Top 10 Things To Do In Hiroshima When Backpacking Japan

Hiroshima Japan
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Hiroshima is the main city of the Chugoku Region and has a population of over one million inhabitants. It is primarily known for the atomic bomb that was dropped on the city on August 6th, 1945. The power of the bomb ripped apart the city, making the site world-famous through unprecedented horror. When the bomb hit, the mushroom cloud stretched to a radius of two kilometers.

After the war, the local inhabitants worked tirelessly to rebuild the city. Many historic monuments that highlighted the cultural heritage of Japan have now been reconstructed.

To pay respect, many visitors now stroll through the Peace Memorial Park; located in the center of town. The city itself has recovered, however, the memories and impacts of the bomb can still be felt, with the peace park the ideal location for remembering the horrific day.


How to get to Hiroshima

train network
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The easiest way to get to Hiroshima is through the train network directly from Tokyo. The journey takes four hours on the direct Nozomi trains between the two cities. There is also an option to take Hikari and Sakura trains. However, those require you to change trains at the Shin-Osaka Station. If you do not reserve your seat, the cost of the fare is 18,040 yen. However, if you do reserve a seat, it saves you 18,500 yen on the Hikari and Sakura trains, or 19,000 yen on Nozomi trains. There is also an option to get yourself a Japan Rail Pass. This then allows multiple trips between cities in the country.

If you rather fly to Hiroshima, there are several flights departing Tokyo’s Haneda airport operated by UAL and ANA. The prices are higher than a train, however, take a short 90 minutes.


How to Travel Around Hiroshima

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Once you are in Hiroshima, you can make use of Japan’s largest tram network. There are trams that run to Miyajima-guchi; a port where ferries depart to Miyajima. Keep in mind that the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on trams. However, there are automated machines where you can purchase your tickets.

Now that you know the basics of how to get to and around Hiroshima, let’s check out the top things to do in Hiroshima.


Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Memorial
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The atomic bombing from the second world war will never be unwoven from the history of Hiroshima. This beautiful park was built as a reminder and memorial to the people who lost their lives that day. It covers an area of 120,000 square meters of trees, lawns, and walking paths. Before the atomic bomb hit the city, this area was the political and commercial hub of Hiroshima. This is why it was chosen as the pilot’s target. 

Make sure to take an afternoon to fully absorb the experience in this unique location. You will come face to face with accounts, information, and stories of the events that shaped this city forever. Be warned that it is a heartbreaking and intense experience, but it is an absolute must-do. The peace memorial park and museum is open 8:30 am to 5:00 pm daily and is certainly worth a visit.

You will also see the A-bomb Dome which is known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, is one of the still-standing remains after the bomb explosion on august the 6th. It is now marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stark reminder of the sad history.


Itsukushima Shrine

Shrine Temple Japan
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This shrine is known worldwide for its exquisite beauty and fine architecture. It is the site of many traditional rite ceremonies. Also, it has brought people to worship for several centuries. It was constructed on an island and the area is sacred; declared a World Heritage Site in 1996.

To get the best view of the shrine, visit it as the sun rises or during the golden hour just before sunset. The colors are particularly vibrant, and the crowds are smaller.


Hiroshima Miyajima Island
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The scenic Miyajima Island attracts thousands of visitors every day who wander through the beautiful green forests. The official name of the island is Itsukushima, commonly referred to as Miyajima which in Japanese means “shrine island”. The temples are relics from ancient times where Buddhist people would come to worship.

It is particularly a picturesque place to visit in the fall. This is because there is a fantastic water fireworks festival every August. The island itself is less than an hour’s ferry ride outside the city of Hiroshima. It is most well-known for its giant torii gate which during high tide has the appearance of floating on water.


Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle
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If you are a fan of traditional Japanese architecture, then you will love this fantastic castle built in 1589. It was constructed as a vital government center for the Hiroshima region. The atomic bomb in 1945, unfortunately, destroyed the original castle, However, it was rebuilt in the same location. While it no longer has the impressive historic value from the original castle, the magnificence and grandiosity are still perfectly captured.

Unlike most castles built on top of mountains, the Hiroshima castle was constructed in the center of the city. To reach it, you need to cross a moat that surrounds the castle grounds. You can climb the castle stairs to see spectacular views of the gardens and the city below.

Another spot worth visiting in the spring or autumn to get the full garden colors on display. The whole area provides a fantastic place for a walk and photography.


Mazda Museum

Hiroshima Japan
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A small change of pace from the other historic attractions on this list, the Mazda museum allows you a view of the corporate headquarters and the assembly line. The process of making a car is fascinating. Many tourists enjoy the guided tour through the assembly line and the development center for Mazda.

This is a great activity to do on a day with bad weather. However, while it is free, you need to make reservations by phone or email. Check out their website to find out more information and opening hours.


Shimanami Kaido Expressway

Hiroshima Japan
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For a little bit of a change of pace, why not grab a bike and ride around the Shimanami expressway. This beautiful bike route passes across the ocean and the many islands in the area; giving you a unique perspective on the area. There are plenty of bike rental shops available along the expressway. However, the path is also accessible by pedestrians or even by cars.


Visit Onomichi

Onomichi Hiroshima
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Located on the coast of Seto Inland Sea, Onomichi is a small town with beautiful buildings and ancient temples. It has been a commercial hub for centuries with smiling people and bustling streets. The locals here are always ready to welcome you into the community.

Because of its stunning location, proximity to hot springs and stunning beaches, this town has become home to many famous Japanese artists, writers, and poets.


Mitaki Dera Temple

Mitaki Dera Hiroshima
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Yet another stunning Buddhist temple located in downtown Hiroshima. The temple is surrounded by astonishing beauty; providing a fantastic opportunity for you to get away from busy city life by enjoying the quiet atmosphere.

The temple grounds surrounding the Mitaki Dera temple are filled with waterfalls, green fields, and Buddhist statues. It is a worthwhile destination to spend an afternoon in, basking in the serenity and wandering through the gardens.

The temple is open every day from 8 am, with closing hours varying from 5:00 – 5:30 pm. However, this also depends on the season. Entry to the temple is free.


Mount Haigamine

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For another stunning view of Hiroshima City, you must not miss making the journey to the top of Mount Haigamine. It has been voted as one of the top three nightscapes in the whole of Japan. The panoramic view from the top is truly breathtaking and allows you to experience romance in Japan.

It is also a great destination to practice photography as the surrounding islands of Hiroshima twinkle in the night. Access to the mountain is free with plenty of lovely spots for a picnic to enjoy the view.


Miyajima Ropeway

Miyajima Ropeway
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This attraction will truly give you incomparable views of the region. You will be able to see all of Hiroshima from 500 meters above sea level in a gondola. As you explore the Miyajima Ropeway, you will also get magnificent views of the Miyajima ancient forest and the Seto Inland Sea. This includes views of the temples, sculptures, and cityscape.

The ropeway itself is not for the faint-hearted, as it gives you the impression that you are walking on air. You can reach it from Mt Misen after approximately an hour hike. From there you can take a cable car across the water to the observatory at Shishiiwa Station.

The Gondola closes at 5 or 5:30 pm. So make sure you reach it before it closes down unless you want to hike.


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