Japan is a beautiful island nation that is steeped in history and culture and is also home to one of the world’s busiest cities – Tokyo. However, there are many other wonderful destinations across the country, one of which is Hiroshima.
You may be more familiar with the devastation that the city experienced when it was severely bombed in the second world war but the modern-day city is rather different.
Many visitors to Japan make the most of the country’s small landmass and often spend a shorter period of time in each place to make the most out of all the country has to offer.
In this article, I will be sharing my ideal itinerary for one day in Hiroshima.
A Brief Introduction To Hiroshima
Japan is made up of thousands of islands, most of which are so small that they are not fit for habitation. However, there are four main islands and the city of Hiroshima is located on the largest of these, named Honshu.
The city is now home to around 2 million people but started its life as a small castle town in the late 1500s. However, from its humble beginnings, the town soon flourished and by the late 1800s was a massive hub for industry, earning it the title of city.
In August 1945, the city was fatally hit by an atomic bomb which left it in a state of utter ruin. However, over time, the city was rebuilt and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial was erected to serve as a reminder of the tragic events of the second world war. This is now one of the most notable monuments in the city and is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Why Are Tourists Attracted To Hiroshima?
One of the major attractions for tourists to the area falls into the category of ‘dark tourism’ where people travel to notable sites of tragedy – whilst this is quite macabre, there is little denying that the Japanese city does have this draw. What’s more, despite the dark events of it’s past, this aspect of the city keeps the memory of those whose lives were lost, alive and reminds us of the importance of peace.
Hiroshima has delightfully warm summers and cooler winters, thanks to these pleasant seasons, the area is home to many annual festivals which is a further draw to the 2 million tourists who flock to the city every year.
Music lovers often head to European cities to experience orchestral events, but Hiroshima has one of the most widely renowned symphony orchestras on the planet. And if it’s culture that you are looking for, the city is also home to many notable museums and cultural events that take place throughout the year.
Hiroshima is a diverse city with much to offer every taste – with some excellent sporting teams and wonderful cuisine, it is little wonder that so many people want to spend their vacation here.
What To Do With One Day In Hiroshima
Owing to the huge amount of things to see and do in this versatile city, cramming it all into a day can be a challenge. For this reason, it is important that you make a decision on the things that you really want to see and include these in your itinerary.
For me, a day that is varied and allows you to make the most of everything on offer is the best way to soak up the culture and way of life here. I have created this guide to one day in Hiroshima with that in mind.
With just one day to fit everything in, it’s crucial that you make an early start and in a city like Hiroshima, you won’t be pressed to find plenty of early morning activities to start the day off right.
Hiroshima Peace Park
Even if you were blissfully unaware of the tragedy that struck the city in World War II, after reading the beginning of this article, you will likely now understand the importance of it in terms of the history of the city.
The peace park is a great way to begin your journey around the area and has many tranquil areas for reflection, which of course, is ideal for first thing in the morning.
There are various monuments here, one of the most notable being the memorial to all of those whose lives were lost in the disaster. Here, you will also see the atomic bomb dome which is a building in ruins, as it was left after the attack.
The park was designed by the famous Japanese architect, Kenzo Tange and the diverse range of features including the traditional Japanese style bridge gives you a real insight into the history and culture of this wonderful place.
It would be quite easy to spend the entire morning here, but if you’re pressed for time, an hour is more than sufficient.
Hiroshima Memorial Museum
Located next to the peace park is the memorial museum, which as you can imagine, continues along the theme of peace and remembering the events of the war.
The museum opens as early as 8:30 am on a weekday, so if you’re a really early riser and have already checked out the park before this, you can get a headstart on the day. Another great advantage of visiting at this time of day is that you will avoid the many school groups that use the museum as a popular field trip destination.
The aim of the museum is to teach its visitors about the importance of world peace as well as educating them on the tragic events that the city has seen.
Due to the nature of the museum, it can be something of an emotional experience but if you are into history and want to learn more about the things that shaped this great place, it’s a must-see.
In the year 550CE, Buddhism was introduced into Japan and has since become one of the most practised spiritual beliefs in the country. As you travel across this nation, you will likely explore many Buddhist temples but whilst spending the morning appreciating the history of the city, Mitaka-Dera is one of the most apt.
Located near to the memorial museum, the temple plays an important role in the memory of the 1945 bombing but is also an important place for those looking to reconnect with their spiritual side.
A beautiful traditional Japanese building, the temple is also the ideal stop-off for architecture enthusiasts and even those who adore nature will find that there is something to please them since the building is surrounded by stunning flora.
You can’t spend the entire day meandering the city without stopping off for a quick bite to eat and you’ll be pleased to learn that Hiroshima is highly renowned for its cuisine.
One of the most well-loved recipes here is the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki which is a savory pancake that can be stuffed with meat, vegetables and seafood. The dish is a huge favorite with the locals but is also highly adored by visitors to the city. Many of whom head towards some of the best restaurants in Hiroshima to try out the native cuisine. There are as many as 2000 eateries that specialise in the dish but I have picked out one of the top contenders for your one day in Hiroshima.
Okonomimura is perfectly located right in the center of the city and whilst it used to be home to hundreds of street vendors, it now houses around 25 eateries that specialise in the dish.
In days gone by, this ‘western food for a dime’ was well-loved by those in the lower classes thanks to its affordability but has now become one of the top meals in the area.
At Okonomimura, you will have the opportunity to not only sample this delightful Japanese treat but also chat with the local experts who create and sell Okonomiyaki. What better way to integrate with the locals and get a real flavor for the city.
You will find that a lot of the restaurants in this establishment will have English menus which makes the experience a lot less daunting.
If you truly want to experience the most notable things in Hiroshima, this is, without a doubt, the best place to take lunch.
After having your fill of the delicious Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, you’ll be primed and ready for an afternoon of further exploration and you will not be short on choices.
Hiroshima is home to various museums and if you’re here for a longer period of time, I’d definitely recommend checking out a number of these. But for one day in Hiroshima, it’s important to see the best.
Having visited the memorial museum in the morning, something a little more light hearted might be in order for the afternoon. Whilst I wanted to keep this itinerary quite structured, I also wanted to give you the opportunity to explore things that appealed to your personal tastes, so I have included a number of museums to get your afternoon off to a flying start.
The MAZDA Museum
Japan is well known for many car manufacturers and one of the most recognizable names in the industry is, without a doubt, Mazda.
At the company headquarters in Hiroshima, you will find the Mazda museum where car enthusiasts can explore the technology and processes used by this automobile giant since the 1920s.
Throughout the year, there are a variety of special events, all of which can be found listed on the Mazda museum website where you can also book a guided tour of the facility.
Numaji Transportation Museum
For those who want to experience the Japanese innovation in transport but want something a little more laid back, the Numaji museum offers a great alternative.
Not only are there various displays of methods of transportation and a futuristic city but there is also an opportunity to get the kids involved thanks to the wealth of interactive activities.
Hiroshima Museum Of Art
Many cities have an art museum but none are quite as diverse as the one in Hiroshima. The museum features works from both Japanese and European artists so you’re getting a true feel for global cultures.
There are many impressionist pieces which are one of the main attractions of the exhibition and this is all set in a modern, minimalist building.
If you have more of a seafaring interest, the Yamato museum, sometimes called the Kure maritime museum may be right up your street.
The exhibition features many naval ships and displays relating to the war but also has various events happening throughout the year, so there is always something new to see. Some such examples include the science event and the variety of temporary mini exhibitions.
A visit to Hiroshima simply would not be complete without heading to the stunning castle that has stood here since the city was first founded more than 500 years ago. Although, it may have undergone a few restorations in its time, that isn’t to say that the castle does not give you an incredible insight into the early history of the city.
Built in 1590, the castle was once the home of the daimyo but unfortunately was completely destroyed in the bombing of 1945. However, expert architects and builders restored the castle to its former glory and now a very close replica of the original building stands in its place.
The traditional Japanese design is perfect for anyone with an appreciation of Asian architecture and the lush greenery that surround the building makes for the ideal spot for an Instagrammable photo.
One of the most famous locations in Hiroshima is the Momijidani park which is home to more than 200 maple trees and is, if nothing else, a sight for sore eyes.
The glorious contrast between the greenery of the trees, the fallen leaves in the autumn and the tranquil stream that runs through the park is the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing in this city.
There is a lot of wildlife living in the park including many deer and birds so is ideal for anyone who has a love for nature and with plenty of quiet places to sit and take in the space, the park is a popular location for a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the main city.
Hiroshima Orizuru Tower
After a long day of exploring this incredible city, a view across it to watch the sunset is well-earned. The Hiroshima Orizuru tower offers the perfect vantage point for this thanks to the beautiful rooftop deck.
On your way up to the top, you can explore the shopping center that features a great selection of shops and places to eat and drink. Much like the food hub you visited at lunch time, this is an excellent opportunity to get chatting with the locals.
Hiroshima is a city that has had its fair share of tragedy and for many people, this is, in fact, what draws them here. However, this large city on Japan’s Honshu island has far more to offer than just the memory of this disaster. Whilst there are many prominent memorial sites here, this location is also home to a variety of museums, parks and places to eat that leave you spoiled for choice when it comes to planning one day in Hiroshima.