Ultimate 1-Day Guide to the best of Hiroshima City Travel
Hiroshima City (広島市)
Hiroshima is a vibrant modern city, having risen from its ashes of the past. It is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, located in the southwest of Japan’s Honshu Island. Hiroshima’s natural beauty can be seen in its impressive Chugoku Mountains to the north and the clear waters of the Seto Inland Sea in the south.
Hiroshima City – A Tourist Destination
Every year, thousands of tourists make their way to Hiroshima mainly for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park which is a grim reminder of war and a focus for prayers for world peace. Whilst this should be a “must do” itinerary for any visitor, one should also make time to take in the natural beauty of historical Miyajima Island which is a short ferry ride away and is easily accessible. From ancient times, every tree, rock and sand in the island was worshipped as god. It is an island often regarded by the locals as where the people and the gods live together. It is home to the only floating Torii gate in the world, and the infamous Mount Misen which is associated with a legend of miracle-that a fire lit by a Buddhist monk, Kobo Daishi. have been burning for almost 1200 years. Read more about Miyajima Island and what you can do here
Hiroshima City and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Hiroshima City has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One is the Atomic Bomb Dome in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the other is the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima Island. The Atomic Bomb Dome is an iconic structure as it was only a few meters away from the atomic bomb blast. It is symbolic as the beacon for world peace and an end to nuclear weapons.
I spent 2 days at Hiroshima and wished that I had spent more as this beautiful city has so much more to offer. If you have the time, try and spend 3 to 4 days, with so many choices on accommodation, I assure you, you will have plenty to do!
Ultimate 1-Day Guide to the best of Hiroshima City Travel are as follows:
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is the ultimate destination for all visitors to this City because it is home to the various designated symbols of Hiroshima City. I began my morning here and the afternoon exploring the City.
1. The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima City
The Atomic Bomb Dome is a symbol of Hiroshima and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
The skeletal remains of what used to be the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall stands in contrast to the surrounding beauty of River Aioi and the Peace Memorial Park. The building shows the ferocity of the explosion and heat that came almost directly from overhead when at 8:15 on the morning of August 6th 1945, the first atomic bomb in human history was dropped on Hiroshima.
The Atomic Bomb Dome – A focus for World Peace
The interior of the building was destroyed by fire and all the people inside the building at the time died instantly. However, the steel dome and the thick outer walls withstood destruction, and this began to be referred to as the “Atomic Bomb Dome”. The building and the exposed steel dome had been preserved as a reminder of war and the untold suffering caused by the bomb, while it also symbolises the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons and a focus for world peace.
The Dome is visible just as you exit, the tram. This was my first stop before visiting any other sites on the Park. As you near this structure, a sense of somber feeling overcomes you and you begin to appreciate the powerful explosion and the sufferings the people endured. Take some time to read the plaque and observe the structure.
From here, walk along the River, to the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims, the Children’s Peace Monument and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to get a deeper understanding of what this part of Hiroshima represents.
2. Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims in Hiroshima City
The official name for the Cenotaph is the “Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace”. It is a large concrete in the shape of a saddle. The central stone vault holds about 290,000 names of those who lost their lives to the bomb regardless of nationality. New names are added to the list each year as they are discovered.
The design of the Cenotaph is simple and is done well. It was designed by Kenzo Tange, a Pritzker Prize winner.
From the Cenotaph, make your way to the Flame of Peace and the Children’s Peace Monument.
3. Flame of Peace in Hiroshima City
The pedestal that houses the Flame of Peace is designed in the image of two hands pressed together with the palms facing the sky.
The Flame was lit on 1st August 1964, for a world without nuclear weapons, and will continue to burn until all nuclear weapons are abolished worldwide.
4. Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima City
The Children’s Peace Monument was built and dedicated on Children’s Day, 1958. It was constructed in memory of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to the radiation of the bomb at the age of 2. She died of leukaemia about ten years later. This monument also serves as a memorial to the many thousands of young lives who died as a result of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
The meaning of the Children’s Peace Monument
Standing on the top of the three-legged dome pedestal of this nine-meter high bronze statue is the bronze figure of a girl holding up a gold-coloured folded paper crane. The pedestal is suspended by a boy and a girl figure, symbolising a bright future and hope. Underneath the pedestal, there is an inscription which reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world”.
Inside the tower, a gold crane is hung, which rings like a wind chime, and a bell modelled after an ancient bronze bell. You can view the original bell and gold crane in the first floor lobby of the East Building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The monument was designed by Kazuo Kikuchi.
Tower of a Thousand Cranes
Sadako Sasaki continued to fold paper cranes throughout her short life and paper cranes continues to symbolise the pursuit of peace. This Monument has often been referred as the “Tower of a Thousand Cranes” because the memorial used to be decorated with origami. However, these paper cranes have now been moved into little kiosks and placed nearby.
From here, make your way to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall.
5. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Museum was built in the pursuit of world peace and a world without nuclear weapons. It was opened in 1955 and conveys the realities of the atomic bomb.
Exhibits at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The building is divided into two sections, the East Building and the Main Building. There are exhibits that illustrates the horrors of the atomic bomb such as possessions from the victims for example clothes worn by victims. There was a wrist watch that stopped at precisely 8:15. There were some children’s toys also such as a tricycle. There were accounts of people’s experiences, photographs and other pieces of documentation. There were information explaining the circumstances in Hiroshima and elsewhere that led to the bombing and detailed narrative of the bombing itself. The Museum also had an interactive board depicting what people did on the morning when the atomic bomb was dropped.
Visit to Hiroshima by former President Barack Obama
On the lower floor of the Museum is the theatre and a schedule is available for screening times. Here too, directly opposite to the entrance of the theatre, you will find, on display messages from the former President Barack Obama and former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Some of the information and exhibits were difficult to look at. It was a moving experience for me, even now as I reflect upon the exhibits. I did not take any pictures of these exhibits because I did not feel right ‘violating’ the memories of these victims for a personal gain. The Museum is definitely an important place to visit and it is a time to slow down and reflect on a bad period in human history.
My final stop was the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall.
6. Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall.
This Memorial structure looks modest from the outside but has a strong presence. It is a building dedicated to mourning, the victims of the atomic bomb and to focus on prayers for world peace. It’s structure is designed to reflect 8:15 a.m., the time when the atomic bomb was dropped.
To enter this building, walk down the steps on the side and you will enter a big chamber of information filled with names of people who died, memoirs from survivors and portraits of the victims. This is a uniquely designed chamber that echos at the slightest sound! So, you got to be extremely quiet.
7. Aioi Bridge in Hiroshima City
The Aioi Bridge was originally constructed in 1932. It is a 3-way bridge in an unusual T-shape. Because of its unique shape, the bridge was easily recognisable from the air and became the target point for the atomic bomb in 1945.
The Aioi Bridge stretches across the point where the Ota River and the Motoyasu River branch off, and it connects the Atomic Bomb Dome to the Peace Park. The Bridge was reconstructed after the War but deteriorated over time. A new bridge was built in 1983. There are old pillars bearing the marks of the bombing still preserved at the foot of the bridge.
8. Exploring the City centre
So, after spending most of the day visiting the Memorial Park, exploring downtown was the next activity during the latter part of the afternoon. I was not getting any souvenirs, but it was good to walk along the City’s shops to get a feel of the town and its people. Hiroshima Hondori is a covered area with all sorts of shops, fashion, restaurants and souvenir shops.
I was more interested in getting back to the hotel to refresh and for a short rest before heading out for dinner.
9. Hiroshima’s Food & Drink
There is no better way to get to know a culture than through its food. Despite Hiroshima’s sad history, the region is popular for its sake and Okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki, regarded as Hiroshima’s Soul Food, is a savoury pancake filled with vegetables and seafood. Couple of weeks ago, I dedicated a blog on Okonomiyaki and it is a quick two-minute read which you can access here. Okonomiyaki is a must-try for any visitor to this City. What better than some sake to go with it!
I wrote a blog on Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki – Hiroshima’s Soul Food – Okonomiyaki and Oysters
(Please click the link and read more on Hiroshima’s Soul Food).
Hiroshima’s border with the Inland Sea means that its coastline is home to many fishing villages. Oysters have been cultivated in Hiroshima Bay for over 400 years. It is estimated that about two-thirds of the oysters in Japan come from these waters. One of the best places to try freshly caught oysters, yaki-gaki is in Miyajima Island, which is a quick ten-minute ferry ride. Miyajima was on my Day Two itinerary.
Read about how I spent my day in Miyajima Island in my blog on Miyajima Island – 10 Ultimate Experiences Not to be Missed.
Hiroshima Prefecture is home to over fifty sake breweries and is one of the three sake brewing areas in Japan, along with Fushimi in Kyoto and Kobe’s Nada. Hiroshima is popularly known as “Sake Town”. It is said that Hiroshima’s sake is highly popular even among the Japanese because of its distinctive rich flavour crafted from the area’s natural surroundings.
I did not visit a sake brewery in Hiroshima as I had already visited the brewery in Fushimi, Kyoto but it is on my list for my next visit to Hiroshima. If you would like to visit a local sake brewer in Hiroshima and experience the world of sake, please find the official website here:
My Conclusion on 1-day guide to Hiroshima City Travel
After my visit to the National Peace Memorial Hall which was the final place in the Memorial Park, it was a good place to slow down and really reflect. The beauty of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that is filled with memorial statues and flowers is in stark contrast to the remains of the Dome, but it somehow projected a sense of serene beauty and calmness. It was an extremely somber moment and I left feeling very humbled indeed.
A walk in the City gave me an idea of what the Hiroshima City was like – basically like any other cities in Japan, everyone went about their own chores and thoughts. The people here were welcoming of tourists and kind.
If you are yet to visit Japan, then I would strongly encourage you to add Hiroshima to your list.
Travel tips and Useful information on Hiroshima City
Other places to visit:
Day-trip to Sandankyo Gorge
If you are a nature lover, this is one place you should not miss! The beautiful gorge runs through the mountains in the northwest of Hiroshima City and it is only a 15-minute journey by public transport.
Access: Take the City train Nos: 1, or 2 or 5 (150 Yen). Exit at Kamiyacho Higashi stop and it is just 5 minutes walk from here.
Getting to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park:
From Hiroshima City Station, take the tram from the front of the South Exit. Take tram #2 or #6 and exit at Genbaku-dome-mae (Atomic Bomb Dome). Journey is about 13 minutes and 160 Yen.
Getting to Hiroshima City:
To get a detailed view on the best deals and ways to get to Hiroshima City, please read a blog I wrote specifically on this topic by clicking the link The Best Ways to Get to Hiroshima City.
A brief outline is here:
Shinkansen – Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station
Mizuho or Nozomi (not covered by Japan Rail Pass)
Journey Time – 1hr 25 minutes
With Japan Rail Pass
Sakura – 1 hour 32 minutes
Hikari – 2 hours 13 minutes
Bus transportion – Daytime and Overnight service
All buses depart from Osaka Station’s JR Express Bus Terminal
Daytime journey is about 5 hours
Overnight journey: 2 services
- Departs at 23:00 arriving Hiroshima at 06:21
- Departs at 23:30 arriving Hiroshima at 05:55
For up-to-date information and fares and to make bookings directly at Japan Expressway Bus Net go to: https://www.kousokubus.net/JpnBus/en
Shinkansen – Shin-Kyoto to Hiroshima
JR Tokaido and Sanyo lines (Not covered by Japan Railway Pass)
(Tokaido and Sanyo are regular, quicker and direct service)
For unreserved seats, fare is 10,570 Yen
Reserved seats, fare is 11,500 Yen
Journey time is 1 hour 35 minutes
With Japan Rail Pass
Hikari and Kodama trains but you need to transfer onto a Sakura train at Shin- Osaka or Shin-Kobe, adding 10 to 15 minutes to your journey.
Unreserved seats: 10,570 Yen
Reserved seats: 11,000 Yen
Journey time is 2 hours
Bus transportation – Kyoto to Hiroshima: Daytime and Overnight service
Provided by JR Bus and Willer Express
Daytime journey is 6 hours 20 minutes
Overnight journey is 8 hours 40 minutes (6,100 Yen)
For up-to-date information and fares and to make bookings directly at Japan Expressway Bus Net go to: https://www.kousokubus.net/JpnBus/en
Shinkansen – Tokyo to Hiroshima
JR Tokaido and Sanyo lines (Not covered by Japan Rail Pass)
19,000 Yen for a reserved seat
With Japan Railway Pass
Hikari and Sakura Lines
5 hours with transfer at Shin-Osaka station
Unreserved seats: 18,040 Yen
Reserved seats: 18,500 Yen
Bus transportation: Tokyo to Hiroshima-Overnight service
Journey time is 12 hours and fares are usually 11,900 Yen
Discounted fares are available on Willer Express and Japan Bus. You can make online bookings directly.
By Air: Tokyo to Hiroshima
- There are several flights a day between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Hiroshima by JAL and ANA.
- Flight duration is 90 minutes
- One way fare is 35,000 Yen
- Hiroshima Airport is 50 minutes away from City Centre
- Bus fare from Hiroshima Airport City Bus Terminal is 1,340 Yen
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