Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Though diametrically opposed to joy and happiness, the Peace Memorial Park is most decidedly one of the best sights to see in Hiroshima. You will find the structure pictured above in this park, and you can walk right up to it to see the destruction up close. It’s a haunting reminder of the WW II horrors that beset Japan, but it’s also in a lovely park for strolling. Once you’ve seen the memorials and taken in all the Peace Memorial Museum has to offer, you’ll be ready to check out some other very worthwhile sights in the area.

What’s Hiroshima like today?

If you’re wondering whether Hiroshima is safe to live in today, rest assured it most certainly is. It’s also a much, much bigger city than it was in the days before the war hit home. In 1940, the city’s population was about 340,000 people. The latest official census (undertaken in 2015) showed a population of nearly 1.2 million! This home of Mazda and Daiso (the latter technically being in nearby “Higashi-Hiroshima City”) has grown to be quite the metropolis! This is all to say that, in addition to sights reliably appealing to visitors, Hiroshima is also a very well kitted out junior metropolis waiting for your pleasing enjoyment

This reconstructed castle is one of the best sights to see in Hiroshima

Hiroshima Castle
The castle’s unfinished wooden exterior is notable.

Local powers constructed Hiroshima Castle in the late 16th century, and at the time it was a grander spectacle. Unfortunately, the fateful bombing of Hiroshima laid waste to this treasure. What you see today was rebuilt in the 1950s, and with a good bit of concrete cheating in its bones. Don’t let that stop you from making a visit. The park containing the castle is pleasant during any season. It’s also located an easy walk from both the Peace Memoria and our next recommended stop, Shukkei-en Garden.

One of the best sights to visit in Hiroshima or any other city you may visit is, assuming one exists, its castle. The interiors vary in their authenticity, but there are almost always interesting historical relics on display. Further, it only makes sense that Japanese built castles atop hilltops. It also makes sense that you’ll want to climb up and enjoy the good views from the top.

Visit Shukkei-en Garden for classic pleasures

Shukkei-en Garden
A pleasant place to quietly celebrate the seasons.

Just an eight minute walk from Hiroshima Castle is Shukkei-en Garden, located along the Kyobashi River. Classic Japanese garden design elements are clearly visible here. The garden rings around a large central pond. “Borrowed” scenery and elevation tricks to make it seem like this garden is not in the middle of a large-ish city. The tea house contained within also offers a lovely respite from a busy day of sightseeing.

Shukkei-en recently celebrated its 400 year anniversary. That’s what we call some old growth! We highly recommend stopping by this low-crowd, high-value gem. And don’t forget to have some tea and a Japanese sweet while you’re there! Incidentally, it’s only a five minute walk to Hiroshima station from the garden. Hiroshima is very convenient like that.

Best sights to see in Hiroshima before eating them

Hiroshima’s version of Okonomiyaki is cabbage heavy all the tastier for it.

Yum! Nowadays, people are enjoying okonomiyaki around the world. But the variety most often appearing on foreign shores is the type from Osaka. The major difference between Hiroshima and Osaka’s take on okonomiyaki can be summed up in one word: cabbage. Osaka’s okonomiyaki is more pancake-like, but Hiroshima’s heavy use of cabbage makes for a lighter taste experience. You can enjoy okonomiyaki with seafood, meat, or even as a vegetarian. If your stomach gets to vote, this will clearly qualify as one of the best sights to see in Hiroshima!

Okonomi mura” is a fantastic choice if you’re looking to dig in to some local okonomiyaki. Up on the third floor, you’ll find a wall-to-wall packing of tiny okonomiyaki restaurants. The sights, smells, and sounds are likely to corral you on to one of the counter-front stools in no time! If you’re a meat eater, go with something porky. Seafood lovers will want to go with shrimp (prawn) and squid. When it comes time to eat, cut off pie-shaped wedges with the provided spatula, then bring the piece to your plate for some intimate devouring.

Ready for a drink?

Sake brewing area
Your sake experience will come with a side of history and brewing education.

If you’re into sake (Japanese rice wine), you’re going to love not just Hiroshima, but neighboring Yamaguchi Prefecture as well. Be sure to enjoy sake from both prefectures whenever possible (we like this store for tasting and buying bottles to go). The tastes you get in this part of Japan are distinctly different from the popular Nagano and Niigata types you often find in Tokyo and environs.

On the same JR train line that runs to Miyajima (but in the opposite direction) from Hiroshima station is Saijo. Just a few minutes’ walk from the station are a variety of sake breweries large and small – grab a map from the tourist office at the station before setting out – and many allow you to get quite up close and personal with sake production methods. Do be sure to visit Kamotsuru, a large operation which has well put together displays and a very informative quick theatre experience in English. Aside from that, you should just give yourself some time to wander about. You never know what interesting sight or flavor you might stumble upon!

We’d be remiss not to include this famous gate!

Miyajima's floating gate
The floating gate isn’t always floating.

The island of Miyajima is just a short ferry ride off the mainland, and any trip to Hiroshima is sure to include this destination. The island’s Itsukushima Shrine has a number of buildings on stilts connected by covered walkways. It also is the home of the famous floating (torii) gate pictured above. During high tide, it’s a more convincing floating act, but when the tide’s out the verdict is in. The land here in front of the shrine is shallow enough to allow for a complete exposure of the footings at low tide.

Optical illusions aside, Itsukushima Shrine is very much worthy of its status as one of the best sights to see in Hiroshima. And the wild deer roaming the island are always a crowd pleaser! Foodies will also rejoice in the very large assortment of ready-to-eat and take-home goodies on offer.

You’re going to need two days. You may just want three.

Did you think Hiroshima was just about the Peace Memorial and floating torii gate? Hopefully we’ve dispelled that myth! Hiroshima’s an easy going city with lots going for it. Do yourself a favor and don’t short-change the city on time. And if you’re looking for a great evening here, check out our popular night tour! Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>