20 Amazing Sightseeing Spots in Hiroshima

Hiroshima Prefecture is famous for being the home of two World Heritage Sites – Itsukushima Shrine and the Atomic Bomb Dome. It has such a wide variety of nature that it is sometimes called a “microcosm of Japan”. It also offers a bunch of delicious dishes, including okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake). If you plan to visit Hiroshima, you need to take a look at the following 20 spots, which are popular with both tourists and locals!

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Where is Hiroshima?

Facing the Seto Inland Sea, Hiroshima Prefecture is in the southern part of the Chugoku region of Honshu (main island of Japan). By shinkansen (bullet train), you can get to Hiroshima Station in about four hours from Tokyo Station, and in approximately 1.5 hours from Shin-Osaka Station. You can also get a direct flight to Hiroshima Airport from Singapore, Seoul, Beijing, Taipei, and Shanghai.
Hiroshima Prefecture can be divided into four areas: Hiroshima City/Miyajima, Geihoku, Bihoku, and Bingo. This article will take a look at what’s in store in each area.

Hiroshima City/Miyajima

This area spreads along the coast at the southern part of Hiroshima Prefecture. Hiroshima City is the town that got hit by the atomic bomb during World War II. It is dotted with peace-related facilities, such as the Atomic Bomb Dome, as well as famous historic spots like Hiroshima Castle. Meanwhile, Miyajima is an island that’s famous for being home to Itsukushima Shrine. It is just about 10 minutes by ferry from Miyajima-guchi in Hatsukaichi City.

Stroll Around Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

This park is situated at the heart of Hiroshima City. It was a bustling commercial district up until the atomic bomb was dropped nearby on August 6, 1945, killing roughly 140,000 people. This spot was later built to pray for everlasting peace throughout the world. There are facilities related to the atomic bomb all around the park, as well as structures symbolizing Japan’s prayer for peace, such as a monument for the atomic bomb victims (Hiroshima Heiwa Toshi Kinenhi) and the Peace Bell.

Stroll Around Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome

This was originally a building called “Hiroshima-ken Sangyo Shorei-kan” (Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall). Following Western design, it was apparently made out of bricks and had a copper oval-shaped dome roof. When the atomic bomb dropped, it exploded about 160m southeast of the building at a height of around 600m. Miraculously, despite the destruction caused by the resulting shock waves and heat, the center of the building remained intact. This building was eventually registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996, as it became a symbol of hope for the abolition of nuclear weapons and a prayer for everlasting peace. Even today, its horrific appearance serves as a reminder of the terrors of atomic bombs. If you get a chance, this spot is a must-see!

Check Out the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

This museum was built with the hope of achieving permanent peace and the total abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide. Displayed inside are photos that showcase the horrors of atomic bombs and personal mementos of the atomic bomb victims. You can rent an audio guide in English (200 JPY). The Honkan (Main Building), which is an Important Cultural Property of Japan, is another must-see.

Admission fee: 200 JPY/General (university student or older), 100 JPY (free if more than 20 students in the group)/High school student, Free/Junior high school student or younger
*The main building will be closed until the spring of 2019 due to renovations. The east building is still open.

Check Out the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Take Souvenir Photos at Hiroshima Castle

This famous castle used to be a national treasure. It collapsed when the atomic bomb dropped, so the castle tower (the symbol of the castle) that stands there today is the one that was rebuilt in 1958. Though the wooden boards attached to it give the castle tower an old-fashioned appearance, the interior has been turned into a museum where permanent displays and various planned exhibitions are showcased. Many visitors recommend visiting the interactive corner of the museum, where you can make wonderful memories of your trip by taking photos while wearing traditional Japanese garments like samurai costumes.

Castle tower admission fee: 370 JPY/General, 180 JPY/Senior (65 years and above) and high school student, Free/Junior high school student or younger
*All fees include taxes

Take Souvenir Photos at Hiroshima Castle

Munch Down on Hiroshima's Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is one of the popular dishes for the working class of Japan. The Kansai and Hiroshima styles of this dish are the most well known in Japan. In the Kansai version, ingredients like sakura shrimp, meat, and vegetables are mixed into batter made from wheat flour. This batter is then cooked on an iron plate. With the Hiroshima version, the batter is first spread thinly on an iron plate and then the ingredients are put on top of it. To cook the okonomiyaki, press the batter against the iron plate with a spatula. A thin omelet is usually placed over the okonomiyaki when it’s almost done cooking. Another way that Hiroshima okonomiyaki differs is that it uses ingredients you normally wouldn't find in Kansai okonomiyaki, namely shredded cabbage, noodles, and pork.

Worship at Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine is a venerable shrine that was built in the 12th century. Its gigantic torii (a gate found at the mouth of a Shinto shrine approach), which looks like it floats above water, presents an iconic review that represents not just Hiroshima, but all of Japan. You can go near the bottom of the torii when the tide is low, so you can admire it up close!
While most people only know this shrine for its massive torii, it actually has a majestic main shrine as well. In the area, you’ll find a cluster of structures that are vermilion in color, just like the torii, which beautifully match with the green from the nearby sprawling forest and the blue from the surrounding sea. Various events are also held throughout the year at the elevated stage found at the center of the main shrine. If you time your trip right, you could see the Bugaku, which is a shrine event held several times a year where performers dance to the beat of traditional music.

Admission fee: 300 JPY/General, 200 JPY/High school student, 100 JPY/Junior high school and elementary student

Worship at Itsukushima Shrine

Buy Momiji Manju at Omotesando Shopping Street

After you are done worshipping at Itsukushima Shrine, go to the nearby Omotesando Shotengai (Omotesando Shopping Street) to sample various dishes while exploring the area. It is so crowded that it resembles a festival with tons of food stalls! Examples of food that you can take out from these stalls include baked oysters and tempura. However, the must-try is Miyajima’s specialty – Momiji Manju. Cooked in the shape of a momiji (maple leaf), this wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) is typically made with castella (sponge cake) dough and koshian (smooth bean paste) filling in Miyajima. Many shops on the island sell this delight, offering their original takes on this sweet by filling the manju with chocolate, blueberries, and other ingredients. At Momijido, you can even find deep-fried momiji!

Buy Momiji Manju at Omotesando Shopping Street

Explore Shukkeien

Shukkeien is a Japanese-style garden that is located near Hiroshima Castle. It is known for its extremely beautiful scenery that is centered on Takueichi, a pond where more than 10 islets of varying sizes float. This garden adopts the kaiyushiki (stroll garden with a central pond) design, allowing visitors to freely walk around it. While strolling, you are bound to witness photogenic scenes everywhere, such as the Seifukan - a building with an impressive “kokerabuki” (shingled roof). It is also a popular spot for admiring autumn foliage during the fall. The view is even more magical after sunset, as the red-dyed trees are illuminated so as to stand out against the darkness.

Admission fee: 260 JPY/General, 150 JPY/University and high school student, 100 JPY/Junior high school and elementary student

Watch the Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival

The Miyajima Suichu Hanabi Taikai (Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival) is a traditional summer event in Miyajima. In this event, fireworks - including aquatic fireworks that burst into a semicircle on the surface of the sea - will paint the night sky in beautiful colors. Make sure to look out for the silhouette of Itsukushima Shrine’s giant torii, which can be seen if the fireworks are bright enough!
This is a very popular event, so expect it to be crowded with spectators. If you want to leisurely watch the fireworks, secure a spot at a place that is far from the ferry loading dock and Itsukushima Shrine, such as behind the Miyajima Public Aquarium.

Date: August 25, 2018 (Sat) 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
*The festival has been cancelled due to the recent heavy rain in west Japan.

Watch the Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival

Eat Delicious Anagomeshi in Miyajima

Anagomeshi, a specialty of Miyajima, is made by cooking anago (conger eel) in a kabayaki style (the bones of the fish are removed and then the fish is broiled with a soy sauce-based sauce) and then putting it on top of a bowl of rice. There are lots of restaurants that serve this dish in Miyajima and Miyajima-guchi, such as Ueno - a restaurant that has been operating for over 100 years - and the Michelin-starred Fujitaya. The plethora of options means that you can spend a lot of time deciding which restaurant to eat at, which is why many people recommend researching and coming to a decision before your visit.

Eat Delicious Anagomeshi in Miyajima

Cruise on the Seto Inland Sea

Many ships travel through the Seto Inland Sea, which stretches between Honshu and the Shikoku region. There are various kinds of cruise ships that sail its waters, but the ones that go around Miyajima are especially famous. For example, there’s the Otorii - a cruise ship that’s operated by the JR West Miyajima Ferry - which runs from 9:10 am to 4:10 pm. Through this cruise, you’ll get to see the main building of Itsukushima Shrine through the torii, from the sea. You can also dine on a course meal while admiring the scenery of Miyajima through the Setonaikai Kisen GINGA. In short, there’s a ton of cruise options, and every one of them are unique in their own way!

Geihoku (Sandankyo/Akitakata)

Located in northwestern Hiroshima Prefecture, the Geihoku area is known for its abundant nature. It is dotted with various attractions, from gorgeous views of the countryside and lakes, up to thrilling sights in valleys. It is also home to many ski resorts.

Marvel at Ini's Rice Terraces

This scenic spot has been chosen as one of the Top 100 Terraced Paddy Fields in Japan by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as one of Japan’s 34 Most Beautiful Places by CNN. Terraced paddy fields are built on a steep slope, and the paths between paddy fields form geometric patterns that are painted green in the summer and golden in the fall. Different viewing angles, such as looking at it from the top or looking up at it from below, will treat you to different sights. There are various events held at these rice terraces for learning about traditional farming methods, such as rice planting in early June and harvesting in early October.

Admire the Sakura Around Haji Dam (Lake Yachiyo)

Lake Yachiyo, a reservoir created by the Haji Dam, is one of the most famous hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots in western Japan. During the Haji Dam Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival), which is usually held from late March to early April, you can view a beautiful landscape created by approximately 6,000 sakura trees and the lake. There is a bike path along the lake shore, so you can rent a bicycle and enjoy the view along that path. Other activities that you can enjoy here include canoeing, boating, and camping.

Admire the Sakura Around Haji Dam (Lake Yachiyo)

Enjoy the Beautiful Scenery of Sandankyo

Sandankyo is a massive gorge measuring about 16km long. It is home to many attractions such as Kurofuchi, a river with a beautiful emerald green surface; Sarutobi, a narrow river where ships have to pass through tall rock walls; and Shimaidaki, which is a waterfall that looks like a sansuiga (oriental landscape painting depicting natural scenery). A primeval forest also occupies one side of the gorge, turning it into a hotspot for admiring the autumn leaves during the fall. One particularly gorgeous place to view the fall foliage is at Sandandaki, which is a waterfall where water flows down three levels of rock. The waterfall blends in beautifully with the vermilion autumn leaves.

Bihoku (Shobara/Miyoshi)

This refers to the northeastern section of Hiroshima Prefecture that surrounds Shobara City and Miyoshi City. It offers gorgeous views that are rich in variety, such as karst plateaus, stunning waterfalls, and sunflower fields.

Admire the Fireflies at Hotarumi Park

At this park, you can enjoy hotaru (fireflies) from June to July every year. It is located along a clear stream, and is so abundant in nature that even delicate creatures like fireflies can live there. The reason why this spot is so popular is because it is inhabited by Genji-botaru, a kind of firefly that emits the brightest light out of all fireflies. Seeing them dancing around at night is truly a magical sight. There is a camping ground inside the park where you can enjoy playing in the river, fishing, and nature walks during the daytime.

Soak in Nature at Taishakukyo Gorge

This 18km long gorge is an iconic scenic spot in Hiroshima. From Onbashi Bridge - the longest natural bridge in Japan - to oddly-shaped rocks, steep cliffs, and a lake, this area is home to a long list of stunning attractions. One particular attraction that you should definitely visit is Hakuun-do, a limestone cave with a depth of around 200m. Its stalactites and stalagmites have been preserved well, so you’ll get to see fantastic, nature-made scenery. This gorge is also a perfect spot for engaging in outdoor activities like kayaking and riding on amphibious vehicles.

Hakuun-do admission fee: 250 JPY/General, 200 JPY/High school student, 150 JPY/Junior high school and elementary school student

Soak in Nature at Taishakukyo Gorge

Bingo (Fukuyama/Onomichi)

This refers to the southeastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture that faces the Seto Inland Sea. It is home to the famous Fukuyama Castle, as well as to historic spots like Onomichi and Tomonoura, which are known for their beautiful townscapes.

Slip Back in Time at Tomonoura

Tomonoura is a famous port town that served as the setting of the Ghibli movie, Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). It has a retro townscape that is full of old-fashioned houses, stone walls, and cobblestone paths. One spectacular photography spot is the port. At dusk, about tall night-lights blink on, enveloping the town with a nostalgic atmosphere.
When you do get the chance to visit this spot, drop by the Tomonoura Tourist Information Center first to get maps and tourist information in different languages, such as English, Chinese, and Korean.

Enjoy Cycling Down Shimanami Kaido in Onomichi

Setouchi Shimanami Kaido is an approximately 60km road that connects Onomichi City with Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture. It consists of seven bridges that vary in shape and color. Surrounded by nature-blessed islands, it offers a truly gorgeous view. As a cycling spot, it is so famous that it has even been included as one of the world’s most incredible bike routes in the world by CNN. There are terminals for bicycle rentals at different spots along the way, allowing bikers to return their rental bicycles at terminals other than the one they rented their bicycle from. Enjoy biking over the sea while feeling the sea breeze on your face!

Enjoy Cycling Down Shimanami Kaido in Onomichi

Join the Fukuyama Summer Festival

The summer festival in Fukuyama City spans three days in mid-August. Various events are held during the festival, such as the Niagari-Odori, where performers dance to the unique rhythm coming from Japanese instruments, and the Irohamaru YOSAKOI, where teams dance while wearing their own distinctive costumes. These events are sure to make spectators feel like they’re one with the performers! On the last day of the festival, various colorful fireworks are launched from Ashida River. Pay particular attention to the thrilling star mine, which spans 1,400m in length, making it the biggest of its kind in west Japan!

Join the Fukuyama Summer Festival

Slurp Up Onomichi Ramen

This is the mainstream ramen in the eastern side of Hiroshima Prefecture, which includes Onomichi City. It is known for its robust taste, brought about by the minced pork backfat floating in the soup. It has flat and medium-thick noodles, as well as a clear chicken bone soup that has a soy sauce base. Broth extracted from simmering small fish gives the soup a twist, creating an original flavor. However, at Shukaen - the most famous restaurant in Onomichi for this type of ramen - they make the soup by blending the broth with some pork bones instead of small fish. One of the greatest pleasures of touring Hiroshima Prefecture is being able to compare these two flavors!

Hiroshima Prefecture offers much more than what’s listed in this article. For example, there’s the spectacular Mt. Misen in Miyajima and events like the Bara Matsuri (Rose Festival) in Fukuyama. Come visit and see these spots for yourself!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: iizuka

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