Photo/IllutrationKazutomo Asano, chief priest of Nigitsujinja shrine, stands by a washbowl damaged by the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. (Toshiro Matsuzaki)

  • Photo/Illustraion

HIROSHIMA--A shrine here is turning its outdoor water basin that was damaged by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing into a monument to remind people of the horrors of nuclear war.

Repair work to the stone washbowl along the pedestrian approach to Nigitsujinja shrine started in January as part of a project to redevelop surrounding areas.

The shrine is situated 1.8 kilometers northeast of ground zero, and its main hall was destroyed by fire. A temporary aid station is said to have been set up in the shrine’s precincts to provide accommodation for evacuees.

The atomic explosion caused stone lanterns to collapse and damaged pine trees at the shrine. The water basin became chipped and cracked.

The object was rendered unusable because it leaked. The shrine decided to mend it so worshippers can purify their hands and mouths before paying their respects at the shrine.

“As there remain fewer objects that remind people of the atomic bombing now, preserving the washbowl is significant,” said Kazutomo Asano, 75, chief priest of Nigitsujinja. “I want people who will use it to think of world peace.”

The minimum necessary repairs have been made so that scratches and damage caused by the atomic bombing will be preserved.

The restoration is part of a commemorative project to mark the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Asano Nagaakira (1586-1632) in Hiroshima Castle in 2019. Asano was the first Hiroshima domain lord and is enshrined at Nigitsujinja.

It is estimated that the project will take two years to complete, as a new roof will be installed and surrounding areas redeveloped.