The city is Hiroshima. The year is August 6th, 1945. A day that changed the world and flattened a city. Step forward to today, and you stand in a thriving city, modern and welcoming — a far cry from that moment in time.
And as you stand under the exact spot, the mangled structure of the dome to your right, one of the only symbols that remain from that fateful day. It’s worth taking a moment to let it all sink in. It’s hard looking around at the modern buildings and the bustle of the crowds and noise of the traffic to believe what it was like. This is a place of pilgrimage, a place of remembrance and contemplation. It’s also a brilliant city to explore!
Hiroshima is a very different place now. A wonderfully friendly city that sits on the shores of Southern Japan. A city to visit and embrace. What should you do here? We explore a day in the city and a day away.
Your day around the city
Spending time here requires you to learn about that fateful day. Go to the museum and walk in the park. But also make sure that you search out its culinary scene. Seriously it’s a paradise for foodies. Hiroshima is around 90 minutes south of Osaka by bullet train, so your first top tip is to take-in the altering Japanese landscape as you zoom South.
Once here, head to the area where that event from 1945 took place. The Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku), the spot we spoke about initially, should be your starting point before wandering around the Memorial park and visiting the Peace Memorial Museum. It’s heart-wrenching but wonderfully and carefully done. You can’t, but help be moved by it all.
From the Castle to the food
Away from the park, Hiroshima’s castle is also worth exploring – Hiroshima-jo is a great way to get a good view across the city. You can climb to the top. It’s also a great way to learn and about the ancient history of the region.
An evening here should be about exploring the cuisine. Eating the okonomiyaki (a pancake with various toppings) is a staple of the region. Make it your mission to try some. The centre has restaurants, cafés, bars and shops to check out. Also, try the trams! Not many cities in Japan have them, and they run some of the older versions. It’s a fun way to get around and is your direct link to the station.
Away from the city
Miyajima is the main place to go and for a good reason too. You’ll have seen a picture of the orange and gold tori gate; it’s in every guidebook going! The Gate is the entrance to the Shinto shrine, which you’ll share with the wandering deer as you explore! Get there early, hop on the ferry and take your time to explore the island and the shrine. You’ll find plenty of traditional shops and the chance to try out some traditional crafts and the tea ceremony.
It is a train ride away but visiting here should be a priority. Miyajima is a beautiful place to spend a day. Whisper it. It’s magical!
Hiroshima is a weekend getaway kind of place. It’s not got the attractions of its bigger competitors, but it does have the history. And for that alone, a trip here is a must. Embrace this friendly, welcoming city, and you’ll come away more knowledgeable but deeply satisfied.