Hall that efforts will be made to retain a strong flow of visitors to the museum by continuing to effectively display its holdings within more limited space.

The number of visitors to the Hiroshima National Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, also located in Peace Memorial Park, rose to 214,572 in fiscal 2013, up 12,767, or 6.3 percent, from the previous year.

(Originally published on April 17, 2014)