With a bit over 1 million inhabitants, Hiroshima does not make the top 10 of Japans biggest cities, however it is in my personal top 3 of places to visit in Japan. Hiroshima’s inhabitants are friendly and outgoing, the local food is excellent and the atmosphere in the city is buzzing and upbeat.
There are so many things to do, see and eat in Hiroshima. I compiled a top 5 of must do’s.
YOU HAVEN’T VISITED HIROSHIMA, IF YOU DIDN’T:
1. Visit the Peace Museum:
Learn about the atomic bombing and the sheer tragedy involved. Though very moving and certainly not fun, the museum is a must visit for everybody: it takes you through the history of the city until the build up to the war and the dropping of the A-bomb on August the 6th, 1945. Models of the city before and after the bomb show the extent of the destruction. The Peace museum should be the first thing on your itinerary in Hiroshima.
Admission: 50 Yen
From Hiroshima Station, take tram line 2 or 6 to Genbaku-Domu Mae
2. Walk around the Peace Memorial Park with the A-Bomb Dome
After we’ve visited the museum, we walked around the Peace Memorial Park and got ‘interrogated ‘ by several slightly nervous and giggling Japanese school kids, who, as part of a school trip, asked some questions in English (what’s your name? Do you like Hiroshima?). This turned out to be a good remedy to shake the heavy feeling we took away from the museum.
The A-Bomb Dome, probably Hiroshima’s most famous landmark, is located in the Peace Memorial Park. The building used to be an Exhibition Hall constructed in 1915 and became the symbol of both tragedy and hope (for peace). The A-Bomb exploded almost directly above the building which is the reason why the building is still standing.
3. Sample local beers at Japanese Craft Beer Cafe Raku.
Though the craft beer scene in Hiroshima is not as big as in Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka (though Hiroshima has its own Microbeer festival and Oktoberfest) the city holds one of the best bars I’ve been to in Japan: Raku Beer.
Rake beer is one the few bars specializing in Japanese craft beer (check out my Japan Craft Beer blog). They serve craft beers from all over Japan, including Kaigunsan, Hiroshima’s own. They also offer a beer tasting, which allows you to select 3 different craft beers from the menu (ask for advice, these guys know their beers) and start sampling!
Address: 3-3 Mikawacho Naka-Ku, Hiroshima
4. Eat Okonomiyaki
Japan is known for having an excellent cuisine, with fresh fish, delicious meat and tasty noodles. However, the one dish you should eat is the Japanese equivalent to pancake (or pizza) and is known to be the real Japanese soul food: Okonomiyaki!
Okonomiyako is a layered pancake cooked on a hotplate and contains pork or fish, eggs, cabbage, noodles and various other ingredients such as dried fish powder, tempera, onions, kimchi or even oysters, depending on in which of the 200 (!) Okonomiyaki shops you find yourself in.
No matter which shop you choose, try to take a seat at the hotplate where the chefs are preparing the dishes (in the back of the restaurant) and enjoy the show, whilst getting light headed from the local sake. A culinary evening to never forget is in the making!
5. Watch a game of Hiroshima’s baseball heroes: The Carp
Hiroshima inhabitants are known to be outgoing, social and enthusiastic. You can add fanatic to that as well. When we visited Hiroshima we noticed that the whole city was red: people on the street wore red Carp jerseys, kids waved with red Carp flags, there were Carp posters and banners in the station, airport, malls, everywhere we looked…When we asked the Irish owner of the Molly Malone’s Pub (happy hour from 17.00-19.00 and a great place to watch Premier league and..the Hiroshima Carp) about all this enthusiasm, he replied that the Hiroshima Carp have the most passionate fans in Japan. By coincidence, they happened to play a baseball game that night. He suggested (or better: insisted) that we watch a game in the stadium as the atmosphere is electric. Unfortunately, we were too late to buy tickets for that night, so we didn’t get to experience it ourselves. However, when seeing a fanatic Irishman supporting a Japanese baseball team, we started to get the idea: when in Hiroshima, you are a Carp fan.
WHERE TO STAY IN HIROSHIMA
There are plenty of nice places to stay in Hiroshima, ranging from hostels (such as J-hoppers) to stylish hotels. We stayed in K’s House hostel, convenient located on walking distance to all main sights and the JR station.
TIP! Extend your stay in Hiroshima with a visit to Miyajima island:
Hiroshima in one day is doable, however, try to schedule in at least two (preferably three) days, as you should not miss Miyajima, the magical island near Hiroshima, easily reachable by ferry and one of Natalie’s favorite places in Japan.
Read more about Miyajima in our upcoming Miyajima blog!
More practical information about Hiroshima: