Our Hiroshima Travel Experience has been weirdly beautiful because this city in Japan shocked us the most!
So our Hiroshima travel story shows you “A City Reborn from the Ashes” and guides you on exploring beyond bombing on a mid-range budget.
- Why Visit Hiroshima?
- Visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki?
- How to get to Hiroshima?
- Commuting in city.
- Best areas to stay.
- How many Days and the best time to go?
- Best things to do in Hiroshima.
Why should you travel to Hiroshima?
While certain places like Paris and Rome are famous for their beauty. But this city is known for one of the world’s worst bloodshed and cruellest incidents of mankind. Hiroshima became the victim of the world’s first Nuclear bomb in 1945.
Until you travel to Hiroshima, you assume this city is all about doom and gloom. But, once you start wandering, you will realise this is a strong contender for “World’s most beautiful city” with its dozens of canals and impeccable landscape.
Is Hiroshima worth visiting?
You must visit Hiroshima not only for a history lesson on what happened to Hiroshima in 1945. But also to learn a life lesson – A Lesson in Forgiveness, Compassion, and Courage.
Why is Hiroshima dark tourism?
Hiroshima, the city that famously got nuked by the U.S. in 1945, is a place of tragedy and resilience. As the site of the world’s first atomic bombing, Hiroshima is forever linked to the horrors of nuclear warfare. When you visit and watch documentaries on the post-bombing, you will realise the words –
Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.Ernest Hemingway
The energy here doesn’t disturb you. But puts you in a “Contemplating” state. It isn’t the haunt or horror atmosphere. Yet you feel the agony behind the humans who were alive for a few hours despite being half burnt by the bomb. Somewhere you can even hear the sobbing in pain.
But the city doesn’t end in vain.
Despite this dark legacy, the city has risen from the ashes to become a symbol of hope and peace. You can enjoy the city’s vibrant culture and cuisine, which includes local specialities such as Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake made with noodles, cabbage, and other ingredients – You get it in the vegetarian variant also. Hurray!
Hiroshima can be your place if you want to unwind and stroll by the seaside. Suppose you are looking for an adventurous day; cycling and hiking in Hiroshima can bring in some adrenaline rush. Then there is hiking and cycling. There are izakayas for nightlife freaks and a tori floating in the pacific ocean 30 minutes outside Hiroshima!
Can you Travel to Hiroshima Now?
We also had the same doubt while going. The word “Nuclear Bomb” is enough to shake your heart. So going to a place that was the heart of the Nuclear bomb explosion will raise anyone’s eyebrows. But you can travel to Hiroshima.
Is Hiroshima still radio active?
Japan’s reserach says that –
Roughly 80% of all residual radiation was emitted within 24 hours. Research has indicated that 24 hours after the bombing, the quantity of residual radiation a person would receive at the hypocenter would be 1/1000th of the quantity received immediately following the explosion. A week later, it would be 1/1,000,000th. Thus, residual radiation declined rapidly.
Is it safe to visit Hiroshima now?
The radiation levels in most of Hiroshima today are comparable to those found in any major city worldwide and pose no significant health risk to visitors. The city is safe to visit and has become a symbol of peace and reconciliation.
The radiation in Hiroshima today is similar to significantly low levels of background radiation (natural radioactivity) that exist anywhere on the planet. Therefore, it has no effect on human bodies. So you can travel to Hiroshima with zero worries.
Is Hiroshima cheaper than Tokyo?
The great news about Hiroshima is it is way cheaper than Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto! So spending more days here will not loot your bank balance. It is almost 20% cheaper than Tokyo. And this makes another fine reason to travel to Hiroshima.
Visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki?
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are historically significant cities in Japan, as they were hit by atomic bombs during World War II. Each city offers unique experiences and perspectives on the events of the war and the importance of peace.
Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki different places?
Yes! Many assume Hiroshima and Nagasaki were twin cities located next to each other, like Cairo-Giza, Hubli -Dharwad, and Mysore-Srirangpatna. They aren’t even like Ottawa and Montreal.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki are located nearly 400km apart!
What is nagasaki famous for?
Nagasaki was hit by an atomic bomb three days after Hiroshima, on August 9th 1945. Although the impact of the bomb was smaller than in Hiroshima, the destruction was still substantial.
What makes travellers visit Hiroshima more than Nagasaki?
Hiroshima is the most famous of the two cities, as it was the first to be hit by an atomic bomb. Hiroshima has several important historical sites besides the Hiroshima peace memorial.
The major reason why people choose to travel to Hiroshima more than Nagasaki to visit is that Hiroshima is closer to Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. Whereas Nagasaki is almost at the tip of southern Japan. Hiroshima falls in the famous tourist circuit.
How do you get to Hiroshima?
It is a developed city like any other place in Japan. So reaching Hiroshima is easy.
Reaching Hiroshima by Air
Hiroshima Airport (HIJ) is served by domestic flights from major Japanese cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. So unless you come from the northernmost city of Sapporo in Hokkaido, we don’t recommend taking flights to Hiroshima. Because Japan’s trains are BAE – Faster, easier, and more economical!
Is there a bus from Osaka or Kyoto to Hiroshima?
Yes. The buses leave from Kyoto/Osaka to Hiroshima during day time. So you can book a bus if you want to save money and don’t mind losing half a day.
Does the bullet train go to Hiroshima?
The shinkansen (bullet train) is the fastest and most convenient way to travel to Hiroshima from major cities. The shinkansen takes around 4 hours from Tokyo and about 1.5 hours from Osaka to reach Hiroshima station located in the city’s centre.
Kyoto to Hiroshima Bullet Train
We reached Hiroshima from Kyoto through Hikari Shinkansen. It takes less than 2 hours, and the above line is covered under J.R. Pass. While The Nozomi Shinkansen trains only take 1 hour 15 minutes but are not covered under J.R. Pass
To know more about how we used our 7 days J.R. Pass during 19 days trip super efficiently, read this post here.
How to get around Hiroshima?
Like any other Japan’s city, public transportation or cycling is the best way to commute in Hiroshima.
Public transportation in Hiroshima
Bus, Trams, Ferries and local trains are the veins that spread all over Hiroshima. Bicycles are also a great way to travel through Hiroshima. All public transport in is available from 6am to 10pm. So between 10pm to 6, your only choice is to use expensive taxis.
Hiroshima city buses
City buses charge you a “flat price” or “Fixed rate”. Regardless of where you get in and which stop you get off at, you pay 210 yen for the ride. You must get into the bus from the middle door and disembark at the front door after you pay the driver. The I.C. Cards work fine for the buses.
How do you pay for the tram in Hiroshima?
When you use IC Cards to pay in trams, you must tap your cards twice at the card reader – Once you enter and while exiting, you are charged based on the distance you travel. Everything you need to know about paying Hiroshima Electric Railways is here.
Using Hiroshima Ferry
To get to nearby islands like Miyajima (where a tori floats and deers sunbathe on the sands of the Pacific Ocean), use ferries. They are efficient and give you a different experience.
What are the best areas to stay in Hiroshima?
Hiroshima isn’t a big city and is cheaper. So choosing the right neighbourhood isn’t too crucial. However, it can impact your budget and the Hiroshima travel experience.
You can choose to either stay in Hiroshima or Miyajima island. But we don’t recommend an overnight stay at Miyajima.
We were there from morning to the last ferry. Trust me, the place looked more deserted than Kawaguchiko! Apart from some guest houses, every other food joint shut after 5.30! Living in a village is nice. But a town closing its door so soon doesn’t feel good for us.
Some of the neighbourhoods of Hiroshima you can consider are
Motomochi is the nearest neighbourhood to Hiroshima castle. However, if you have been to Himeji or Osaka castle, the small court of Hiroshima may disappoint you.
Nakamachi and Hondori are the closest neighbourhoods to the peace memorial. The Hondori is a shopping arcade where the younger crowd would love to go. But, unfortunately, the prices can be higher in these two neighbourhoods.
Where did we stay in Hiroshima?
Hotchobori was an ideal neighbourhood for us as it was 1.2km from Hiroshima station and peace memorial park;- We saved a lot on trams because of these short distances.
Nest hotel Hatchobori – A business hotel was good enough for our two-night stay. Another option is Chisun Hotel Hiroshima.
How many days in Hiroshima is enough?
A day trip to Hiroshima is doable if you want to visit only Peace Memorial. Hiroshima is a City that Changed the World and Continues to Inspire. So to explore the city’s culture, especially Gastronomically and visit nearby islands, you will need more than a day.
Anything between two to three days is an ideal time to spend in Hiroshima.Anything between two to three days is an ideal time to spend in Hiroshima.
What is the best time to visit Hiroshima?
October to December and March are ideal months to visit Hiroshima- The weather is pleasant, and prices aren’t too high. However, if you want to save money and have the least crowd, December 1 to 3rd week is the cheapest month, with cool to cold temperatures often dotted with rain.
Does Hiroshima get snow?
Yes! December 21st evening was the first snow in Hiroshima in 2023and it was our 2nd day in the city. So if you travel to Hiroshima in December, be prepared with an umbrella and warm layers. Read here to know how you should dress in Japan during winter.
What are the most popular things to do in Hiroshima?
In this two days itinerary, we keep the first day to explore Hiroshima city, and the second day would be a day trip to the most beautiful spot in Japan, Miyajima island.
Arrive early at Hiroshima on day one and start exploring the city walking with an umbrella (in December)
1. Visit Peace Memorial Park
I make fun of certain places, dislike, comment, laugh and things. But Hiroshima peace memorial park is weird .Describing the Hiroshima peace memorial with any adjectives and adverbs seems inappropriate.
You hate the incident that happened here. But you can’t dislike this place. The place is mournful, but you find peace here. So what can I say on a site where more than 1.4 lakh people lost their lives?
And you know what USA called their atomic bomb?
“Little Boy” was the name! It The bomb exploded about 1,500 feet above the city with a force of 15,000 tons of TNT. It destroyed more than 11sqkm of area of Hiroshima!
Is there an entry fees for Hiroshima Peace Memorial park?
No. The entire park and museums don’t charge you any fees.
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome visit guide
The first monument you see at Peace memorial park is the Atomic Bomb dome, aka Genbaku dome. This structure was built in 1915 as a Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. The before and after bombing photo at the site shows European-style architecture clearly.
What haunts you here is it was once a place for exhibiting Hiroshima’s homegrown products. And now stands a skeleton that witnessed a horror 30 years later!
What is the symbol of Genbaku Dome?
There were a lot of speculations if the building should be preserved in a devastated state like this or rebuilt into its ancient glory. Some even suggested it should be erased to the dust because it creates immense sorrow among the visitors. Indeed it does!
But I am happy that they preserved Hiroshima prefecture hall in the state of post bombing – The world should know what happened to Hiroshima. It stands as an icon saying, “Look, people did this to my town. But see around now! My nation moved on”
Can you go inside the Genbaku Dome?
No. Visitors are allowed to view it only from outside. This may be due to safety reasons. Remember, this isn’t the place where the atomic bomb was dropped. It is 200m from the hypocentre.
Rest House of Hiroshima Peace Park
Who wants to rest in a place that reminds you of a devastating event? But the point of Hiroshima peace memorial park isn’t just about pain. The city wants to show us how they moved on. So this structure, a Kimono shop before the bombing, is converted into a resthouse. The ground floor (Japan’s first floor) is a tourist visitor centre where you can find every piece of information you need about the Atomic bombing of 1945.
Like how you collect Goshuin stamps at temples, you can collect a stamp here too. But the highlight of this place is the basement and upper floor, which has a museum.
Why is basement of Hiroshima rest house important?
The basement tells you the story of the atomic bomb survivor Eizo Nomura – the only survivor among 37 other occupants of this building.
Nomura was working in his workplace like any other day. Fortunately, he entered the basement that had a concrete roof to look for some documents stocked in the basement before 8.15. He fell unconscious when the bomb blasted nad part of the basement collpased. Later he made his way out only to realzie horrifying things.
His experience of walking through the heap of dead bodies and burnt bridges of Hiroshima are narrated throughout in the basement.
I felt something soft, like a straw bag being under my feet. Weird. I touched it softly with my hands. It was half buried in the sand. “No way! It’s a person!” I picked him up, called out, and tried various things, but he did not move at all. He seemed to be already dead. I suddenly began to shudder.From the memoirs of Nomura.
Travel to Hiroshima to realize the true horrors!
Hiroshima before 1945 August 6th
After visiting the rest house, I wondered if I dared to see anything further. With the jittering rain and thousands of trees, the Motayasu river stood there as if nothing had happened. If you don’t know about the incident in Hiroshima, this feels like a beautiful romantic city. So we walked along the banks of the Motoyasu-gawa river to savour some fresh air and moved on to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall
You see an installation of a clock that shows 8.15 with a cascade of water falling down – The exact time when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The water cascading symbolises the tears of the victims.
The stairway from there to the basement takes you to a circular hall.
After you pass by the library with details of victims, an escalator takes you down to a circular hall built with concrete.
The Hall of Remembrance
This circular hall is a place of mourning and reflection for those who lost their lives in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The elegant wall is comprised of a 360°panoramic photo of Hiroshima after the bombing as seen from the hypocenter (Shima Hospital), made of roughly 140,000 tiles (the number of those estimated to have passed away by the end of 1945)
The panorama was created based on a photograph taken by the U.S. military in October 1945. Underneath are the names of towns which existed at the time of the bombing in their respective directions.
The Upper level
While exiting, we came across a special exhibition area. It said, “Enjoy a thirty-minute film presentation on our large projection screen.” The word “enjoy” gave me hope, and I thought it was all about how beautifully Hiroshima grew back.
The video presentation started with the everyday life of the Hiroshima people on August 6, 1945. Then the bomb dropped. It had a series of images and stories of victims. Then came the most heartwrenching part of the presentation
The story of Kinue Tomoyasu broke me (and almost every other visitor completely.)
Kinue is one of the atomic bomb survivors. The presentation told how she met her daughter on 7th August 1945.
The river bank was full of dead bodies. Kinue couldn’t figure out if someone was alive. She kept calling her daughter’s name out, holding a Yukata for her. While looking for her daughter among the heap of dead bodies, she heard a voice.
“Mother, it took you so long”
The presentation continues…
Maggots had covered the daughter’s wounds. The sticky yellowish pus, and some watery liquid was oozing out of it. Her skin was peeling off. There were so many maggots on her body that, mother couldn’t wipe them off. Daughter was taken to the hospital, and she died 9 hours later.
Other places in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Every time I sat to pen down things about Hiroshima, I was distressed and couldn’t continue writing. So, I will stop labour at Hiroshima peace memorial park after mentioning a few things.
The main building, further 200m from the memorial hall, houses the victims’ clothes and bricks from the burnt buildings. Then there is the flame of peace that burns 24/2 ( It was burning even when it rained).
The Children’s peace monument at Hiroshima Peace park
This monument is dedicated to Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of other innocent children who died due to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
When Sadako was 2 years old, the bomb was dropped, and she was exposed at home about 1.7 kilometres from the hypocenter. She didn’t have major injuries immediately. But ten years after the bombing, she was hospitalised because of leukaemia.
After eight months in the hospital, she died surrounded by her family. In the hospital, she continued to paper cranes with her desire to get well. So Japan’s school kids who visit the park offer paper cranes to her and write their message to the world saying – No More War.
2. Visit Hypocentre of Hiroshima.
The hypocenter of Hiroshima refers to the point directly beneath the explosion of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. This exact location where the bomb dropped is the Shima clinic.
Japanese haven’t made a monument here. But the clinic has been reconstructed and is an active working hospital.
You can’t ask, what do you get to see here – It is just like any other boring-looking hospital building which was once burnt to ashes. But the thoughts you get here when you stand in front of that small signboard are deeper than you can imagine.
3. Experience the New Hiroshima at Hondori Central Shopping District
Once we walked away from the hypocentre, we found everything and anything in Hiroshima depressing. We began commenting that people here aren’t as fun as in Osaka. They look grumpy and reserved. We were passing on some loose comments saying the locals aren’t friendly! So we whined while we wandered.
Soon we realised it wasn’t Hiroshima people who were grumpy but us!
The past 4 hours had been all about suffering, pain and distress. So then we decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting the most happening district of Hiroshima, where younger crowds come – We were badly in need of some positive vibes.
The vaulted shopping arcade itself is fun. We were back in a typical, entertaining Japanese city. The Taito station was full of youngsters trying to grab the toy. The famous restaurants had a long line of people waiting. People were laughing, chatting, and clicking photos. Girls were shopping for some crazy-looking stockings.
From high-end boutiques to quirky, independent stores, there’s much to see, shop and do here. Or this is the best place to people watch in Hiroshima!
Then there are some breweries here!
As soon we begin to get re-energise, we found Hiroshima Neighbourly brewery. Their menu had hand-crafted beer and some vegan option food. Plus, we saw a crowd of younger minds giggling there. So sipping some beer Hiroshima Hinode that had roasted purple carrot in a modern Izakaya re-started our day brighter and merrier.
Then, of course, there is Oshinoya for my chicken lover husband. A vegan place, Cafe Saeki served me good miso soup with a delicious rice ball set.
4. Have Okonomiyaki for dinner
After visiting the not-so-impressive castle, we headed to do something which Hiroshima is famous for. Hiroshima’s Okonomiyaki is as well-known as its tragic incident.
What is special about Hiroshima okonomiyaki?
Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki is a regional variation of the popular Japanese dish, Okonomiyaki. Unlike other types of Okonomiyaki, which mix all the ingredients in a batter, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki is made by layering the ingredients on top of each other.
The first layer is a thin crepe-like pancake made of flour, eggs, and water, followed by a layer of cabbage, bean sprouts, and other vegetables. Then, a layer of noodles and meat, seafood, or other toppings is added. Finally, the dish is topped with fried eggs and Okonomiyaki sauce.
The result is a delicious and filling dish that is a complete meal.
Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki is also known for being larger and thicker than other types of Okonomiyaki. So in a way, this feels like a pizza!
What is the most famous okonomiyaki in Hiroshima?
Nagataya and Okonomimura are the most famous place for Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima. Nagatya was closer to the Hondori shopping street and we loved the street vibe plus they had variants in vegetarian okonomiyaki. So we chose Nagataya.
Sitting with a table that had hot pan to watching them toss ingredients to create layered okonomiyaki, this was a much needed happy ending to the day.
5. Make a day trip from Hiroshima to near by islands.
There are many islands near Hiroshima. Hence you get to see some of the largest bridges in the world. The Kintai bridge, a series of arches connecting two sides of the Nishiki river, is just 40km from Hiroshima. If you want to cuddle with rabbits, Okunoshima is your ideal place.
But, if you want to see deers chilling by the pacific ocean and a tori floating on water and see unique temples, head to Miyajima island like we did.
Found our Hiroshima travel experience interesting? Let us know in the comment section below.
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