Last Updated: Aug 1, 2023
Braving a Visit To Kure
Let’s face it. When it comes to tourism and Japanese history, the period of World War II often gets skipped over completely. While visitors to Japan do indeed flock to Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome, rarely do you see anyone seeking out any other attraction related to Japan’s wartime past. For reasons that are far too complicated for the scope of a travel guide, it just seems like this part of history is off limits. I’ve always maintained that people should visit Yasukuni Shrine’s Yushukan to consider the other side of the narrative, yet I get the sense that locales related to World War II are taboo.
On that note, I’d like to break with the status quo and introduce a spot that rarely, if ever, is mentioned in the travel guides, Hiroshima Prefecture’s Kure. Located on the ever-beautiful Seto Inland Sea, this vital port and shipbuilding city served as the headquarters of the Kure Naval District. Throughout the entirety of the Pacific War, this now-unknown part of Hiroshima Prefecture served as Japan’s single-largest arsenal and naval base. Today, the city continues to serve as a major maritime center harboring many seafaring vessels associated with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Historically speaking, Kure’s biggest claim to fame is that its shipbuilding facilities were responsible for creating the Yamato. Known to history as the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleship ever constructed, the Yamato was a titan on the open seas. Armed with nine 46cm Type-94 main guns, this stellar example of Japanese commitment to quality and perfection boasted the largest guns ever mounted on a warship. Though she sank in April 1945, the Yamato was a battleship designed to counter the numerically superior fleet of the United States.
Sadly, much of the Kure’s tangible legacy was lost to the ravages of war. Seeing this previously little-known naval port was quite literally the crux of the Japanese navy during World War II, it should come as no surprise that it was a target for sustained aerial bombardment. While you can still find…