Bucket List: Best Activities and Amazing Places to Visit in Hiroshima
Hiroshima, Japan, is a modern urbanized city with an infamous and tragic history. It’s best known for the nuclear bombing attack back in 1945 that devastated the country. Today, Hiroshima is a thriving and vibrant place that travelers worldwide visit both to give respect to the bombing memorials and experience the best things it has to offer.
Hiroshima is the name of both the city and the prefecture in Japan’s Chugoku region of Honshu. Visitors to the prefecture and the city will have no problem looking for fun things because this area of Japan is full of history with a rich and thriving culture. In this list, we’ll break down the best things to do in Hiroshima Prefecture to give some ideas for travelers coming for a visit.
Visit the Peace Memorial Park
Located in what was once Hiroshima City’s busiest downtown commercial and residential district, the Peace Memorial Park was built at the center of the city to honor the nuclear atomic bomb victims dropped by the United States in 1945.
The green park serves as a reminder of the suffering that war causes. The park is open to the public, where visitors can view and visit several memorials and monuments that honor peace over conflict.
Notable attractions within the park are the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Memorial Cenotaph, the Peace Flame, and many more.
Learn Hiroshima’s Somber History at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Travelers can visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum when they enter Peace Memorial Park. It’s a must-see for visitors who want to learn about the horrors caused by the atomic bomb. The museum displays memorabilia, photos, and graphic descriptions of the events that occurred, before, during, and after the explosion.
Visits to the museum are often the most impactful for travelers and are not for the faint of heart. We recommend going through the museum with a tour guide to learn the important context of its exhibits.
Visit Hiroshima Castle
Aside from the first two entries above, Hiroshima Castle is a must-visit whenever travelers are in Hiroshima.
Also known as Carp Castle, Hiroshima Castle was constructed in the 1590s and was the seat of governmental power in Hiroshima for a long time. This impressive wooden structure displays an elegant white, black, and wood facade 5 stories high at the center of a moat.
The blast destroyed the original castle in 1945 but was rebuilt in 1958. The public can visit and explore the castle’s interior, which currently serves as a history museum of Hiroshima.
Go Hiking and Visit the Shrines at Miyajima Island
Spending a day or two exploring Miyajima Island is one of the most popular things to do in Hiroshima. It only takes about an hour’s travel time to a ferry pier that can take travelers to the island from Hiroshima.
Once on the island, the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Itsukushima Shrine, is a must-see. The shrine’s most prominent structure is a huge Torii Gate that seems to float on the water during high tide. Miyajima Island also boasts some of the best hiking trails that offer gorgeous views.
Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, now commonly called the Genbaku Dome was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945.
Originally the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, it is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The ruin of the hall serves as a memorial to the over 140,000 people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Eat Hiroshima’s Local Cuisine
Those who spend some time traveling to different prefectures in Japan, they’ll know that each prefecture offers its own specialty cuisine. Hiroshima is no different. While exploring Hiroshima Prefecture, make sure to try their local cuisine that can’t be found anywhere else in Japan.
Better yet, join a food tour that’ll showcase the best food that Hiroshima has to offer. But if you prefer to do it yourself, don’t miss out on trying Hiroshima’s amazing oysters, their specialty Hiroshima ramen, the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, and Anogo Meshi or seawater eel.
Take a Relaxing Stroll Around Shukkei-en Garden
Shukkei-en Garden is a beautiful public Japanese garden located at the banks of the Ota River. It’s not as large or grand as other famous Japanese gardens but serves as a place of peace and tranquility with its numerous garden paths, streams, and bridges. The garden features a huge pond in its center.
The garden was built in 1620 and was restored in 1951, years after the blast. Visiting the garden during the cherry and plum blossom season is one of the best things to do in Hiroshima in spring.
Take a Tour of the Mazda Museum
Car enthusiasts will have a blast when they visit the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima. Hiroshima City is where Mazda Motor Corporation is founded and where its headquarters are still located since 1920. Mazda opened a museum as part of its factory for the viewing public. Visitors can make reservations through their website for a guided tour around the Mazda Museum.
Part of the tour includes catching a glimpse of a working assembly line that puts together these fast cars.
Visitors can also purchase Mazda merchandise as a souvenir and learn about the company’s future plans.
Take a Day Trip to Okunoshima Rabbit Island
Looking for unique things to do in Hiroshima? Why not play with the rabbits? Taking a fun day trip to Okunoshima Rabbit Island is one of the best things to do in Hiroshima Prefecture for nature and animal lovers. It’s a small island in Japan’s sea that’s part of Takehara City and can be reached via ferry.
Like Hiroshima City, Okunoshima Rabbit Island has a dark war history. It used to have a poison gas factory used for chemical warfare during World War II.
Today, the island is filled with over 700 feral but curious rabbits, walking trails, campsites, bike trails, and a poison gas museum.
Enjoy the Serenity at Mitaki-Dera Temple
Located at the foot of Mount Mitaki in downtown Hiroshima, Mitaki-Dera Temple is a gorgeous Buddhist temple built in AD 809. When translated, the temple is referred to as the Three Waterfalls because of the three waterfalls found at its grounds, which provide greenery and blossoming trees.
The temple is famous for its red pagodas, Buddhist statues, and serene atmosphere. The best time of year to visit Mitaki-Dera Temple is during Autumn when the trees explode with red and orange shades.
Take a Sake Brewery Tour at Saijo
Located in the city of Higashihiroshima that’s 40 minutes from Hiroshima City, Saijo also referred to as sake town by the locals, is a quaint town often visited for its many breweries of Japanese wine called sake. Another of the town’s titles is “The Sake Capital of Japan” because of its high concentration of breweries, 7 of which can be found in a single street.
Taking a tour through this brewery is a must for sake or wine lovers. Don’t miss trying their local premium sake, gin-go-shu. Visit during October when Saijo hosts the annual Sake Festival.
Take a Hike through Sandankyo Gorge
One of the best things to do in Hiroshima in Spring is to hike through the gorgeous sceneries of Sandankyo Gorge. Nature lovers and those looking for outdoor activities can visit Akiota, where the gorge is located, more than an hour away from Hiroshima City.
The Sandankyo Gorge stretches 13km along the Shiwagigawa River, where hikers can encounter forests, waterfalls, pools, streams, a hanging bridge, and other gorgeous sights.
The entire trek takes about 5 hours to complete. Halfway along, hikers can rest at a restaurant serving local cuisine.
Go Shopping at Hiroshima’s Unique Stores
Hiroshima is a great shopping city for those travelers interested in making great local finds. Hiroshima’s shopping district at Kamiyacho and Hatchobori is home to various unique stores that can attract practically any type of visitor.
This includes the Hiroshima Sogo Department Store. Make sure to visit the underground city, Kamiyacho Shareo, that’s full of stores and sweet shops. In Hatchobori, visitors will find unique and trendy restaurants.
We highly recommended exploring the legendary Don Quijote Store to grab some snacks and knick-knacks.
Drive or Cycle on Shimanami Kaido Expressway
Officially named as Nishi Seto Expressway, the Shimanami Kaido Expressway is an impressive 70km expressway that connects six of Japan’s islands, including Hiroshima. This long route boasts nine bridges over waters and links the islands to each other.
This expressway is also famous for its cycling lane, which attracts active travelers and locals wanting to take on the challenge of completing the entire route.
There are plenty of bike rentals and hospitality shops on the islands along the expressway. Renting a car and driving through the route is an easier choice. But both forms of transportation offer amazing views.
Spend a Fun Evening at Nagarekawa
One of the best things to do in Hiroshima at night is to visit its nightlife and entertainment district, Nagarekawa. The district consists of a maze of narrow streets packed with bars, clubs, karaoke rooms, and restaurants waiting for visitors to have fun. The bright neon lights and the smell of alcohol and food on the narrow streets during nighttime is a huge draw to tourists from all over the world.
Nagarekawa is located near Hondori, one of Hiroshima’s main shopping districts. Making the transition from a day of shopping to partying at night a lot easier.
Visit the Preserved District of Takehara
Dubbed The Little Kyoto of Aki (the former name of Hiroshima), the Preserved District of Takehara will make visitors feel like they’ve traveled back in time to Japan’s distant past. The traditional buildings of Takehara are well preserved, some of which were built during the Edo, Meiji, Taisho, and Showa Periods with the oldest structure dating back to 1691.
It wasn’t until 1982 did Takehara receive its special status from Japan. Visitors will be treated with temples, shrines, and merchant houses, with their original structures still intact.
Hiroshima Travel and Tour Packages
To help you plan out your visit to Hiroshima, we listed places to visit and other amazing Hiroshima, Japan. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.
Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Hiroshima hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.
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