Text and photos by Mike Sullivan
Mori Terumoto constructed a castle here in 1589, at this time there was no nearby town and the local area was called Gokamura. From his castle Mori Terumoto had control over a number of provinces such as modern day Shimane, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima. This area became renamed as Hiroshima in honour of Mori’s ancester Mori Hiromoto, thus ‘Hiro,’ and Fukushima Motonaga who was key in choosing this location for the castle, thus ‘shima.’ These two names taken together formed ‘Hiroshima.’ An alternative theory is that Hiroshima simply comes from the large islands that are nearby, Hiroshima in Japanese literally meaning wide island.
Unfortunately, after the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 Mori had to flee and a new lord took control of this castle. Mori was never to return, and with his lands and power severely reduced he shaved his head and became a monk for the rest of his days.
After the chaos and wars of those decades Hiroshima Castle experienced more quiet and peaceful times from the 17th century until the Meiji Restoration (1869). After the Meiji Restoration it returned to a more military purpose as it was used as a military base by the Imperial army. However, on the 6th of August in 1945 it was destroyed by an atomic blast in the closing days of the second world war.
The current castle which we can see today was made mainly from concrete in 1958 and only features the main building. In 1994 this was added to with a gate and other buildings made using authentic construction methods.