Hiroshima in Japan is intricately linked with the tragic events post WWII. The bombings annihilated many parts of the city and left a permanent scar but the city rose from the ashes.
Instead of showcasing its suffering, it evolved into a city for peace and hope. This is reflected in the main Hiroshima attractions and. If you are planning a day in Hiroshima and Mijayima, here are the best things to do in Hiroshima and surrounds to help you get started on your trip.
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Hiroshima Travel Tips
Kyoto is the easiest big city to base yourself in for your Hiroshima day trip. When you travel by bullet train, the journey takes just under two hours.
Trains run every half an hour and are always extremely punctual, so don’t be late! Check schedules online.
You can also take a train from Osaka to Hiroshima. This train is about 20 minutes faster than coming from Kyoto.
Walking around a city is the best way to get to know it, and Japan’s Hiroshima is no exception. However, if you’re short on time or not wearing your walking shoes, public transportation in Hiroshima is quick and easy. All rides with the tram have a flat fee of 160 yen.
If you want to visit Miyajima during your Hiroshima day trip, there is a 45 minute ferry that leaves every hour. The ride is 2,000 yen one way or 3,600 return. If you’re using your Japan Railpass, the ferry trip is included as well.
Get it in advance here* to ensure it’s with you before you leave for Japan and there are no delivery delays. Don’r forget that you have to have it validated when you’re in town at your nearby JR station. Sometimes there are queues, so don’t cut it too close to the train you want to catch.
To cut short the hassle of figuring everything out yourself – where to go and when, communicating what tickets to buy, etc – join a guided tour. This way, everything is taken care of and you can just sit back and let your English speaking guide show you around.
There are tours offering a day tour around Hiroshima and Miyajima. Rent your bike tour here* with a mobile receipt, so you don’t need to even print your ticket. (You can cancel it up to 24 hours in advance in case you have to change your travel plans.)
What to See in Hiroshima – Top 10
Atomic Bomb Dome
One of the first things to do in Hiroshima Japan upon your arrival might be a bit heavy to stomach but necessary for any first Hiroshima travels. Head to the Atomic Bomb Dome.
This building is a world famous representation of Hiroshima. It’s what remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, which was very close to the hypocenter of the atomic bomb dropped in 1945.
Somehow, most of the structure of the building survived the blast, and its remains were left alone to serve as a reminder of what happened to the city. You can freely walk around the building but not enter it due to safety reasons.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
One of the best places to visit in Hiroshima is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The park is a beautiful, green space, perfect for taking a relaxing walk in nature, as well as the home of most of the city’s major memorials dedicated to the 1945 atomic bombing.
It’s both a memorial for the tragic past as well as a sign of hope for the future and Hiroshima’s perseverance. Admission to the park is free.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is an essential part of visiting Hiroshima. The museum is very heavy and it is an emotionally difficult place to visit, but it is the best place to learn and understand what happened when the atomic bomb was dropped and what took place afterwards.
While the museum is not extremely gory, it does leave you with a deep impression of human suffering. Entrance to the museum is 50 yen.
Cenotaph for A-Bomb Victims
Located in the center of the Peace Park, this concrete monument is dedicated to the victims of the bomb and is designed to serve as a shelter for their souls. The monument is easy to find when walking around the park and it is free to visit, so it is definitely an attraction in Hiroshima worth visiting.
Children’s Peace Monument
This memorial is also located in the Peace Park of Hiroshima. It is a statue of a child and a crane, dedicated to Sasaki Sadako, a child sick with radiation poisoning after the bombing.
In Japan it is believed that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. Sasaki tried to complete this goal during her hospital stay, but unfortunately passed away shortly before finishing.
In memory of her, visitors from all over the world fold origami cranes to offer to the monument. It’s a very heartwarming and heart breaking monument at the same time.
Hiroshima is so much more than its dark history. Take a break from the gloom and wander around this garden from the early Edo Period.
It’s a good place to decompress after the emotional toll of the atomic bomb memorials and museum, and one of the top places to visit in Hiroshima. Entrance to the garden is 260 yen.
By the way, Shukkei-en is only an 8 minute walk away from Hiroshima Castle, which should be included in your must sees in Hiroshima as well. The Carp Castle, as it is only knonw, was destroyed in the bombings as well but restored and one of the many beautiful Japanese castles.
Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
For something a little different, at this art museum to your Hiroshima day trip itinerary. This public art museum was the first in Japan dedicated entirely to contemporary art.
The museum has constantly changing and very unique exhibits, so be sure to check out their website before your visit to see what exciting art adventures are in store for you.
The Japanese culture is so rich and vibrant and can feel a bit overwhelming for first time visitors. Take your time to get to know one part of it. For instance, you could join a local workshop to acquire a new skill and also learn more about Japanese traditions.
Have you ever wanted to join a Japanese tea ceremony, learn calligraphy AND try on a kimono? You can do all three of these. You get to taste an authentic matcha tea, take beautiful pictures in a Japanese garden and take home your name in Japanese calligraphy. Reserve your spot here.
If you like food, then you have to drop everything after your Hiroshima sightseeing and head straight to the heart of Hiroshima okonomiyaki making.
You can get the local must eat dish in a lot of places but the most famous and condensed place for getting your Japanese “pancake” mix is at Okonomimura. It houses 24 food stalls under one roof! And you get to see your food being prepared on a flat iron grill right at your table; exactly how it’s supposed to be.
But what is okonomiyaki and why is it different in Hiroshima than in its neighbouring and supposedly original form, that of Osaka okonomoyaki?
For lack of a better word, an okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake that is always savoury. It’s made fresh from flour, eggs shredded cabbage and topped with delicious okonomi sauce, Japanese mayo and bonito flakes. You can get the vegetarian version or add prawns, katsuobushi or pork belly.
Osaka and Hiroshima both claim to have the best okonomiyaki, so be careful what you say. (Pssssh: I like the Hiroshima ononomiyaki more but don’t tell.)
After you’ve satisfied your hunger, you might still have a craving for local beer? Good thing there are bar hopping tours so you can sample the best brews and get shown the best locales for exactly that.
If you book this tour, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and izakaya foods are included. You will be taken to three bars in the Nagarekawa area and taste sake made in Hiroshima. Bonus: You might just become more knowledgable in the different flavours of sake on the tour as well.
What to See in Miyajima – Top 3
Miyajima is a small island in Hiroshima bay, and is worth squeezing into your Hiroshima day trip if you are a nature or ancient temple lover. It’s small but you have a few hiking trails to choose from as well as gorgeous temples.
Also worthy to note are the freely roaming deer in Miyajima. They are wild, so don’t feed or touch them. Should you eat food in front of them, they might want to snatch it or even attach you. (Happened to me.)
This shrine dates back to the 6th century and is famous for its sacred floating torii gate. It’s the most iconic sight in Miyajima.
Of course, the floating gate of Japan doesn’t actually float but during high tide it appears to be as it was built on the sand. Be sure to visit around high tide, or else the famous gate will look like it’s floating in mud instead of water.
At 535m, Mount Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima. The summit is about 2km from the village and takes about 30 minutes to walk from the top station of the Miyajima Ropeway.
Give yourself enough time to explore as there are several small temples and shrines along the way. If you’d like to hike all the way to the summit from the village instead, it’s about 1.5-2 hours to reach the top.
This temple overlooks the main village and is one of the most beautiful views you will find when visiting Hiroshima.
This is an Esoteric Buddhist temple and is filled to the brim with stunning images. The temple is an easy 30 minute walk from the port, and entrance is free.
Read more from the Japan blog
- How to plan trips around the Kansai Region
- Where to go for day trips from Kyoto
- Spending the day in Matsumoto – What to see
- Where to see the best cherry blossoms in Honshu, Japan
- What to pack for a Japan trip
Danial (Dan On The Road) says
I find it intriguing on how the Japanese deal with the aftermath of the a-bomb with peace parks and museum as compared to how Cambodians show the horrors of the Khmer regime through places like Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum.
Yeah, every nation deals with history in a different way, I guess. I like the positive approach and it doesn’t lessen the impact it has when you visit. It really shows the horrible effect of the bomb