Hiroshima: Top 10 Things To Do
It is said that the first settlers of what was now Hiroshima came during the 6th or 7th centuries. In 1589, it started to prosper under the feudal lord Mori Terumoto, who foresaw the castle’s construction and gave the city its current name. Many events happened to the city ever since, but perhaps the most notable in the entire history of Hiroshima is on August 6, 1945, when an atomic bomb – the first nuclear attack in human history – decimated a large area of the city.
After the war, the city underwent rigorous recovery and development. Today Hiroshima is more lively, more attractive and more appealing. So we listed ten things that you can do during your visit here:
1. RIDE THE HIRODEN STREET CARS
One of the most effective rides and mode of transportation in Hiroshima are the Hiroden trams. This tram network serves major parts of the city, including some of Hiroshima’s tourist spots and as well as the sacred island of Miyajima. Fitted with modern equipment and safety features, you will surely enjoy the ride.
At least two streetcars that survived the atomic bombings are still in operation. Though they are no longer used for commuting, they are still used as tourist trams. Hiroden trams were back in (albeit limited) service only three days after the blast, and they are seen as symbols of rejuvenation of survival by residents.
Hiroden (short for Hiroshima Dentetsu 広島電鉄, or Hiroshima Railway), started operating in 1910. Aside from trams, they also operate a fleet of buses serving the city and suburbs.
- Admission: Ticket Price depends on the distance
2. SHOP TILL YOU DROP AT HONDORI
If Osaka has Dotonbory and Nagoya has Osu-Shopping Street, Hiroshima has its own Hondori. It is a pedestrian arcade lined with shops and restaurants. A wide range of shops and amenities such as thrift shops, bookstores, apparels, banks, gaming, and even high-end shops are found in this downtown district. There are restaurants and fast foods where you can take a break from (window) shopping.
- Admission: Free
3. GRAB A BITE OF OKONOMIYAKI AT OKONOMI-MURA
We have our first taste of okonomiyaki in Osaka where it originated. We found out that Hiroshima has its own variant, you can taste one in a spot in Hondori – in Okonomimaru. Meaning ‘Okonomiyaki village’ in Japanese, this food park is devoted to okonomiyaki. You have to choose among the wide range of restaurants and food stalls that serves it.
4. LEARN THE SAMURAI CULTURE AT HIROSHIMA CASTLE
One of the elegant castles that we saw for its wooden exteriors. Its main keep houses the museum on the history of Hiroshima and the Samurai culture. Several artifacts like swords, armor, and weapons are displayed here. You can actually touch – and try to lift – some of the swords, and you can take your own photos wearing a full samurai gear.
- Admission: Y370
5. TAKE A BREAK AND RELAX AT SHUKKEIEN GARDEN
After taking a long walk, the Shukkeien Garden awaits you. Among those ravaged by the atomic bombing of 1945, this 17th-century miniature garden was restored in its original landscape. It now has a different variety of plants, pond, streams, islets, and bridges, perfect for photo-ops. Whether for a short visit or a whole-day stay, the garden is a lovely and tranquil place that you can enjoy while strolling. There are also information signages telling its history and how it was restored. Don’t forget to spend Y100 for the food to fee the koi and turtles which you will surely enjoy.
- Admission: Y250
6. RENT A BIKE AND EXPLORE THE CITY
Hiroshima is not a bike-friendly city, as it lacks proper bicycle parking; perhaps because they already have streetcars that connect to almost any point in the city. Nevertheless, you will enjoy more in exploring the city further when using the bicycle, especially in the rural areas.
- Hiroshima Community Cycle
- Nippon Rent-A-Car
- Free Bird
Furthermore, most hotels are offering bicycle rental services.
- Rental Fee: Y800-1000 per day
7. HAVE A PEACEFULL STROLL AT HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL PARK
Before the bombing, this spot is the center of commerce and military of Hiroshima. It is one of the reasons why it was chosen as a target. Four years after the bombing, the site was never rebuilt; instead, it was dedicated to serve as a memorial along with some surviving structures. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, covering an area of more than 120,000 sq.m., is dedicated to the victims of the tragic nuclear attack where more than 140,000 died in the explosion itself and in its aftermath, as well as in pursuit of world peace.
While walking along the pathway, you can see lots of monuments and statues as you pass by. Each one of them is dedicated to a particular individual or group. Afterward, you can also visit some of the structures that survived, such as the Rest House, Aioi Bridge, and the Genbaku Dome.
- Admission: Free
8. FOLD AND PLACE A CRANE AT CHILDREN’S PEACE MONUMENT
Around the Children’s Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Peace Park are folded paper cranes of different color. Made in the traditional Japanese art of paper folding called origami, paper cranes are now seen as symbols of peace. The tradition of making paper cranes originated from a girl named Sadako Sasaki, who died of leukemia she contracted from the after-effects of the bomb. She believed that folding a thousand paper cranes will help her heal. Her death leads to the development of the Children’s Peace Monument, dedicated to the child victims of the blast, and in pursuit of peace. Anyone can place a paper crane and write a message of peace.
- Admission: Free
9. LEARN MORE ABOUT A-BOMB AT HIROSHIMA PEACE MUSEUM
Built and opened to the public in 1955 to raise awareness on the harsh reality of the atomic bomb and to advocate world peace. There are interactive displays and audio-visual presentations for better understanding. And for further learning, interactive displays are available in different languages (yes, including Tagalog). Damaged items and even clothes of the victims are displayed here. Even without captions, you can easily understand and feel the horror captured in the photographs about the blast. You can also see the letters and documents about the development and deployment of the atomic bomb.
There is a section dedicated to the abolishment of nuclear weapons and in an unwavering campaign for world peace. After your visit, it will be most unlikely that you will not yourself be advocating for peace.
- Admission: Y200
10. VISIT THE GENBAKU DOME AND PAY A TRIBUTE
The atomic bomb is synonymous with Hiroshima, being the first city to be hit with such weapon, and your visit will never be complete without going to the Genbaku Dome, or the Atomic Bomb Dome. The preserved ruins of the damaged building, previously known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, is the only building that survived in the hypocenter zone. A UNESCO World Heritage landmark, it symbolizes the horror the city experienced and the peace that it pursued. It is impossible that your emotions not be moved by the spectacle.
We recommend visiting the place in the evening. The dome is beautifully reflected by the river. The view is mesmerizing to watch especially in complete silence, but behind it is a bitter experience.
- Admission: Free
BONUS: ISLAND ADVENTURE IN MIYAJIMA
Literally meaning ‘Island of Worship’, it is a place that you must never miss while in Hiroshima. A UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 1996, the island itself was worshipped in the ancient times. The mystical island is home to the famous floating Torii, Itsukushima Shrine, Daoshin Temple, Five Story Pagoda, and many other smaller shrines and temples.
From Hiroshima Station, you can reach the place in less than an hour.