Hiroshima will forever be associated with 6 August 1946 when the US dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city, helping end World War 11. Today, however, Hiroshima has risen from the nuclear ashes into a place that advocates peace and love.
A visit here represents a heart breaking, important history lesson but – thanks to the fabulous food, friendly locals and attractive city itself - it’s not the only memory you’ll leave with.
What to see and do
Hugged by rivers on both sides, Hiroshima Peace Park should top your travel agenda – people travel from all over the world to visit this park, which is dedicated to victims of the bomb. Close by lies the A bomb Dome – arguably the starkest reminder of the tragedy being but a shell of a building. Built by a Czech architect in 1915, it was the Industrial Promotion Hall until the bomb exploded killing everyone inside.
Meanwhile the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is the place to head to see items salvaged from the aftermath of the Atomic bomb. It’s a highly emotional experience – items on display include a child’s melted lunch box – but an absolute must see.
Next up seek out Shukkei-en (meaning contracted view)- a gorgeous garden modelled after West Lake in Hangzhou, China – that serves as the perfect place to reflect on Hiroshima’s tragic past.
If Japan had a national sport, it would be shopping. And, as the saying goes “When in Rome”…. In Hiroshima, Hondori – a covered arcade selling everything under the sun from clothes, shoes and accessories to electronics and traditional goods – think kimonos, scrolls, ceramics etc – has you covered.
Ditch the diet, for Hiroshima is food lovers paradise. The city is best known for its oysters and okonomiyaki, a thick savoury pancake full of batter and cabbage with vegetables and seafood that is cooked on a griddle right in front of you.
Whatever you do, save room for Momiji manju – another local specialty that’s sure to satisfy those with a sweet tooth. Shaped like maple leaves, these little cakes are filled with sweet bean paste and very moreish.
For a post dinner drink, head to the nightlife district of Nagarekawa that’s home to a dizzying array of bars, pubs and clubs.
If you want to experience Hiroshima like a local, make a beeline for the mammoth Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium to catch a baseball game. Hiroshimans are crazy about the Carp – Hiroshima’s home team. Even if you aren’t a fan of baseball, it’s worth watching a game for the atmosphere alone.
Within easy day tripping distance of Hiroshima, lies the small island of Miyajima. This Unesco World Heritage Site is celebrated for its oft photographed vermilion tore (shrine gate) of Itsukushima-jinja which looks as though it is floating in water. Make sure, when visiting Miyajima, to go during higher tide, to view the Great Torii while it’s surrounded by water. The Great Torii aside, Miyajima is a good spot to hike up Mt. Misen – the island’s tallest mountain – check out some beautiful Buddhist Temples and shop for sweets and souvenirs on Omotesando Street.
For a style on a shoestring, look to Hana Hostel. Located close to the train station, the hostel offers a choice of Western style of Japanese rooms where you’ll sleep on a tatami mat rather than a Western mattress. There’s also several comfortable communal rooms – great for meeting other travellers.