Hiroshima … from disaster and devastation to a modern city, living in hope for eternal peace.
Hiroshima looks like most large Japanese cities, with modern buildings, industry, car and shipping manufacturing and a flow of local and foreign business people buying, selling and trading.
It has a population of a million people, and is most remembered in history as the city which was devastated by an atomic bomb in the early hours of August 6, 1945.
It seems ironic now that the city's tragedy has become its strongest tourist draw, with 1.5 million people a year flocking to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum in the centre of the city.
The first thing you see is the A-Bomb Dome, which is the skeletal ruin of the former Industrial Hall. And surely the most touching memorial is the Statue of the A-Bomb Children, dedicated to the war's most innocent victims. Nearby is the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, containing the ashes of 70,000 victims and a cenotaph for the 20,000 Koreans who lost their lives. Origami cranes and the peace flame have become symbols of Hiroshima's plea that such weapons never be used again.
Hiroshima has had a long a bloody history. In the 1500s, Mori Teramoto, a feudal lord, was head of a comparatively small clan caught between two very powerful factions. Possibly because he was extremely cunning, Mori's clan emerged victorious and to celebrate, he built Hiroshima Castle in 1589 on the Ota River delta. Supposedly impenetrable, it was found that gunpowder was capable of ripping through its exterior, so it stood no chance against the atomic bomb.
The bomb blast destroyed "carp castle" and it was reconstructed on the original's 400th anniversary in 1989 and dedicated to the samurai culture. From the five-storey donjon you get a good view across the city, and on a clear day you can see the harbour and Seto Inland Seas.
Its museum exhibits unearthed objets d'art, ancient manuscripts, paintings, writings, maps, armory and folk art. The original top floor was a place for look-out and had loopholes for shooting arrows, guns and dropping stones this has all been reproduced.
In just 50 years, Hiroshima has been reborn and is the best laid-out, most visitor-friendly and accessible city in Japan. It is hemmed in by mountains which provide a natural barrier and the main shopping street is the hub of the city. It is a traffic-free zone which runs for almost a kilometre.
Locals walk, ride bicycles or take air-conditioned trams, which are cheap and easy to use.
Okonomiyaki is Japan's answer to the barbecue and is cooked by women on hotplates on the roadside. They are similar to a pizza filled with noodles, sprouts, bacon, cheese, egg, seafood you choose and are delicious and quite cheap.