Things To Do In Hiroshima: 7 Terrific Travel Ideas for You
Plan a great day out in one of Japan's most historic, picturesque, and lively cities. It may be known for its unfortunate WWII status, but there is much more.
1. Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome
Built in 1915 by a Czech architect, the building known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall in its latter years was the only one left standing after the atomic bomb destruction that visited it and the city on August 6th, 1945, the first of two triggers to end WWII.
Although the remaining structure was initially to be demolished, the remains were preserved and now serve as a memorial for the many whose lives were cut short.
The Genbaku Dome or Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a moving experience, and a needed first stop on a day out here. The park and museum are indeed somber affairs, but remember that it's a UNESCO site - a powerful piece of human history and a testament to human resilience, given the well-kept, ultra-clean modern Hiroshima that endures today.
2. Visit Miyajima Island
An hour from Hiroshima, head over to Miyajima, an island famous for its shrines, temples, and historical monuments, including the torii gate monument and Itsukushima, which can be seen rising out of the water. The abundant natural landscape and rare species that make up the walking trails are definitely worth taking a day trip for. Although the island can be reached by train or ferry, the ferry ride provides a much more scenic journey.
Nothing chimes in better with the relaxing atmosphere of Miyajima than taking it in in the evening, too. So, if you have a yen for a romantic evening, why not stay over in a ryokan (lovely inns that range from budget to high-end - expect an average of 15,000-25,000 yen per person, per night). A lavish dinner and breakfast are sometimes included, so why not round out your stay on a beautiful note.
3. Explore Bitchū Matsuyama Castle
Now that you're back on land, step your pace up a little and get to the highest (410m/1,430ft up) of the 12 remaining castles still standing in the country. The original castle was built by Akiba Shigenobu in 1240 A.D. Although parts of the castle were destroyed after the Edo Era ended, three sections of the castle were restored in 1929 and remain standing in all their resplendent glory.
Getting there does involve something of a hike because it's a mountainside castle. The road doesn't go all the way up, so the path is 'it'. Nevertheless, once there, consider yourself teleported back in time. This is the only mountain castle (or 'yamashiro') to have a main keep ('tenshu') - a fascinating insight into feudal Japan.
4. Visit Shukkeien Garden
Savor the scenery in this beautiful Japanese garden, which is just a short walk from ground zero of the nuclear bomb attack. The reality of such destruction is hard to absorb in this place of ineffable peace. True to its name (translated as "shrunken scenery-garden"), Shukkeien Garden is a magical interpretation of miniatures in that mountains, forests, and valleys are beautifully shown in representative form. Like most of the surrounding area, Shukkeien suffered extensive damage as a result of the atomic attack. It became a refuge for the war victims and reopened in 1951 after extensive renovations. The garden’s beautiful landscaping, little paths, bridges, tea houses, and waterfalls are what make Shukkeien feel like an entirely different world, despite being situated so close to the atom bomb dome.
The best way to take in all the splendor of the garden is to follow the path that winds through its center. Doing so will take you to all the miniaturized aspects which have been lovingly maintained. There's something truly peaceful and inspiring about this park. Stop in at one of the several tea houses and indulge in your surroundings. Dating back to 1620, when Hiroshima Castle was being finished, this garden is just beautifully timeless.
5. See the "Oyster Festival"
If you happen to be in the Hiroshima area during the winter months, you can take advantage of the fun “Oyster Festival” in which the locals fete this celebrated shellfish.
Oysters are a staple part of the diet in this part of Japan, and during the festival season, you can take advantage of the big discounts on fresh oysters. Whether you're a fan of the food or not, the hubbub and activities make for a great day out to at least people watch and experience the culture - definitely worth a visit!
6. Dare to "Dream and Drive" at the Mazda Museum
Magnificent news for automobile enthusiasts! You can enjoy a free tour around the corporate headquarters of Mazda, situated just outside of Hiroshima. There are two versions of the tour – English and Japanese. The English tour is less detailed but is great for those who aren’t so bothered about the highly technical stuff. The Japanese tour is better for those requiring answers to questions of a more technical nature – just go along but bring your own interpreter.
Hiroshima has a splendid balance of traditional and modern awesomeness. The tour involves a visit to the Mazda Ujina plant and the actual assembly line. You will even get to see some of Mazda’s concept vehicles. Future-proof your mind for whatever may roll down your street in years to come!
7. Chill out or Work Out in Chuo Park
In case you feel like getting in a bit of physical activity, it's easy to stay active in Hiroshima. Chuo Park is home to Hiroshima Castle, Gokoku Shrine, several museums, as well as pathways which are great for running and walking.
Not running or power-walking? Not to worry - there's plenty here to catch your fancy. The fish fountain alone will keep kids of all ages interested.
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