Planning Your Trip
Things to Do
What to Eat & Drink
Hiroshima is one of the southernmost cities on Japan's main island of Honshu. While its tragic modern history has given it an unshakeable global image, Hiroshima is a city of outstanding food, warm weather, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and some of Japan's best museums. Here is everything you need to know for a trip to one of Japan's best modern cities.
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit: Hiroshima is a popular tourist destination throughout the year, with four distinct seasons and slightly higher than average temperatures than cities in the north of Japan. The best seasons to visit Hiroshima are spring and fall when the weather is most consistently pleasant, and there are ample opportunities for seeing fall foliage and blossoms.
Hiroshima is particularly famous for its spring flowers, so make sure to catch the flower festival bursting with cultural events to make the most of the season. With the easy accessibility to Miyajima Island, visitors can enjoy some of Japan’s most famous views as the colors change while others head to the dramatic splendor of Sandankyo Gorge to make the most of the changing seasons.
Language: Japanese is the spoken language in Hiroshima. Specifically, the Chūgoku dialect is spoken, so you may notice a few regional differences in accent and phrasing compared with other areas of Japan.
Getting Around: Hiroshima is a relatively large city, but luckily public transport is not an issue with a variety of convenient options to get yourself around, including by:
- Tram: The tram is the main mode of transport and is the easiest way to get downtown from the train station with a flat fee of 160 yen ($1.48), or you can pick up a day pass for 600 yen ($5.53). You can also use your refillable IC card, which you can pick up at the train station and use all over Japan. Pay as you get off the tram rather than when you get on.
- Bus: There’s also an extensive bus network which you can ride for a flat fee of 200 yen, a 400 yen day pass, or you can tap your IC card. The best options for visitors to Hiroshima are the green and orange sightseeing lines which travel via Hiroshima Station and take you to most major tourist destinations, including downtown and the Peace Park. You can also use your Japan Rail Pass on these specific lines, and they have free Wi-Fi.
- Taxi: You will also find taxis readily available, in front of the station and other major tourist areas, or you can flag one down but sticking your arm out. Bear in mind, taxis are expensive in Japan, so best avoided for longer journeys.
- Ferry: For people looking to visit Miyajima Island, you will find the convenient and regular Aqua Net Ferry running between Motoyasu Pier and the pier at Miyajima. The journey lasts 45 minutes and costs around 3,600 yen ($33).
Things to Do
A city such as Hiroshima will always offer a lot for visitors, but Hiroshima stands out as somewhere where its legacy from the Aug. 6 bombing has become part of its identity with important remembrance spots dotted around the city. However, there’s much more to Hiroshima with two world heritage sites and a wealth of culture to explore.
- Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: It would be impossible to visit Hiroshima and not take the time to visit the 120,000 square meter park memorializing the site of the bombing of Hiroshima. It was decided that, instead of renovating, the area would be preserved with the. Now UNESCO World Heritage, A-Bomb Dome as it stood on that day.
- Explore Hiroshima Castle: The towering Hiroshima Castle with museum and lookout point was originally built in 1589 and restored after the war. It stands proudly in the center of the city, surrounded by extensive grounds and a large moat.
- Take a day trip to Miyajima Island: A quick ferry from Miyajimaguchi Station allows you to explore the island, known as Itsukushima, after its famous shrine. Ranked as one of Japan's three best views, the shrine and giant torii gate are both built over water and appear to float at high tide. There are also plenty of walks, hiking opportunities, restaurants, and shopping streets to enjoy.
- Wander Shukkeien Garden: This historical garden, designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty, dates back to 1620 and translates to ‘shrunken-scenery garden’ with scenes in front of you, which give the illusion of thick forests and mountains. The garden is thought to have been inspired by Hangzhou's beautiful West Lake and other famous sights.
- Go Shopping on Hiroshima Hon-Dori Shotengai: Hiroshima’s longest shopping arcade, with over two-hundred shops and restaurants, is the perfect place to go souvenir shopping, people watching, or get stuck into some local foods, including several fabulous seafood restaurants where you can Hiroshima specialties.
What to Eat and Drink
- Try Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki: A sticky and delicious style of layered customizable pancake that hits the spot every time. The dish consists of shredded cabbage, scallions in a spiced batter which is fried up with toppings of your choice, such as seafood and pork. This is then topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes.
- Momiji-Manju: A typical souvenir from Hiroshima, these maple leaf-shaped (a symbol of Hiroshima) cakes are satisfying and delicious. Different fillings are available, including red bean, cream cheese, and green tea.
- Eat Hiroshima Tsukemen: Another must-try local dish comes in the form of noodles with a spicy dipping sauce made from chili and sesame oil-based with a plate of spring onion, cabbage, and toppings of your choice such as ramen egg and pork slices. An alternative option to ramen or soba and ideal for those who love a bit of spice.
- Onomichi Ramen: For ramen fans, Hiroshima doesn’t disappoint; the Onomichi style is light, flavourful, and wholesome. Soy-sauce, chicken, and seafood broth is paired with flat medium-thick noodles and is typically topped with pork belly, scallions, and bean sprouts.
- Try Oysters: As Hiroshima is the city of oysters, it would be a shame to leave without trying the famous delicacy. They are prepared in so many different ways here that there really is an oyster dish for everyone. Popular preparation methods include oysters fried in tempura batter, steamed, served as part of a miso hotpot, raw with a citrus juice, and even in a curry.
Where to Stay
Motomachi: Centrally located and perfect for your first stay in Hiroshima. Motomachi places you near Hiroshima Castle, the Museum of Art, and the expansive Central Park. You’re never far from a restaurant or coffee shop, and there are malls within walking distance.
Hondori: Ideal if you want to be based around some great nightlife, this entertainment hub will place you within walking distance of karaoke, cocktail, and dive bars. It’s also centrally located between Motomachi and the Hiroshima station area, making it easy to get around.
Nakamachi: Nestled between Motomachi and Hondori is the Nakamachi district, popular with creatives, craft beer fans, live music venues, and people who love traditional restaurants. It’s also near Shirakami Shrine, which is one of the few long-standing shrines in the city.
Hijiyamahonmachi: Just a 10-minute walk from Hiroshima Station and near open spaces like Hijiyama Park, where you can hike and visit the manga library and the Enko River, ideal for walks and cycling, this is an ideal area for people looking for a quieter area or families.
If you’re arriving by plane, then you will land at Hiroshima Airport. The shuttle bus is the most convenient way to get to Hiroshima bus or train station (45-55 minutes). From there you can take the tram or a taxi to your hotel. You can also hop in a taxi at the airport.
Hiroshima is easily reached from elsewhere in Japan by shinkansen (high-speed train) with direct lines from other major cities in Japan. From the station, it’s easy to reach downtown via public transport or taxi. The fastest train takes you from Tokyo to Hiroshima directly in four hours.
Culture and Customs
- There's no need to tip in Hiroshima or for Japan as a whole. In some cases, it can even be considered offensive.
- If you're shopping and paying in cash, make sure to place your money in the dish on the counter. Your change will also be placed there afterward.
- Remember to carry some cash as some places don't take cards. You'll find plenty of ATMs around the city or in convenience stores like 7/11 or FamilyMart.
- The bow is the standard form of greeting in Japan, but a nod will usually suffice.
Money Saving Tips
- Opt for the bus over the tram or taxis; it’s easy to use and can take you all over the city.
- Make sure to try some convenience store food and coffee to save money. Stores like 7/11, Lawson, and Family Mart have excellent quality bento boxes, coffee, and hot snacks.
- Take advantage of tax refunds while you’re shopping. Purchases of more than 5,000 yen (around $46) are exempt from the 10 percent consumption tax.