Last Updated on September 13, 2020 by queenie mak
Hiroshima is the capital city of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in western Honshu, the main island of Japan. Most people know Hiroshima because of its dark past. But Hiroshima is more than that. The city is lively, has fantastic local cuisine and friendly people. It is a wonderful city to visit while you are in Japan.
However, I will admit that the mood felt a bit sombre touring around the Peace Memorial Park. It is a little sad to see buildings that are half-destroyed and seeing photos of Hiroshima after the Second World War.
But I was also reminded of how great Japanese people are. No matter where I travelled to in Japan, I am always in contact with someone friendly, gentle and open. The hospitality in Japan is one of the best in the world. Even though there was a dark past, but yet they bounced back, rebuilt their city and their country. And they do it with such grace and courage.
If you are travelling solo in Japan, I highly recommend visiting the “City of Peace” and spend 2 days in Hiroshima.
Related Post – Japan one month itinerary: from Tokyo to Hiroshima
What you need to know before planning your Hiroshima itinerary
Before you visit Hiroshima, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.
Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for spending 2 days in Hiroshima:
- ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation including train, streetcar, and etc. It is useful to have especially when you take the streetcar in Hiroshima and take a day trip to Miyajima.
- You can comfortably see everything in 2 days in Hiroshima
- Walking is the best way to see Hiroshima.
- The streetcar costs flat rate of ¥180 within the inner city and ¥280 beyond the city. Grab a streetcar map from any of the tourist information sites. It will show you all the stops.
And if you want to be prepared for your trip to Japan, take a look at some of these resources:
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How to get to Hiroshima
Hiroshima Airport is located 50km east of Hiroshima. Many domestic and international flights (Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai) fly into Hiroshima Airport.
From Hiroshima Airport to Hiroshima Bus Terminal
- Limousine Bus Service
- Time: 55 minutes
- Cost: about ¥1,370 (you can use IC card)
- Check bus schedule here
Depending on the distance, it might be best to take the Shinkansen (bullet train), so you can spend less time in transit and enjoy Hiroshima a bit more. Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares. Here are a few sample routes:
From Osaka to Hiroshima
- JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen: from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station
- Time: 90 minutes
- Cost: ¥10,220 (covered by JR Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
From Fukuoka to Hiroshima
- JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen: from Hakata Station to Hiroshima Station
- Time: 71 minutes
- Cost: from ¥8,900 (covered by JR Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
Where to stay in Hiroshima
Accommodations in Hiroshima are not very exciting, but I was able to find a few fantastic places that are excellent for solo travellers.
Budget accommodations are just outside of the city centre and along the streetcar lines whereas mid-range options are abundant and centrally located. However, there aren’t too many high-end options available in Hiroshima. But if you want to splurge, there are some high-end, authentic ryokans in Miyajima.
- Hotel Via Inn Hiroshima ($$) – Get a single or double room with your own bathroom. Located right at Hiroshima Station.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Candeo Hotels Hiroshima Hatchobori ($$) – A brand new hotel with clean, and modern interiors. The centrally-located hotel has indoor and outdoor Japanese hot spring and laundry facilities. The single room is spacious, and it even has a desk for those of you who work on the road.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Hiroshima Tokyu REI Hotel ($$) -The 3-star hotel has comfortable modern rooms. There are laundry facilities in this centrally-located hotel.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Hiroshima Washington Hotel ($$) – The 3.5-star hotel has clean, standard rooms. Close to the city centre and the shopping street.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- There is a good selection of Airbnb apartments, and private rooms in Hiroshima and the average price is around ¥4,000 per day.
- If you are slow travelling through Japan, Hiroshima is an excellent option as the selection and value are both excellent. Plus, Hiroshima is a great city for doing many day trips.
- Airbnb accommodation ranges from traditional Japanese homes to modern western homes.
- Before you book, read over the reviews and look through the photos.
- And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
Related Post – Everything you need to know before booking Airbnb
What to eat in Hiroshima
From comfort food like Hiroshima-style ramen and Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki to gourmet cuisine that features seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, you will find everything you want to satisfy your taste buds. Plus, eating in Hiroshima is not expensive at all!
While you are dining solo in Hiroshima, try some of these local specialties:
- Hiroshima okonomiyaki – similar to Osaka’s okonomiyaki, the one in Hiroshima starts with a thin crepe base, then add cabbage, bean sprouts, few slices of pork, soba noodles, fried egg, okonomiyaki sauce, and topped with dried seaweed flakes.
- Hiroshima-style ramen – shoyu-tonkotsu ramen features thin, straight noodles and served in a milky pork bone and soy sauce-based broth.
- Hiroshima Tsukemen – ramen noodles dipped in a concentrated soup is popular in Hiroshima. Also known locally as reimen, the bowl of ramen noodles is topped with cooked cabbage and charsiu pork and served with an extra-spicy dipping sauce.
- Shiru-Nashi Tantanmen – another Hiroshima style ramen but this one is very spicy. The ramen comes with minced meat, spring onions, onsen egg and cabbage where you mix all the ingredients in the thick spicy broth at the bottom of the bowl.
- Oysters – the Hiroshima region produces two-thirds of oysters in Japan! The big and juicy oysters can be eaten raw, in the hot pot and may be added to okonomiyaki as well.
- Anago – grilled conger eel smoked over a charcoal grill served over rice called angao-meshi is a favourite in Hiroshima!
- Lemon – a lot of desserts and treats are infused with locally grown lemon
- Momiji Manju – a small cake shaped in a Japanese maple leaf with akuzi (red bean paste) inside
- Sake – Hiroshima is a sake region where there are clear streams along with great fertile soil. The local rice is excellent for making sake!
Where to eat in Hiroshima
Food is relatively cheap in Hiroshima, and a lot of local specialties are in budget restaurants. Check out some of these affordable restaurants:
- Okonomiyaki Yocchan ($) – the second floor at Hiroshima Station has the best okonomiyaki restaurants. Locals love coming here, and the price is low. I had one of the best okonomiyaki with udon noodles for ¥760 only!
- Hassei ($) – another great place for Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. The cozy little restaurant serves inexpensive okonomiyaki.
- Okonomimura ($) – the entire building is dedicated to Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki! The selection is quite good and not too expensive. Some restaurants have English menus.
- Bakudanya ($) – try their Hiroshima Tsukemen (ramen with dipping sauce) for just ¥700. Pick between cold or warm noodles and choose your level of spiciness. There are other branches in Hiroshima like the popular location near Shinkansen exit of JR Hiroshima Station.
- Okkundou Mazemen ($)- get a bowl of cold or warm ramen noodles in this tiny restaurant. Add any additional charsiu pork or cheese and choose your level of spiciness!
- Kunimatsu ($) – try their spicy soupless tantanmen for less than ¥600! This restaurant is very popular!
- Ekohiki ($$) – a restaurant that specializes in Hiroshima favourites including oysters. I had grilled oysters, fried gansu (Hiroshima deep fried fish paste), rice made with tea and topped with eel and tempura oysters. And I washed them all down with a local Kirei sake. This restaurant is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Hiroshima!
- Akushu Cafe ($$)- the cafe serves original menu including okonomiyaki stick, okonomiyaki donburi, and Hiroshima burger. Try their Setouchi lemon sorbet!
Hiroshima 2 day itinerary: best things to do in Hiroshima Japan
When someone mentions Hiroshima, you immediately think of the atomic bomb, World War II, etc. And yes, many tourists visit Hiroshima want to see how the devastating day has shaped the city and how the beautiful city of Hiroshima rebuilt itself.
Besides all the Peace Memorial related sites, there are plenty of other things to see in Hiroshima that shows you how the city rebuilt itself. There is so much beauty in the city preserving the past and yet building a bright future.
Every attraction mentioned on this blog is pinned on the interactive map. Follow the sequence of the pins and find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
Day 1: Hiroshima (orange pins)
1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima is the first city to be attacked by the atomic bomb. And today, Hiroshima has emerged as a “City of Peace.”
In the centre of the city is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a large park built to dedicate to Hiroshima’s legacy in surviving the atomic bomb, to commemorate to those who were affected and to remember peace. Within the park, there are numerous monuments, memorials and museums that attract millions of visitors each year.
2. Children’s Peace Monument
The Children’s Peace Monument is dedicated to Sadako Sasaki, who was a little girl exposed to atomic bomb radiation at the age of two and later developed leukemia. With the help of students from 3,100 schools in Japan and various countries, the statue was created.
Today, thousands of paper cranes have been donated to the memorial. Hence, the Children’s Peace Monument is nicknamed the Tower of a Thousand Cranes.
3. Flame of Peace
The structure of Flame of Peace resembles two hands spreading towards the sky where the wrists are put together. And in the middle is the eternal flame. The flame was first lit on August 1, 1964, and continues to burn. The idea is that the flame will continue to burn until all the nuclear bombs have disappeared from humanity.
4. Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims
The Memorial Cenotaph is an arch-shaped structure where the opening of the arch is designed in a way that when you stand at the west side of the structure, you can see both Flame of Peace and Atomic Bomb Dome at the same time. Kenzo Tange, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, designed the beautiful cenotaph.
Furthermore, the centre of the arch is a tombstone that has the names of all the atomic bomb victims. Whenever new names are discovered, they will be added to the central stone vault.
5. Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims
The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall is dedicated to all atomic bomb victims, and it is a place to think about peace. Photographs and names of 140,000 people who died on August 6, 1945, are displayed and are part of the database. Admission is free.
6. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was built to document the bombing of Hiroshima, to stop the use of nuclear weapons and to promote world peace. For a small fee of ¥200, you can tour through the East Building and see photographs and displays on Hiroshima, Second World War and everything related to the fateful day. Also, you can learn about atomic bombs through interactive exhibits, the effect of radiation on people’s lives, and see displays of the artifacts that were left behind.
7. Atomic Bomb Dome
On August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima destroyed almost everything within the two-km radius of the Hypocentre. A building very close to the centre of the blast was severely damaged, but for some unexplainable reasons, the majority of the structure of the building remained, even though the Hypocentre was only 160 metres away.
Today, the famous building is called the Atomic Bomb Dome and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8. Hiroshima Museum of Art
Hiroshima Museum of Art is a beautiful museum is built in Central Park, in the heart of Hiroshima, where the main gallery spaces contain modern European artwork (Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Modigliani, etc.) and the Annex gallery showcases contemporary Japanese artwork from the Meiji Period to the present day.
Once you are in the museum, you can log into the museum guidance on your smartphone where it has explanations on most of the artwork. First, you have to log into the museum’s wifi; then the museum guidance will display automatically.
The entrance fee is ¥1,400, and the museum guidance is free.
9. Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle was first constructed in 1589. But the central tower was severely destroyed during the bombing of Hiroshima. However, the castle has been restored and is designated as National Treasure in 1931. Today, the castle is a history museum featuring the culture of Samurai.
Day 2: Hiroshima (purple pins)
Named after the three waterfalls in Mount Mitaki, the Mitaki-dera dates back to 809 and is a true hidden gem. The temple used to be in Wakayama until it was moved to Hiroshima. It is said that the temple is used to comfort the souls of those affected by the atomic bomb. Luckily because the temple is buried in the valley, it was not damaged by the atomic bomb.
While you are there, look for the beautiful pagoda, numerous stone guardian status, waterfalls and a couple of hiking trails up the mountain.
And if you are visiting during the fall, the temple is especially pretty because of the bright red autumn leaves.
Mitaki-dera has a peaceful atmosphere and an excellent places for spending a few hours exploring.
The easiest way to get there is by taking the train from Hiroshima Station to Mitaki Station on the JR Kabe Line (8 minutes,¥190). Then walk 13 minutes to Mitaki-dera.
2. Shukkeien Garden
Built around the same time as Hiroshima Castle, Shukkeien Garden is served as a villa during the Meiji Period but suffered extensive damage by the atomic bomb. Since 1940, the garden has been reconstructed and is open to the public.
For ¥260, visit the Japanese garden and follow the path as it takes you to various spots around the garden including different miniature gardens. The beautiful Koko-kyo Bridge is worth seeing. It is placed in the centre of the pond with a picturesque background.
While you are at Shukkeien Garden, visit one of the teahouses to see traditional Japanese tea room and have green tea.
And if you are in Hiroshima in spring, you must visit Shukkeien Garden because it is one of the best spots for cherry blossom viewing.
3. Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum
For an entrance fee of ¥510, you can see over 4,000 pieces in the permanent collection of Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. The collection includes artworks associated with Hiroshima, Japanese and Asian art. The museum also holds special exhibits throughout the year, which includes Western art as well. Check their website for the latest exhibitions.
4. Hondori Shopping Street
I’m not a huge fan of shopping, but the Hondori Shopping Street is worth visiting.
Part of downtown Hiroshima, you will find all the retail stores lining both sides of the covered pedestrian arcade. And if you venture off the side streets, you will find department stores, cute cafes, and local restaurants serving ramen and okonomiyaki.
Hondori Shopping Street has many souvenir shops so make sure to pick up some souvenirs before you leave Hiroshima.
5. Hiroshima Orizuru Tower
Named after the folded paper crane, the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower offers a different view of Hiroshima. The observatory level is a modern wood deck, also known as “Hiroshima Hill.”
For ¥1,700, you can enjoy the contemporary observatory space and take in the panoramic view of Hiroshima including the entire Peace Memorial Park and Mount Misen of Miyajima.
Hopefully you can watch the sunset on the wooden deck. It is a must-see in Hiroshima!
If you want to see Hiroshima with a tour, check out some of these tour ideas:
Day trips from Hiroshima
Hiroshima is an excellent hub for making days trips to different cities in western Japan.
With its close vicinity to Miyajima Island, taking a day trip to Miyajima is easy peasy. Moreover, if you have a JR Pass, you can take day trips to Iwankuni, Onomichi City and even cycle on Japan’s best bikeway, Shimanami Kaido.
One of the best things to do in Hiroshima is taking a day trip to Miyajima. Also known as Itsukushima, the small island just less than an hour away from Hiroshima. It is famous for Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate that appears to be floating on water and the Itsukushima Shrine surrounding the torii gate.
Plus, you can follow the hiking trails or take the ropeway up Mount Misen and enjoy the view from up top at the Shishi-iwa Observatory. On your way down, visit Daishoin Temple to see the numerous Buddha statues. Some of them are quite whimsical.
You can see all the best attractions in Miyajima in one day. From Hiroshima, take the train on JR San-yo Line from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station (27 minutes,¥410). Walk a few minutes towards the harbour, and you will see two ferries for Miyajima. One way ferry ticket is ¥180 and is the same for both ferries.
A fantastic day trip to Iwakuni includes a visit to the picturesque Kintai-kyo Bridge over the Nishiki River. The wooden five-arch bridge was damaged by the typhoon and was not maintained well. However, extensive renovation in the early 2000s has re-establish the bridge’s beauty.
After crossing the bridge, take your time and wander through Kikko Park. It is an excellent spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring. And visit Iwakuni Art Museum, which is not very far from Kikko Park. And before you leave Iwakuni, visit Iwakuni Castle to see the reconstructed castle, the view of the city along with the display of samurai swords and armour.
To see the attractions in Iwakuni, you have to take the train on the JR San-yo Line from Hiroshima Station to Iwakuni Station. From Iwakuni Station, change trains and hop on the train on JR Gantoku Line to Kawanishi (Yamaguchi) Station (65 minutes, ¥860).
Onomichi City is a small quaint port town 40km east of Hiroshima. Known for temples, cats and cycling, the hilly city has many attractions including Onomichi Temple Walk, Cat Alley and several museums. The city is particularly pretty during cherry blossom season as Senko-ji Park is covered with pink flowers.
From Hiroshima, take Shinkansen from Hiroshima Station to Mihara Station (31 minutes, ¥3,630) and change to JR Sanyo Line to Onomichi Station (13 minutes, ¥240).
If you are a bike enthusiast, then you have to rent a bike and cycle Shimanami Kaido, Japan’s most famous bikeway. The 70km marked bike route starts from Onomichi on the main island, crosses over six islands in the Seto Inland Sea and ends in Imabari on Shikoku Island.
It is possible to bike Shimanami Kaido in one day and see the best highlights along the bike route including Kosanji Temple and the Instagram-worthy spot, Miraishin no Oka.
First, you will have to travel from Hiroshima to Onomichi City. Once you arrive at Onomichi Station, walk five minutes to the harbour and rent a bicycle and off you go! Try to start your bike journey before 8:00 am so you have a full day on the bike path.
Are you including 2 days in Hiroshima for your Japan itinerary?
I hope you find all the information helpful in planning your own Hiroshima itinerary. Japan is a wonderful country and has so much to see! And Hiroshima is not to be missed!
If you have any other questions about Hiroshima, leave me a comment below.