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Top 10 Attractions in Hiroshima

By Yunna
18 September 2020
Top 10 Attractions in Hiroshima

Now known as the “peace capital” of the world, Hiroshima is home to attractions such as the Hiroshima Peace Institute and a number of structures that survived the fateful bombing in August 1945. Despite the tragic history, the city remains a vibrant, exciting tourist destination with plenty of fun things to do day and night. It's home to an array of interesting museums, galleries, and picturesque gardens. Here are the top 10 tourist attractions to visit in Hiroshima to help you plan your adventure.


Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle, also known as the “Carp Castle” was built in the 1590s and was the residence of local nobleman Fukushima Masanori before passing into the possession of famous samurai Asano Nagaakira in 1619. The castle was destroyed during the 1945 bombing and the magnificent five-story main tower fully reconstructed in 1958, contains an informative museum dealing with both the history of the city as well as the castle itself and also offers fine views over Hiroshima, the harbor, and the island of Miyakojima from its top floor. Of interest within the castle grounds are three trees that famously survived the atomic blast - a willow, holly, and eucalyptus - as well as a concrete bunker used for radio broadcasts after the bombing. Be sure to also view the castle at night, when it is lit up in colorful displays that change with the season.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The beautiful Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was created to symbolize the need for everlasting peace. The park commemorates the many victims of the world's first nuclear attack in August 1945. This park is located at the epicenter of the blast in what was once a bustling part of the city. The park includes a variety of important monuments, memorials, and museums that are well worth a visit. In addition to the picturesque grounds and gardens with their colorful cherry blossoms, highlights include the Peace Memorial Museum, the Memorial Cenotaph, and the Flame of Peace, as well as perhaps the site's best-known landmark, the Atom Bomb Dome.

Hiroshima Museum of Art

Hiroshima Museum of Art

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The Hiroshima Museum of Art is a world-class art gallery that is definitely worth a visit while exploring the top attractions in Hiroshima. The museum consists of eight galleries with an array of art on display. Highlights in the galleries include a collection of paintings by European Masters such as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Maillol, and Picasso representing key movements such as Romanticism and Impressionism. Along with the European Masters, you’ll also be able to admire the works of leading Japanese artists such as Ryohei Koiso and Yuzo Saeki. If art is your thing then be sure to set aside time to explore the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum (Hiroshima Kenritsu Bijutsukan) and The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.

Island Shrine of Itsukushima

Island Shrine of Itsukushima

Miyajima or the "Shrine Island," is one of Japan's most important and most popular coastal sites. Covering about 30 square kilometers of Hiroshima Bay, the island is famous for the magnificent Itsukushima Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to the Princesses Ichikishimahime, Tagorihime, and Tagitsu-hime, daughters of the Shinto wind god Susanoo. The shrine was first mentioned in AD 811. The buildings of the shrine rise out of the waters of a small bay supported on piles. When it is high tide the shrine appears to float on the water and is picture-perfect in the evening. This is one of the most picturesque attractions in Hiroshima and causes quite a colorful spectacle with the red timber framing and white walls (the buildings are linked by covered gangways). Highlights include the Honden (Main Hall), the Offerings Hall (Heiden), the Prayer Hall (Haiden), and the Hall of a Thousand Mats (Senjokaku). Be sure to not to rush around the island and try to spend time enjoying the exquisite gardens where wild, yet friendly deer often wander.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

No trip to Hiroshima would be complete without paying homage to the tragedy that rocked this city on that fateful day in 1945. A visit to the Peace Memorial Museum will help you get a perspective of what happened and how it still affects people today. With the atomic bombing being embedded in the history of Hiroshima, the museum captures everything to do with this inexplicable tragedy. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is not meant for the faint-hearted but it is definitely worth a visit to get a better understanding as to what that atomic blast did to the Japanese people, especially those in Hiroshima. The museum contains detailed accounts and information from the immediate aftermath and shows an incredibly detailed timeline of events leading to, during, and after the bombing.

Shukkei-en Garden

Shukkei-en Garden

Situated along the banks of the Ōta River is the tranquil Shukkei-en Garden, an oasis of peace. The gardens were designed in 1620 by Ueda Sōko, who served lord Asano as Chief retainer (karō) of the domain and as a tea master. Since the Meiji period, the garden served as the villa of the Asano family. The gardens opened to the public after being donated to the city in 1940, and although they too suffered immense damage from 1945 bombing, the gardens reopened in all their former glory in 1951. There are many trails and beautiful bridges that traverse throughout the garden, leading to a number of tranquil pools and streams. The gardens also offer an authentic tea ceremony which makes for a truly memorable experience at the on-site teahouses.

The Mitaki-dera

The Mitaki-dera

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No trip to any Japanese city is complete without visiting at least one temple or shrine. A must-visit and definitely one of the top 10 attractions in Hiroshima is Mitaki-dera.  This is one of Hiroshima’s finest historic temples and by far one of the most beautiful. Originally built in AD 809 and then like most of Hiroshima it was reconstructed after the war. The site is as famous for its splendid temple as it is for its picturesque grounds. The best time to visit the Mitaki-dera is during fall when all of the maple trees burst into an array of autumnal reds and golds. which, come autumn, burst into an array of vibrant reds and golds as the maples change color.

Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park

Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park

Something a lot less intense and certainly more fun is a visit to the Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park. The park opened in 1971 and is owned and operated by the city. It’s the perfect attraction for the whole family, especially if you’re exploring Hiroshima and looking for things to do with kids. The park covers a large area of over 100 acres and it is home to 170 species of animals, including native species such as lesser pandas and Japanese giant salamanders. The variety of animals also include exciting African animals like lions, rhinos, and giraffes. There is also a fun, interactive children's petting zoo on site. The park is conveniently located in the city's suburbs and it is easily accessible from the city center by public transport.

Mazda Museum

Mazda Museum

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Whether you’re a car enthusiast or not you won't want to miss the Mazda Museum. The museum pays homage to one of Japan's oldest car manufacturers (the company switched from machine tools to automobiles in 1930). While enjoying an up-close look at some fine looking cars is reason enough to pay a visit, the real excitement takes place with the tour of the manufacturing section. From the comfort of the observation deck situated directly above the production line in Plant 1, you'll watch in amazement as these great looking vehicles are put together before your eyes. Afterward, you have the chance to learn about Mazda's future vehicle plans, and can pay a visit to a store selling branded goods and toys. Reservations for the one-hour-long plant tour need to be made in advance.

Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims

Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims

In the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, you’ll find this concrete saddle-shaped monument in the center of the park is designed to symbolize a shelter for all the souls who perished in the atomic bombing. There is a three-line inscription on the monument that reads: “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.” The words were conceived by Tadayoshi Saika (1894-1961), a professor at Hiroshima University. Japanese grammar allows sentences to be constructed without clearly stated subjects, so the sentence is inherently ambiguous. However you read it, one message is clear: Atomic weapons must not be used again.