The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony is held each year on August 6th, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Some 50,000 local citizens and visitors, as well as ambassadors and dignitaries from around 70 countries, gather here to console the spirits of those killed by the atomic bomb and also to pray for lasting world peace.
Held virtually every year since 1947, just two years after the atomic bomb was dropped, this ceremony features speeches with entreaties for peace from the Prime Minister of Japan, the Mayor of Hiroshima and other noteworthy figures. At 8:15 on the morning of August 6th, marking the exact moment when the atomic bomb was dropped, bells ring out at temples, sirens wail throughout the city and the citizens of Hiroshima observe a solemn moment of silence in remembrance.
Remembering the 140,000 irreplaceable human lives that were lost, either on the day of the bombing or in the ensuing months, and the numerous atomic bomb survivors who still suffer from its aftereffects even to this day, one cannot help but be left with a strong sense of the horrors of nuclear weapons and a strong hope for world peace in one's heart.
Additionally, the "Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony" is also held on the evening of August 6th. Anyone is welcome to write messages of peace on the lanterns, which will be set afloat down the Motoyasu River, where they will pass directly in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome.
The experience of watching the warm lights of some 10,000 lanterns as they float tranquilly down the river in the dark of night, each bearing wishes for peace from the gathered attendees, has a powerful, almost other-worldly quality. The participants in this event include not only Hiroshima locals, but also many visitors who come from far and wide.