Although it was the place of an unspeakable disaster at the end of World War II, Hiroshima today is a modern, bustling city with plenty to offer. It is a major industrial center, with more than one million people living in it. Following the atomic bomb drop, the city was completely rebuilt and reinvigorated, with some of the main sights being recreated, too. Thanks to those efforts, the bomb is now a distant memory, but a memory that will never be forgotten. The story of Hiroshima is a story of human perseverance and survival, so spending one day here is definitely going to be inspiring. Come and explore this amazing place!
The best time to visit the city of Hiroshima would be in spring (April to early June) or in fall (October and November). Hiroshima’s summers are quite hot and humid, which can take away from the experience, whereas the winters are relatively cold but fairly quiet. So, maybe consider the colder period too, if spring or fall is no good for you.
Cherry blossoms are in full swing at the start of April, which is when you will get big crowds of tourists. Then comes the Hiroshima Flower Festival, usually at the beginning of May, during Japan’s Golden Week. This huge celebration of peace and nature is the biggest event in the city, and you really should go and visit it if you can.
Toukasan in June is also a big festival, and its incredible history goes back no less than four centuries! Sumiyoshi Shrine Festival is scheduled in June, whereas the Ebisu-Taisai Festival in November rounds up the three biggest shrine festivals in the city. There is plenty to experience and enjoy, that’s for sure!
As you probably know, Hiroshima was the first city to experience an atomic bomb being detonated against it (the only other city was Nagasaki, three days later). This happened on August 6, 1945, and it is estimated that a quarter of the city’s 250,000 people at the time perished in the attack. Another quarter is estimated to have been injured.
Every year on August 6, the city holds a special ceremony in the morning, to pay respect to the victims of the attack. It is open to everyone, so you can visit it if you’re there on that date.
Today, Hiroshima is home to almost 1,2 million people and is considered to be the capital city of the Chugoku Region on Honshu Island. It is a relatively young city, being only founded in the 16th century.
The name Hiroshima means “wide island”, which is fitting seeing how it is located in the place where the Ota River meets the Seto Inland Sea.
There are no traces of radiation from the atomic bomb in the city today, and you can safely visit it without any concerns. In fact, the city is exceptionally safe and the crime rate is very low.
You are about to visit a city that has a very special place in Japanese history. Prepare to be amazed by its story and the sights you will get to see here. Without any doubt, one day in Hiroshima will be a very special day, indeed. Here are the best things to do and see while in town.
You know what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, why not start your day here with a nice meal? And a traditional Japanese breakfast seems like just the thing! However, the Japanese take their breakfast seriously, so this kind of breakfast consists of rice, miso soup, and vegetables. Fish and egg dishes are also fairly common, so it really is a hearty meal.
Unkai is a good place to experience this, but if you would prefer something we from the West usually enjoy in the morning, you should check out Morgan or Ruhe Brasil. They both serve excellent breakfasts (eggs, toast, coffee, pancakes, the lot) and are close to the main Hiroshima sights.
Once you’re done with your breakfast, proceed to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This is where the story of the city’s fate after the atomic bomb dropped is told.
The park itself has been constructed in what was once a busy central district of the city. However, after the attack, there was literally nothing left here, just a huge gaping hole. The fact that a park dedicated to the victims has been built here sends a strong message of the human spirit overcoming even the most disastrous of calamities.
You will see many monuments and museums across the park, and it’s worth noting that the main memorial ceremony on August 6 each year is held here. Do not miss it if you happen to visit Hiroshima on that day!
If there’s one museum you have to visit while here, it’s the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. This magnificent place has been around since 1955, and the exhibits on display are deeply moving and carry a profound message of universal peace and understanding.
You will be able to see and hear the stories of the people who had to live through this horrible day and its consequences, as well as see some interesting everyday objects that tell the tragic stories of the victims. Finally, though, there is an exhibition centering on the city’s reconstruction and gradual return to normal life.
There is a small fee to pay to enter the museum, but it’s well worth the price. Furthermore, you can pick up an audio guide, but there are free volunteers to guide you around, too.
For a vivid demonstration of how powerful an atomic bomb is, just walk over to the Atomic Bomb Dome. What was initially constructed as an exhibition place is now the only building left standing in the bomb’s ground zero.
What is fascinating about it is that it has been left pretty much intact after the bomb hit, including the rubble. So, if you imagine that everything else that used to be in the place of the memorial part was wiped out completely, you get a clear sense of the power that was unleashed here.
The dome was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
At this point, you will probably be wondering if there’s a good place for lunch nearby. Fortunately, there is plenty to choose from.
Nagataya definitely must be mentioned here because it’s a place famous for its okonomiyaki. Hassei boasts a great okonomiyaki too, so whichever restaurant you choose, you can’t go wrong if you want to taste what is a staple dish in the city. Cafe Ponte serves Italian dishes in a wonderful setting, and Graffity is a pretty good Mexican place.
Something for everyone, that’s for sure.
Slightly north of the memorial park, you will find the beautiful Hiroshima Castle. It’s not very far, so it’s a perfect next stop in your itinerary. And the location is quite beautiful too, seeing how the castle rises above water and trees.
The original castle was built at the end of the 16th century, but it was destroyed after the bomb dropped. However, this meticulously crafted reconstruction does justice to the original and vividly shows the beauty of this type of architecture.
In fact, if this type of architecture interests you, you’ll be happy to know that the museum inside has loads of information on this and other Japanese castles. You will also be able to learn a lot about the city’s history, which is a fascinating tale in and of itself.
And now for something slightly different. Mazda, one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, has its headquarters in Hiroshima. Naturally, there is a Mazda Museum to explore too, and this will be a welcome break from the city’s history in your itinerary.
You will be able to explore the company’s 100-year history and take a look at some of the most important models that made this company what it is today. You will also be able to see some much less-known models, which is bound to excite any car enthusiast and make you feel like a child marveling at all these fascinating models.
This stop is definitely something to consider if you have kids along with you, and you can easily reach the museum if you hop onto the San-Yo Line at Shin-Hakushima Station near the castle. You will enjoy a nice 20-minute ride through the city (to Mukainada Station), but with a car, this trip takes about 10 minutes, so a taxi is certainly an option if you don’t have your vehicle.
Before you wrap up your one day in Hiroshima, take a break in the beautiful Shukkeien Garden and just let all these things you saw sink in. It really would be a shame not to include a Japanese garden in this itinerary, so this seems like the perfect way to get some energy back before an evening in the city.
The garden is simply stunningly beautiful as it copies various beautiful sceneries in a smaller format. You will see small forests and mountains, all of which can be thoroughly enjoyed if you just follow the trail through the park. You will also find plenty of tea houses there, which are ideal places for a breather.
Not too far from the garden is Mount Futaba. Climb it for a spectacular view of the city! In addition, the sun should be setting right about now, so you will have quite a spectacle in front of you. Mind you, coming here at night is also a great idea.
On Mount Futaba, you will also find Peace Pagoda, another monument dedicated to world peace. It was built by Nichidatsu Fujii, a Buddhist monk who was so inspired by meeting Mahatma Gandhi that he built this pagoda and many, many others across the world.
Hiroshima has so much to offer once the sun sets, and you have plenty to choose from when it comes to entertainment. Head over to the downtown area which is full of great restaurants, bars, and shops. If you’d like to do some shopping, Hiroshima Hondori Shotengai is the street you will certainly want to visit.
Nagarekawa Street is also a fantastic choice for a night in Hiroshima as it is full of restaurants, nightclubs, and all sorts of fun places. You’ll be amazed by all the neon lights here, and there is always something new to discover. The perfect way to end your visit!
Where to stay in Hiroshima?
7300043 Hiroshima, Hiroshima, 11-12 Fujimicho, Naka-ku,, Japan
For five-star accommodation in Hiroshima, Hilton Hiroshima is the best choice. This wonderful modern hotel has a pool, a sauna, and a 24-hour gym, plus there’s a bar and several types of breakfast you can enjoy. The rooms are incredibly spacious and comfortable, with walk-in showers and loads of amenities. Add to that a great location in the city center but outside of the busiest areas, and you get a perfect package for a hotel.
Hotel Granvia Hiroshima
732-0822 Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Minami-ku Matsubaracho 1-5, Japan
If you would like to travel outside of the city, Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is the perfect choice because it is connected to a bullet train station. But that’s just one of the perks – Michelin has rated this place with three stars, so there certainly is a lot to enjoy. Several amazing restaurants, comfortable rooms that even have a trouser press, and a beautiful view of the city will blow you away. Bus, tram, and metro are also easily accessible from here, so you will be able to explore the city with ease.
KIRO Hiroshima by THE SHARE HOTELS
730-0029 Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Naka-ku Mikawacho 3-21, Japan
KIRO Hiroshima by THE SHARE HOTELS is an absolutely beautiful place to stay with an interior that will leave you speechless. Natural light and greenery permeate the hotel, and the location couldn’t be more central. The rooms are also extremely comfortable, plus there are many interesting places you can explore around the hotel. A continental breakfast is available too, so what you’re getting here is excellent value for your money. Enjoy your stay!
730-0037 Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Naka-ku Naka-machi 4-16, Japan
For those of you looking for the best hostel in the city, WeBase Hiroshima is THE best place to book a stay in. It is located close to a lot of the most important sights, which can all be reached on foot. Family rooms are available on the property, and the breakfast you get is very, very good. The people running the place take extra care to keep it perfectly clean, and you even get complimentary PJs along with the toiletries. In short, a great hostel!
Spending more than one day in Hiroshima? Then consider organizing at least one day trip from the city. Japan is an absolutely stunning country, and Honshu Island is no exception, so do try to make some time to explore it. Here are a few suggestions with which you certainly cannot go wrong.
This is without any doubt the perfect day trip for any nature lover. The beauty of Sandankyo Gorge cannot be overstated and is a stark contrast to the busy city life of Hiroshima. You can reach the place by bus which takes about 80 minutes if you take the express bus. The hiking trails here are incredible, and in the warmer part of the year, you can hop on a boat and enjoy a meal in the local restaurant.
The main thing to see on Miyajima Island is the incredible Floating Torii Gate, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is quite a sight to behold because the massive gate seems to be floating during high tide. You can actually rent out a kayak and examine it up close, but the island actually has many other things you can enjoy, from hiking trails to shopping venues, so the day you spend here will be full of activities.
If you want to learn more about Japanese art and culture, heading to Naoshima is the perfect day trip from Hiroshima. There is an incredible amount of museums and art installations on this small island, and you can even get a guided tour to really sink your teeth into all of that. Just don’t go on a Monday since the museums are closed.
Now this is something a bit different because Kurashiki is an old merchant canal town. The place exudes a very different vibe compared to Hiroshima, and some of the buildings here are centuries old. You can just get lost in the alleys and explore as much as you want, and there are some quite interesting museums to visit, too. So, if you want to get to know Japan just a little bit better, this is the perfect day trip!
- As mentioned before, you don’t have to worry about the radiation from the atomic bomb. This dissipated long ago.
- Okonomiyaki is by far the most popular dish in the city. Make sure you try it while you’re here!
- Baseball is the number one sport here. If you want to engage in friendly chit-chat with the locals, just ask how the Hiroshima Carps are doing. The locals are extremely passionate when it comes to this team!
- Tap water should be drinkable in the city. However, you can easily purchase bottled water, too.
- Tips are usually not accepted in Japan, so don’t be surprised if someone refuses them.
- “Arigato” means thank you and saying this when a service is provided will be much appreciated. Try “Konnichiwa!” if you want to say hello to a local.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.