Well known for being hit by an atomic bomb during World War II, Hiroshima is now a cosmopolitan city that prides itself in having good food and a bustling nightlife while preserving its tragic history and honoring the lives lost in the war. It is a city worth visiting as you can witness the horror caused by an atomic bomb while admiring the determination and hard work of the locals to bounce back and be where they are today. Together with the historical sights and natural beauty, Hiroshima is a city that has many scenic venues that will blow your mind away!
1. Relish in history at the Atomic Bomb Dome
Undoubtedly the symbol of Hiroshima, the Atomic Bomb Dome is now a relic of the past that is preserved to remind the world of the tragedy back then. As a World Heritage Site, the dome is now an arrangement of twisted metal with rubble-strewn surroundings, just like how it was 70 years ago. It was previously a building designed by a famed Czech architect that had a bold European style with modern flourishes. However, as the bombing took place directly above it, the dome shattered and left only the walls standing.
During the reconstruction of the city, it was left alone as it was difficult to demolish compared to other areas. But with time, the charm of the building spoke for itself and it is now a building surrounded by benches where locals like to relax or take a break. The dome is definitely a testament to the power of the atomic bomb as well as an icon of peace that has an overwhelming presence in the Memorial Park which you should visit!
Atomic Bomb Dome
Address: 1-10 Otemachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima-city
Price: 200 JPY or 1.90 USD (But going around the park is free)
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 6pm (The park is open for 24 hours)
Access: Take tram line 2 or 6 from Hiroshima Station to Genbaku-Dome Mae Station
Contact: +81 82-242-7831
2. Ring the Bells of Peace at the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
Another site in the Memorial park that is worth visiting is the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace. It is one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in Asia. The huge grey building was built by a German Jesuit priest who had experienced the explosion of the atomic bomb firsthand. This tragic experience compelled him to create a symbol of peace and he contracted leading Japanese architect Murano Tohgo to design it. Funded by contributions from numerous countries as an icon of unity and cooperation among nations, it is a building that shows how nations have the ability to work together when needed.
Murano Tohgo was a luminary of Japanese architecture and incorporated many traditional Japanese elements in this western building such as a phoenix and the strained glass with designs of pine, bamboo and plum flowers. The cathedral has four bells which are made from the steel of weapons used during the world war in the 46 meter (150 feet) high tower and an organ that was donated by the city of Cologne. Combined with other donations, the cathedral is now a stunning symbol of peace that immediately soothes the soul and reminds the visitors of the unity among countries.
Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
Address: 4-29, Nobori-Cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-city
Opening Hours: 9.30am to 4pm
Access: 5 minutes’ walk from Kanayama-cho tram station
Contact: +81 82-221-0621
3. Hiroshima Castle: A relic of the past
Also known as the Carp Castle, the Hiroshima castle is a textbook example of a traditional Japanese castle. The castle you will see is a reconstruction after the war but retains its traditional charm and aesthetics, making it a popular tourist spot. Surrounded by a moat, the five-story castle was first build by legendary feudal lord, Mori Terumoto, who was an important seat of power in Japan.
Hiroshima was developed as a castle town where the castle was physically and economically the center of the town. Although it avoided destruction during the Meiji restoration, it was eventually hit by the atomic bomb. However, the castle was rebuilt and is now an informative museum that showcases the castle’s history. The building itself is a sight to behold, but from the building, you can also witness a breath-taking panoramic view of the city, easily making this castle the top photogenic site in Hiroshima.
Address: 21-1 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima-city
Price: 370 JPY (3.50 USD)
Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm
Access: 10-minute walk from Kamiyacho-nishi or Kamiyacho-higashi tram stop
Contact: +81 82-221-7512
4. The finest Japanese garden: Shukkeien Garden
Translating to “shrunken-scenery garden”, the Shukkeien Garden positively has its own captivating scenery which includes mountains, deep valleys, lush forest and scenic lakes. These sights of beauty are all miniaturized and have been carefully cultivated over the centuries, leaving it in pristine condition. It is the quintessential Japanese-style garden as it is dotted with teahouses and tranquil lakes, making it a great place for a stroll since you will never get bored.
The entire garden is connected by a path which circles around the main pond, taking you on a journey to explore all of the miniaturized sceneries and making sure you do not miss anything. This path is the best way to enjoy the garden and ensure you have ample OOTD shots taken! You might even fool your friends into believing you are travelling around the world!
Address: 2-11 Kaminoboricho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima-city
Price: 260 JPY (2.50 USD)
Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm
Access: 15-minute walk from Hiroshima Station
Contact: +81 82-221-3620
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5. Bask in the beauty of Mitaki Temple
A hidden gem in the heavily forested valley of Hiroshima, the Mitaki Temple is best known for its three waterfalls which supply the water for the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony as well as its gorgeous autumn colours and fascinating statues. The temple is filled with Buddhist images and Jizo statues in their bright red caps and bibs, wearing different and unique expressions. The forest becomes denser as you venture deeper, giving the temple an enchanted atmosphere that will soothe the soul.
With the peace and tranquility of the temple, its beauty is heightened by the Tahoto two-storied pagoda which is a treasure pagoda that has been designated as a Prefectural Important Cultural Property and was consecrated in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb. All in all, the Mitaki Temple is a fascinating place that will calm your soul and leave you relaxed!
Address: 411 Mitakiyama, Nishi Ward, Hiroshima-city
Opening Hours: 8am to 5.30pm
Access: 20-minute walk up a steep road from Mitaki JR Station
6. Witness a national treasure at Fudoin Temple
One of Hiroshima’s national treasures is definitely the Fudoin Temple. It survived the atomic bomb blast due to its prime geographical location with a few scraps and dents. The temple was built using a rare architectural “kaga” style which refers to using long wooden beams for the roof, having the largest beam being more than 7 meters (23 feet) in length. The majestic exterior is coupled with an equally stunning interior that makes the temple a place worth visiting.
Upon reaching the temple, you will be welcomed by two guardian Nio statues and the Rouman gate that is said to be made of wood brought back from Korea when Hideyoshi Toyotomi unified Japan. Inside the temple, you will find that it is filled with beautiful paintings of maidens, dragons and angels. It also houses a grand Yakushi Buddha statue, also known as the medicine Buddha, in the main building that got the temple its title as a national treasure.
Address: 3 Chome-4-9 Ushitashinmachi, Higashi Ward, Hiroshima-city
Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Access: 5-minute walk from Fudoinmae Astram Station
Contact: +81 82-221-6923
7. A trip of nostalgia with the Hiroden
Dating back to the early 1900s is this old-school style of transport called the Hiroden or in other words, streetcars. Taking a Hiroden is like taking a trip down nostalgia lane back to the past and Hiroshima is one of the last few towns that still offers this travel option. The light rail system brings you to most of the landmarks in Hiroshima but aside from its functionality, the cars itself have a rustic charm to it. Along with the light rail system and the wires in the air, it all adds up to a perfect picture of the past.
As other towns gradually forgo this form of transport, Hiroshima takes this opportunity to buy those discontinued trolleys, adding to a variety of streetcars in its system. This practice slowly builds up to a collection and the Hiroden eventually got its name as the Moving Streetcar Museum, making it part of Japan’s preservation effort. This reliable system that runs every day and took only 3 days to recover from the atomic bombing is one of the best ways to explore Hiroshima and snap a few shots with!
Area: Located at major stations such as Hiroshima and Miyajima-guchi stations
Opening Hours: 6am to 11pm
8. Ride the waves of Shimanami Kaido
Spanning across the small island in the Seto Inland Sea, the Shimanami Kaido is a 60 kilometer (37 miles) long toll road that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku. It is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway and is a road that is traversable only by foot or bicycle. This alternative form of travel allows the tourist to explore the Inland island in a different manner as you have the chance to go up close and pause for a photo or two. Compare that with taking a vehicle whereby the beauty of the sea will pass in a flash.
The bridge also passes by many landmarks such as the Hirayama Museum, which is dedicated to one of Japan’s most famous painters, Hirayama Ikuo. There is also a unique temple called Kosanji, which was built by a rich businessman for his mother. Along the path are a number of rest stops for the weary traveler and for those who wish to extend the journey over multiple days, capturing every inch of the Seto Inland Sea for themselves.
Shimanami Kaido, Onomichi City Tourism Section Office
Address: 1-15-1, Kubo, Onomichi-City, Hiroshima prefecture
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 5.15pm
Access: Train ride from Hiroshima Station
Contact: +81 848-38-9184
9. Enjoy the sweet maple leaves at Momijidani Park
On the island of Miyajima lies a vibrant and relaxing park that is filled with maple leaves. That is the Momijidani Park, which is Japanese for Maple Valley. The park that stretches along the river near the valley at the foot of Mt. Misen was developed during the Edo period when maple saplings were planted. This was the beginning of what is now one of the “Eight Most Beautiful Views” in Itsukushima.
Full of nature, the colors of the park change significantly over the year, giving the park a refreshing and equally captivating look at different times of the year. From the cherry blossoms in spring, to the fresh green leaves of summer, to the orange hue of fall, the park is something that will never grow old. As a thing of beauty by itself, it also allows you to witness the other beauty the island has to offer, making it a stop not to be missed!
Address: Hatsukaichi-city, Hiroshima prefecture
Access: 20-minute walk from Miyajima Pier
Contact: +81 829-30-9141
10. Dive deep into Japan’s culture at the Itsukushima Shrine
In this sacred island where even the trees are protected, there is a massive torii gate that cannot be missed. A crimson structure in the middle of the sea is a gentle reminder that the island hosts the Itsukushima Shrine which is a World Heritage Site colloquially known as the “Floating Shrine”. This site is one of Japan’s official Three Greatest Views as the shrine was built over the water with stick-like structures lifting it above the sea floor. This design gives the illusion of a floating shrine and depending on the current and tide, the view and scenery can change drastically.
The shrine is located in a small inlet that has paths towards different parts of the shrine, allowing visitors to enjoy the journey while looking out onto the sea. After sunset, the shrine and torii gate are illuminated daily until 11pm, creating a different but equally fantastic view for ryokan guests or visitors alike. However, access to the shrine is restricted at night so it is best to get your photos done in the day and come by at night for a relaxing walk around the island.
Address: 1-1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Price: 300 JPY (2.80 USD)
Opening Hours: 6.30am to 6pm
Access: 10-minute walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station
Contact: +81 829-44-2020
A tough city that's hard to beat!
While Hiroshima faced a tragic disaster in the past, it has proved to be a great city capable of rebuilding itself to where they are today. It is definitely a place full of culture and history that will allow any visitor to learn more about the impact of an atomic bomb as well as the journey to recovery. The Hiroshima we know today is filled with scenic sights and beauty worth exploring, completing the package and making it at great place to visit.
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