Hiroshima City Guide

With its poignant history, thriving culinary scene and tremendously warm welcome, Hiroshima is one of the unsung highlights on Japan’s cultural map.

This progressive and welcoming city has overcome some of the darkest events in human history, emerging as a thriving, cosmopolitan metropolis that continues to go from strength to strength.

It’s impossible to ignore Hiroshima’s history, but the city is no longer defined by the events of WWII. While Peace Park and the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims serve as poignant monuments to those who lost their lives, the people of Hiroshima have shown remarkable strength to rebuild what was lost, and the city is now among the biggest and most diverse destinations in Japan.

Shine a light on this wonderful destination, we’ve created an in-depth visitor guide to Hiroshima, showcasing its history, culture and incredible food and drink.

Architectural Highlights

From ancient shrines and temples to monuments of the A-bomb, Hiroshima’s architectural showcase is one of profound contrast. Here are a selection of our favourites we’d urge you to uncover.

Itsukushima Shrine

Renowned for its spectacular location and ancient heritage, Itsukushima Shrine is one of the great wonders of the Hiroshima Prefecture. Built on Miyajima Island in 593AD, this spectacular torii gate forms part of the Daisha-in Temple, which was built to pay homage to the god of the tides. The gate itself is a truly remarkable sight, seeming to hover over the surface of the water, its vermillion frame reflected in the emerald surface. Indeed, Itsukushima is so striking, it’s now considered one the ‘Three Views of Japan’ alongside Matsushima Island and Amanohashidate. An unmissable place in this beautiful corner of the nation.

Atomic Bomb Dome

The world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, destroying much of the city and leaving thousands dead. Remarkably, a building located close to the centre of the explosion survived the blast, and today stands as a poignant reminder of the devastation of war. Known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, the building served as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall during WWII, and is thought to have survived the blast due to its thick concrete frame and steel dome roof. The Atomic Bomb Dome has been extensively restored and maintained, so that future generations can observe the effects of war.

Fukuyama Castle

Fukuyama Castle is one of Hiroshima’s great historic sites, a 17th-century palace built by lord Mizuno Katsunari. Designated as an Important Cultural Property in Japan, the castle is considered a masterpiece of Edo-period architecture, and despite suffering some damage in August 1945, remains in a beautiful original condition. The grounds of the castle, too, are a treat to explore, comprising of over 500 cherry blossom trees which, when in full bloom in late March to mid-April, make for a truly arresting sight. Whatever time of the year you visit, however, this sumptuous imperial castle promises an afternoon of total cultural enrichment

Cultural Features

The A-bomb may have influenced Hiroshima’s recent history, but it doesn’t define all of the city’s culture and heritage. Here, we explore the cultural highlight of Hiroshima not to be missed.

Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park

Sitting at the centre of Hiroshima’s former political and commercial heart, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park covers an area of 120,000 square metres, roughly in the spot where the bomb was dropped in 1945. Amidst the modern downtown area of the city, the Memorial Park stands out for its sprawling gardens and poignant statues – an unmissable feature of the city that shows the scale of destruction. The Peace Memorial Museum serves to highlight the events leading up to the bombing, as well as the immediate aftermath and the legacy that it has left in the city. Across the park, the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims is the main memorial of the site, its stone etched with the names of those who died – of which there are over 220,000.

 

Miyajima Machiya Street

Despite the destruction it sustained in WWII, pockets of history remain in Hiroshima, showcasing life in a bygone age. One such place is Miyajima Machiya Street, which lies in Aki, on the island of Miyajima to the south-west of Hiroshima. Lined with historic folk houses, this well-preserved street is more akin to the buildings seen in Kyoto, which were spared from the bombing raids of WWII. A walk down this charming street feels like stepping back in time, with traditional cafés and art galleries complementing the beautiful heritage surroundings. The nearby Omotesando shopping street is also packed with local stores – the ideal place to find a unique souvenir to remind you of your trip.

Mazda Motor Factory Museum

automobile factory

Hiroshima is home to the legendary Japanese car manufacturer, Mazda, which has been based here since the 1920s. At the manufacturer’s Hiroshima headquarters, visitors can explore the past, present and future of Japanese car-making within the purpose-built Mazda Motor Factory and Museum. This state-of-the-art complex features Mazda cars old and new, as well as a glimpse at a modern-day production line, where advanced automated robots assemble cars in minutes. This is Japan’s industrial core laid bare, and the perfect place to see a different side of the country.

Culinary Delights

From sake to Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima is home to some of the finest food and drink on Honshu Island, as well as some of its most authentic restaurants. Delve into the city’s bountiful larder below.

Okonomiyaki

Affectionately regarded as Hiroshima’s ‘soul food’, Okonomiyaki is a regional delicacy that’s highly popular with locals across the city. Emerging after WWII, Okonomiyaki was served by street food vendors whose restaurants had been destroyed by the bomb, and it is still considered a cheap, every man’s snack today. The dish typically comprises of cabbage, pork, beansprouts and noodles, cooked with egg and flour to create something resembling a crêpe or pancake. It’s thought there are over 2,000 Okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima, so you should have no trouble finding it during your visit to the city.

If you’d like to sample Okonomiyaki yourself, try this authentic recipe featured on the BBC Good Food website.

Oysters

Few cities in Japan take seafood as seriously as Hiroshima, and the city has earned a reputation for one seafood delicacy in particular: oysters. Hiroshima is Japan’s biggest oyster producer, and you’ll often see traditional oyster rafts floating on the Seto Inland Sea close to the city. Oysters are enjoyed in a number of dishes in Hiroshima Prefecture, including in the miso broth of Kakino Dotenabe, as well as being eaten raw or grilled.

Where to try it: Hiroshima is home to several izakayas (Japanese style pubs), and these are an excellent place to try local oysters. The city’s official tourist board recommends Hiroshima-no Kaze as a great place to sample these seafood treats.

Sake

Hiroshima is one of three renowned sake-producing regions in Japan, alongside Kyoto’s Fushimi district and the Nada district of Kobe. The city is home to some 50 sake breweries, as well as the National Research Institute of Brewing. Local sake is considered some of the finest in Japan, and has a distinct, rich flavour that’s beloved by connoisseurs of the beverage. Sampling sake is one of the great joys of visiting Hiroshima, so be sure to seek it out during your visit.

Where to try it: You’ll find local sake in many of Hiroshima’s izakaya and restaurants. Visit the city's official tourist page for a selection of the best sake bars in town.

Experience Hiroshima with Scenic

If you’d like to visit Hiroshima, our escorted tours to Japan mean you can enjoy the very best of the city in 5-star luxury and comfort. Click here to download our latest Asia and the Far East brochure or call our team today on 0808 231 6675 for further information.