- Hiroshima was the site of the Atomic bomb along with Nagasaki.
- Kyoto was on the hit list, but was spared as the US Secretary of War Henry Stimson had honeymooned there.
- The bomb, dubbed ‘little boy’ was made of highly enriched uranium-235.
- In the 80 years that have followed, the people of Hiroshima are some of the most friendly and humble in the world.
Hiroshima was once destroyed by an atomic bomb during Work War II. Now stands proud and modern as a city marked by its tragic past and infinitely bright future. Home to one of the top views in the whole of Japan. The city has many beautiful spots and bustling districts full of life and culture and stands as a symbol of hope, amity, and new beginnings.
Japan’s BEST view- Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima island
As well as the site of the iconic A-Bomb Dome. The only building to partially survive the Nuclear aftermath.
Hiroshima’s Dark History
The first thing on any tourists list to visit is the A-Bomb Dome. Along with Memorial Museum & Park to learn a little about the tragic history of Hiroshima that shadows the vibrant hub of life it is today.
Genbaku Dome - Atomic Bomb Dome
On the 6th August 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The aftermath was devastating. Causing the immediate deaths of thousands, and radiation poisoning to every survivor. Standing at the hypo-centre was Genbaku Dome. Now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome in Memorium. It was centred at the ‘eye of the storm’, and the structure somehow survived the impact; whilst everything in its vicinity was obliterated. The Dome stands today in its exact state of destruction, and careful methods are employed to ensure its preservation remains. The Dome stands as a reminder of the untold suffering caused by the bomb, and a symbol of hope for the future and the strive for world peace.
The Peace Bell & Children’s Peace Monument
Built to commemorate Sadako Sasaki. A sweet, sick little girl who made 1000 tiny origami cranes form her hospital bed. In the hopes she would survive her trauma. The folded paper cranes in the monument symbolise the pursuit of peace and are still created by the Japanese as a symbol of hope and freedom.
Flame of Peace
In the middle of the Peace Park sits the Flame of Peace, lit on 1st August 1964, it will burn continuously until all nuclear weapons in the world are completely abolished.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The museum was created as an informational hub, to remind visitors about the devastation of nuclear war. The museum includes testimonies from survivors of the bomb, their struggles with radiation poisoning causing cancers and health deterioration. Possessions of victims found amidst the wreckage, photographs and other documentation. Among the paraphernalia stands a life-size diorama of young victims amidst the flames, their skin peeling from their bodies and expressions of horror on their faces. It paints a stark image of the trauma that engulfed an entire population. You’ll leave with a reminder of mortality and values that will leave a compression on your heart.
To the North of the Museum stand the Phoenix Trees that somehow survived the bombing. The trees are lovingly preserved here and saplings distributed across the whole of Japan and the rest of the world to promote peace and regeneration.
Every August, the city partakes in releasing thousands of paper lanterns down the Motoyasu River in remembrance and mourning of the victims, in which the number increases every year on August 6.
Hiroshima - The Future is Bright
Contrary to its dark past, Hiroshima is now a thriving city full of sights and activity.
Rebuilt after the bombing, Hiroshima Castle stands proud and regal against the backdrop of the city. It’s black and white ornate facade makes it one of the prettiest castles in Japan. Surrounded by a large park and moat, it’s a beautiful spot to enjoy cherry blossom viewing in the spring, and the changing leaves in the autumn. A gorgeous view of the park and river can be seen from the top deck.
Admission to the castle museum ¥370
Castle grounds are free
Nearby the castle is Gokoku shrine, take a moment here to discover your fortune. If it’s unlucky, a common practice is to gift the fortune to the shrine and tie it to a fence or a tree.
Motoyasu bridge connects the East and West side of the river and frames the iconic view of the city around the A-Bomb Dome and Peace Park. The original was destroyed by the bomb, except for a single bridge pillar that stands on the Westside as a monument to the original.
Hiroshima’s Best Food
When it comes to joys of the tongue, Hiroshima is famous for two things: Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki, and oysters! Try both, you won’t regret it.
Everyone in Hiroshima loves Okonomiyaki. For good reason, the stuff is delicious. Thinner than the Kansai version, laying on a bed of yakisoba and topped with such delicious treats as squid, oysters, and cheese. Hiroshima okonomiyaki is a firework festival for the stomach. It’s so popular in Hiroshima that it has a dedicated theme park - Okinomi-mura. The absolute mecca of savoury soul food. 4 floors and 24 restaurants under one roof, each adapting this tantalising dish with personal flair. Put aside an entire afternoon and prepare your stomach to indulge in this smorgasbord of Japanese food heaven. If 24 samples of pancake is a little too many to handle, this handy list of restaurants will help you choose your favourites to visit.
¥630 avg price
Another famed morsel coveted by the visitors to Hiroshima is yaki-gaki - grilled oysters. Oysters have been cultivated in Hiroshima bay for 400 years, and the best place to find them is on Miyajima Island at Kakiya. (Use google translate for a translated version of the site) Visitors come from far and wide to try oysters made by chef Hayashi-san, cooked to perfection on a teppanyaki grill. Try the kaki-kaki-mesh (oysters on rice), and enjoy with a personal recommendation from the extensive menu of wine and sake.
Kakiya- Oyster Restaurant
The famous cheese tart from Hokkaido has reached Hiroshima in the form of bake. Queues are regularly out the door but pass quickly and efficiently. Flavours change every season and are in a word, Oishii! (delicious)
About 40 minutes out of the main city is the famed Saijo district - AKA Sake Town. Hiroshima is one of the top three sake producing regions in Japan, and this is where you’ll find the best of the best.
Take a stroll around the sakagura-Dori (Sake Brewery Street) to sample some of the sake on offer.
Kamotsuru Brewing Company is particularly enticing, with its majestic ornamentation and striking decor. Discover hoards of information about sake making whilst you get hazy from the constant intake of delightful sake.
Kitayoshi - Izakaya
When the liquid lunch all becomes a little too much, head to the Kitayoshi Izakaya to soak up some delicious pub snacks with local ingredients from the Seto Inland sea.
Day Trips from Hiroshima
Miyajima - (Itsukushima Island) Home of the amazing red Torii gate
Listed as one of the top three views in Japan and a UNESCO world heritage site. Miyajima is the place of the famed floating vermilion Torii gate that guards the entrance to Itsukushima Shrine. At high tide, the picturesque structure is juxtaposed against the stark blue of the Seto Inland sea and the mountains in the NorthWest. It’s the most wonderful spot to while away an hour or two enjoying the view and hiding your snacks from the scavenging deer that inhabit the island. At low tide, you can walk right up to the towering pillars. Where the bases are surrounded by coins that wish makers have flung into the sea full of their hopes and dreams.
Miyajima is a lot bigger than it seems. The whole day can be enjoyed discovering the numerous shrines, trying the islands delicious offerings and frolicking with the more furry residents; numerous deer. Who’s favourite habits are snack stealing and basking amongst the temple grounds. In spring, the whole island is particularly beautiful as the Sakura trees burst into full bloom, showering the streets and sea surface with delicate pink blossoms.
Mt Misen & Ropeway
The parkland on Miyajima is breathtaking. In the autumn it’s one of the best places to view the changing of the leaves. Hues of red, orange and yellow more vibrant than Ru Paul’s entire drag race. From Early to mid-November, the momiji (maple leaf) trees burst into life with vivid, red maple leaves in Momijidani Park. Try the Momiji red bean cakes for a cute sugary snack. The highest peak and most sacred spot on Miyajima is Mt Misen. Which can be reached from three picturesque walking tracks littered with shrines and holy spots. Alternatively, walk the 10 minutes, or 7 if run a little (according to the sign) to the dedicated ropeway at the base. Then, kick back and enjoy the incredible view over the Seto Inland Sea.
¥1,000 each way
Final Ropeway down the mountain leaves at 5
Miyajima After Hours
After the last ferry has departed back to the mainland with all the tourists on its deck, the Island takes on a new aura for the remaining visitors, even the deer take time off stealing food to rest along the paths. Every trip to Japan should include at least one night in a traditional futon room and tatami mat room in a ryokan. Spending the night in one of the guesthouses or ryokans on Miyajima island is a unique experience that few visitors get to enjoy. It’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy a night hike up Mt Misen to enjoy the sunrise from the highest point on Miyajima Island.
Wandering the island after dark, donning a complimentary yukata from ryokan is a sublime experience, where the silence and beauty take over. Take a romantic walk along the sandy promenade to enjoy the flickering lanterns casting a warm glow. Enjoy the gigantic Torii blazing red against the starry night, reflecting mysteriously onto the glistening water. One of the most iconic views in Japan all to yourself. This charming island is seriously a bucket list experience to tick off the list.
Pro Tip- Book as early as possible if you plan to spend the night on Miyajima. Limited accommodation means places book up fast in high season.
How to get to Miyajima
Hop on the JR Sanyo line towards Iwakuni from the main Hiroshima station. Alight at Miyajimaguchi Station and follow the signs (and hoards of other visitors) to the ferry port just a few minutes away. It doesn’t matter which ferry you take, they both head to and from Miyajima every 10 minutes or so.
Ferry - ¥180 one way (not included in JR pass)
Okunoshima AKA Rabbit Island
Compared to Miyajima, the most famous island in Japan, this one is a little more off the beaten track. Incidentally, there are numerous island’s overrun by a thriving world of furry creatures in Japan. Including two entirely inhabited by cats! Hiroshima is close to is one of the cutest. An Island entirely inhabited by rabbits!
As soon as you step off the ferry, hoards of rabbits come storming toward you like a furry tsunami. Ready to savage every morsel of carrot and cabbage from the coming crowds. There are adorably cute and super tame. If you’re brave enough, feel free to lie down on the floor covered in cabbage leaves and become a monument of the bunny feeding frenzy.
Rabbit Island Summit
The island is incredibly scenic, surrounded by an array of tiny island branching off into the distance, and even a little lighthouse. It’s a well preserved as a thriving home for its ever-expanding hoard of cute inhabitants. A 360-degree view of the spectacular vista can be enjoyed from the top of the mountain. Take the trailhead between the visitor centre and campsite to reach the summit.
The Poison Gas Factory
The legend of Okunoshima is that is was once the base of a mysterious poison gas factory, in which the inhabitants would use the poor rabbits as test subjects for all manner of ominous activity. One day, a school of visiting children broke into the factory and released all the rabbits, who then took over the entire island. No one knows if it’s true. But the rabbits did get there somehow, and the old abandoned gas factory remains at the heart of the island. An eerie windowless building standing dark and mysterious amongst the trees. In the silence, you can almost hear the screams of the old workers lamenting the escape of their subjects blowing in on the wind.
Pro Tip - pick up snacks from a 7/11 or supermarket before you arrive, there are no shops on the island.
How to get to Okunoshima
Take the train to JR Tadanoumi station (2hr from Hiroshima Station.) The Tadanoumi ferry terminal is just around the corner from the station. The small ferry takes about 15 minutes and costs ¥310 leaving the station every half hour.
More info and updated ferry timetable can be found here.
I LOVE to stay in Airbnb’s in select countries, and Japan is one of them. Most Airbnb’s here are exactly like my old apartment in Nishinomiya and they make me feel at home.
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Hana Hostel is a hybrid accommodation that’s half hostel half ryokan. Complete with Eastern and Western-style private rooms as well as hostel-style dorms. It’s a great budget-friendly choice for all needs and is right around the corner from the main train station.
In most accommodation in Hiroshima, you can find books and pamphlets translated into English with reports from survivors of the Atomic Bomb. Hiroshima is a place to remember, to cherish, and to hope for a purer future.
On Miyajima island. A beautiful, traditional ryokan offering a menu of fresh seasonal items made from local produce. Miyajima Hotel Makato features a personal onsen bath that can be booked by appointment. Perfect for couples.
There is only one hotel on the island, complete with glorious onsen. Camping is welcome and can be booked here. (website is in Japanese but can be translated easily in google translate.)
Hope you enjoyed this guide and have the BEST adventure exploring Hiroshima.