Asia Japan Photo Essays

Photographing Hiroshima: Peace, Parks, People & City

December 4, 2018

by Melanie Rees

When I found out I was spending three days in Hiroshima I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I didn’t know much about the city, other than its history in WWII and its stance as a peace memorial to the negative side of humanity. I had already spent about two weeks in Japan and had a good grasp of the warm, friendly, conservative culture and had already learned the hard way to never ever wear the toilet slippers in the bedroom or the bedroom slippers to the toilet. 

Anyway, pulling into the Hiroshima train station we passed a giant baseball stadium which looked pretty full – a sea of fans all wearing red. I soon learned the baseball team here was the Hiroshima Carps and they were pretty big deal. No, really, Hiroshima loves their baseball team. I’d walk past bars on the streets with a television tuned into the baseball games. The Carps would be playing seemingly every day and everyone would be huddled around the TV, beer in hand, and cheering at every play even if they were down 4-0.

Hiroshima was the fun, hip part of Japan that I hadn’t been expecting. It seemed to have a certain grunge while keeping the warmth and friendliness of Japanese culture. Hiroshima will forever be a reminder for what had happened to the city and it’s people in WWII, which is prevalent throughout its parks and streets. 

What stuck with me about this city is how much of it the world doesn’t see. Before going to Hiroshima I hadn’t known how built up its become, or about the energy of the city, or how lush its parks have grown every spring or how normal people just live normal lives. It also had an abundance of vegan restaurants – which was good for me as I’m quite the picky eater and don’t really fancy seafood; so up until Hiroshima I hadn’t had a good, satisfying meal without having to question whether or not I’d just eaten a squid. 

Melanie is a Toronto based photographer passionate about capturing moments in natural light with a skillset in lifestyle, portraiture, documentary and travel photography. Aside from taking photographs she also enjoys reading, spaghetti, and, naturally, flannel. You can follow her work on Instagram @melanie_rees.

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