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Urakami CathedralUrakami Cathedral, located 500 meters north of the hypocenter. It was once renowned for being the largest Roman Catholic church in the East but was completely demolished by the nuclear blast. Now you can see the headless statues of the saints, the bell tower that was blown off by the atomic bomb and a wooden figure of the Virgin Mary which miraculously survived the heat of the nuclear blast.
In 1895, with the assistance of Fr. Pierre Fraineau MEP, the Christian faithful began the construction of Urakami Cathedral on the land o the former village headman, the very place where the custom of trampling on a Christian image (e-bumi), had been enforced as a way to expose hidden Christians.
In 1914, a ceremony was held to bless the church and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. However, just 30 years later, on August 9th, 1945, the church was devastated by the atomic bomb. Nevertheless, on Christmas Eve that year, the survivors rang the church bell that they dug out of the ruins, and went on to rebuilt the church.
The new reinforced concrete building was completed in 1959, and an outer layer of bricks was added in 1980.
In 1962, meanwhile, the new Urakami church replaced Oura Catholic Church as the Cathedral of the Nagasaki Archdiocese.
The following monuments can be seen today in the precincts:
- The Atomic-Bombed Statue of Mary
- The Fallen Bell Tower: The original church had twin bell towers. One was crushed by the atomic explosion, another was blown about 25 meters away by the blast. It is preserved as National Important Asset at the original site.
- Headless Statues of Saints: Stone statues that were exposed to the atomic bombing.
- The Monument of Faith: Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Urakami Yonban Kuzure (the fourth collapse of the Christian community of Urakami resulting from the government's drastic policy of oppression and expulsion.)
The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb MuseumThe Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum covers the history of this event in the accessible form of a story. It begins with the disastrous scene of the attack and includes the events leading up to the dropping of the atomic bomb, the reconstruction of Nagasaki up to the present day, the history of nuclear weapons development, and the hope for a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.
Peace ParkThe Peace Park was founded with the desire for world peace in mind. After the atomic bomb exploded, it was said that grass and trees would not grow on this spot for 75 years. However, this park is currently full of trees, flowers and art works donated by countries all over the world in support of the city’s prayer for peace. The Peace Statue, a symbol of Nagasaki as a city of peace, was created by sculptor Seibo Kitamura, a Nagasaki native. The raised right hand pointing to the sky depicts the threat of the atomic bomb, and the left hand stretching horizontally symbolizes eternal world peace, while the slightly closed eyes express a prayer asking that the souls of the victims may find rest. A poem is carved into a memorial plate in front of the park’s fountain, written by a child who suffered from thirst in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. The fountain, brimming with water, is an offering to all those who lost their strength before they could drink a single drop. Every year, a Peace Memorial Ceremony is conducted in front of this statue.
Memorials to Saint Kolbe Hongochi Church・St. Kolbe Memorial Museum・Lourdes in HongochiMaximilian Maria Kolbe OFM arrived in Nagasaki from Poland in 1930 and established the monastic order Ordo Fratrum Minorum Conventualium at the foot of Mt. Hiko. He propagated the “Innocent Heart of the Virgin Mary” through its publication Seibo no Kishi (the Knights of the Immaculata). He also met Dr.Nagai in Nagasaki, who gave him a medical examination.
St. Kolbe died at Auschwitz. In 1982, Pope Paul II canonized him and also applauded his colleague Friar Zenon for his vigorous missionary activities.
Right above the museum, in the neighborhood of Hongochi Monastery, Kolbe found a cave resembling the sacred one at Lourdes in France. Pope John Paul II visited this spot during his tour of Japan in 1981. In 1984, the Vatican officially added the Hongochi Lourdes to its list of pilgrimage sites.
Nyoko-do and Dr. Takashi Nagai Memorial MuseumNyoko-do (“‘As Thyself’ Hall”) is the small house of Dr. Takashi Nagai, built on the site of a former residence of a ‘chokata’, a leader of hidden Christians. Dr.Nagai, whose wife was a descendant of the chokata, spent his last days here, suffering from leukemia. On his sick bed, he authored numerous books, essays and drawings about Urakami and the lives of his family, hoping to appeal for neighborly love and peace. ‘Nagasaki no Kane’ (‘The Bells of Nagasaki’), about the bomb-damaged bell of Urakami Cathedral, is one of his best-known works. He also left an important report on relief activities for the victims of the atomic bombing, from his point of view as a radiologist. Inside this tiny house of barely two square meters, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary sent from Argentina as a prayer for peace.
Seibo Kitamura Memorial HallSeibo Kitamura is the sculptor of the Peace Monument located in Nagasaki City’s Peace Park. His birthplace displays about 60 pieces of his carvings and calligraphy. In the hall’s garden it is possible to see a replica of the Peace Monument at one-fourth of its original size.
Nagasaki Hypocenter ParkAt 11:02 am, August 9th, 1945: an atomic bomb detonated 500 meters above Matsuyama in Nagasaki City. Large numbers of people were killed immediately, while others died later from illness or injury - by the end of December, some 74,000 people had died while around 75,000 more suffered from injuries associated with the event. The area within a 2.5 kilometer radius of the hypocenter was utterly devastated, and the rest of the city was left in ruins.
In 1968, a memorial monolith was built in the hypocenter park to mark ground zero of the atomic explosion. Beside the monolith, a part of the relics of the former Urakami Cathedral is preserved. A layer of the ground at that time is exhibited at the site, where visitors can see the remains of destroyed houses: roof tiles, bricks, ceramic and pieces of glass that boiled in the 3000℃ atomic heat.
After the bombing, which destroyed all plant life around the hypocenter, people said that no plants would grow there for the next 70 years. However, one month after the atomic bombing, about 30 kinds of plants started to grow again.
Today, there are bout 500 cherry blossom trees in the hypocenter park. The park is a favorite spot among local people for cherry blossom viewing in the spring time and as a green-filled oasis throughout the year. It truly captures the power of revival.
Take a stroll around the many sites in the area: the Atomic Bomb Museum, the National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, the Peace Park, Urakami Cathedral with its atomic-bombed statue of the Virgin Mary, the Dr. Nagai Museum (a doctor and survivor of the atomic bombing), the local elementary school affected by the bombing with its own peace museum, the one-legged torii gate of Sanno Shrine and its surrounding camphor trees that survived the bombing. These are all located within walking distance.
Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb VictimsThis memorial hall was established for the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, including those perished after due to injuries or illnesses caused by the bombing. It serves as a prayer hall for world peace. Visitors are encouraged to leave messages of peace, which are carefully maintained by the hall and can be viewed by others.
Shiroyama Elementary School RuinsShiroyama Elementary School suffered catastrophic damage during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki City, as it was located just 500m from the center of the explosion. Today, the school’s students are actively involved in learning about the importance of peace, ensuring this significant piece of history will be remembered by future generations.
A part of the school that survived the atomic bombing has been preserved as a museum, with photos and artifacts from the time on display to keep alive the memory of those terrible events. Just a short walk from the Peace Park, information in the museum is written in Japanese, but an English pamphlet is available at the entrance.
Sanno Shrine (One-Legged Torii Arch & Atomic Bombed Campher Tree)During the atomic bombing of Nagasaki City, one of the torii gates of Sanno Shrine was cut in half by the blast. What remains of the gate continues to stand even today on a single column, a symbol of the resilience of Nagasaki City and its people, even in the face of adversity.
Located just under a kilometer southeast of the center of the explosion, the shrine’s camphor trees were also significantly damaged in the explosion. However, with time they began to grow again and are still growing today.