There are many reasons to visit Hiroshima and many things to do in Hiroshima, but for me, the reason that I came here was because of a 1980’s pop song.
“It’s 8:15, and that’s the time that it’s always been” goes the lyric from the 1980 hit single, “Enola Gay” from the fabulous Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark (OMD). Back then, at the age of 9, I wasn’t aware of the anti-war sentiment of the song, nor the meaning of the words, I just know that I loved the tune that still sticks in my mind. 8:15 is the time that the Atomic Bomb, Little Boy, dropped by the B29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”, detonated some 600 metres above Hiroshima. That’s the time when the clocks stopped in the city.
140,000 men, women and children died on August 6th 1945 and in the following months in Hiroshima. A week later Nagasaki to the south suffered the same fate. It was the beginning of the end of World War II.
Hiroshima is about much more than that fateful day. There is a huge amount of history, and the city has rebuilt, but many of the reasons to come here and the things to see and do in Hiroshima are related to the Atomic Bomb. Understanding more about what led the world to that point and how the city and the country have rebuilt since then it is well worth your time and the trip.
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Best Things to do in Hiroshima
Many of the things to do in Hiroshima centre around the memorials to the victims of the 1945 Atomic Bomb, but the city is much more than that, come with us and explore some of the top things to din in Hiroshima.
Visit the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima AKA the Atomic Bomb Dome
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is also known as the Atomic Bomb dome. This is one of the most iconic views of Hiroshima at any time of the day. The building here was the Industrial Promotion Hall – an exhibition hall, built in 1915. While everyone inside the building was killed, as the hypocenter of the atomic explosion was very close to here, the decision to retain the building as a memorial was taken after the war. The Atomic Bomb Dome was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The site is fenced off, with railings, but it is easy to view.
- Opening Times of the Peace Memorial Hiroshima: 24 Hours
- Cost of Peace Memorial Hiroshima: Free
- How to get to the Peace Memorial Hiroshima: Genbaku Dome-mae Tram Stop
Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and the Flame of Peace
The Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima is located on the island created by the river Ota and the river Motoyasu. It is a large park, full of trees and walkways. Known as Heiwa Kinen Koen, this 120,000 square metre park is an oasis of green in downtown Hiroshima. This used to be the commercial and political centre of Hiroshima and this was chosen as the target.
The park contains memorials and the Pond of Peace, which leads to the cenotaph. The stunning concrete curved Cenotaph protects a stone chest containing the 220,000 names of all known victims of the Atomic Bomb. There is a similar memorial in Nagasaki, equally moving.
On the anniversary of the dropping of the bomb, a minutes silence is observed at 0815 on 6th August and various ceremonies are held.
The Flame of Peace at the pond of peace is set up to burn until all the nuclear weapons in the world are destroyed.
Be sure to find the Peace Bell and ring out for peace too.
- Opening Times of the Peace Memorial Park Hiroshima: 24 hours
- Cost of Peace Memorial Park Hiroshima: Free
- How to get to Peace Memorial Park Hiroshima: Genbaku Dome-mae Tram Stop or Hondori Tram Stop
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima is located inside the Peace Memorial Park. There are two buildings in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. This engaging, but potentially upsetting museum focuses on what happened here on August 6th 1945. It details the dropping of the atomic bomb and what happened to the humans living here. There are many, many personal effects here. Items have been on display since 1949, and the Peace Museum opened in 1955. Audio guides are available and well worthwhile.
There’s a particularly poignant part of the museum though, describing the story of Sadako Sasaki, who appears to not have suffered when the bomb dropped, became ill some years afterwards. In the cylindrical clear tube in the centre of the room, you’ll see just some of the paper cranes that she made. There’s a Japanese legend that if you can make a thousand paper cranes, then your wish will come true. Sasaki wished to be well and while she didn’t manage to make a thousand cranes before she died her classmates continued in her name.
- Opening Times of the Peace Memorial Museum Hiroshima: 0830 – 1800 (1900 in August 1700 between December and February)
- Cost of Peace Memorial Museum Hiroshima: 200 Yen
- How to get to Peace Memorial Museum Hiroshima: Genbaku Dome-mae Tram Stop
Children’s Peace Monument Hiroshima
If you visit the Peace Memorial Museum first, this monument will have more meaning. The Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima is the status of a child, arms outstretched to the sky, with a crane above her. The monument is based on Sasaki Sadako, who is referred to in the museum.
- Opening Times of the Children’s Peace Monument Hiroshima: 24 Hours
- Cost of Children’s Peace Monument Hiroshima: Free
- How to get to Children’s Peace Monument Hiroshima: Genbaku Dome-mae Tram Stop
Eat Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima – Okonomi Mura
If you eat nothing else Japanese in Hiroshima then you MUST eat Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is known sometimes as Japanese Pizza. Which, considering its nothing like pizza is weird. We can only assume that pizza = comfort food and okonomiyaki is amazing comfort food. And its best eaten with a beer. In company. So, yeah, ok, think of it as Japanese pizza.
There are two main types of okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki from Hiroshima and Okonomiyaki from Osaka. And they are very different and you owe it to yourself to try both. Trust me. And then let us know what your favourite is.
Hiroshima has an entire village, Okonomi Mura dedicated to providing Okonomiyaki. Well, it’s 25 food stalls spread across three floors of a building, where individual owners offer their okonomiyaki recipes.
Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese dish. It’s made of flour batter, cabbage, vegetables and condiments, you choose which proteins (meats, cheese, etc) to add to it.
Find Okonomi Mura on our Hiroshima things to do map and head off there. The entrance is off Chuo-dori – opposite the white Parco shopping centre.
- Opening Times of the Okonomi Mura Hiroshima: 1100 – 0200
- Cost of Okonomi Mura Hiroshima: Free to enter, cost to eat.
- How to get to Okonomi Mura Hiroshima: Hatchobori Tram Stop
The Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum
Whether you choose to come to the Okonomiyaki Museum before or after you eat at Okonomi Mura doesn’t really matter. At the museum, you’ll get to understand a little more of the history of this iconic Hiroshima dish and where it came from.
The museums (and there is a factory here too) is run by the Okonomiyaki sauce manufacturer Otafuku Sauce and provides 3 options to understand more about Okonomiyaki. Tour the museum, take a factory your and cook your own okonomiyaki. The factory is robot operated and delivers 9,000 bottles per hour and is a sight to see in itself! Take a factory tour and get a just bottled sauce as a souvenir!
The factory and Oknonomiyaki museum entrance is free. If you wish to take a course in cooking Okonomiyaki then the cost is 1,000 yen using a TEPPAN griddle, or 700 yen with an electric griddle.
- Opening Times of the Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum Hiroshima: 0900 – 1700 (reservations required) weekdays only.
- Cost of the Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum Hiroshima: Depends on Tour/Activity
- How to get to the Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum Hiroshima: 25 minutes walk or 5 minutes by taxi from JR Shin-Inokuchi Station
Visit Ground Zero in Hiroshima – the Hypocenter in Hiroshima
The Atomic Bomb exploded some 600 metres above this spot in Hiroshima. At 0815 on August 6th 1945, with the explosion above this spot, marked with an information sign now on a side street near to the Peace Memorial Park is where you’ll find the hypocenter. Temperatures of 3,000 – 4,000 degrees centigrade, a blast wind and radiation followed the initial blast.
This was the location of the original Shima hospital, a 1930’s two-storey brick building. It was completely destroyed in the blast. You might have to stand in the traffic to read the signage properly.
- Opening Times of Ground Zero Plaque Hiroshima: 24 Hours
- Cost of Ground Zero Plaque Hiroshima: Free
- How to get to Ground Zero Plaque Hiroshima: Genbaku Dome-mae Tram Stop
Visit Miyajima Island
The small island of Miyajima is about an hour away from Hiroshima city. You can reach Miyajima by JR Train and by a ferry, which is also covered on your JR Pass, so it can be a cheap day trip from Hiroshima. It’s a beautiful escape from the city. Miyajima is scenic, forested and with a great deal of cultural interest too. There is great hiking here, an observatory, temples, food specialities and for wildlife lowers some very tame, but wild deer.
You can read out in depth guide on what to do in Miyajima here.
You will instantly recognize Miyajima from the photos of the famous “floating torii” – the water entrance to the World Heritage shrine Itsukushima-jinja, which you should visit at both high and low water. At high water, it looks like its floating. The vermillion coloured torji (shrine gate is 16 metres tall and there has been a shrine gate here since 1168. This current gate is currently under repair having been here since the 1800s and is unlikely to be visible. So here’s a photo of what it does look like. Book a full day guided tour of Hiroshima and Miyajima here!
Read more about taking a trip to Miyajima here.
While Hiroshima Castle might have been completed in 1589, it was destroyed by the Atomic Bomb in 1945. Hiroshima Castle is also known as the Castle of the Carp, thought to be because there were so many carp (fish) swimming in the moat. This instance of Hiroshima Castle was rebuilt in 1958 and is a replica. It’s a spectacular sight and you can also dress up as a samurai and it’s a great place to see cherry blossoms in the spring. . Read more about Hiroshima Castle (and 6 other stunning Japanese Castles here )
Hiroshima Castle is open from 0900 – 1700 and costs 370 yen to enter.
Hiroshima Castle grounds contain the Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja – which is the concrete bunker from where the first radio broadcast out of Hiroshima came after the 1945 atomic bomb blast. You’ll also find a eucalyptus tree and a willow tree, both of which survived the atomic bombing in the grounds of Hiroshima Castle.
- Opening Times of the Hiroshima Castle Hiroshima: 0900 -1700
- Cost of Hiroshima Castle Hiroshima: 370 yen
- How to get to Hiroshima Castle Hiroshima: 15-minute walk from the Peace Park.
Go Sake Tasting when in Hiroshima
While you can taste the famous Japanese liquor, sake in Hiroshima, it’s well worth it, if you have the time to take the 35 minute JR Rail train from Hiroshima to Saijo. Saijo is an entire town of sake breweries. Based here because of the superb quality of the water – there are 7 sake breweries where you can explore the different tastes. Tasting is usually free – and it’s a fabulous place to spend half a day. Visit during October for the Saijo Sake Festival. Find out more about Saijo Sake in our in-depth article here.
Hijiyama Park for Great Views of Hiroshima
A glorious park, walk to the top for a fabulous view of Hiroshima. The park contains the only public manga library in Japan as well as the museum of contemporary art of Hiroshima. Very popular in Cherry Blossom season.
- Opening Times of the Hijiyama Park Hiroshima: 0500 – 2300
- Cost of Hijiyama Park Hiroshima: Free
- How to get to Hijiyama Park Hiroshima: 400 metres from “Hijiyama-shita Station
Mazda Factory Tour
The Mazda Factory tour is a fabulous way to spend half a day in Hiroshima and its free! The Mazda Factory is just 6 minutes on a train from Hiroshima. The only way to visit is to take a free tour, and English tours happen at 1000 every day – pre-booking is essential and you can find out more here). It’s an awesome factory tour and the train trip is covered on your JR Pass.
Shukkein Park Hiroshima
One of Japan’s top 100 Historic Parks, this Japanese Garden Park contains many different styles of garden. The name SHukkein translates to “shrunken scenery garden” and here you’ll find miniaturised gardens of mountains, forests, lakes and valleys. The garden dates back to 1620 and provides for stunning photo opportunities.
- Opening Times of the Shukkein Park Hiroshima: 0900 – 1800 (until 1700 October to March)
- Cost of Shukkein Park Hiroshima: 260 yen
- How to get to Shukkein Park Hiroshima: 2 minutes walk from Shukkeien-mae Tram Stop
Hiroshima Carp BaseBall
Housed in the Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium, the Hiroshima Carp play professional Japanese baseball. The atmosphere here is electric. If you’ve ever watched football in South America, then this is a similar experience – fans stand, dance, cheer. And a baseball game takes place at the same time. Well worth attending if you’re here during baseball season to watch the fans if nothing else!!
Japanese Baseball season is February through the end of September. Buy tickets for Hiroshima Carp games at GoVoyagin.
Ride the Hiroden Street Car in Hiroshima
There are 300 streets cards in Hiroshima. They’re called the Hiroden and they’ve been used since 1912. In the aftermath of the atomic bombing in 1945, these streetcars were back up and running after just 3 days.
Not all of the streetcars that you’ll find in Hiroshima hail from here – the city buys up discontinued trolleys and streetcars from other cities. That’s one of the reasons that the Hirdeon is also known as the “Moving Streetcar Museum”. Tickets are cheap (180 yen) and it’s a great way to get around the city.
You can buy day trip tickets for the Hiroden for 840 yen and this includes the trip to Miyajima.
Learn how to cook Japanese Food in Hiroshima – with a local
Get an authentic Japanese cooking experience with a Japanese host in their own home. In this experience, there are 12 different ones available in Hiroshima and more throughout Japan – you’ll learn to cook homemade Japanese food. Then you’ll get to eat it around the table with your Japanese hosts around their dining table. Here are just three of the experiences! Check out others here!
- Learn how to cook Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki > check prices and book now
- Homemade Korokke and Miso soup and Japanese-style rolled omelette Cooking Class > book now
- Learn how to make Gyoza in Hiroshima > Nom Nom book this one now!
Map of Things to do in Hiroshima
What to Eat in Hiroshima
Each area and city of Japan has its own foodie specialities. Hiroshima is no exception. Here’s a short guide to what you should eat in Hiroshima and nearby. Experience cultural Japan at a tea ceremony in Hiroshima > here
Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese dish. It’s made of flour batter, cabbage, vegetables and condiments, you choose which proteins (meats, cheese, etc) to add to it.
Hiroshima and Miyajima Oysters
The region of Hiroshima is Japan’s largest oyster farming region – with more than 50% of the oyster production for the country. Hiroshima oysters are big and rich tasting. You’ll find oyster stalls in Hiroshima and especially in Miyajima, where we recommend you try the curried oyster bread (really!!).
Another oyster speciality of Hiroshima is the “kaki no dotenabe” a hotpot with Hiroshima oysters cooked in a pot with sweet miso bean paste, tofu and vegetables.
This speciality seafood – it translates as conger eel, is very popular on Miyajima island. Most popular is a local Hiroshima prefecture dish called Anago-meshi, grilled eel is served over white rice. The grilled eel is topped with a further piece of eel that has been toasted over charcoal and flavoured with soy sauce. Available in bento boxes at Hiroshima train station.
Tsukemen is a combination of cold noodles that you dip into a hot, spicy broth. If you like spicy unique food, you’ll love this. The cooked noodles are cooled in ice water, then topped with green onion and cabbage – ask for additional toppings like roasted pork and egg.
Onomichi Ramen is a style of noodles sold near Onomichi city added to a soy sauce-based soup that’s blended with chicken broth and seafood it’s a delicious option. Sometimes you’ll find chunks of pork fat added for a richer taste (!).
The maple leaf is a traditional symbol of Hiroshima and these local specialities are small cakes in the shape of a maple leaf. They’re filled with sweet red bean paste or other flavours. You’ll find them packaged as souvenirs to take home.
Hiroshima Prefecture Sake from Saijo
Hiroshima prefecture is one of the 3 major sake producing areas of Japan. The nearby town of Saijo has 7 sake breweries. If you can’t make it over for there for a tasting, then be sure to buy some local sake and try it in Hiroshima.
How to Get to Hiroshima
Hiroshima is easy to reach on many Japan Rail Trains. Easy to reach from Tokyo in about 4-5 hours, Hiroshima is well located.
How to Travel Around Hiroshima
Most people arrive in Hiroshima at the JR Hiroshima station. The downtown area, near to the Peace Memorial is about 2.5 kilometres, an easy walk in about 30 minutes. The Hiroden trams are also an easy way to travel around Hiroshima. You can buy individual tickets for your route (JR Station to downtown about 180 yen per adult), or buy a day pass for 840 yen.
See hidden Hiroshima – check out this awesome guided bicycle tour of Hiroshima.
Where to Stay in Hiroshima
We stayed in the Court Hotel, Hiroshima. Just 5 minutes from downtown Hiroshima and 15 minutes on foot from Hiroshima Station, all rooms have air conditioning and internet access. Each room also has a flat-screen TV, tea maker or kettle and a fridge.
Our favourite thing to do in Hiroshima
We initially came to pay our respects at the Peace Memorial, to visit the museum and to understand more about the impact and effects of the atomic bomb here. We loved the city of Hiroshima. We visited the island of Miyajima, explored the hiking trails and the observatory and saw the Itsukushima-jinja shrine at low and high tide. We thought Hiroshima Castle was stunning, we visited the Sake brewery town of Saijo to take sake. So do we have a favourite? Well, we loved the Okonomkiyai, but it’s the memorials and what we learned in the peace museum that will stay with us.