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Capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, western Honshū. Hiroshima developed as a castle town during the Edo period (1600-1868). By the early 1940s it had expanded into the seventh largest city in Japan and served as an important military centre. On August 6, 1945, the world's first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, destroying 90 percent of the city and ultimately killing about 200,000 people. Now completely rebuilt, it is one of the most important cities in western Honshū. Major industries are machinery, automobiles, and food processing. At what was the epicenter of the bomb there are located the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome (the only building left unreconstructed), and the World Peace Memorial Cathedral. A commemorative ceremony on August 6 has become Hiroshima's most important annual event. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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