Most famous for its destruction by atomic bomb in August 1945, the city of Hiroshima has rebuilt itself and today thrives as a peaceful, cultural and forward-looking city.
With origins that can be traced to the 6th century, the city has been an important trade route and regional hub for centuries. The city's main draw today include the friendly residents, wide open streets that follow the river and lush green open spaces. Key things to look out for are Hiroshima Castle, destroyed in 1945 by the bomb but rebuilt in 1958 as a replica of the original and a museum dedicated to Hiroshima's history before 1945. The other main attraction is the Genbaku Dome, more commonly know as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
From history to outdoor activities, museums and shopping, there are a range of things to do in Hiroshima for all ages and interests.
- Hit the road and cycle the famous Shimanami Kaido, which is popular with cyclists on the weekend. Hire a bike for 500 yen per day at any of the cycling terminals
- Take a trek and explore the local nature
- Visit Hiroshima Castle and get a sense of the city before 1945
- Hire a sea kayak and explore the Seto Inland sea. From Miyajima Island you can get up close to the big Trii, the gate of the Itsukushima Shrine
- Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Peace Memorial Park, memorials to the August 1945 atomic bomb.
It's a destination city for an unfortunate reason, but modern day Hiroshima has plenty of interesting places to visit and things to make you smile.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Genbaku Dome, or A-bomb Dome, are not to be missed on your trip to the city.
The A-bomb Dome
A modern symbol of peace that most people have at least seen at least once in a picture. The building, which was designed by a Czech architect in 1915, had been used as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Since the Hall was located only around 160 meters from the hypocenter the building was blown up and all those inside died. The building, however, was not completely destroyed and the haunting shell stands as a timeless reminder. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and represents people's prayers for a lasting peace.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Located in what was once the city's busiest downtown commercial and residential district, the park now commemorates the 140,000 people who died as a result of the attack. As you stroll the open pathways and lush green meadows, you'll come across the Children's Peace Monument. Based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died from radiation from the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured. Other highlights to look out for include the Memorial Cenotaph that frames the Peace flame and A-bomb Dome, the Peace Bells and the Gates of Peace.
There are several historical places in Hiroshima, one of which is Hiroshima castle standing in the center of Hiroshima-city. You can see the old town which was formed during Edo era at Tomonoura in Fukuyama-city and in Takehara-city, but Hiroshima has fewer references to its past due to thedestruction of the atomic bomb. But some stand as proud memories – for example, the Old Bank of Japan Hiroshima Branch or the Rest House.
Hiroshima castle is a typical flat castle that was constructed by Mouri Terumoto, one of the most significant servants ("Godairou") of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The Fukushima family and later Asano family lived there during the Edo era. This castle tower was designated as National Treasure in 1931 and later destroyed by atomic bomb. In 1958 the exterior of the castle was renovated and in 1989 the inside was restored. Today, it has turned into a history museum featuring Samurai culture.
Commonly referred to as one of the top three scenic spots in Japan, Miyajima Island is less than an hour from the city of Hiroshima. The island is traditionally called Itsukushima, however 'Miyajima' is Japanese for shrine island. Highlights include the spectacular five storied pagoda, the old town and great Torii, denoting the official entrance to the shrine, which at hig tide seems to float on the water.
Stay overnight at one of the island's ryokan guest houses and enjoy the peace and romance of the island when most of the tourists have gone home. With no cars on the island, wild deer are free to roam the streets in harmony with people and in the evening you'll find them sleeping peacefully on the walking paths.
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Hiroshima is blessed by a generally warm climate and is essentially free from natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes. Nevertheless, the difference between the mountainous area in the north and the seaside region in the south is quite pronounced.
From the airport
The main way to get from Hiroshima Airport to teh city is via bus, taxi or private transfer. The shuttle bus that departs from Hiroshima Airport has several routes to Hiroshima station, Hiroshima Bus Center, Fukuyama station, Mihara station and Shiraichi station.
There is no train service from the airport.
In and around the city
Hiroshima has an extensive tram (streetcar) network. The trams themselves are a mix of classic trams and sleek, new "Green Movers" - some have been in service for more than fifty years. Most lines originate from JR Hiroshima Station, and run frequently during daytime and evening hours, approximately one tram every 10 minutes per line. Trips within the city are a flat ¥160.
Bus lines run through Hiroshima and out to the suburbs. Generally speaking, these serve areas more likely to be used by locals than visitors. Signs include English, and buses depart next to the tram depot in front of JR Hiroshima Station.
The modern Astram links the city center with the northern suburbs, although there aren't many tourist sights out that way. Trips range from ¥180-470 by distance, with departures every few minutes between 6AM-midnight.
Hiroshima is a great city for cycling. Most of the sidewalks are fairly wide by Japanese standards; the paths along the branches of the rivers offer a very pleasant ride, and if you're looking to test your legs, head up to the hills around Hijiyama Park. Many hotels will be happy to arrange bike rentals.
Hiroshima car hire
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