TWO DAYS IN HIROSHIMA
Located in the southwest of Japan, Hiroshima encapsulates some of the most poignant parts of this country’s nature, traditions, and history. Though also known for its ancient castles from the Edo period, Hiroshima’s recent history during WWII dominates the memory of both international visitors and locals alike. Every year at 8:15am on August 6th, the mayor of Hiroshima solemnly lowers a parchment deep into the ground. The parchment documents the names of citizens who died in the last 365 days from the devastating aftereffects of the 1945 atomic bomb. To this day, the number of people who pass away from illnesses directly linked to the bombing still total around 5,000 per year.
Despite its sad history, Hiroshima is now a lively and bustling home to over 1.2 million people who enjoy its many shopping malls, art scene, restaurants, museums, and picturesque parks. Extensive rehabilitation work after the war restored many of the city’s most significant historical sites, including Hiroshima Castle, the Itsukushima Shrine, and Shukkeien Garden.
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
We provide a number of hidden and popular sites that we highly recommend for any guests visiting Hiroshima. For each set of activities, read the descriptions, and select 3-5 activities per day that sound especially interesting to you. Don’t try to do more than 2 activities in a morning or afternoon—you’ll be exhausted and won’t have time to truly enjoy the place you’re in. In our experience, it’s always better to thoroughly experience a few places than to sprint through many different ones.
$ Convenience Store: Hiroshima, like every city in Japan, has more than its fair share of convenience stores. The stores, are affectionately as “Conbini’s” and there are three major chains: Lawson, 7-11 and FamilyMart. These are inexpensive stores where you can pick up fresh sandwiches, fruit, pastries, and enough canned coffee to energize a small army! And if the variety of breakfast foods on offer isn’t enough to keep you going throughout the day, convenience stores have an array of sweets and chocolates to stock up on, too. They offer a great boost to pick you back up following a morning of exploration!
If you’re feeling adventurous at the conbini, you could try the strawberry sandwich, a seasonal treat only available between January and April. Another recommendation is the omnipresent onigiri, or rice ball. Onigiri comprises an outer seaweed wrapper encasing a handful of rice and a delicious filling. Most onigiri only cost between 100 and 250 yen, which is about the equivalent of $0.89 – $2.24 (US), or £0.70 – £1.73 (UK). They’re a tasty, hearty snack with a variety of flavors. Conveniently, these stores are often open 24 hours a day, so you’ll be able to find a satiating snack at any time of day!
$$ Hiroshima Andersen
2-2, 2-chōme, Kamiyachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima, 730-0031
Located in an historic building that survived the atomic bombing, Andersen is an excellent choice for a centrally-located breakfast or brunch. Their bread bar serves a wide range of breads with jams, jellies and other condiments to accompany them. Breakfast is served daily between 7:30am and 10am, while brunch is served at weekends from 9am to 11am.
$$ Café Fusha Aqa Hiroshima Bus Centre-Gai
6-27, Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima, 730-0011
Café Fusha has been making thick Japanese-style pancakes since the 1960s and, to this day, still make their speciality over a teppan stove. This method of cooking gives the pancakes a crispy exterior and a deliciously moist centre. What could be better than filling yourself up on fluffy pancakes before a day of exploration?
HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL PARK
Address:1-2 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hirosima-shi, Hiroshima 730-0811
Just a ten minute walk from Hiroshima Andersen and Café Fusha, the Hiroshima Peace and Memorial Park is the perfect place to start your adventure. Situated in downtown Hiroshima, the park is spread over 122,000 square meters and is full of memorials for those who lost their lives during the 1945 atomic bombing. Highlights of the park include the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Flame of Peace, the Children’s Peace Monument, and the Atomic Bomb Dome. We recommend spending a full morning exploring these incredible historical monuments and memorials.
HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL MUSEUM
Admission: 200 Yen
Opening hours: March – July open daily, 8:30am-6pm. August open daily 8:30am-7pm. September-October open daily 8:30am-6pm. December-February open daily 8:30am-5pm.
Typical length of visit: 90 mins
Located within the Memorial Park, the Hiroshima Peace and Memorial Museum details the catastrophic effects of the nuclear attack in the form of real video footage and personal stories. The museum was founded in 1955 in honor of the victims of the atomic attack. Now, it is considered to be one of the most popular destinations in all of Japan.
FLAME OF PEACE
Typical length of visit: 15 mins
Only a three minute walk from the museum stands the Flame of Peace. Located within the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the structure depicts two hands touching each other at the wrists, with each palm facing outwards towards the sky. The flame has been burning since 1964 in memory of the victims of the atomic bombing and will continue to stay ablaze until every nuclear weapon in the world has been safely destroyed. This fire has ignited flames for important events, including the 1994 Asian Games.
ATOMIC BOMB DOME
Typical length of visit: 30 mins
Located north of the park, across a bridge, is the famous Atomic Bomb Dome. Designed in 1915, the dome was originally the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before it was severely damaged by the atomic blast. Although damaged, the building was not completely destroyed. The shell of the building is now a memorial of the tragic event.
In 1996, the dome was declared a World Heritage Site and has been a world-famous attraction ever since. Every year on August 6th, a memorial service takes place to commemorate those who died in the bombing. On the same evening, locals light lanterns that float along the park’s river. It’s a haunting and moving sight to behold if you happen to be visiting on August 6th.
Address: 21-1 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0011
Admission: 370 Yen per adult, free for children
Opening hours: March – November open daily 9am-6pm. December – February open daily 9am-5pm.
Typical length of visit: 60 mins
Hiroshima Castle is only about a 15 minute walk north from the Atomic Bomb Dome and is an excellent representation of Japanese construction. Originally built in 1589 as a vital government center, the castle was tragically destroyed during the atomic blast in 1945. Though distinct from its original, the newly-built castle is still well worth a visit. From the top of the castle stairs, there are amazing views of the Hiroshima skyline, castle grounds and surrounding gardens. Inside the castle, there is also a collection of ancient Japanese artifacts and artwork.
HIROSHIMA GOKOKU SHRINE
Address: 21-1 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0011
Opening hours: Open daily
Typical length of visit: 45 mins
The Gokoku Shrine was originally built in 1869 as a memorial to the victims of the Boshin War. Destroyed by the atomic blast in 1945, local donations funded its reconstruction near Hiroshima Castle in 1965. The Shrine is famous for pilgrims seeking good fortune in life; newly-weds wanting a long and happy marriage, students wanting good test results, and parents celebrating their child’s birth all descend on the Shrine in the hopes that their prayers will be answered!
Address: 2-11 Kaminoborichō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken, 730-0014
Admission: 250 Yen per adult, 100 Yen for children
Opening hours: April – September open daily 9am-6pm. October-Match open daily 9am-5pm.
Typical length of visit: 60 mins
The Shukkei-en is a tradtional Japanese garden that dates back to 1620. Within walking distance of the Gokoku Shrine, the Shukkei-en translates to ‘shrunken-scenery-garden’ and is full of miniaturized landscapes. This includes teahouses, bridges and tiny forests covering mini-mountains! There’s also a small lake where koi carp and turtles live within the water – well worth looking out for!
The garden is designed with each changing season in mind, so no matter what time of year you visit, there is always something distinct to see. Also, if you’re feeling slightly peckish before dinner, visit the garden’s cafe for traditional Japanese sweets and tea.
Address: 5-13, Sintenchi, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima, 730-0034
Hiroshima specializes in seafood and the dish, okonomi-yaki (pancakes with seafood and vegetables) are a must-try food in the city! So after a long day of sightseeing, it’s time to treat yourself to something tasty. Okonomi-mura is a food complex comprising of 25 okonomi-yaki restaurants, each serving a slightly different style of ingredients.
GETTING TO MIYAJIMA ISLAND
To get going early on this adventure-packed day, we recommend a quick conbini breakfast to kick off your morning. We’re off to the seas! In 1643, Hayashi Gahō deemed Miyajima as one of Three Views of Japan. Today, Miyajima is still considered one of the most beautiful places in Hiroshima, with gorgeous scenery and a rich history of exquisite Japanese architecture.
To reach the ferry port, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (25 mins and 410 yen for a one-way trip). From Miyajimaguchi Station, it’s only a short walk to the ferry pier where ferries leave for Miyajima. The ferries come often, so there’s no need to rush to make the connection! There are two competing ferry companies who’ll take you across the water – JR and Matsudai. Both ferries take 10 minutes and both cost 180 yen for a one-way trip.
Alternatively, boats connect Miyajima with Hiroshima Peace Park. The trip takes 45 minutes in total and costs either 2000 yen for a single trip or 3600 yen for a roundtrip. Miyajima is a large island but its most popular attractions are located in two main areas: the town around the Itsukushima Shrine and Mount Misen.
ITSUKUSHIMA SHRINE & TREASURY
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen including treasury)
Opening hours: March – October 14th open daily 6:30am-6pm. October 15th-Nov open daily 6:30am-5:30pm. December open daily 6:30am-5pm. January-February open daily 6:30am-17:30pm).
Take a step back in time to the Edo Period as you walk to the Itsukushima Shrine. Feast your eyes on the incredible torii gate floating on the water (during high tide). This is the gate of separation between the normal and the sacred. Created by Saeki Kuramoto in 593, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.
OMOTESANDO SHOPPING STREET
Omotesando shopping street is the gathering place for vendors selling fun souvenirs and delicious food. This area became the main street during the Showa period, as the area developed economically. For lunch, stroll through Omotesando and follow your nose! We recommend the freshly-baked Momiji Manjyu, which are deserts made in the shape of maple leaves. Red bean paste is the most common filling, but you can also choose chocolate, cream, matcha, cheese, taro, or chestnut.
Cable car Admission: 1000yen (one way). 1800yen (round trip).
Cable car opening hours: 9am-5pm
In 806 AD, a monk named Kōbō Daishi ascended Mt. Misen. At its peak, he deemed the mountain as an ascetic site for the Shingon sect of Buddhism. At 500 meters above sea level, Mount Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima. As you can imagine, the views from the top are breathtaking. On a clear day, you can look across the water and see as far as Hiroshima City. As well as the views, there’s plenty of wildlife to look out for. Deer are often seen along the paths, and you may even see or hear a wild monkey.
There are three hiking trails up to the top of Misen: the Momijidani Course, the Daisho-in Course and the Omoto Course. The Daishio-in Course has the best views and less steep compared to the other two. Regardless of which course you choose, it typically takes between 90 mins and 2 hours to reach the summit from the town.
But don’t worry, there is a cable car that can take you some of the way if you’re legs are aching from all the walking you did yesterday! The cable car is only a 20min walk from the ferry pier or a 10min walk from Itsukushima Shrine and the ride is about 20mins in total.