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Things to Do in Hiroshima

For most travelers, the name Hiroshima brings to mind the date of August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped, killing some 140,000 people as World War II drew to a close. But modern, leafy Hiroshima is a prosperous and cosmopolitan city that honors its past while always looking ahead toward a peaceful future.

The Basics
Visitors from around the globe come to Hiroshima each day to pay their respects at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the enigmatic shell of the ruined Atomic Bomb Dome stands as the last original site from the tragedy of 1945. The nearby A-Bomb Museum recounts the history of that fateful day. Other notable attractions include Hiroshima Castle, Shukkei-en Garden, and a pair of excellent art museums. While you can visit Hiroshima and its top attractions on a guided day trip from Kyoto or Osaka (which may include Miyajima Island as well), the city is also often included in multi-day sightseeing tours around Japan.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Hiroshima is a must-see for history buffs, especially those into WWII history.
  • Visit the city on a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, or as part of a multi-day tour through Japan from Tokyo.
  • Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes; central Hiroshima is very walkable.
  • Day trips to Hiroshima from other areas of Japan can last upwards of 12 hours.

How to Get There
Hiroshima Airport services the city, but it’s also easily accessible by shinkansen (bullet train) and bus from most major Japanese cities to Hiroshima Station. Once in the city, modern streetcars provide quick and convenient transportation between attractions.

When to Get There
Thanks to a temperate climate, it’s possible to enjoy Hiroshima throughout the year. While June and July comprise the rainy season in the area, it doesn’t usually rain every day. For pure visual appeal, Hiroshima shines during the spring cherry blossom season and autumn changing of the leaves.

Gateway to Miyajima
Besides being a popular destination in its own right, Hiroshima also serves as a gateway to nearby Miyajima Island, considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful places. The island welcomes visitors with a huge red torii (shrine gate) set on the water—it’s one of the largest torii in Japan—that guards the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Itsukushima Shrine.
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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
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The Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima commemorates the atomic bombing of the city at the end of World War II, in August of 1945. The park sits just below the site of the bomb’s mid-air explosion and includes the UNESCO-listed Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Memorial Museum, and many smaller memorials dedicated to affected groups of people.

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
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Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum is part of the larger Peace Memorial Park, which commemorates the events of August 6, 1945. On this day, the USA dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima—leading to the end of World War II—but at the cost of around 80,000 lives in what was the world’s first nuclear bombing.

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Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima Jinja)
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Itsukushima Shrine provides one of Japan’s most famous picture-perfect views: a red torii (shrine gate with an elegantly curved top seemingly floats on water. Itsukushima Shrine is on Itsukushima Island—commonly referred to as Miyajima Island, meaning ‘shrine island’—which is a short distance from Hiroshima. It’s a popular and worthwhile day-trip destination from that famous city.

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Miyajima Island (Itsukushima)
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Miyajima Island (officially named Itsukushima) has been a Shinto holy place for centuries and is home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine, a red gate (torii) rising from the water just off Miyajima’s shores. Other ancient shrines and temples speckle the island, nestled among a thick forest of maple and cherry trees.

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