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Largely rebuilt after the 1945 nuclear bomb attack, today Hiroshima is a bright and modern city that includes nods to its past, while looking towards the future. Founded in 1589 by Mori Terumoto, it has grown into a resilient city where parks and skyscrapers sit side by side. Visitors have no shortage of things to do in Hiroshima Japan, from visiting museums to enjoying historical gardens. With the Seto Inland Sea to the south and the Chugoku Mountains to the north, the natural landscapes are as breathtaking as the city itself.
While exploring things to do in Hiroshima, visitors should look to the past as well as the present. Pre-war monuments such as Hiroshima Castle have been rebuilt, while the nearby Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was constructed more recently and serves as a reminder for locals and visitors alike of why to strive for world peace.
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Top things to do in Hiroshima
The below are 5 of the best attractions in Hiroshima and is perfect for anyone planning a one or two-day itinerary in the city.
Hiroshima Castle is located in the Naka Ward section of the city, and is one of the key Hiroshima activities for visitors. The original Hiroshima Castle began construction in 1589, well before even the city of Hiroshima existed. Unlike many castles, it is not built on the city’s high ground, but is instead surrounded by a moat. It was designated as National Treasure in 1931, prior to being destroyed.
Over the course of hundreds of years, it has been everything from a military facility to a museum. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the castle was largely levelled. The new, rebuilt castle was completed in 1958, and is now a museum focused on its own history, as well as pre-war Japan. Restoration continues on the building to this day, with a mixture of traditional and contemporary building methods.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: 21-1 Moto-machi Naka-ku Hiroshima City, 730-0011
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: 370 yen for adults, and 180 yen for children
Parking: Available, but only a 15 minutes walk from a tram stop
What to bring: Sunscreen and a hat for walking through the grounds, which is free.
Tips: The Peace Memorial Park and the Shukkeien are both within walking distance of the castle, so combining those locations into one day of touristing would be a good idea.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Built-in memory of the victims of the world’s first atomic bomb attack, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was constructed in the open space created by the bomb, which previously had been the site of a busy city center. In addition to being dedicated to the victims, it was built to remind visitors of the devastation a nuclear bomb can cause, and to promote world peace.
Within the park, there are several monuments and landmarks worth visiting. The Genbaku Dome is particularly poignant. The preserved remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, it is now a World Heritage Site. The Rest House is another bombed building preserved within the park, and is notable because everyone inside died during the bombing save one miraculous survivor, Eizo Nomura, who was deep in the basement and was shielded from radiation by the concrete. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Children’s Peace Monument are also located within this park.
Tourists looking to learn more about the site during their visit can take the walking tour offered by Viator.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Montbell, Japan, 730-0031 Hiroshima, Naka-ku, Kamiyachō
Hours: 9:00 a.m.
What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen, as well as tissues.
Tips: One of the more touching sites to visit in Hiroshima, allow yourself some time after the tour to think about what you’ve seen, rather than jumping into the next activity.
When planning out what to do in Hiroshima, Shukkei-en should make the shortlist. The 400 year old Shukkei-en, a garden located on the banks of the Enko River, is just a short stroll from Hiroshima Castle, making it easy to explore both these landmarks on foot in the same day. It was owned by the Asano family for almost that entire time period, before being donated by them in 1940, shortly before the atomic bomb attack. Despite sustaining extensive damage, they reopened to the public in 1951.
Today, visitors to the garden can admire the many miniature landscapes created by the gardeners, including a pond surrounded by tea houses. A walking path winds its way through the garden, making exploration both relaxing and simple.
Viator offers a tour of the garden, including the unique story and history of Hiroshima with a stop at the Atomic Bomb Dome.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Tour departs from HIROSHIMA STATION, 1-２番３７号 Matsubarachō, Minami-ku, Hiroshima, 732-0822, Japan
Hours: Departure for the tour is at 10:15 AM
What to bring: Bring water and snacks for the walk
Tips: This is a once in a lifetime chance to experience a touching story of Hiroshima’s history, so take plenty of pictures.
Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate
Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Japanese national treasure, the Itsukushima Shrine is a famous Shinto shrine located just outside the city of Hiroshima. The torii gate is only one of the many monuments on this site but is the most famous. Set against Mount Misen, the bottom of the gate is submerged by water during high tide but can be visited more closely during low tide, when it sits on the island of Miyajima.
The gate was first built in the twelfth century, at the request of Taira no Kiyomori. Though damaged during the 2004 tsunami, it was repaired and is once again open to visitors. If you’d like to visit Torri Gate and combine many of Hiroshima’s favorite tourist spots in one tour, you can check out this hugely popular Hiroshima & Miyajima UNESCO Tour with 6 stops – including a ferry ride!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: There are various meeting points depending on which option you choose during booking.
Hours: The tour is between 7 – 12 hours long
What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen.
Tips: Vegetarian lunch options are available. Please inform the tour provider at least 2 days before the tour if you require either.
Car enthusiasts will jump at the chance to visit the Mazda museum and factory. One of the largest car manufacturers in Japan and almost one hundred years old, Mazda is also a Grand Prix winner and a major employer in Hiroshima and Japan as a whole. Visitors can take a guided tour of their factory and then spend some time browsing the attached museum.
Not only can past Mazda car models be admired in this museum, but fans of the rotary engine will be able to examine multiple versions of this as well. A hint into the future plans of this powerhouse car company is also offered on the tour which only takes 90 minutes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: 3-1 Shinchi, Aki-gun, Fuchu-cho, 730-8670 Hiroshima Prefecture
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – noon & 12:45 p.m. – 5 p.m
Parking: There is a parking lot, but it can fill up quickly.
What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes.
Tips: While admission is free, be sure to make a reservation in advance.
A Quick Hiroshima Travel Guide
Money – There are ATMs throughout the city that take foreign cards, including within many 7-Elevens. Be aware that many Japanese banks won’t take foreign debit cards, however.
When is the best time? – Spring and fall are the best times of year to visit, regarding the best weather. However, August has festivals and memorials to the atomic bomb, which may interest some visitors.
Getting here – Tourists can fly into the Hiroshima Airport, or they can take a train from Tokyo.
Getting around – There is ample public transportation in the form of buses and streetcars, though cars are also available to rent.
Where to Stay in Hiroshima
Here are a few places to stay in Hiroshima that I recommend that you can pick from based on your budget and travel style.
A urban accommodation concept in Vienna where former side-street bars have been transformed into ground-floor studio apartments. These large spaces are fabulously furnished and complete with small kitchenette.
A modern apartment building with several amenities including free WiFi, a private entrance, coffee/tea maker and even a small stove! “Spacious, clean, new, modern, and everything worked well. Quiet residential area by the river yet not far from the bus stop.”
Experience a very traditional stay at this quaint inn with your bed on tatami (woven-straw) floors. Towels and Yukata robes are provided free of charge, and every room is air-conditioned. Despite the very traditional decor, you will find free WiFi and also the option for bicycle rentals.
Enjoy a luxurious stay in this hotel’s modern soundproof rooms and spacious layout. The coffee on the ground floor is very popular, and it has a great location near many of the Hiroshima sites. Many of the rooms include an amazing breakfast you won’t want to miss.
I hope this guide will be extremely helpful in your travels! If you have questions or comments about the amazing sites of Hiroshima, drop a comment down below!