I will be honest: when I found out about the Orizuru Tower in Hiroshima, a recently built sightseeing spot next to the (in)famous Peace Park, I was not too impressed with the idea of it.
The word orizuru means a paper crane in Japanese and as origami is an important part of the Japanese culture so is a crane: it is considered a symbol of peace.
When speaking with my local friends I found that they spoke of the Orizuru Tower with a sense of resentment in their voices. They thought it crazy that next to the A-Bomb Dome there was now a towering building that seemed to boast only one attraction: folding a paper crane and throwing it into a glass wall – and paying a hefty fee for this dubious pleasure.
As my friends deemed the Orizuru Tower a tourist trap and nothing more it so happened that for a long time I had no interest in visiting this modern landmark of Hiroshima’s. When a previous employer of mine gave me a free pass to visit the tower I thanked her for it and soon afterwards tucked it away in a drawer, forgetting all about it.
But recently I came across the voucher and thought to myself that I shall challenge my prejudices and go visit the place – if I would gain nothing more than a pretty sunset from the rooftop then that would still be a pretty good visit.
And I am so glad I did go. Orizuru Tower is not only a place where you can fold a paper crane and drop it down – and right into – the impressively long glass wall; but they also have some pretty cool interactive attractions for people of all ages – not to mention the breath taking outdoors viewing platform on the rooftop.
For someone who has traveled quite a bit and visited a lot of (over rated) sites I was not really expecting too much. But Orizuru Tower’s observation deck took my breath away. As I got up the steps an incredibly beautiful panoramic view opened up in front of me and the stunning wooden structure of the platform added to the magic.
Later I read from their newsletter that the observation deck was actually designed so that as you enter it will reveal the scenery in a way that has “been designed with calculated angle of sight lines”. In other words: the view is good.
The observation deck was a serene spot to sit down, have a picnic and enjoy the setting sun. It was magical seeing the sun set behind the mountains and seeing the colors change both on the sky and in the city as the lights came on, reflecting from the river below.
Going down to the 11th floor from the observation deck I found out there were some interesting gadgets to play around with: all crane themed, obviously. I found the panoramic, interactive screen displaying Hiroshima throughout the decades especially interesting.
I spent a couple of hours at the Orizuru Tower and was pleasantly surprised of the experience. Cherry on top was the artwork that was displayed on the corridors of the spiral slope going all the way from the observation deck down to the ground floor.
One of the best places to see the sun set in Hiroshima – especially during cold weather.