Best Things to Do in Hiroshima! A Full Guide of Everything from Must-See and Hidden Spots to Souvenirs and More!

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Hiroshima, home to countless sightseeing spots and 2 World Heritage Sights at Itsukushima Shrine and the Atomic Bomb Dome. Plus, prepare to unleash your inner foodie with Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki and fresh oysters. Here’s everything thing you never knew you needed to plan a perfect trip in Hiroshima.

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What’s Hiroshima Like?

Approximately 2.8 million people live in Hiroshima. One special perk of Hiroshima is the clear, refreshing climate it boasts all year around. For tourists, its home to 2 World Heritage sites, the Atomic Bomb Dome and Itsukushima Shrine, as well as a long list of famous destinations that draw visitors from in and outside of Japan each year. For foodies, the okonomiyaki, ramen, and succulent, fresh oysters have always served as a crowd favorite, adding to a delicious local food scene that’s worth every bite.
In terms of getting there, there are plenty of convenient routes to choose from, whether coming by plane, bullet train or budget highway bus.

Scenery of Hiroshima
Scenery of Hiroshima

9 Must-see Spots in Hiroshima

No trip to Hiroshima is complete without a visit to its two World Heritage sites. Outside of these, there are plenty of hidden spots and unforgettable sites to inspire your inner shutterbug, so be sure to pick an itinerary where you can take your time exploring. To start, here are 9 must-see spots in Hiroshima to inspire your trip.

1. Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine was built on Itsukushima Island, nicknamed the island of the gods, and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1996. The shrine and large torii gate stand beyond the ebb and flow of the tideline, making for a gorgeous view when finally submerged by the sea.
At low tide you can even walk up to the foot of the torii gate and pass under it to pray.
※The torii gate is under repair. (completion date TBD as of February 2021.)

The large torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine, appearing to float on the water at high tide.
The large torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine, appearing to float on the water at high tide.

2. Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park)

The Atomic Bomb Dome, in its original design, was completed as the “Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall” by Czech architect Jan Letzel on April 5th, 1915. However, as it stood just 160 meters from the epicenter of the atomic bomb, it suffered severe damage from the blast. With a gutted steel frame and damaged exterior, its known colloquially as the Atomic Bomb Dome, a building that stands in testament to the tragic history unfolded here.

The Atomic Bomb Dome, a modern day glimpse into a tragic history.
The Atomic Bomb Dome, a modern day glimpse into a tragic history.

3. Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle was built in 1589 by Terumoto Mori, known as one of the five dignitaries of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The castle is located in the center of Hiroshima city, famous as a major tourist attraction with easy access. The Castle Tower is a gallery, exhibiting Japanese swords and armor. Visitors to the top floor observatory are able to enjoy a view of the sprawling cityscape below.

Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle

4. Shukkeien

Takueichi, the center pond inside Shukkeien Garden is dotted with Crane and Turtle island, two floating islands that represent longevity. Its waters contain a brackish mix of fresh and sea water, a perfect habitat for fish like the flathead mullet, and wild birds that come to hunt it. The surrounding park provides a number of different paths and looping trails to stroll that lead to cleverly placed landmarks like a teahouse, small cottage, mountain, river or island depending on which path you choose.

The expansive garden that stretches across Hiroshima’s city center.
The expansive garden that stretches across Hiroshima’s city center.

5. Yamato Museum (Kure Maritime Museum)

This museum commemorates the “Yamato”, one of the largest battleships in WW2. It’s most iconic exhibit includes a 1/10th scale replica of the Yamato battleship, recreated using old blueprints, pictures from diving surveys and stories of crew members. Today it serves as a testament to the preciousness of peace and the awe of technology.

Exterior of Yamato Museum with eye-catching glass pane construction.
Exterior of Yamato Museum with eye-catching glass pane construction.

6. Okunoshima (Rabbit Island)

Okunoshima is a national park that serves as home to some 900 wild rabbits. These particular rabbits are of the European Rabbit variety, known for living in groups and burrowing holes. The island has seen recent attention across the internet and social media, drawing crowds from both in and outside Japan. This island destination is one spot to take your time and enjoy the unique surroundings.

European rabbits living on Okunoshima
European rabbits living on Okunoshima

7. Senkoji

Senkoji Temple is a longstanding, historic temple constructed in 806 on the mountainside of Mt. Senkoji. The main hall, also known as “Akado” (lit. “red hall”) is nicknamed for its vibrant vermillion walls. Many people enjoy its scenic appearance as it stands in gorgeous contrast against a backdrop of blue sky, ocean, and verdant green forests. This temple is worshipped for traveling mercies, family well-being, high test scores, love and more.

Main Hall and view over Onomichi (shot from the ropeway)
Main Hall and view over Onomichi (shot from the ropeway)

8. Tomonoura

Tomonoura, the “tide waiting port” with a long history of guiding boats home along its perfect tides. It has also been celebrated in the Manyoshu, the oldest collection of Japanese poems. Home to floating isles in the Seto Inland Sea, Sensui and Benten islands, it is also part of Setonaikai National Park, Japan’s first designated national park. This picturesque town has been featured as film locations of famous Hollywood movies, served as inspiration of beloved anime, and remains a popular tourist destination.

Tomonoura, “the tide waiting port”
Tomonoura, “the tide waiting port”

9. Sandan-kyo Ravine

Designated as a national Special Place of Scenic Beauty, Sandan-kyo is one of the most remarkable hidden spots in western Japan. The entire ravine measures about 16 kilometers. Bobbing by man-powered ferryboats and looking up at the landscape as you float along is almost like peering into the brushstrokes of an inky Shan shui painting. Once there you’ll find 5 unforgettable scenic points, including Kurobuchi, Sarutobi, Nidandaki Falls, Sandandaki Falls and Mitsudaki Falls.

Sandan-kyo Gorge, an acclaimed hidden spot in western Japan.
Sandan-kyo Gorge, an acclaimed hidden spot in western Japan.

5 Hiroshima Food Trends You Won’t Want to Miss

From Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and Onomichi ramen to conger eel and fresh oysters caught in the Seto inland Sea, Hiroshima is home to a full tablescape of mouthwatering, local foods. Here are our five top picks, featuring all the must-try foods to taste on your next trip.

1. Yagenbori Hassho

Yagenbori Hassho is a top-tier shop that ranks even above the many delicious okonomiyaki shops in Hiroshima. The cooking time for each savory griddle cake is 20 to 30 minutes. It’s filled with batter-soaked ramen noodles that grill until crisp, creating an unreal, mouthwatering bite. Everything is made painstakingly by a craft artisan but served at a price that’ll make your mouth and wallet happy.

Okonomiyaki (with Noodles, Meat and Egg)
Okonomiyaki (with Noodles, Meat and Egg)

2. Kakiya

Kakiya is a specialty oyster restaurant found in the center of the Miyajima Omotesando Shopping Street. While Hiroshima as a region is already known for its delicious oysters, the “Jigozen oysters” served here are known for their especially high quality. Served right at the shop entrance, their famous ticker item “Yaki-gaki” (grilled oyster) is flash-seared over high heat for a succulent, juicy taste. They’re so good you don’t need anything beyond the natural salt of the sea as seasoning.

Grilled Oysters
Grilled Oysters

3. Onomichi Ramen Ichibankan

Ichibankan, an Onomichi Ramen specialty shop. Served entangled in bowl of ramen broth, the fresh, flat noodles are famous for keeping their firm, chewy bite until the very end of each bowl. The broth is made with a rich, shoyu-base, pork, chicken bones, vegetables, and a secret ingredient of native, Seto-region: small fish. Like all Onomichi Ramen, it’s made with plenty of rich fatback to boot.

The No. 1 Item, Onomichi Kakuni Ramen
The No. 1 Item, Onomichi Kakuni Ramen

4. Fujitaya

Fujitaya is a veteran shop serving up “anago-meshi” (conger eel rice bowls) in the shopping streets near Itsukushima Shrine since 1902. Anago-meshi is a local dish in Miyajima, featuring butterflied eel that’s basted in a sweet and savory soy sauce-based glaze before grilling and serving atop a bed of rice. Lift the wooden lid over your bowl to reveal the big, juicy bites of eel waiting inside. The flavors at this famous shop have earned Miyajima its first Michelin star.

Anago-meshi (Anago Rice Bowl)
Anago-meshi (Anago Rice Bowl)

5. Karasawa

Karasawa is an ice cream specialist shop on the waterfront, about 8 minutes on foot from the Onomichi Station.
The signature item, Ice Monaka (a wafer ice cream sandwich), is always made to order by sandwiching ice cream between the Monaka wafers. The thin crispy wafer is fragrant, and the delicate sweetness of the ice cream made from plenty of rich eggs is simply divine.

Cream Zenzai & Ice Cream-filled Monaka Desserts
Cream Zenzai & Ice Cream-filled Monaka Desserts

3 MUST-Visit Places to Shop in Hiroshima

Hiroshima, the iconic metropolis of Japan’s Chugoku and Shikoku region is home to a number of shopping havens. Here are 3 to consider on your next trip to Hiroshima.

1. YouMe Town Hiroshima

YouMe Town opened in Hiroshima’s southern Minami Ward in 2008. It includes 3 floors, filled with some 170 shops selling everything a shopper needs from trendy fashion and apparel to miscellaneous goods, and even a supermarket. The restaurant floor includes a full selection of Western, Japanese and Chinese cuisine. There’s also a food court with well-loved names, making it an easy stop to regroup and catch a bite.

YouMe Town Hiroshima
YouMe Town Hiroshima

2. LECT

LECT, a shopping mall located in Hiroshima’s western Nishi Ward. Designed to make you “just want to go everyday”, inside you’ll find some 150 different shops to help you “know”, “eat” and “live” in a place that feels like a home away from home. It’s separated into 3 main sectors, the “YouMe Shokuhinkan” (food hall) filled with Hiroshima specialty foods, “Hiroshima T-SITE”, that connects Tsutaya and a number of stores, and “CAINZ”, a home goods store with a lineup of all-original brands to browse.

Streetview of LECT
Streetview of LECT

3. Marina Hop

Hiroshima Marina Hope, a large-scale multiplex by Hiroshima’s sea. Shoppers here will find anything from fashion, sports/outdoor goods, to car and motorcycle shops, pet shops and more. It’s also home to a wide variety of restaurants, many of which offer a spot to dine while looking out over the sea. The complex even includes an observation deck that overlooks the Seto Inland Sea, making for a perfect place to stroll.

The main gate, flanked by planted green walls.
The main gate, flanked by planted green walls.

Checking where to stay? Hiroshima’s 6 Best Hotels and Stays

Hiroshima is home to plenty of destinations and places to stay, including everything from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guest houses. Here are a few of our favorite stays to consider for your trip.

Luxury hotels

1. Miyajima Kinsuikan

Kinsuikan sits in a prime location facing the Seto Inland Sea and the large torii gate, a picture-perfect icon of Miyajima. Come for a soak in the natural hot springs before enjoying a feast of local fare, including fresh oyster, Hiroshima brand wagyu, and other local specialties. The rooms feature luxe interiors designed to evoke a “sophisticated, adult vacation”, and are even available as reasonably priced single-rooms for solo travelers.

Seaside Terrace
Seaside Terrace
Address
1133 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima
Access
approx. 5 min. walk from Miyajima Port Sambashi Bridge
Official Website
Official Website (English)

2. Ofutei

Tomonoura, a bay brimming with mood and atmosphere. If planning a visit we recommend you stay at Ofutei. With top floor open-air rotenburo baths overlooking the azure sea and luxurious feasts of seasonal, local ingredients, time here feels as though its almost standing still.
The entire hotel has 44 rooms, including modern Japanese rooms and exclusive suites with en suite open-air baths.

Bath Suite and View with Jacuzzi
Bath Suite and View with Jacuzzi
Address
136 Tomochotomo, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima
Access
approx. 30 min. by free shuttle from JR Fukuyama Station. (reservation required)
Official Website
Official Website (English)

Guesthouses

Guesthouses offer wallet-friendly stays where you can mix and become a part of the everyday life of locals. Here are a few to consider if visiting Hiroshima.

3. Guesthouse Roku

Guesthouse Roku is a small, boutique house where travelers, workers and dreamers go to lodge. There are dormitory style and completely private rooms. At the shared kitchen guests are treated to complimentary, bottomless tea and coffee. The guesthouse will also store your luggage as a special service or offer a special welcome drink at the adjacent Café bar nana.

Roku (exterior)
Roku (exterior)
Address
6-18 Hakushimakukencho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima
Access
approx. 5 min. walk from JR Shin-Hakushima Station
Official Website
Official Website (English)

4. Guesthouse Akicafe inn

akicafe inn is your home away from home, offering plenty of space to sprawl out in a location that’s just a 3-minute walk from Hiroshima Station. In the communal space you’ll find plenty of manga and travel guides to browse, and even an authentic kotatsu table in the colder months. The inn also sits adjacent to a café with craft-brewed coffee and healthy food made with local fare.

Communal Space
Communal Space
Address
2-7 Enkobashicho, Minami-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima
Access
approx. 3 min walk from JR Hiroshima Station.
Official Website
Official Website (English)

5. Santiago GH Hiroshima

Located in Hiroshima’s city center with great access to plenty of sightseeing. This guesthouse features 10 rooms, with a variety of types available including a room for families, dormitory style and a girls-only dormitory style room. In addition to the great price, travelers love this spot for its immaculate eye for cleanliness, amenities and helpful services.

Lounge
Lounge
Address
4-18 Nakamachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima
Access
Take the Route No. 26 bus from the #21 bus stop at Hiroshima Station, get off at Shintenchi and walk approx. 4 mins.
Facebook
Facebook

6. J-Hoppers Hiroshima Guesthouse

A guesthouse in the trendy Tsuchihashi District, filled with eclectic eateries and boutique shops. The communal living room is furnished with antiques for a relaxed look and feel. The guestrooms include a selection of Japanese style private rooms, co-ed and girls only dormitory rooms. For bikers, there’s a budget-friendly bike rental service to help you get around.

Living Room
Living Room
Address
5-16 Dohashicho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima
Access
approx. 3 min walk from Tsuchihashi Station on the Hiroshima Electric Railway
Official Website
Official Website (English)

7 Hiroshima Souvenirs to Impress your Friends

Hiroshima’s home to a wide range of famous confections and traditional goods that double as perfect souvenirs. Here are a few recommendations of what to share with a friend, or even just to keep as a personal momento.

1. Momiji Manju by Nishiki-do

Momiji Manju is a staple confection from Hiroshima. You’ll find these treats in a number of different shops, but make sure to visit Nishiki-do for the lightly sweet, original delicious flavor that’s earned its title as “The Hiroshima Brand”. One crowd favorite to try is the Nama Momiji, an elegant, namagashi-style treat made with rice and mochiko flours for an extra chewy, pillowy bite.

Momoji Manju
Momoji Manju

2. “Kaki Marugoto Senbei” (whole oyster crackers) by Maruichi Shoten

The Whole Oyster Senbei are whole-roasted Hiroshima oysters pressed in the middle of a Akitsucho made “aka maru” potato cracker. This specialty souvenir is so good its recognized as a “Hiroshima Brand” souvenir.

“Kaki Marugoto Senbei” (whole oyster crackers)
“Kaki Marugoto Senbei” (whole oyster crackers)

3. “Hitotsubu” Muscat by Kyorakudo

“Hitotsubu”, (single grape) muscat is a summer limited-edition sweet that features the high-end “Muscat of Alexandria” grape variety, each individually encased in a chewy rice-cake exterior. The fresh muscat grape gives a pop of bright flavor, which blends perfectly with the mellow, lightly sweet exterior.

“Hitotsubu” Muscat
“Hitotsubu” Muscat

4. “Kawadori Mochi” by Kameya

Kawadori Mochi is a beloved confection from Kameya, the long-standing confectionery first established in 1946. Each bit of this iconic Hiroshima treat includes a delicate piece of soft gyuhi mochi, topped with walnut and a dusting of kinako powder. The easy, straight-forward flavor and walnut crunch are especially delicious.

Kawadori Mochi
Kawadori Mochi

5. Shamoji by Shakushi-no-ie

Shakushi-no-ie is the original maker of traditional shamoji rice paddles on Miyajima. In addition to shamoji made perfectly for use in the kitchen, the specially designed paddles are extra popular. They’re said to bring good luck and make an excellent gift.

Shamoji (rice paddles)
Shamoji (rice paddles)

6. Kumanofude

Kumanofude is a traditional artisan craft maker in Kumanomachi that specializing in an assortment of different brushes like paint and calligraphy brushes. Recently, its makeup brushes have gained traction around the world thanks to the Hollywood actresses, models and makeup artists who use them.

Makeup brushes by Kumanofude
Makeup brushes by Kumanofude

7. Miyajima Suna-yaki by Yamane Taigendou

Travelers in Aki Province (present day western Hiroshima region), would once take the sands at the foot of Itsukushima Shrine as a good luck charm before starting on their journeys. If they made it home safely, it was customary to mix the sand with the sand of whereever they visited and return it, a gesture called “osunakaeshi”. The suna-yaki ceramic wears from Yamane Taigendo are made with these same sands from beneath Itsukushima Shrine, before being blessed and kneaded into clay. In addition to tablewares, you can also find flower vases and a number of different ceramic goods to shop.

Miyajima Suna-yaki
Miyajima Suna-yaki

Best Events to See in Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a sought after tourist destination that hosts a range of festivals and events throughout the year. Here are a few of the best and brightest that truly represent Hiroshima.

1. Hiroshima Ebisu Taisai Festival

Hiroshima Ebisu Taisai Festival is held every year for 3 days from November 18th to the 20th. It’s one of Hiroshima’s 3 biggest festivals and is often nicknamed “Ebissan” or “Ebisu-ko” by the locals. The shopping streets around Ebisu Shrine are filled with people out to buy the famously lucky komazarae rakes.

Ebisu Shrine
Ebisu Shrine

2. Hiroshima Dreamination

Themed to look like a “fairy land”, this winter illumination features over 1.4 million lights to light up the Hiroshima city center. There are many photo-worthy objects and spots to snap a picture. A stroll through this romantic, evening event in Hiroshima is one you won’t want to miss!

Hiroshima Dreamination
Hiroshima Dreamination

3. Hiroshima Castle Chrysanthemum Exhibition

The Hiroshima Castle Chrysanthemum Exhibition is an autumn tradition in Hiroshima. The colorful flower display is a splendid sight featuring more than 2,000 Big and Daruma chrysanthemums. There’s a spot where you can buy cut or planted flowers, or even ask about how chrysanthemums grow.

Flower Wreath at Hiroshima Castle Chrysanthemum Exhibition
Flower Wreath at Hiroshima Castle Chrysanthemum Exhibition

4. Shimanami Jusou

This is a series of collectable stamps you can use to mark your trip as you bike your way across the 70-kilometer Shimanami Kaido. Many people like to go around and collect stamps from their favorite spots at their own pace in order to collect a special prize for getting them all. There’s no cost to try it and launches every year in March.

Shimanami Jusou
Shimanami Jusou

Summary

We hope you enjoyed this round up of Hiroshima’s recommended spots, sightseeing, food, hotels, shopping and more! There’s plenty of picture-perfect landscapes and mouthwatering food, but there are also sobering memorials like the Atomic Bomb Dome that will stir your mind and soul. We hope you’ll come back to this article next time you’re planning a trip across Hiroshima and enjoy the trip!