Hiroshima is the kind of place that you cannot visit or live in without being influenced by its history and peace-related message. As August is the month of the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, it is also the perfect time to find out more about and/or get involved in peace organisations and activities within the city.
One such organisation that I discovered before even stepping foot on Hiroshima soil was the World Friendship Centre.
Often labelled as a ‘home away from home,’ I found the Centre whilst researching places to stay before moving into my apartment. I wanted somewhere cosy yet close to downtown and also somewhere that was okay with me staying long-term (I stayed for a month). Google led me right to it.
Not only is the World Friendship Centre a place that offers cheap, comfortable and convenient accommodation to travellers, but it also provides a wealth of other activities and opportunities for those who are interested in learning about peace and the history of Hiroshima.
For those living here, we often have trouble finding space to fit all our relatives and friends when they come to stay and the Centre is a God-send in that respect. It’s one of the few places that also provides breakfast in the price and believe me when I say you will not be hungry afterwards.
If you want a life-changing experience, book one of their hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) stories where you can learn firsthand what it was like to be in Hiroshima on the day the bomb was dropped. In years to come there won’t be anyone left who survived, so this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be missed. Although it’s usually guests of the Centre who book these, if you ring and let the staff know how keen you are to meet a survivor and hear their story, they are usually more than happy to accommodate your request.
The Centre is run by a team of dedicated volunteers and was founded by in 1965 by a woman named Barbara Reynolds who wanted to provide a place where people from all over the world could meet to talk about peace.
The staff also conduct Peace Park tours and have English lessons nearly every single day of the week. Once a month on a Saturday they have a ‘Fun in English,’ program where people from different parts of the world share their story with an activity such as cooking included as part of the afternoon.
For me, perhaps the best thing about the Centre was that it got me involved in an organisation that not only promotes peace and is thus, vital to Hiroshima, but also gave me the opportunity to meet new people. Without them I wouldn’t have had such a smooth transition into my life here. Expats know that making friends can be daunting in a new place and that you do need to put yourself out there and make the effort to establish contacts and friendships. If you are interested in more information, check out their website below for my details.
The World Friendship Centre
Photo by www.wfchiroshima.com/english/ (used without permission) modified