GIS Maps of Hiroshima Peace Memorial

World heritage sites are places with cultural, natural or mixed heritage significance. These sites are part of the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 1972 convention to safeguard place with outstanding universal value. The convention sets out a framework that states parties are responsible to identify potential sites in their country and protect and preserve the heritage sites. Today, 1,031 cultural and natural heritage sites have been listed in 165 countries.

This project aims to create four maps for a world heritage site with QGIS. QGIS is a free and open source software which is powerful to create and manage geographic information, which is able to show the relationship between the heritage site and the nearest geographic features.

Commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial is one of a World cultural heritage sites in Hiroshima, Japan. Hiroshima Peace Memorial was named the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition, which is a western-styled building designed by a Czech architect. On August 6, 1945, the United States Air Force dropped an atomic bomb in Hiroshima and caused at least 129,000 deaths. The Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition became a ruin after the bombing. Today, the ruin serves as a memorial to the killed and injured people in and after the bombing.

Image of Hiroshima Peace Memorial


Four maps in this project are going to show the Hiroshima Peace Memorial with the nearest river, city, topographic relief and satellite imagery. The first task of the project is to download map data on the internet. There are many websites providing variety of needed geographic information for this project: UNESCO provides data of all World Heritage Sites; ArcGIS provides data of administrative areas, coastal lines of Japan; CGIAR-CSI provides data of elevation; and Bing provides satellite map.

QGIS manages map information by layers. They are mainly vector or raster data. Each layer is able to work collaboratively, regardless of vector layers or raster layers. Vector files usually are shapefiles, which carries point, line or polygon information. In geographic information system, they can be used to represent locations (point), roads, rivers (lines) or buildings, lakes (polygon). Image A is the example of typical vector map.

Image A

Raster data is a comparatively bigger data compared to a vector file, which is a dot matrix data structure. The most common types of raster file are jpg, png and tiff. Satellite maps and elevation maps are raster data in geographic information system. Image B is an example of raster data, which is a satellite map from Google Map.

Image B


The excel file from UNESCO carries information of all World Heritage Sites, which provides different attributes, such as names, location, category, country, etc of each heritage site. The function of “open attribute table” in QGIS allows users to sort out, search and select the heritage site by those attributes. Image C is the Attribute Table of World Heritage Site in QGIS.

Image C

When particular information is selected, users can create a brand new shapefile which only carries the selected information from the previous shapefile. Therefore, I can create shapefiles which only carries the information of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial from the shapefile of World Heritage sites, the city of Hiroshima from a shapefile of administrative areas of Japan.

As mentioned before, shapefiles carry information of points, lines and polygons. QGIS allows users to create shapefiles and to draw points, lines and polygons on the map. In this project, for example, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is represented by a point and the city boundaries are represented by lines. Then, polygons can be used to represent the area of the city. The green area in image A is the metropolitan area of Hiroshima city.

Here are the maps of Hiroshima Peace Memorial created in QGIS:

Image D is the map of the nearest major river named Ota River, which is drawn by the line drawing tool within a new shapefile in QGIS.

Image D

Image E and F show the metropolitan of Hiroshima. The information is extracted from the shapefile of administrative boundaries of Japan. Image E is a zoom-in-map with satellite image showing the metropolitan area of Hiroshima. Image F is vector data showing the metropolitan and administrative boundaries of southern Japan.

Image E
Image F

Image G is the Satellite image of the city of Hiroshima. The satellite information is provided by Bing map. Besides Bing map, the openlayers plugin also provides apple map, google map, MapQuest, etc.

Image G

Image F, G and H are the images of topographic relief. The maps show the elevation of nearby area of Hiroshima. This map data is in a tiff file which was downloaded from CGIAR-CSI. QGIS is able to analyze that tiff file, then converts to DEM file (terrain model) and provide a semi-3D image to represent the elevation on the map.

Image F
Image G
Image H


The possibility of GIS is profound. Governments can make use of GIS information to design better city plan, improve the development of their country. Businesses, such as mining and logging, are able to preform better environmental analysis with GIS information. In cultural conservation, GIS information contributes the vision of the relationship between the heritage and its nearby environment. It will help the heritage conservation and preservation. For example, if a heritage site is close to a river or seashore, the conservators have to concern the potential threat of flooding against the heritage site.

QGIS is a powerful software which is able to efficiently create maps and manage map data. An exceptional issue in this project is the image of topographic relief. Image H is the zoom-in-image of the topographic relief. The problem of pixelization is obvious. It is an example to show the limitation of raster file. When the image is zoomed in, it is going to be pixelized. It needs a more detailed, highly definite image to create a elevation map for the city of Hiroshima.

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