Hiroshima Travel Guide
The name Hiroshima is known throughout the world, though for all the wrong reasons. On August 6, 1945, an American bomber dropped the first of the only two nuclear weapons used in combat. Almost immediately after detonation, its terrifying power killed tens of thousands of people, and would ultimately spell doom for 220,000 in total.
Just like that, the nuclear age had begun.
Most of the attractions in Hiroshima revolve around the fateful day, but it also has art museums, temples, and gardens worth seeing.
Come check out our Hiroshima Japan travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Hiroshima, Japan.
Above all else, foreign travellers visit Hiroshima in an attempt to understand the impact of the first nuclear detonation in history. Begin this sombre journey by visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This green space was where the atomic bomb wiped out all traces of humanity, as the bomb heated up the air to several million degrees Celsius in an instant.
For reasons that are still not fully understood, a concrete building located 160 metres from ground zero stood up to the blast’s unprecedented force. Known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, it has been preserved in its mostly ruined state even as the city around it was rebuilt. Branded a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the stark reminder of the bomb’s destructive power generations later, it is a sobering sight to see.
Next, move on to the Cenotaph, which honours those who died in the blast or due to the subsequent fallout effects. Every year on the anniversary of the nuclear detonation (August 6), a ceremony is held to remember them, so do try to attend if you can (dress respectfully).
After this, feel free to check out other highlights, like the Children’s Peace Monument (honours the children killed or maimed by the bomb), the Peace Bell (built with the desire to ban nuclear weapons), or the Peace Flame (representing hope for a world without nuclear weapons).
There are two attractions in the Peace Memorial Park you should check out regardless of how tight your schedule is – the first of them should be the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Within, displays translated into English will relay the horror experienced by the civilians of Hiroshima on that fateful day more than 70 years ago.
It describes the city before the blasts and contrasts it with the chaos that replaced it in the space of ten seconds. Artifacts on display will show in graphic fashion how the blast, heat, and radiation affected those in the blast zone that we can only begin to imagine.
The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall is the second place every visitor to Hiroshima should experience. A beautiful yet haunting tribute to the 220,000 souls who perished (instantly and in the days following the blast), it will bring home the pain felt by those left behind in a very real way.
Opened in 2002, its intent is to preserve the stories of survivors, so that the horror of this infamous event may never be forgotten. With a water feature as a centrepiece (as many survivors desperately sought it out post-blast to cool their burns and soothe their throats), this place will cement the sad story of the world’s first atomic blast in your mind.
Those who need to restore their soul after a melancholy day of touring the Peace Memorial Park may want to check out Mitaki Temple. Around since the 9th century, this place gave survivors a place to pray and seek solace in their darkest hour.
Its pagoda and Buddha statue within are national cultural treasures, and in fall, the surrounding trees put on a spectacular show as their leaves change colour.
Culture lovers will want to spend some quality time walking the halls of the Hiroshima Museum of Art during their visit. With a theme of peace and love (as a counter-action to the violence of war that led to the bombing of Hiroshima), the pieces found here will inspire and uplift.
Here, you’ll find works from prominent artists like Van Gogh, Renoir, and Monet, as well as works from leading Japanese artists that were created during the Meiji Restoration. Out front, a chestnut tree that now provides ample shade was donated by the son of Pablo Picasso.
Sample the culinary speciality of Hiroshima by sitting down for a meal at Okonomimura. A food park hosting multiple restaurateurs, the dish served here most consistently is the okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake that consists of cabbage, eggs, buckwheat noodles, among other ingredients.
Find peace after a sad day touring the memorial attractions by dropping by Shukkeien Garden. Translating roughly as ‘scenery garden’ in English, the creators of this green space sought to recreate the terrain of Japan in miniature using water, flower beds, landscaping, bushes, and trees.
After getting your fill of this place, stop by their on-site tea house, which will help you collect your thoughts after a memorable stay in Hiroshima.
Take in one of Japan’s top sports by attending a baseball game at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima. Completed in 2009, this modern ballpark has amazing sight lines, food options, and a competitive team.