The name of Hiroshima, on the western end of Japan’s main island of Honshu, is inevitably linked to the dropping of the nuclear bomb over the city at the end of the Second World War in 1945. Short of being the end of Hiroshima, the primary city of Chugoku Region made impressive attempts to bounce back from this tragedy, and is now home to a million people. What is Hiroshima famous for today? What can you see if you visit the city? Let’s find out with our top 10!

1. Peace Memorial Park

The area now occupied by this 120,000 square metre green space was once the commercial heart of Hiroshima – which made it the target point for the American B29 bomber aircraft called Enola Gay and its nuclear arsenal on August 6 1945. Rather than rebuild, it was decided to leave the area as a memorial garden, striking a strong contrast to the tower blocks that surround it. A humbling place, it includes a cenotaph which contains a book with the names of 220,000 victims of the blast, and the modernist structures of the Peace Memorial Museum, which concentrates on the events of that fateful day.

2. Hiroshima Dome

One of the few buildings within the centre of Hiroshima that survived the nuclear blast, the Hiroshima Dome sits on the edge of the Peace Memorial Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ghostly shell of a building, then the area’s Industrial Promotion Hall, acts as a powerful link with the history of what Hiroshima is famous for, and is worth a few moments of contemplation and consideration as you make your way around the city’s main sites.

3. Shukkeien Garden

Roughly translating as ‘shrunken scenery garden’, Shukkeien Garden takes the Japanese tradition of miniature bonsai trees to the next level. Its gardeners work tirelessly to recreate the magic of the country’s natural landscapes on a smaller scale, with lakes, forests, mountains, and valleys all represented. One of the best ways of getting the most out of the garden, which first dates back to 1620, is to relax in one of the tea houses dotted around the main pond and enjoy a delicate cup of Japan’s national drink.

4. Downtown Hiroshima

The thriving, colourful downtown area may not be what Hiroshima is famous for to some, however exploring the busy streets of this area of the city is undoubtedly one of the best ways of getting to grips with the modern city. Here you’ll find a blend of office blocks built during Hiroshima’s post-war reconstruction, and a range of shopping opportunities, from the larger department stores on Aioi Street, to the traffic-free shopping arcade of Hondori Street. Easily accessible by tram, downtown Hiroshima is a wonderful place to stroll amid the bustle and take in contemporary Hiroshima at its most enveloping.

5. Okonomiyaki

The food delicacy that Hiroshima is famous for is Okonomiyaki, which is so important to the city that is has its own dedicated quarter – Okonomimura. Close to the eastern side of Hondori Street, this ‘Okonomiyaki Village’ is home to a cluster of restaurants focussing on the foodstuff. So what can you expect? The base around which Okonomiyaki revolves is a savoury pancake containing a choice of ingredients added to the batter before its cooked into the pancake. Typical ingredients include cabbage and pork, alongside the dish’s special topping sauce.

6. Mazda Factory and Museum

Another way of seeing the modern face of Hiroshima is by paying a visit to the city’s Mazda car factory and museum. Founded in Hiroshima in 1920, the company is now known throughout the world for its vehicles, with locals proud that this is one of the things that Hiroshima is famous for. Tours are held in English and Japanese, and take visitors through Mazda’s century of innovation. They last approximately 90 minutes, and end at the shop where Mazda-branded items can be purchased.

7. Hiroshima Castle

The fairy tale edifice of Hiroshima Castle rises out of the surrounding parkland in a series of peaked roofs that narrow pagoda-like towards its top. While first dating to 1589, when it was constructed on the orders of a powerful feudal lord called Mori Terumoto, this castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945, and what visitors see today is a faithful recreation. Beyond its moat are some pleasant Japanese gardens, with the structure itself home to the castle museum. The castle keep offers up some impressive views across the city.

8. Itsukushima Shrine

A short train ride away from central Hiroshima, Itsukushima Shrine sits on the large Miyajima Island in Hiroshima Bay and is considered one of the most important religious sites in Japan. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the attractions that Hiroshima is famous for as a result, records for the shrine date right back to 800 AD. Dedicated to the daughters of the Shinto wind god Susanoo, it is particularly stunning during the high tide, when the red lacquer posts are reflected in the still waters of the bay.

9. Hiroshima Museum of Art

Formed of eight gallery spaces, the curving walls of the Hiroshima Museum of Art honour Hiroshima Dome, and were laid in just 1978 on the edge of the city’s Central Park. With a collection that spans Japanese artworks from the Meji period to the present day, and European art centred around the French impressionists, the impressive catalogue of paintings includes the works of Monet, Renoir, and Degas, as well as van Gogh and Picasso. The Café Jardin looks out over the beautifully-cared for grounds, offering hot drinks, sandwiches, and sake cake!

10. Memorial Cathedral of World Peace

Though officially known as the Assumption of Mary Cathedral, this religious structure is best known to many as the Memorial Cathedral of World Peace. One of the largest catholic churches in Asia, it was the brainchild of Hugo Lassalle, a Jesuit priest who managed to survive the atomic bomb blast. With a brutalist external design created by Japanese architect Togo Murano, the interior acts as a quiet place to rest and admire the international collaborative work that brought the cathedral into being.

Now you know what Hiroshima is famous for!

There’s no denying that the first thought that comes to many when you mention Hiroshima is the atomic bomb attack of 1945. However, while that event played a major role in the recent history of the city, Hiroshima’s wide range of attractions mean that what Hiroshima is famous for spans a much greater expanse.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    thank you for your great article and blog it makes my day

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