During our month long stay in Japan back in March 2016, we managed to visit six different cities across the country. I can honestly say though, Hiroshima was by far my personal favourite. It’s definitely a must visit while in Japan, and we still wish we had stayed longer than 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 we’ve ever met. Here are the top things to do in Hiroshima!
We took the Bullet Train from Osaka to Hiroshima, and booked our stay at the Comfort Hotel in Downtown Hiroshima. The location was perfect – 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 plenty of Japanese and Western food to choose from.
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Top Things to do in Hiroshima, Japan
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1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Museum & Atomic Bomb Dome
The Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum are two of the city’s most well-known places to visit.
On August 6th, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima. Before this bombing occurred, the area which is now the beautiful Peace Park used to be the political hub of Hiroshima. 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 remember the people who lost their lives, but also educate and help visitors to the city to 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.
It costs 200 yen for entrance to the Hiroshima Peace Museum. This entry fee 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 we could understand, you are still allowed to take photographs as long as your flash is turned off.
I only took two photos inside the actual museum (see one of them below), as it didn’t feel right pulling out my camera and snapping away. Each to their own, though. There were people taking photos, so if you wish to do so, we suggest being respectful about it. If you are asked to stop, please be considerate and put your camera (or phone) away.
The Peace Park is a beautiful place to relax if you decide to not 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 to the building. 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
2. Shukkeien Garden
One of the best Hiroshima sights is Shukkeien Garden. 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 260 yen for entrance. No matter which direction you walk throughout the park, you’ll want to take photos of absolutely 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!
Cost: 260 yen
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (admission closes at 5:30pm)
Closed: December 29 – 31
3. Downtown Hiroshima
Downtown Hiroshima is the main shopping hub of the city, and Hondori Street is the main attraction. Hondori Street 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!
Some of the best food in Hiroshima is found on 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 lots of 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 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!
4. Hiroshima Castle
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
Hiroshima is a beautiful city with a devastating past. However, despite everything that has happened, the people of Hiroshima are still some of the friendliest and spirited that we have ever met. If you only have a short amount of time to spend in Hiroshima, please visit the Peace Park and Museum. There are a lot of top things to do in Hiroshima, but for a truly beautiful experience, take the time to learn about its history.
Have you visited Hiroshima before? What was your favourite part about the city? Tell us in the comments!
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Please note: The information shared in this post relating to the atomic bomb was gathered from research on the internet. We apologise if any of what we have written is incorrect, and please feel free to correct anything in the comments below.