Shukkei-en, Hiroshima: Beauty from ashes

Hiroshima, then and now:

If you’re like me and have little first-hand knowledge of Japan, the city of Hiroshima conjures up images of tragedy. As World War II was straining towards its conclusion in the summer of 1945, Hiroshima became the first city to be attacked with a nuclear bomb. The effects of this were disastrous and are well documented. But our purposes today are not to zero in on the devastation that human beings are so adept at causing. Though that is certainly the case, it is not the whole story – because Hiroshima has been rebuilt and it is now a large and thriving city, where a beautiful and ancient garden grows anew.

A wedding at Shukkei-en, Hiroshima.

From Garden to Ground Zero to Garden

Shukkei-en is an historic garden in the heart of Hiroshima, originally built in 1620 (during Japan’s Edo period). In 1940 the garden was opened to the public, but five short years later the unimaginable occurred:

“Being a short walk from ground zero of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, Shukkei-en suffered extensive damage, and then became a refuge for victims of the war.” (Wikipedia)

In spite of this, less than a decade later, in 1951, the renovated garden was reopened.

Beauty from ashes

I find that this true story acts like a parable on my spirit, reminding me of another garden, long lost because of human sin. But that story, though still ongoing, has at its heart the promise of Eden restored by a good God who never ceases to “renew the face of the earth,” giving us beauty in place of ashes.

If you have the time, I’d invite you to take a few moments to read Psalm 104. The humanist might look at the story of Shukkei-en and see human triumph. But the believer sees the grace of God and knows that it isn’t earned, but rather it is evidence of his generosity and goodness – wholly undeserved.


Below is my pinterest board for Shukkei-en. If you hover and scroll, you’ll find many images of this beautiful garden.

“Japanese Gardens: Tranquility, Simplicity, Harmony”
by Geeta Mehta, Kimie Tada, and Murata Noboru


Shukkei-en, Hiroshima: Beauty from ashes
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