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Trying to choose what to do and see in Hiroshima?
How about you follow this perfect one-day itinerary and
discover the 10 epic things to do in Hiroshima!
Locations of the Top 10 Things to Do in Hiroshima
Atomic Bomb Dome
Atomic Bomb Dome should be one of the first things to do in Hiroshima. It is an iconic symbol of the “peace city” Hiroshima. Atomic Bomb Dome is also called A-Bomb Dome, Genbaku Dome, or the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park serves as a memorial to people killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.
Originally, Atomic Bomb Dome was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It housed national and municipal governmental offices.
The building was located just 160 meters from the epicenter of the blast. Amazingly, it was one of the few structures in the area to remain upright after the explosion.
If you are staying overnight in Hiroshima, make sure to take a walk in the evening along the A-Bomb Dome and other memorial monuments. At night, with the lighting, they look so much more impressive.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. It opened to the public in 1954. The park has a total area of 122,000 square meters and houses a museum, as well as numerous memorials and monuments commemorating the people who perished during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.
If you are short on time, then make sure to stop by Children’s Peace Monument and the Cenotaph.
Children’s Peace Monument
Children’s Peace Monument is a tribute to Sadako Sasaki and all the children who perished due to the atomic explosion.
Sadako was exposed to the A-bomb at the age of two. Yet, she grew into a strong and healthy girl. However, nine years after the exposure to the atomic bomb radiation, she developed leukemia.
Based on a traditional Japanese belief, Sadako thought that if she folded 1,000 origami cranes she would recover. But, after an eight-month battle with the disease, she succumbed.
Many visitors line up to ring the bell inside the monument to honor Sadako and all the innocent children who were victims of the atomic bombing. For me, it was not until I came to this monument that I realized the impact this bomb had.
Cenotaph, also known as the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima for the A-bomb Victims is located in the center of the park. It consists of a stone coffer beneath an arch. Within the coffer is a record of the names of victims of the atomic bombing.
Cenotaph is inscribed with the phrase: “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”
For me, it was a place to take a moment of silence and remember the victims of the atomic bombing.
As you look through the arch of the cenotaph, you will see all the way across the park and to the A-Bomb Dome.
The eternal fame and the memorial flowers at the front of the memorial, remind us that war is a tragedy for both sides.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was built by the City of Hiroshima and it was opened to the public 1950. The museum displays artifacts, photographs, paintings that show Hiroshima before and after the bombing.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker/Released
The exhibits are powerful and heartbreaking.
Many of the stories are told by the victims and their families in graphic detail. Many of the exhibits are poignant and evocative.
It was a very solemn experience for me. I noticed that most of the visitors looked at the exhibits and did not say a word and many were in tears.
For opening hours, admission, and access visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
The best way to get a good understanding of the timeline leading to the bombing, the impact of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and the recovery efforts is to attend: Hiroshima Peace Walk Tour by Magical Trip.
You will have a local guide who will give you an in-depth insight into the history of Hiroshima.
Shukkeien Garden is one of my favorite places in Hiroshima. Hands down, it is one of the top things to do in Hiroshima if you love Japanese gardens.
The garden was designed by Ueda Soko, Japanese General and Tea Master. Ueda Soko was born in 1563 and as warfare was the principle of life at that time, Ueda Soko pursued bushido – “way of the samurai” life. His bravery led to his early rise as adjoint of the warlord Toyotami Hideyoshi.
Yet, Ueda Soko chose to relinquish the samurai’s way of life. Instead, he dedicated himself to the teaching of Sado – the Way of Tea. Eventually, he became the Grand Tea Master of the tea ceremony.
Later on in life, Ueda Soko pursued the studies of garden design and became the Grand Master of garden architecture and design.
Shukkeien Garden – “shrink-scenery circular tour style garden” is Ueda Soko’s masterpiece.
Photo by Jakub Halun via Wikimedia Commons
The garden was opened to the public in 1940, and just five years later, on August 6th 1945, Shukkeien was burned to ashes by the atomic bombing. It was lovingly restored to its original version and now is one of Hiroshima’s main attractions.
The opening hours are 9 am till 5 pm and the entrance fee is 260 yen.
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Hiroshima Castle is better known as ‘Rijou’- Carp Castle. It got its name from the black wooden slats attached to the outer walls of the Castle Tower that look like carp’s scales.
The castle was constructed by Mori Terumoto in 1589. Fukushima family and Asano family lived there during the Edo era.
Hiroshima Castle was completely destroyed on August 6th, 1945 during the atomic bomb attack. It was reconstructed and opened to the public in 1958.
Today you can tour the castle grounds and visit the five-story Castle Tower, which is a faithful reproduction of the original.
The Castle Tower houses a very good museum devoted to the history of Hiroshima.
One of the exhibits that caught my attention, was devoted to the differences in architecture between Japaneses castles. It explained the differences in structure of castles built on hills called ‘hilltop’ or ‘mountaintop’ (for defense) castles verses the ones built on plains, called ‘flatland castles’ (mainly administrative).
Another great exhibit explained the differences in lifestyle between samurai and townspeople as well as the hierarchy of the feudal administration system.
And, if you are as fascinated by the samurais as I am, you will find the section with samurai gear very captivating.
Moreover, head over to the top floor of the Castle Tower. It has an observation area where you can see an amazing panorama of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine
Right next to Hiroshima Castle, you will find Gokoku Shrine.
The shrine was founded in 1869 to mourn the Hiroshima-Han victims of the Boshin War. The Boshin War, sometimes referred to as the Japanese Revolution, was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the Imperial Court.
In 1945, Gokoku Shrine was destroyed by the atomic bombing. It was rebuilt in 1965 with the aid of donations from the citizens of Hiroshima.
The Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine is not only of the most popular places for celebrating Hatsumode, but also Shichi-Go-San.
Hatsumode is the first Shinto shrine visit of the Japanese New Year while Shichi-Go-San – “Seven-Five-Three” is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three and seven-year-old girls and three and five-year-old boys.
Shichi-Go-San is held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children.
Hiroshima Museum of Art
Hiroshima Museum of Art is one of those gems that you always hope to stumble upon when traveling. And, if you are like me and love French impressionist works, you found your gem.
The museum displays an excellent selection of modern European paintings, especially French impressionist works, as well as Japanese oil paintings from after the Meiji Period to the present.
In the first galleries, you will find artworks by the romantic, impressionist, neo-impressionist, and post-impressionist masters, such as: Delacroix, Courbet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Munch.
Moreover, Fauvism is displayed in the next galleries and features works by Picasso, Matisse, Braque.
To find out the opening hours, admission fees, and current exhibits click here.
Hiroshima Orizu Tower
Hiroshima Orizu Tower is another hidden gem that I stumbled upon when I was exploring Hiroshima.
It is located next to A-Bomb Dome. The observation deck on the top floor offers amazing views of Hiroshima. However, it is more than just an observation deck. There is an origami crane making activity with English instructions and help on hand if you need assistance.
The best part for me was writing a message of hope for peace on the paper crane and then watching it “fly” down the side of the building to join the exhibition.
Going back down you can take the elevator, steps or a slide! Slide stops at every floor so you can get off when you had enough fun.
For the opening hours, tickets, event information, and the floor guide click here.
Yamoto Museum (Kure)
The Yamoto Museum is a nickname for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force Kure Museum.
It is definitely one of the top things to do in Hiroshima if you are a fan of Japanese Naval Warships.
The Yamoto Museum is located in Kure, about an hour away from the center of Hiroshima, however it is totally worth the trip. I was drawn to this place due to the legacy of the Yamato battleship.
If you visit Aisle A of the museum, you will learn about Kure as the main assembly port for combat vessels.
Next, there is an entire section devoted to the Yamato battleship. However, not everything has been translated into English.
Aisle B is devoted to planes, torpedoes, and engines from WWII. The manned torpedoes for kamikazes are part of the display as well.
For opening hours, admission prices and floor guide click here.
A visit to Okonomimra is one of the classic things to do in Hiroshima. By the way, Hiroshima has a bustling downtown area situated around Hondori. Hondori is a pedestrian arcade that is closed to traffic. It starts near the Peace Park and runs east. It is lined with shops and restaurants. Just south of the eastern end of Hondori is Okonomimura – translated as Okonomiyaki Village.
Okonomimura is basically a four-story building decorated with lanterns and banners and a large horizontal “Okonomimura” sign.
It houses over 25 different stalls each offering their own unique rendition of okonomiyaki. You can take the elevator but I suggest taking the stairs. You will not only work up an appetite, but also you will be able to take a peek through the doors and assess the scene.
What is Okonomiyaki?
Let’s start with the name – yaki means grilled or cooked, okonomi means “what you want” or “what you like.” In essence, okonomiyaki means “grilled the way you like it”.
How is okonomiyaki made?
Here is my take on it, as I watched it being made:
First the batter made of flour is poured on iron griddle. It is spread out in a circular motion to form a thin crepe-like pancake. Next a heap of sliced cabbage is placed on the batter, then thin-sliced pork. Consequently, it is cooked for a bit and then turned over with a big spatula and cooked for a little more.
In the meantime, the noodles are fried on the side and once done they are put on top. Finally, an egg is cracked onto the griddle and spread out in the same circular size and eventually put on the very top. In due time, the special sauce is applied on the top as well as some mayonnaise, and aonori (dried seaweed).
Interestingly enough, the earliest origins of a basic crepe-like pancake date back to the Edo period (1683-1868). During that time this pancake was served as a special desert at Buddhist ceremonies and it was called Funoyaki.
Next, during the Meiji period (1868-1912), it evolved into even sweeter dish and it was called Sukesoyaki.
The name Okonomiyaki started in the late 30’s in Osaka. Okonomiyaki became more popular during WWII when rice became scarce and residents had to be creative in using other more readily available ingredients.
Wandering what to do in Hiroshima at night?
If you are wondering what else to do in Hiroshima at night, then you should oin Hiroshima Bar Hopping Food Tour by Magical Trip and try variety of local foods and drinks, as well as, learn about Hiroshima.
You will be accompanied by a friendly and knowledgeable local guide!
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