5 places you must visit in Hiroshima

A city that literally rose from the ashes, Hiroshima is symbolic of the spirit and vision of a passionate, forward-looking community of people who have come a long way in the last 72 years. Beautiful forests, skyscrapers, and urban structures have replaced the ruins that the city was once reduced to after the atomic bombing in 1945. Leaving hardly any signs of the destruction caused lest it brings back painful memories, Hiroshima is worth a visit today to see how amazing the transformation has been in the last seven decades.

Hiroshima reduced to ashes, 1945 (US National Archives)

Although Hiroshima can be covered as a day-trip from Kyoto or Osaka, we decided to spend a couple of days in this laid-back, sparsely populated city. Not many monuments have been preserved but there are memorials, text on the history and stories of people who died and even those who survived the attacks, inscribed in various places, paying respect to the sufferers and their families. If you do happen to have some time on your hands here, these are 5 places you must visit:

#1 Peace Memorial Park & Atomic Bomb Dome

Dedicated to the memory of the people who lost their lives in the grossly cruel bombings of 1945, Peace Memorial Park is a beautiful and tranquil space which inscribes stories and relics from the past, describing the bombings and the aftermath. The A-bomb dome is one of the very few buildings that have been preserved right as they were left after the attacks and is situated across the bridge from the Peace Memorial Park. Here are some pics to show how this building looked before the bombing, right after the bombing, and in the present, after 72 years.

A-bomb dome, before the attack (US National Archives)

A-bomb dome, right after the attack (US National Archives)

A-bomb dome today, after 72 years

Peace Memorial Park

Suggested read: How to spend 5 days in Tokyo

#2 Hiroshima Castle

This castle was originally built in the 16th century but was completely destroyed in the atomic bomb attack of 1945 and reconstructed in 1958. Surrounded by a large moat, a feature common to most castles in Japan, the Hiroshima Castle is a five-storied building and very typical in architecture, similar to the more popular Osaka and Himeji castles. The entry to the castle grounds is free and you need to pay only if you enter the museum which is inside the 'main keep'. The castle is situated hardly 10 minutes away from the Peace Memorial Park and A-bomb Dome.

#3 Orizuru Tower Observation Deck

Although a bit pricey (¥1,700 for adults), this is one of the observation decks offering the best views of the city's iconic monuments and skyline. Situated on the 13th floor of the Orizuru Tower, right across the road from the A-bomb Dome, the Tower also has a cafe on the ground floor and a few (not-so-cheap) shops. The entry to the observation deck closes before sunset (around 6 pm) so make sure you reach in time.

Click here for prices, timings and other information.

Suggested read: Top 15 things to do in Kyoto

#4 Hondori Street

A very lively bustling downtown area with numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants, Hondori Street is a must-visit if you're staying for the night in Hiroshima. Only a 5-minute walk from the Peace Memorial Park, this covered street is open only for pedestrians and no vehicles are allowed inside. Most shops here are open until 9 pm and many inexpensive shops selling electronics, souvenirs, food items, accessories and clothing can be found along the walkway.

Recommended restaurant: Although located off the Hondori Street but not too far from the A-bomb Dome, Cafe Ponte is an Italian restaurant with al fresco seating. Beautifully lit up at night, the food here is a good change from the Japanese menu and very delicious.

#5 Miyajima Island

Hardly a 10-minute ferry ride away from Miyajimaguchi station in Hiroshima, Miyajima island is home to one of the best shrines in Japan - Itsukushima. This is the shrine with the famous O-Torii Gate that seems like it is in the middle of the sea, during high tide. The charming little island has wild deer roaming free, lots of shops baking on-the-spot and selling the famous Momiji sweets, lovely nature walking trails and museums.

If you're planning to visit Nagasaki, here's a guide to the town of Huis Ten Bosch, the little Netherlands in Japan.

57 thoughts on “5 places you must visit in Hiroshima”

  1. I visited Hiroshima nearly 10 years ago now, but the Peace Memorial Park & Atomic Bomb Dome still vividly stand out in my memory. We visited on a trip with school, it was a language immersion trip when I was in year 9, and we made 1,000 cranes to hang. Miyajima Island was also a stand out memory from the trip. Great list!

  2. I remember visiting Hiroshima a few years ago. It has so much history and culture there. Last time, we went to Peace Memorial Park & Atomic Bomb Dome at night and it was a bit creepy. We didn’t get to Miyajima Island though!

    1. Miyajima Island isn’t too far from Hiroshima, although if you’re doing Hiroshima as a day trip from Kyoto, it might get a bit much to do both on the same day.

  3. This is a beautiful tribute to Hiroshima. I would love to visit the Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Dome. I’m sure that’s a very sobering experience to visit there. I’m so fascinated by WW2 history, and I really enjoy visiting the sites in the Pacific because it isn’t taught the way it should be here in the U.S.

  4. Thanks so much for such a beautiful post Medha. It certainly helped me see it as a city beyond the destruction it suffered during the WWII. It’s so interesting that some of the monuments have been completely rebuilt, while others have been left as they were after the bomb attack…

  5. Finally I know that place is called ‘Itsukushima’. I have seen pictures of the O-Torii Gate shrine which gives the illusion of being submerged during high tide, but never actually knew the name. The idea of sleeping in pods doesn’t appeal very much to me 🙁

    1. Haha, not many people like small spaces, it can be claustrophobic I can imagine! If I wasn’t travelling with my parents, I would’ve given it a shot.

  6. Really missed out on visiting Hiroshima! Would love to go see it. It’s interesting that many think Hiroshima is horrible, but I encourage you to watch Nanjing documentary. It’s how it all started, how the Japanese invaded China and decided they want to conquer the world. Then did Pearl Harbour, which led to Hiroshima.

    1. What’s horrible is the extent to which people were hurt – even the survivors had terrible radiation sickness which, to an extent, was even passed on the next generation. War is war, but nuclear weapons just take things to another level.

  7. Tragic that so many lost their lives at Hiroshima. I recently researched WW2 in Asia and was shocked to read various details of how the war efforts slowly but surely escalated to the point of no return. Memorials are an important reminder that some things should never be forgotten, especially not brave heroes or innocent victims.

  8. It must be quite a moving experience visiting the memorial park, and the dome. Hondori looks like a good place to shop for gifts to take home. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I find it incredible how beautifully Hiroshima rebuilt itself after such a tragedy. We missed visiting on our last trip but will definitely be adding it to our next. AS keen as I am to make the pilgrimage to the Peace Memorial Park & Atomic Bomb Dome, I’m also eager to visit Miyajima Island, it looks stunning.

    1. I loved how the deer roam free on Miyajima! And the shrine is definitely worth going to.

  10. I’m heading to Japan later this year and this post was very timely. Such a sad history and one that should never be forgotten for the ongoing devastation caused. It’s lovely to see that from war comes the symbol of peace.

    1. See if you can spare a day to Hiroshima, it would be nice. It’s not too far from Kyoto.

  11. I dint have a chance to visit Hiroshima on our visit to Japan but the castle and the island looks pretty interesting..how much time should one spend in Hiroshima? it seems like a good mix of history, culture and nature..

    1. It is a fairly small town so I’d say 2 days are enough. It’s the amount of time we spent there as well.

  12. Do they have an audio tour in the memorial? I remember reading the history when was in school, I would love to know it in details. It must have been so painful but after every sunset, there is a sunrise. And here Hiroshima blooms again!

    1. You do have audio guides in the museum, not the memorial park. However, you don’t really need them, everything is well-marked and explained.

  13. This inspires me to go to Japan even more. I learned so much about the history of the place , without ever really visualizing it. It seems like there is so much more to this place than you would think initially. Amazing pictures by the way.

  14. I like the concept of your post, Medha: that you start with the war memorial and the horrific history. I find that very respectful towards the victims of the bomb. But it’s good that you don’t stop there but add all these nice and interesting looking sites like the castle – that I would definitely like to visit if I get there. I’m planning to go to Japan next year, but I’m not sure whether I’ll go to Hiroshima, too.

    1. If you’re in Kyoto, you could make a quick day trip to Hiroshima. Otherwise, there’s always a ‘next time’ 🙂

  15. I’ve seen so many pics of Miyajima Island and I didn’t know it’s in Hiroshima. I didn’t get to visit Hiroshima when I was in Japan so I must definitely be back!

  16. I have visited Japan a few times but have yet to make it to Hiroshima. I knew about the history but did not realize there was so much to do. Have added it to my list for the next time I visit Japan.

    1. Haha yes but they’re so mischevious. One of them pulled the envelope that contained cash out of my mom’s hand thinking there might be food and she was horrified, snatching it back from the deer. LOL

  17. I have to admit, I didn’t know Hiroshima had actually re-built it self like this. you can have nothing but admiration for the people of this area after everything they had to go through and endure. It will definitely be a place I visit

  18. After such a horrific attack, it’s so good to see Hiroshima looking beautiful. I like Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island looks so tranquil. Definitely one to bookmark.

  19. I never made it to Hiroshima when I was in Japan but I’ve heard rave reviews about it! I like that you made an effort to go out of your way and visit the memorials for the nuclear disaster. I think that it’s really important to acknowledge and respect the dark history of places that you visit and not just focus on things that are fun!

    1. Yes and it’s always an experience, to learn about disasters, what people had to go through, how they felt, how the families coped with the losses, etc. It’s emotional but I feel its important.

  20. It’s emotional looking at the pictures after the attack, it’s so amazing how the city has rebuilt! I enjoyed reading this article, thanks for sharing!

  21. I would actually love to visit here, I bet takes you back when you think of what happened to the place and how far it has come back and like you said risen from the ashes.

  22. Hiroshima has such an interesting history, and looks like there is a lot to visit when you’re there. I’ve never been over to that side of the world before, but I hope to one day x

    1. Yes Becca, you can spend 48-hours there walking around and exploring the sites.

  23. I really didn’t know much about this area, so I really enjoyed reading your blog post! I really like how they kept the A-bomb dome as it is. This is making me want to do some research into traveling in Japan! Also, I really enjoy your writing! It’s very crisp and well-done. =)

    1. Yes Amy, it is quite expensive! However, there’s always a way around – stay in pods instead of hotels or travel by trains and subways rather than taxis. Food can also be picked up from reasonable places and getting the Japan Rail Pass, which is only for tourists, can be a good idea if you’re planning inter-city travel. In fact, if you’re interested, I’m currently writing a detailed post on All you need to know BEFORE travelling to Japan- that’ll be a useful guide to plan a budget trip. I’ll be done with that guide within the next 2 weeks 🙂

  24. Hiroshima Castle looks really beautiful! I would love to visit one day, although it must be a really emotional experience to visit the bomb site.

    1. It sure is. The Peace Memorial has stories of people, how their lives were affected and reading them is definitely a very heart-touching experience.

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