It’s impossible to approach Hiroshima without one thing weighing on your mind – the horror of what occurred on that tragic day in August 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped. But when you arrive you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this vibrant city, which has bounced back in the most inspiring way. The streets are wide and leafy, the atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, the food is great and there is plenty to see and do.
Visitors to Hiroshima shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit one of the city’s most prized parks, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. People come from all over the world to visit this park in the centre of Hiroshima, which houses memorials dedicated to the victims of the bombing. The A-Bomb Dome, the ruins of a building that still stands since the bombing, serves as a reminder of the tragedy that took place here. The Peace Memorial Museum, which is located within the park, is a highly emotional experience but an absolute must-see.
Make Shukkei-en Garden another historic stop on your itinerary. Originally created in 1620, this historic garden was destroyed by the bomb but has since re-grown and today it stands as beautiful as ever. Explore a magical world of peace and tranquility as you amble over the footbridge on the pond, discover the quaint little teahouse and marvel at the artistry involved in this perfectly crafted landscape. It’s a true gem of Hiroshima.
And finally, pay tribute at the Hiroshima Castle. Constructed in 1590, Hiroshima Castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb, much like everything else in the city. In 1958 a replica was built in its place, which now houses a small museum and offers great views of the city. The moat surrounding the castle is a beautiful sight, as are the landscaped grounds.
Eat and Drink
Go once, go twice, and then go again – Okonomi-mura is a fun and unique food experience that features 26 stalls set over three levels. The twist? All of the stalls serve up the same famous local specialty okonomiyaki, a thick savoury pancake that is cooked to order right in front of you. Despite all selling the same dish, each stall offers its own unique variation so you can try a new version every time you visit.
Momiji manju, another local specialty, will satisfy those with a sweet tooth. These little cakes are shaped like maple leaves and are traditionally filled with sweet bean paste, although modern variations include custard, apple and chocolate. Don’t leave town without tasting one… or three.
If nightlife is more your vibe, head to the district of Nagarekawa and discover a maze of little streets jam-packed with so many bars and clubs you’ll feel dizzy just trying to decide.
Where to Stay
Hiroshima is a well connected and fairly compact city, so no matter which part of town you choose as a base for your stay, you’ll be able to get around with ease. Hotels, guesthouses and inns in Nagarekawa and Hatchobori will place you conveniently near the city’s nightlife, as well as the Memorial Peace Park. There are also a few up-market hotels that offer rooms overlooking the park itself.
Hondori, a major pedestrian arcade located in downtown Hiroshima, is a great place to find trendy fashion, shoes and jewellery, along with modern electronics and other goods. Take a wander through Parco, a large department store located in the arcade, for even more fashion along with homewares, food and music. Sun Mall is another popular shopping destination for boutique fashion.
Hiroshima Like a Local
If you really want to get into the local spirit, catch a baseball game at the enormous Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium. The Hiroshima locals are mad about their home team, the Carp, so be sure to go along if they’re playing while you’re in town. Even if you aren’t a fan of baseball you’re guaranteed to find the spirit, energy and excitement of the spectacle absolutely infectious. You’ll love the tasty snacks on offer too.