From seeing in person the world renowned Itsukushima Shrine to scenic bike riding at the Shimanami expressway, these are just some of the best things to do in Hiroshima, Japan.
Japan is an expansive country that attracts millions of domestic and international tourists to its beautiful and exquisite sites.
If you paid attention in history class, you are most definitely aware of the tragedy that occurred in Hiroshima in 1945 during the second World War when an atomic bomb decimated the city.
This event caused significant loss of life, destroyed infrastructure, and the radiation from the bomb continued to affect the lives of the residents in the area.
Hiroshima has since recovered from the bombing to become a vibrant modern city and has also been dubbed the city of peace where international conferences regarding nuclear power are held, and with a lot of incredible tourist attractions.
Check Out the Top Things to Do in Hiroshima
If you are looking for things to see in Hiroshima or fun stuff to do, here are a few suggestions to consider:
Atomic Bomb Dome
This is quite literally the most associated symbol of Hiroshima given the legacy that goes along with the city, and it commemorates the tragedy that occurred in August 1945.
It is exactly as it was all those years ago, with the rubble and twisted metal just as it was in the immediate aftermath of the bombing.
Its surroundings have also been left the same.
Also referred to as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or Peace Park, the Dome is meant to show the power and destruction that nuclear weapons can yield, as well as serving as a symbol of peace in the wake of war.
The Dome should definitely be at the top of your list of attractions in Hiroshima – view the paper cranes made by children from all over the country in dedication to peace; and learn of the slow and tenacious road to recovery by the city of Hiroshima and Japan.
- Open: Every day
- Price: Free
Miyajima Island is considered one of the most exquisite places in Hiroshima and is especially scenic and picturesque during autumn.
The island is easily accessible through a boat ride from the mainland port of Miyajimaguchi and boasts of exquisite Japanese architecture and culture.
It has beautiful green forests and a myriad of temples preserved from ancient times, as well as Buddhist temples where people go to worship.
Participating in the annual Water Fireworks is one of the awesome things to do in Hiroshima in August especially in this island.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
This festival is famous for its impressive display of fireworks just off the edge of the water, set against the backdrop of the floating Itsukushima shrine, resulting in a breathtaking explosion of light in the sky that is reflected by water.
The unique thing about Miyajima Island is that it is believed by the locals to be the place where God dwells since it is home to the Itsukushima Shrine – an attraction all on its own.
The sunrises and sunsets experienced in this island are indescribable in their beauty and graceful to watch and will provide great scenery for a romantic getaway with your partner.
- Open: Every day
- Price: Free
Visit the Peace Memorial Museum
The atomic bombing is inextricably tied to the history of Hiroshima, and this museum captures the ramifications and consequences of this inexplicable tragedy.
It is described as an intense experience that is not meant for the faint-hearted but is recommended to those that yearn to understand what that atomic blast did to the Japanese people, especially those in Hiroshima.
It contains accounts and information from the immediate aftermath and shows the detailed chronology of events leading to, during and after the bombing in excruciating detail.
Visiting this museum is very likely to give you a clear perspective of what happened and how it still affects them to this day.
- Open: 8:30 AM to 5.00 PM daily
- Price: 50 Yen for adults; free for children
This castle is an excellent representation of traditional Japanese construction. It was built in 1589 as a vital government centre for the Hiroshima region.
The atomic blast destroyed the original castle in 1945, so the one that stands today is relatively newer but just as exquisite as the previous original one.
You can climb up the castle stairs to the top to see the amazing view of the skyline and the gardens on the castle grounds, whose flowers bloom seasonally and are amazing to see.
The castle itself also houses traditional Japanese artefacts, artwork and other great works from ancient times that are going to wow you during the tour.
Enjoy a stroll through the grounds with serenity that is unrivalled, enjoy learning about samurai culture from the museum, and watch the daily historical play enacted at the castle’s entrance.
- Open: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (closes earlier in the winter)
- Price: 370 Yen for adults; Free for children
The Shrine is world renowned, attracting people from all over the world and Japan as well to experience its stunning beauty, architecture, and rich history.
It is a place where a lot of traditional rites have been performed, and where people have been coming to worship for centuries.
The island on which the shrine stands is sacred and thus a protected area. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996.
The gate is constructed in such a way that makes it seem to be floating above water especially during high tide, giving it an air of mystique that adds to the already fantastic experience.
This shrine should be at the top of your list for places to visit in Hiroshima, hands down.
It is recommended that you visit the place early in the morning right after it opens before it gets crowded; that is when you experience the most peaceful, serene, and calm environment it is known for.
- Open: 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM daily
- Price: 300 Yen for adults; 100 Yen for children
Try Local Hiroshima Cuisine
Are you wondering what to do in Hiroshima that isn’t a museum or activity? Then make sure you add eating all the food to your list!
It is impossible to visit an exotic land and not try the food that the locals there enjoy, and it tastes even better when made by the local people.
For Hiroshima, their famous dish would be okonomiyaki, which is a delightful savoury pancake with a variety of ingredients mixed, like squid, egg, pork, and noodles – basically whatever your heart desires.
Everyone that has had okonomiyaki will happily tell you that the best of it comes from, Hiroshima, and you’ll be hard-pressed to hear otherwise.
So after a long day of sightseeing and touring the great sights while ticking down your list of the things to do in Hiroshima, indulge in some of this local cuisine at Okonomimura, a food theme park with many restaurants dedicated to giving you a delicious experience.
- Open: the best bet to finding good okonomiyaki is the complex called Okonomimura, with 25 restaurants packed together in one building. The business hours depend on the specific establishment, though there are some that open exclusively after dusk.
- Price: the prices for varying dishes also differ depending on the restaurant you choose.
Visit The Mazda Museum
I’m sure you have seen a Mazda car once or twice in your life, so why not visit the corporate headquarters and see an actual working assembly line while in Hiroshima?
Although this one may not be among the things to do in Hiroshima for many visitors, you might be fascinated with the whole process involved in the making of this car.
A guided tour by a representative will take you through the assembly line, the development center for Mazda, the history of the company, and who knows, maybe you could find some Mazda merchandise that you would like and buy.
- Open: The tours of Mazda take place every weekday, except national and company holidays. The trip takes approximately one and a half hours.
- Price: the tour is free, but one needs to make a reservation in advance, by phone or email to avoid inconveniences.
Shimanami Kaido Expressway
Take a day out of your trip to take a refreshing bike ride on the Shimanami expressway, and you will not regret it.
It is one of the most beautiful routes spanning across the ocean and islands and connecting them to the mainland, and is built perfectly for bikers and pedestrians alike.
There are numerous bike rental shops along the route where you can rent a bike and go on an adventure.
You can stop on the way for a few scenic photos over the ocean, look at attractive sights in the islands along the expressway, and even spend a night at a campsite before continuing to the connected islands.
If you’re not a biker, rent a car and take a scenic drive through this road, the view is breathtaking.
What more could you possibly ask for?
- Price and open hours: It is entirely free to ride or drive through the expressway at any time, on any day, though any charges regarding rentals and accommodation are specific to where you get them from.
Tour Through Onomichi
This one is a small charming town in Hiroshima located along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, with mountains on either side of it and ancient temples and buildings.
It has been a thriving commercial hub since ancient times, with a vibrant people and culture that will make you feel welcome and a part of their community.
The island has some of the best hot springs and awesome beaches for you to relax and take in the authentic Japanese town that is full of heart and charm.
It is also home to many critically acclaimed Japanese poets, artists, and writers.
A tour through the town will have you learning about their lives as well as the rich history of the place.
Given its rich artistic history, Onomichi has been used as a scene in several movies.
There is a lot to do in Onomichi, from viewing ancient and exquisite temples to relaxing on the beach, to checking out museums and yes, rest at the Senkoji Park with a lot of cats.
- Open: There is no specific time to visit because it is an open town. However, you are recommended to tour during the day (9 am – 5 pm) if you want to get the best out of your experience in Hiroshima.
- Price: Several facilities within the island require an admission fee, but you can access most places for free.
A Buddhist temple located in downtown Hiroshima, Mitaki is a largely underrated scenic beauty that can give you a quiet area to chill and enjoy the quiet.
The best time to visit is during the autumn season, but it is almost as beautiful for the rest of the year in case you want to go back for some peace and serenity.
The Temple grounds are filled with Buddhist statues and waterfalls which pretty much guarantee green fields and the trees are just as wonderful.
You will definitely get the Zen you are looking for at the Mitaki Temple.
- Open: The Temple is open every day throughout the year; operating from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM from March to November, and is open from December to February up to 5:00 PM.
- Price: Free
Considered one of the top three nightscapes in Japan, the view from this mountain is one for the ages and absolutely breathtaking.
It gives you a bird’s eye view of Hiroshima City, a scene that has been described as a sea of sparkling jewels in the night.
The mountain gives you a panoramic view of the surrounding islands and the city because it is the only high point in the area.
It will undoubtedly make for a romantic evening and some perfect photography as a souvenir for your trip.
- Price and open hours: access to the mountain is free of charge at all times, preferably at night for the optimum experience.
Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum
For a foodie, visiting this place would be thrilled, and if you are interested in the local cuisine at Hiroshima, the experience will be just as good.
The tour through the museum will have you learning about the history of the delicacy that is okonomiyaki, and guess what; you get to make some of it yourself – learning how it came about, the ingredients involved, and the secrets to making it such a great dish.
Open hours: the museum is open on weekdays from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, but reservations are required beforehand.
Price: the price varies depending on the tour course. If you intend to learn the cooking process, there is a price involved, also depending on the skillet used.
Imagine having a panoramic view of Hiroshima’s attractions from 500 meters above sea level on a gondola, looking at the magnificent views of the Miyajima ancient forest and the Seto Inland Sea.
The trip across the ropeway is a sightseeing adventure that is made even better by the feeling that you may be walking on air.
It is accessible from Mt. Misen, connecting it to Momijidani Park; it takes approximately one hour to hike to the top of Mt. Misen where you can take a cable car across the sea, and take in the views from the observatory at Shishiiwa Station.
Don’t be late for the gondola back or you may have to hike back down.
But if that is your thing then, by all means, go for it.
- Open: Considering the regular inspections and maintenance, the ropeway is open throughout the year from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on other days, especially in November, from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
- Price: anyone above 12 years old pays 1,000 Yen for a one-way trip; 1,800 Yen for a round trip. Children from ages 6 to 12 pay 500 Yen one-way and 900 Yen for a round trip.
Miyajima Omotesando Arcade
This is the busiest arcade in Miyajima on account of all the tourists coming to visit the sacred island.
This arcade is packed full of shops and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy some food after a day of touring.
It is also a great place to do some shopping, especially for souvenirs and mementos to take back home and gifts for friends and family.
- Open: The arcade is open 24 hours a day on weekdays, but the opening for specific shops may vary from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
- Prices: the prices vary widely, depending on the shops and restaurants
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims
This memorial hall was put in place to memorialise the lives that were lost to the bombing in 1945, as well as remind succeeding generations of the suffering that happened.
It also allows families and loved ones to remember the people they lost at that time and conveying truthfully the damage and pain caused by the same.
Despite its representation of pain and suffering, the Memorial Hall is also a symbol of peace, showing future generations the cost of nuclear war and allowing them to reflect on peace rather than war.
- Open: The memorial hall is open daily from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
- Price: Free
It may not be as popular as the Itsukushima Shrine, but the Daisho-in is well worth seeing in all its features.
It is located at the foot of Mt. Misen, and the head priest of the Itsukushima Shrine used to reside in it until the Meiji period when Buddhism and Shintoism separated.
The temple is exquisite and breathtaking especially in the way it is built – the countless statues in different sizes and shapes, and the Cave filled with Buddhist icons believed to give blessings.
- Open: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily
- Price: Free
Senko-Ji Temple And Park
This is one of the top tourist spots in Japan.
It is a park and a temple that span the expanse of Mt. Senko-Ji from the middle to its summit.
The view from the temple is not only spectacular, but also bare some bits of flare especially when you get to see the cherry blossoms.
The night view from the summit is beyond amazing, and the sounds of bells from the Temple are soothing and pleasant, definitely giving you an amazing experience.
It is a fantastic place to relax, get surrounded by nature and get away from it all, with some much-needed peace away from the city life, it is definitely one of the favorite things to do in Hiroshima.
It has such a beautiful scenery that a lot of painters have painted it and captured the scene to perfection.
Who wouldn’t want to see this piece of beauty of the many Hiroshima attractions?
- Open: it is open daily
- Price: Free
More Ideas on What to Do in Hiroshima
Hiroshima, despite its tumultuous history, is a beautiful and amazing city with a lot of engaging and relaxing tourism activities.
Besides the horrendous history connecting the realms of its heritage, there is so much to enjoy in Hiroshima.
Apart from the activities listed above, you can also choose to:
- Catch a Hiroshima Carp baseball game at the Mazda Zoom – Zoom Stadium
- Take a relaxing stroll and relax at the Shukkei-en Garden with its rich beauty throughout the year
- Explore the variety of flowers grown at the Sera Kogen Farm
- See the scaled down model of the Yamato battleship at the Kure Maritime Museum and maybe say a prayer for a world of peace
- Take a detour to Sensuijima Island and sync with its glorious surrounding nature.
Taking a vacation to Hiroshima in Japan may be one of the best choices in your life.
You are guaranteed to have a great time, relax and unwind after a stressful time, enjoy local cuisines, broaden your horizons, and see so much there is to life in just one city.
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