During our month long visit to Japan back in March 2016, Russell and I visited a total of six different cities across the country. I can honestly say though, Hiroshima was by far my favourite. It’s definitely a must-visit while in Japan, and I wish we had stayed longer than just one full day. There are so many beautiful places to spend a relaxing day out, so much incredible scenery to enjoy, and like the rest of Japan, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Hiroshima isn’t a city that you could compare to say, Tokyo. There aren’t any big cities or theme parks, and from what I could tell, the nightlife isn’t like Tokyo or Osaka. Somethings that’s good though. Sometimes while traveling and seeing new places, especially for an extended period of time, it’s nice to visit a city and do nothing but relax. Hiroshima is one of those cities!
We stayed at the Comfort Hotel in Downtown Hiroshima, which was the perfect choice for us. The location was great, within walking distance of everything we wanted to see. In less than 15 minutes, we were at the Peace Park, outdoor shopping arcade and had a large selection of Japanese and Western food options at easy reach.
So, if you’re considering spending a couple of days exploring the beautiful city of Hiroshima, here are some of the best things to do. Hiroshima is a perfect weekend getaway from Japan’s big cities, and here are some suggestions on how to fill your time.
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Things to do in Hiroshima, Japan: How to Spend a Weekend in Hiroshima
Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Museum & Atomic Bomb Dome
The Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum are two of the city’s most well-known features. On August 6, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima. Before the bomb occurred, the area which is now the beautiful Peace Park, was the political hub of the city. A few years after the devastating attack, it was decided that instead of rebuilding the commercial district of Hiroshima, it would be turned into a Memorial and Museum. This would not only give Japanese people a way to commemorate and grieve the attack; but also educate and help visitors to the city understand what happened.
Approximately 80,000 people were killed almost instantly as a result of the atomic bomb. 35,000 people were injured, and before the year ended, at least another 60,000 people had died due to effects from the atomic bomb. Although I have no personal relation to this attack or to anybody who lost their lives, it still saddens me greatly that something so devastating could happen to such a beautiful country.
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The Hiroshima Peace Museum has an entrance fee of 200 yen. This gives you full access to both of the museum buildings. The museum is a good way to learn about the events from August 6, and learn exactly how much damage was caused by the atomic bomb. Flash photography is restricted inside the museums, but from what I understand, you can still take photos as long as your flash is turned off. I only took two photos inside the actual museum, as it didn’t feel right pulling my camera out and snapping away. Each to their own, though. There were people taking photographs, so if you wish to do so, I suggest at least being respectful about it.
Note: The main museum building is currently undergoing major renovations, and will be closed until July 2018.
The Peace Park is a beautiful place to relax if you decide not to visit the museum. It doesn’t cost anything to enter the park itself, so you can spend as much time as you like enjoying the peace and quiet. There’s a lake in between the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome, and it’s quite relaxing sitting on either side, watching the world go by.
The Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings that survived the atomic bomb explosion. There is a gate surrounding the Dome itself, so you aren’t able to get too close. However, you can still get a good idea of the devastation that was caused, and how incredible it is that the building survived.
Museum Cost: 200 yen
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 6pm (admission closes at 5:30pm)
Closed: December 30 – 31
Shukkeien Garden is one of Hiroshima’s must-see attractions. For 260 yen, you’ll get access to the garden, and can stay for as long as you like. There are so many beautiful places to take photos within the park, so make sure you bring a camera! I only had my phone with me, because we spontaneously decided to walk to the garden while out shopping. But I still managed to take some pretty great photos.
The sheer amount of greenery, colourful flowers and cherry blossoms will make you glad you forked out the 3 dollars for entrance. No matter which direction you walk throughout the park, you’ll want to take photos of everything. I definitely recommend Shukkeien Garden to spend a relaxing morning or afternoon. Set aside at least a couple of hours to explore the garden, as you won’t want to leave!
[bctt tweet=”The Shukkein Gardens in Hiroshima are absolutely beautiful! Check out photos here.” username=”rhiannontravels”]
Cost: 260 yen
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (admission closes at 5:30pm)
Closed: December 29 – 31
Downtown Hiroshima is the main shopping hub of the city, and Hondori Street is the main attraction. It is a pedestrian only street filled with tons of shops, restaurants and what seemed like an endless amount of pharmacies (strange, I know). Compared to Osaka’s Dotonbori District which is very similar, Hondori Street is a nice change from the craziness of Osaka. There are significantly less people in Hiroshima, therefore you can walk the length of the street with a lot less frustration and bumping elbows with strangers.
There are a few department stores along Hondori Street. You’ll also come across lots of Western food options (McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks etc), and a ton of Japanese restaurants and street food vendors. Keep an eye out for the Italian restaurant chain called Saizeriya. We ate at many different Saizeriya locations around Japan during our month long stay. They have super cheap food, that’s always delicious and fresh. You can get a double mozzarella pizza or a bowl of pasta for under 500 yen! Bargain.
If you’re after secondhand goodies, look for Hiroshima’s BookOff store. BookOff is a chain throughout Japan selling everything from books and DVD’s to vintage video game consoles and secondhand clothing. I even scored a ukelele for 500 yen, and an official Hiroshima Baseball team jersey for 2,500 yen! If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on shopping, hit up as many BookOff stores as you can. Hiroshima has one of the best BookOff stores we found, so you definitely won’t leave empty handed!
Hiroshima Castle is a short walk from Shukkeien Garden. For 370 yen you can climb the stairs to the top of the castle, but we opted to just admire it from the outside. The castle grounds are pretty impressive too, and you don’t have to spend any money to enjoy them! Like most of the city, Hiroshima Castle was destroyed in the 1945 Atomic Bomb dropping. So it was rebuilt many years later and now contains a small museum inside.
If you choose to climb to the top of the castle, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Hiroshima city, and a birds eye view of the beautiful Shukkeien Garden!
Cost: 370 yen
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (admission closes at 5:30pm)
Closed: December 29 – 31
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Hiroshima is a beautiful city with a devastating past. However, despite everything that has happened, the people of Hiroshima seem to be enjoying life, spirited and happy to help visitors in any way they can. If you only have a short amount of time in Hiroshima, I would recommend visiting the Peace Park and Museum and Shukkeien Garden.
Related: One Month Japan Itinerary
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Have you visited Hiroshima before? What was your favourite part about the city? Tell me in the comments!
Please note: The information shared in this post relating to the atomic bomb was gathered from research on the internet. I apologise if any of what I have written is incorrect, and please feel free to correct anything in the comments below.