Hiroshimasightseeing spots & delicious foodguide

Enjoyable sights and delicious food – introducing Hiroshima’s amazing sightseeing spots and specialties!

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The Atomic Bomb Dome

Remains of the bombing serve as a reminder to history’s past

In the heart of downtown Hiroshima, close to Aioi Bridge, sits the Atomic Bomb Dome. A sign of world peace and the symbol of Hiroshima, the building stands in dramatic contrast to the surrounding rivers and modern high-rise buildings. With its unique charm, it is a reminder of the hardships of war, and seems to stand still amongst the passage of time.

On the morning of August 6th, 1945 the face of Hiroshima would be forever changed. When the bomb was dropped, waves of atomic radiation and flame burned the city to the ground, instantly killing many residents. Close to the epicenter, the Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Promotion Hall had somehow managed to remain standing. However, the building’s roof had been torn from it, and was left with the skeleton remains of the original supports, giving it the dome shape we know today. After the war, the building became known as “The Atomic Bomb Dome”, and efforts to preserve it were started by the people of Hiroshima. In December 1996, the site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the mission of educating people around the world about the calamities and suffering of war.

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Peace Memorial Park

A lush park created from a wish for world peace

Near the Atomic bomb dome, situated between Motoyasu and Honkawa River, is Peace Memorial Park. Located in the center of Hiroshima, this park spans a wide area filled with vibrant greenery and statues dedicated to the bombing of Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is also located within the park. There, a variety of valuable documents, artifacts, and pictures from before and after the bombing are showcased, giving visitors a complete understanding of the atrocities committed. The hope of the museum is that everyone who visits leaves with an understanding of the horrors of nuclear weapons, and a commitment towards peace.

In the center of the park, in a straight line connecting the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, is the cenotaph for the A-bomb victims. Inscribed in stone on the monument are the words, “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”, which represent the city’s oath to work for continued peace around the world.

Every year on August 6th, there is a Peace Memorial Ceremony to remember the bombing and commemorate all those who were killed by the explosion or by complications from exposure to the radiation. Annually, new names are added to the list on the cenotaph.

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Shukkeien Garden

Leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind, in a garden where you can enjoy the four seasons

Shukkeien is a beautiful example of a traditional Japanese style garden in the center of downtown Hiroshima. Once you step inside its gates, the hustle and bustle of the city is left behind. Every year the garden is visited by a large number of both domestic and foreign travelers, coming to experience the seasonal events taking place.

Shukkeien was constructed in early 1620, during the Edo Period, and was originally part of a secondary residence for the Daimyo, Asano Nagaakira. The garden was built by Ueda Soko, the chief retainer under Asano, and renowned tea master.

The beauty of traditional Japanese gardens lies within their ability to take a scene from nature and compress it into a miniature version. The name Shukkeien comes from a poem written by Confucian scholar Hayashi Razan, in which he states, “[one should] condense the mountains and oceans, and fit that scenery in this space.” For this reason, the garden is comprised of tiny mountains, ponds, bridges, islands and buildings, giving it a classically beautiful Japanese esthetic.

Since the time of its construction the garden has unfortunately been subject to countless devastating fires and catastrophic events. However, each time it has been reconstructed, and in 2020 celebrate its 400 year anniversary. It is home to a large variety of flowers and foliage plants that change with the seasons, making each time you visit something unique and special. Right next door is the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, which houses a restaurant where you can enjoy a tasty lunch and a great view of the garden.

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Hiroshima Orizuru Tower

360-degree views that offer a view into Hiroshima’s past and present

Hiroshima Orizuru Tower is located directly across the street from the Atomic Bomb Dome and offers a wide variety of attractions for visitors. Included is the observation deck at the top of the tower, a trendy café, and souvenir shop packed with local goods unique to Hiroshima.
The observation area is comprised of a stylish open wooden deck and allows for a cool breeze to pass through the space. Visitors here can compare the adjacent Atomic Bomb Dome and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to the more modern buildings, getting a feel for time passed. On clear days, one can even see as far as Mt. Misen on Miyajima. It’s definitely worth a visit!

Along the spiral staircase, on the way up to the observation deck, is a space reserved for various “hands-on” experiences. Here individuals can try their hand at folding paper cranes to add to the Orizuru wall, a glass panel filled with cranes folded by previous visitors. One can also engage in digital content at the Orizuru square, as well as other experiences unique to Hiroshima. The first floor of the tower also houses a trendy café that offers both food and drink, as well as a souvenir shop where you can find popular items only available in Hiroshima.

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Motoujina

Only 30 minutes from the city, an untouched old-growth forest where you can enjoy the Seto Inland Sea

Motoujina Park can be found close to the last stop on the streetcar line heading towards Hiroshima port (lines 1 and 5). Once its own separate island, it is now connected via sediment buildup and can be crossed by foot or by car. The majority of the park is considered a part of the Setonaikai National Park and is home to a vast variety of trees (such as camphorwood and cedar) that grow densely in this old-growth forest. Even in the afternoon, the smell of damp earth prevails, giving it a tropical feel.

The park has become a year-round relaxation spot. From people exploring the surrounding areas, to playing in the water with their families, or to people fishing on the shores, you can see all kinds of visitors at the park.

On sunny days, the view of the Seto Inland Sea is a sight to behold. Individuals can relax in the shade of the trees while enjoying the gentle ocean breeze and taking a break from their busy lifestyles. From downtown Hiroshima (Kamiya-cho) it takes about 30 minutes by streetcar to reach Motoujina-guchi, and from there individuals can spend a day exploring the surrounding area and coastline.

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Itsukushima (Miyajima)

History and nature abound, the beauty of Itsukushima

Itsukushima, also well known as Miyajima, is a small island not far from the shores of Hatsukaichi City. From ancient times, the island has been a holy symbol and an object of worship. In 1996 it was named a UNESCO cultural heritage site, which encompasses everything from Itsukushima Shrine all the way to the forests of Mt. Misen.

At high tide, Itsukushima Shrine looks as if it were floating on water and stands as the symbol of Miyajima Tourism. The main building of the shrine was commissioned by Taira no Kiyomori, a military leader of what was then Aki Province (now Hiroshima), during the latter half of the Heian Period (794-1185). From that time until the present, the building has maintained the same structure and layout. However, it was also subject to two fires, which lead it to be repaired. The current building has been standing since 1240.

Itsukushima Shrine’s open waters and vermillion-lacquered Ōtorri gate can be seen afar by passengers aboard ferries heading towards the island. During low tide, visitors to the island can walk right up to the gate, which normally would look as if it were rising right out of the ocean. Standing next to the gate one can get a sense for just how big it is and will be left in awe.

Mt. Misen is also a must-see when visiting Miyajima. The forests of Mt. Misen are often thought of to be mystical and spiritual in nature. There in the heart of these mountains is Daisho-in, a temple visited by Kūkai, an influential Buddhist monk of his time, after returning from China for study. There in Reikado hall, Kūkai lit what he hoped would become an eternal flame representing the pursuit of knowledge and training. This fire has continued to burn for the past 1200 years and was used as the source flame for the memorial flame at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.

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Saijo Sake Brewery Street

One of the three major sake producers, Saijo’s classy white-walled and red-bricked breweries

Located about 40 minutes away from Hiroshima on the JR San’yo line, close to Higashi-Hioshima/ Saijo station is what is known as the town’s “sake street”. The area is lined with traditional white-walled sake breweries and is a famous tourist spot as well as a top destination for sake enthusiasts. Currently, there are seven major breweries in the Higashi-Hiroshima’s “sake brewery street” area, in addition to many restaurants and sweet shops that showcase the locally made sake.

Once the first signs of fall begin, the quickly cooling weather of Saijo is perfect for the production of sake. The sweet smells of Sakamai (brewer’s rice) fill the air, and fans eagerly anticipate the completion of that year’s sake.

In general, Japanese sake is produced by using steamed rice which is mixed with kōji (malted rice) as yeast breaks down the sugars within. After this the fermentation process begins, and eventually results in a new batch of sake. For sake production to occur, the type of rice, water, and weather all play an important role. Sajio, which is blessed with good land and resources, has been producing sake since the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Currently, Saijo is part of the three major sake brewery towns across Japan, the others being Nada in Hyogo Prefecture and Fushimi in Kyoto.

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Exploring Onomichi on foot

Take a trip back in time along Onomichi’s cobble stoned paths and winding hills

Onomichi, an area surrounded by mountains and ocean. Set in the center of the Seto Inland Sea, Onomichi-suido is an old, prospering strait settled between the shores of Mukaishima Island, where merchant ships shuttle back and forth. Visitors here can experience a wide range of beautiful sites throughout the seasons. In spring, the cherry blossoms on Mt. Senkoji come into bloom, while in summer fireworks can be seen rising from Onomichi-suido. Come fall, the surrounding mountains are covered in a ray of beautiful colors from the changing of the leaves. The cobbled paved streets and winding hilly roads, along with surrounding shrines and temples, have all been used as background images in movies, and never fail to draw in eager photographers and travelers alike!

Once you eat your fill of famous Onomichi ramen, it’s recommended you get out and explore the countless hilly paths surrounding the area on foot. Many narrow paths are lined with old timey houses used as small shops, or lazy cats soaking up the sun’s rays. With a plethora of sweet shops and cafes, there’s no shortage of things to see and do!

In addition to exploring the city on foot, visitors to the area can also ascend to top of Mt. Senkoji Park by ropeway, glimpsing all the islands in the Seto Inland Sea, as well as the city of Onomichi.

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Shimanami Kaidō

Experience the breathtaking sites of the Geiyo Islands by bike

Shimanami Kaido, an expressway that connects the mainland of Japan to the island of Shikoku along the Seto Inland Sea. Visitors here can cross via the cycling path, which is renowned by both domestic and international cyclists alike.

For those wanting to attempt the cycling path, first you must travel from Onomichi City to Mukaishima by ferry, then continue past six islands and six bridges, towards Shikoku’s Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture. Each island has an established cycling path, ranging from beginner to advanced. A wide age range of cyclists visit the area, and it is often referred to as “The Cyclist’s Holy Land”. The designated cycling roads are clearly marked with blue markings, so cyclists don’t have to worry about getting lost and can enjoy it to the fullest.

Without a doubt, it can be said that the real charm of Shimanami Kaido lies within in the beauty of the islands surrounding it. On a clear day, under crystal blue skies, the islands appear to overlap each other and stretch out over a vast distance. The countless bridges that weave the islands together also create the optimal environment for enjoying the sites by bicycle. Along the path there are several bike rental shops, as well as rest stops, so you can take your time as you enjoy the sites of the ocean around you.

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Okonomiyaki

A treat for the five senses- Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki

Hiroshima’s Okonomiyaki is an experience that will engage your five senses, the soul food of the city! Watching skilled cooks pump out one after another, hearing the sizzle of the griddles, smelling the tangy sauce used, it’s all part of the experience when in Hiroshima.

For experienced okonomiyaki fans, using the tiny spatulas is always recommended. However, if it’s your first time, don’t worry- the staff will always be willing to slice it up for you. The piping hot okonomiyaki right off the grill is the perfect mix of noodles, cabbage, meat, and sauce that will fill your mouth with an explosion of flavor! The sweetness of the cabbage, the filling nature of the noodles, and the umami of the meat will leave you wanting more. So, when in Hiroshima, be sure to give this famous local food a try.

Each place has a secret sauce, or a slightly different way of preparing it which makes it unique to them. In a city where okonomiyaki shops are everywhere, it’s always fun to go around and compare different flavors. Do as the locals do, and head out and explore some okonomiyaki shops to find your favorite!

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Hiroshima Style Tsukemen (dipping noodles)

Red, spicy, and umami- Hiroshima style Tsukemen

The first thing you’ll notice about Hiroshima style tsukemen is its spicy looking, bright red sauce. Floating inside that ruby red sauce are chilled noodles topped with cabbage, green onions, and chashu (Japanese braised pork belly). As a final touch, a soft-boiled egg is also added as a final garnish.

The starchy noodles used in this dish are the perfect accompaniment to the spicy sauce and should be enjoyed together. However, the sauce is not just spicy for spicy’s sake, but rather a delicate balance of acidity, umami, and heat. To further enhance its flavor, cabbage and green onion are added in just the right amounts, helping add a slightly sweet flavor to the mix.

Alternating between noodles, cabbage, and noodles, it’s an addictive cycle that never stops! The perfect spicy dish for the heat of summer. Even in winter, hot broth makes this dish ideal too! Truly the perfect year-round food, a Hiroshima favorite!

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Momiji Manjū

A wide variety to choose from among Hiroshima’s go to souvenir- Momiji Manjū

The symbol of Hiroshima- the maple leaf tree. The name Momiji Manjū comes from Momijidani Park (a famous maple leaf valley) in Hatsukaichi / Miyajima and is a beloved souvenir from Hiroshima.

Momiji Manjū are traditionally comprised of a spongy batter, and sweet red bean filling. Many shops offer places to sit to eat freshly baked manjū, while others experiment with deep frying them. Both versions are extremely popular, and equally delicious!

In recent years, with the rise in popularity, a variety of new flavors have also been developed. Customers can choose from matcha, chocolate, cheese, custard, and more!

The smooth sweet red bean paste complements the sponge, giving it an air of elegance. While the rough sweet red bean paste offers more texture to the bite. Each type of red bean paste is a different experience. However, for those who might not prefer red bean paste, a wide variety of other flavors have been developed. Such as smooth chocolate, or refreshing cream cheese, each which add their own complement to the spongy batter.