Things to do in Hiroshima Japan – Home to over a million residents, Hiroshima is a city that’s bursting with traditions and history. There are quite a few things to see in the city, and many places can be fully explored in just a day or two. As much of the city has been rebuilt from the ground up, there’s certainly a feeling of newness that separates this city from others in Japan. Along with the rich history and Japanese culture, Hiroshima claims part of its fame to a special, savory okonomiyaki pancake.
Despite losing many historic buildings and sights, Hiroshima still retains key aspects of Japanese history, and has done well with recreating important features that are unique to Hiroshima. The city is full of travelers and visitors during the summer, specially August, when temperatures are between 24-32ºC. The quietest months are in June (19-27ºC) and February (1-9ºC), meaning that there are less crowds than in the busier months.
Anytime is a great time to visit Hiroshima, however, as there’s plenty to see and do in this modern city.
How to get there?
Getting to Hiroshima from Tokyo is actually quite easy. Simply take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen straight from Tokyo Station to Hiroshima Station. From there, the local trains will get you to where you need to go. If you’re looking to get some air time instead, there are flights from Haneda Airport to Hiroshima. Those looking to save a couple yen might also be interested in taking the Kosoku Bus, though the ride is more than thirteen hours long. Renting a car could also work, though the ride is over ten hours – hopefully you’ll have someone with you so you can take turns driving and not fall asleep.
Starting at the Shin-Osaka Station, travelers can take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen towards Hakata to arrive at the Hiroshima Station in less than two hours. Buses also run between the two cities and depart from the Osaka Station’s JR Express Bus Terminal; they take 5 hours to reach Hiroshima Station. Rental cars are also a viable option, though they take about the same time as the bus to reach Hiroshima.
Where to stay?
Guesthouse Hiroshima Japan – Guesthouse Poptone
Located near Hiroshima Station, this guesthouse is perfect for those who want to stay close to central Hiroshima without spending a lot of money. The guesthouse is near several food and drink establishments, and the facilities are simple and clean.
Why Guests Love It: Guests enjoy the free WiFi, excellent amenities, and friendly staff. The guesthouse has safety deposit boxes, luggage storage, lockers, heating and air conditioning, TV area, daily maid service, and shared lounge areas.
Book Now: Guesthouse Poptone
Hotel Hiroshima Japan – Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima
Not only is this hotel stylish and elegant, but it’s also close to the heart of Hiroshima. All rooms have a private bathroom and refrigerator, and hairdryers and slippers are provided at no extra cost. The meals are as beautiful as they are delicious, and there will always be at least one staff member who speaks your language.
Why Guests Love It: The rooms are quiet and spacious, and the hotel itself is located so close to historic sites, restaurants, and shops. Many rooms come with a view, and the hotel even facilities currency exchanges.
Book Now: Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima
Ryokan Hiroshima Japan – Sansui Ryokan
If staying in a traditional Japanese Ryokan is on your list of must-haves, then you must stay a night or more at the Sansui Ryokan. With tatami flooring and traditional Japanese decorations, guests can adorn a complementary yukata and get the full experience of staying at an authentic ryokan.
Why Guests Love It: The owner is an absolute delight who takes pride in keeping her establishment clean and welcoming. Each room has a flat-screen TV and tradition futon bedding. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered a photo when you leave – the owner keeps one for herself to adorn her walls and commemorate your stay at her ryokan.
Book It Now: Sansui Ryokan
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #1: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The Peace Memorial Park is often close to the top of everyone’s must-see list, and even if it isn’t, travelers generally make their way over to the park due to the sizable amount of space it takes up. Almost like an oasis of nature amongst the buildings and shops of the downtown area, Peace Memorial Park is both a relaxing and somber place to visit.
Instead of rebuilding the area after the tragedy of the war, officials wanted to make a memorial for those who lost their lives, as well as provide a reminder of what happened and why it’s so important to remember the past in order to prevent the future from repeating itself. Visitors can pay their respects to those who lost their lives while seeing how the country has bounced back and healed after the attack.
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #2: Sake Brewery Tour
Just a half hour train ride from the center of Hiroshima lies Saijo, a small town with a big impact on Japanese sake. There are tons of breweries to visit that are relatively close to the station, so it’s an easy and enjoyable day trip from accommodations in Hiroshima.
If you can time your trip just right, you might be able to see and participate in the annual sake festival during the second weekend of October. Considered to be the Japanese equivalent of an Octoberfest celebration, visitors can join in on the party with over 200,000 other sake enthusiasts and fully enjoy themselves.
If you’re interested, you can book your Sake tour in Saigo here.
Spot #3: Miyajima Island
Also known as Itsukushima, this small island found in Hiroshima Bay is full of trees, temples, and Itsukushima Shrine. A large, partially submerged Great Torii Gate stands tall near the island, and there is a local ferry to take visitors straight to the island in only 10-minutes flat. With so much to do on the island itself, it’s sure to feel like a trip within a trip when visiting Hiroshima.
The main attraction is Itsukushima Shrine, though there are other sights and places to visit as well. Visitors can hike around Mount Misen, take in the beautiful foliage of Momijidani Park, explore Daishoin Temple, and see various aquatic creatures at the Miyajima Public Aquarium. There are also camping grounds at the Tsutsumigaura Nature Park in case guests wish to stay overnight.
Please also note that you can find amazing Ryokan in Miyajima Island. We compiled a list of the best here: Ryokan Miyajima.
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #4: Mazda Museum
If you’re a lover of machines, cars, design, or Japanese history, then the Mazda Museum is the perfect place to visit. Tours are about an hour long, and there are guides available in both English and Japanese. Reservations have to be made through the website to book a time slot for a tour. The tour includes a short film, historical descriptions about the company, car models from different periods, and a viewing of the assembly line used to put Mazda vehicles together.
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #5: Tsunoshima and Motonosumi Inari Shrine
On the island of Tsunoshima in the Sea of Japan stands Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The shrine is most famous for having 123 red torii gates leading up the side of the mountain towards the cliff that overlooks the sea. Although similar to Fushimi Inari’s torii gates, many people prefer to visit Motonosumi Inari Shrine due to the breathtaking view and beautiful surroundings.
Another place to visit is the Tsunoshima Bridge, which allows visitors to travel by car above the sea for an awesome view and wonderful experience. It is the second longest bridge in Japan, and serves to connect Tsunoshima with the main island. If you’d like to book a day trip to get the full experience, we highly recommend to go for this tour.
Spot #6: Hiroshima Castle
Although the original castle, which was built in the 1590s, was destroyed in 1945, it was reconstructed and looks almost exactly like it did during the time that Hiroshima was a castle town. Hiroshima Castle serves as a museum to keep the prefecture’s history of Japanese castles alive and well. From inside the castle, there are spectacular views of the surrounding areas that are hard to find elsewhere in the city.
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #7: Shukkeien Garden
The Shukkeien Garden is full of the natural beauty Japan is known for. Visitors can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, rent a sun umbrella, watch preforming geishas, feed the koi fish, or just enjoy the beautiful sights. There is a small entry fee, but many feel that it’s definitely worth it to enjoy the garden. It’s highly recommended to visit in spring or summer when the foliage is at its best.
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #8: Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park
For all the animal lovers traveling through Hiroshima, the Asa Zoological Park is the perfect place to see tons of wild animals, including some you may have never seen before. With English speaking staff and easy to understand directions, the park is simple to navigate and fun to explore. The enclosures are large, spacious, and well looked after.
The park also offers a wide variety of cuisine, and is extremely child-friendly. The zoo is easily accessible by city tram, and the prices are said to be unbeatable. If you’re more of a night owl – or want to see one in person – the park also offers a Night Safari event.
Spot #9: Hiroshima Museum of Art
Founded in 1978, this museum lies in Hiroshima’s Central Park and features pieces of art from around the world. Many well known artists are displayed, and the museum offers an app to guide guest through each piece in English or Japanese. Many are impressed that the museum houses such a large collection of impressionist paintings, and everyone who enters is generally satisfied upon leaving.
In addition to the beautiful art found on the inside of the building, the surrounding areas are also quite nice to view. You can also enjoy a drink and a snack while viewing the gardens from the onsite coffee shop.
Things to do in Hiroshima Japan #10: Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine
The original shrine was built to mourn victims of the Bosnian war, and after it was destroyed, citizens pooled together their resources to have it rebuilt near Hiroshima Castle. It’s a popular location for celebrating Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the new year, and Shichi-Go-San, which is a traditional festival for three, five, and seven-year-old children in Japan.
As it’s most popular to visit around New Year’s Day, travelers can expect to see crowds if they visit in January. For most of the rest of the year, the shrine is peaceful and relaxing to visit.
Though the city might have been destroyed less than a century ago, the entire nation has banded together to restore the city to its former glory – and then some. Hiroshima is now a city that is part old and part new, as it has retained its history while using modern advancements to replace and replicate traditional and historical sites. Not only are the manmade structures both beautiful and impressive, but the surrounding scenery and natural wonders make the trip to Hiroshima well worth a traveler’s time.