The Shukkeien Gardens at Hiroshima were created in the 1660’s for a feudal Lord in the Chinese style which is now recognised as quintessentially Japanese, with its constituent parts representing broad expanses of lakes, mountains and seashore. It succeeds very well, creating a quiet haven in the midst of a madhouse metropolis. Of course it was wiped out by the atomic bomb, every plant, every structure. Everything that is, except for the one thing which needed to be destroyed, an incongruously ugly bridge which looks as if it’s made out of concrete blocks. When I saw it I thought it must be a modern addition, added as a gesture to the concrete jungle outside. But no, the original wooden bridge was replaced by the seventh Lord of the clan in the Edo period, to the design of a famous Kyoto builder- no doubt the Basil Spence of his day. The bridge is called Koko-kyo, which means “straddling rainbow bridge”, making it the first all-grey rainbow.
The garden was re-opened in 1958 and there is now no sign of the former devastation, except for a small plaque which contains the photograph below and the poignant story of how a large number of survivors took refuge in the garden immediately after the bombing but all died before receiving medical care. Their remains are interred in the gardens, which are as moving a reminder of the bomb as the Peace Park itself.