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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Former Hiroshima Branch, Bank of Japan: A modern space restored to its original state immediately after post-bombing reconstruction work now open to the public

This quaint building with three floors above ground and one basement floor stands right in front of the Fukuromachi stop of the Hiroshima Electric Railway tram line. The former Hiroshima Branch of the Bank of Japan was built in 1936 and was struck by the atomic bomb only 380 meters away from the hypocenter. It has been designated as an Important Tangible Cultural Property of Hiroshima City and is currently managed by the City of Hiroshima under a free-of-charge loan from the Bank of Japan. Restoration and renovation work began on March 7th, 2022, and was completed on September 15th, 2023, and the interior of the building is now open to the public for free.

Standing in the multipurpose space (former general office) just inside the entrance, one can see the bank counters that remain against the backdrop of a large two-story stairwell. It is not difficult to imagine how this space was once packed with many workers and customers. According to Mr. Yoshihara Takumi of the Cultural Promotion Division, Culture and Sports Department, Citizens Affairs Bureau of the City of Hiroshima, who showed us around, the objective of the construction work carried out until last year was to restore the building to its original state immediately after post-bombing reconstruction work, regarding which materials still exist, while preserving residual traces of the atomic bombing in order to enhance the building’s value as a cultural asset.

The multipurpose space (former general office) with a stairwell from the first to the second floor, evoking a solemn atmosphere

The walls of the interior have been repainted from white to a light cream color, the shade that they used to be, while some of the iron fixture frames have been repainted to recreate their original brown wood-grain pattern. Compared to before the renovation, the building now evokes a retro atmosphere reminiscent of something from an old movie. It must have been an even more extravagant and modern space at that time, given that even the capitals of the large columns were decorated. The building is also worth visiting as a historical building in Hiroshima that exemplifies the early Showa period with its classical design.

What appears to be a wooden fixture frame is actually an iron frame that has been repainted with a special technique (wood-grain painting) to recreate its original appearance

The ceiling of the multipurpose space is illuminated like a skylight. It used to be an actual skylight, but its glass was shattered by the blast when the building was struck by the atomic bomb. In the chaotic aftermath of the bombing, bank employees reportedly worked to address the needs of residents while holding umbrellas whenever it was raining. Although only the building survived, all the window frames and parapets inside were blown off, with 18 employees inside exposed to the bombing and the building suffering extensive damage that led to the death of eight employees.

Nevertheless, the bank’s underground vault remained intact, and on August 7th, the day after the atomic bombing, representatives of banks in the city gathered in this building, with the bank sharing its space with 11 other banks to resume operations from the following day, August 8th. The history of the people who provided financial support for the reconstruction of Hiroshima is etched deeply in this building.

Mr. Yoshihara from the City of Hiroshima, who gave us a tour of the building

A walk through the building reveals an interior that is much larger and more intricate than one might imagine. The highlights are the former branch manager’s office and the former branch manager’s reception room on the second floor. During the recent restoration and renovation work, the former branch manager’s office had its double ceiling removed to recreate the ceiling style that it used to have when the building was first constructed, with the ceiling and walls also repainted in their original colors. The floor still retains its geometric parquet style, a vestige of the unparalleled extravagance of this room at the time. The former branch manager’s reception room displays photographs and panels of the former Hiroshima Branch, Bank of Japan, before and after the atomic bombing, providing visitors with a glimpse of what it used to look like. The cafeteria and former meeting room on the third floor are also open to the public as free spaces where special exhibitions will be held from time to time.

The exhibition room on the second floor, which used to be the branch manager’s office, had its double ceiling removed during the recent renovation work so that its original ceiling is visible again

Photographs and panels of the building before and after the atomic bombing (former branch manager’s reception room)

The City of Hiroshima rents out this valuable building that survived the atomic bombing as a venue for special exhibitions and concerts as part of its efforts to make it widely accessible to residents as a venue for artistic and cultural activities. This initiative began in 2001 prior to the building’s renovation work, and it has so far hosted an exhibition on the Warsaw Uprising in Poland as well as a Christmas concert in its multipurpose space. With its excellent accessibility in the city and the renovation work further enhancing the building’s atmosphere, its appeal will no doubt only grow going forward.

In the basement, there is also a permanent exhibition featuring materials owned by the City of Hiroshima in the former vault. Visitors can learn about the history of Hiroshima City before and after the atomic bombing and about overseas immigrants through photographs and other materials from the past as they examine the thick doors of the underground vault.

The recent restoration and renovation work is part of efforts aimed at having the building designated as a National Important Cultural Property. Concerts and exhibitions will not only enhance the building’s value as a cultural asset but also allow more people to visit and experience its history, thereby making the building’s existence even more significant. This is no doubt a facility worth visiting in its own right, and you should definitely drop by when you have some spare time in Hiroshima.


Former Hiroshima Branch, Bank of Japan

5-21 Fukuromachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima city, Hiroshima

082-504-2500 (Cultural Promotion Division, Culture and Sports Department, Citizens Affairs Bureau of the City of Hiroshima)

Opening hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Closed on: December 29th to January 3rd

Admission: Free

[B1F Exhibition Room]

Opening hours: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Closed on: Mondays (*or the following weekday if Monday is a national holiday)

Admission: Free

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