What to do and see in Hiroshima

It may not be as popular as visiting the likes of Tokyo or Kyoto, but there is no doubt that a trip to Hiroshima will not disappoint travelers and tourists. That’s especially the case for those who are fascinated by sites and cities of important historical significance. And there is no more historically significant city in the whole of Japan than Hiroshima, where America dropped the world’s first atom bomb during World War Two.

Of course, Hiroshima isn’t just a city that is stuck in the past. There is a lot more to modern-day Hiroshima and it is a great place to visit as there is so much that you can see and do. Here are some of our favourite things from the team at Japan Rail Planner

Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome

Top on most visitors’ to-do lists when they arrive in Hiroshima is to pay their respects at the Atomic Bomb Dome. This is the main memorial to the A-bomb bombings. The dome was an exhibition hall until the A-Bomb was dropped on the city. Thankfully, it was one of the few buildings to actually withstand the force of the bomb and still stands to this day. It has been left untouched in order to commemorate the tragedy, and you will notice that the surrounding area is similarly untouched as well. Since 1996, the Atomic Bomb Dome has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stroll around the Hiroshima Peace Park

On the opposite banks of the river to the Atomic Bomb Dome, you will find the Hiroshima Peace Park, another poignant memorial to the A-bomb tragedy. It’s here where you will find the Flame of Peace as well as a few other notable monuments and memorials. It is also home to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts related to the bombings. Take your time wandering around the park and the museum as there is certainly a lot to take in.

Hiroshima Peace Park
Hiroshima Peace Park (Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash)

See Hiroshima Castle

Not all of Hiroshima’s history is related to the bombing of World War Two. The original Hiroshima Castle dated back to 1590, but was destroyed when the A-bomb hit. It has since been rebuilt and now looks just like it did in its former glory. Back in its heyday it was where the city’s feudal lords lived, but the modern-day castle is now a museum that is dedicated to pre-World War Two Hiroshima. It’s worth heading up to the observation deck so that you can see some beautiful views. 

Take the Hiroshima Sight-Seeing Bus

Even though Hiroshima is quite easy to walk around, you might still want to save your legs. Thankfully, the Hiroshima sight-seeing bus will help you with that! The bus follows a loop around the city so that you will be able to hop on and off at the various sights and attractions. The buses run to a 15-minute frequency, so you’ll never have to wait too long for one. What’s more, if you buy a JR pass, you will be able to use the bus for free!

Sample traditional Hiroshima cuisine

During your stay in Hiroshima, you should try and sample as much traditional cuisine from the local region as you can! There are a lot of delicious meals and dishes that you can try. One of the famous dishes from Hiroshima is okonomiyaki, which is a type of savory pancake. It is made by mixing a lot of different ingredients together, including egg, pork, noodles, and seafood. There are lots of different types of okonomiyaki and you’ll certainly be able to find one that you love!

Go to Itsukushima Shrine

One of the other famous sights in Hiroshima is Itsukushima Shrine, another of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is located on the island of Miyajima, which is just a day trip from the city. The shrine is from the shinto religion and is still used for regular worshipping. If you do decide to visit the shrine, be sure to get there early in the day so that you can beat all of the crowds!

Check out the Mazda Museum

If you consider yourself a bit of a petrol head, you will no doubt want to check out Hiroshima’s Mazda Museum. The car company has its headquarters in the city and this interesting museum takes visitors through the history and story of the brand. One thing worth noting is that you will need to book ahead in order to visit the museum as all visitors will need to take a guided tour. During your visit, you will see an actual production line in operation, so will be able to see some real cars being made!

Do some shopping at Hondori Shotengai

You will want to pick up some souvenirs of your trip to Hiroshima as well, and there is no better place to do a spot of shopping than at Hondori Shotengai. This is a covered shopping street, so you will be able to shop to your heart’s content no matter the weather! It starts at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and runs all the way down to the large PARCO department store. Along the street you will find a lot of intriguing shops and some great eateries and restaurants. 

Explore Hijiyama Park

If you want some brilliant vistas overlooking the city, then head up to the highest point in Hijiyama Park. You should also definitely visit the park if you are in the city during the spring as it is where you will find some Hiroshima’s best cherry blossom. The park is open from early until late is is completely free to enter.

As you can see, there is so much to see and do during your visit to Hiroshima. If you have a Japan Rail pass, you will find that it is ever so easy to explore thanks to being able to use the sightseeing bus for free. Getting to each sight and attraction won’t ever be a struggle!