Hiroshima (hĭrˌōshēˈmə, hērōˈshmä) [key], city (1990 pop. 1,085,705), capital of Hiroshima prefecture, SW Honshu, Japan, on Hiroshima Bay. It is an important commercial and industrial center manufacturing trucks, ships, automobiles, steel, rubber, furniture, and canned foods. The city is also a market for agricultural and marine products. Founded c.1594 as a castle city on the Ota River delta, Hiroshima is divided by the river's seven mouths into six islands. After 1868, Hiroshima's port, Ujina, was enlarged, and rail lines were built to link it with Kobe and Shimonoseki.
During World War II, Hiroshima was the target of the first atomic bomb ever dropped on a populated area; it was dropped by the United States on Aug. 6, 1945. Almost 130,000 people were killed, injured, or missing, and 90% of the city was leveled. Much of the city has been reconstructed, but a gutted section has been set aside as a "Peace City" to illustrate the effects of an atomic bomb. The Peace Memorial Museum is there. Since 1955 an annual world conference against nuclear weapons has met in Hiroshima.
Hiroshima prefecture (1990 pop. 2,861,699), 3,258 sq mi (8,438 sq km), is generally mountainous, with fertile valleys. Rice and oranges are grown extensively, cattle are raised, textiles are manufactured, and shipyards are plentiful. Hiroshima, Kure, and Onomichi are among the important cities of Japan.
See J. Hersey, Hiroshima (1946, repr. several times); R. Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb (1995).