Wondering what to do in Hiroshima? Hiroshima, Japan, is one of the country’s hotspots for cherry blossom viewing. It’s got a beautiful castle, some cool trams, fantastic food, a lot of nature, and a dark, tragic history. Most people know Hiroshimas as the place where the first atomic bomb was dropped, the first of two that ended WWII.
So, you find yourself in one of Japan’s most famous cities, and now you’re wondering what you should fit into your itinerary. Don’t worry; we’ve definitely got you covered with 15 of the coolest, most interesting, and very best things to do in Hiroshima.
The Best Things to do in Hiroshima, Japan
1. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
If you only have one day in Hiroshima you should pay a visit to the Peace Memorial. For better or worse, Hiroshima is famous as being the first-ever place where an atomic weapon was used against people. It happened on the morning of August 6, 1945. In an instant, much of the city was obliterated, and 70,000 people were killed. A further 70,000 suffered fatal injuries as a result of the blast. Radiation sickness affected countless more.
There’s a Peace Memorial Museum that should definitely be at the top of your list of things to do in Hiroshima. Rather than play the blame game, the museum presents facts in harrowing detail, making sure you leave thinking, “Wow, this really should never, ever happen again.” (Though it did – in Nagasaki, three days later).
The Peace Memorial Park, in which the museum is located, is a pretty chilled place to contemplate things after a trip around the hard-hitting exhibits.
- Location: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
- Cost: ¥200
- Tips: Be mentally prepared
2. Go to the Atomic Bomb Dome
Inextricably linked to the atomic bomb blast itself is the seriously must-see Atomic Bomb Dome, or Genbaku Dome. What is it? It’s the ruins of what was Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, a western-style building designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel and built in 1915. It was used for art and educational exhibitions.
Today, ravaged by the 1945 blast, it has been left as it was to serve as a reminder of the destruction – a slice of crumbling, post-apocalyptic potential in the middle of a city working hard to forge a peaceful future.
- Location: North of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
- Cost: FREE
- Tips: A visit during cherry blossom season makes this extra poignant
3. See the Floating Torii of Itsukushima Shrine
Another of the most famous landmarks of Hiroshima has got to be this icon – the floating torii at Itsukushima. An aspect of Japanese Shinto shrines are their tori – or gates – often painted vivid vermillion, signifying a sacred place.
What’s special about the one on the island of Itsukushima (or Miyajima, as it’s more commonly known), is that it is embedded just offshore, so it appears to be floating.
The shrine itself is on a site first said to have been graced by a shrine back in 593 AD, but the current design is 16th-century. Also on stilts, at high tide, this has the pretty awesome effect of looking like a sea palace.
At low tide (the least Instagrammed side of the torii) you can see all the five-yen coins that people have wedged into every crack they can find. Locals pick through shellfish in the wet sand too. It’s a pretty cool time of day to be there.
- Location: In the Seto Inland Sea, southwest of Hiroshima
- Cost: Train ¥410 / tram ¥280 to Miyamiguchi and then the ferry ¥180 from Miyajimaguchi (all prices one-way)
- Tips: Get there as early or late as possible to avoid crowds
4. Climb the Stone Steps to the
Top of Mt. Misen
There’s a lot more to Miyajima or Itsukushima than just the floating torii. There are a load of deer here that can be decidedly sneaky at taking any snacks you have, which is also a pretty interesting aspect of the tourist crowds at this place.
But head away from the crowds, and you can find yourself a decent hiking trail or two. Mt. Misen is the tallest peak on the island and is considered a sacred mountain. There are a few ways to ascend, but to save all the impact on your legs, we’d recommend taking the stone steps. Seriously, there are over 2,000 stone steps that snake their way up to the summit.
Once you’re there, expect huge limestone boulders and epic views of the Inland Sea.
- Location: Itsukushima
- Cost: See above (free to climb though)
- Tips: Bring plenty of water!
5. Pedal around Ninoshima
While Itsukushima steals the limelight when it comes to famous islands that are easily reachable from Hiroshima, there are other islets and islands studding the Inland Sea that are definitely worth your attention.
One of the most interesting things to do in Hiroshima is take a ferry to nearby Ninoshima, rent a bike, and use the power of pedals to get around the overlooked island. It’s here that many victims of the atomic bomb were sent for treatment, making this yet another reminder of the WWII tragedy.
The villages dotted around the ten-mile circumference of the island are pretty traditional, the people are friendly, and there’s a ton of nature to explore here.
- Location: Just south of Hiroshima (closer than Miyajima!)
- Cost: ¥880 return ferry
- Tips: Head up to Shimotakayama Observatory (下高山展望台) for immense views
6. Catch a Carps Game
Japan loves baseball, and no city more so than Hiroshima. This city is baseball crazy and is in love with its home team, the Hiroshima Carps.
Baseball games in this country are pretty wild affairs, so watching a Carps game at the Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium would be a cool thing to do in Hiroshima – even if you’re not a sports fan. If you are, then it’s going to be even cooler.
Watching a baseball game in Japan, get ready to have your preconceptions of Japanese people as quiet, polite, and mild-mannered completely smashed. A Carps game is full of shouting, brass bands, and crowd-wide chanting – but don’t worry; it’s a fun, family-friendly sort of vibe. It’s even better with the scenery of nearby mountains looming outside the stadium.
- Location: Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium
- Cost: From ¥1700
- Tips: Get there early; people reserve cheaper seats with bags and coats
7. Fill up on Okonomiyaki
If you don’t know, okonomiyaki is sort of like a Japanese pancake – a tasty mixture of batter, cabbage, egg, and a whole lot of other ingredients fried to sizzling perfection on a searing hotplate – or teppan.
Okonomiyaki, which literally means “cook what you want,” may be famous as an Osaka dish – but hold the phone! Hiroshima has its very own style, modan-yaki, which features a fried egg and layer of fried noodles between the batter.
For starters, we’d suggest heading to Okonomi Mura (Okonomiyaki Village). This food haven consists of three stories of 24 okonomiyaki restaurants, all with different specialties and their own takes on the dish. Foodies will love this.
- Location: Okonomi Mura
- Cost: Depends on your appetite!
- Tips: Come hungry
8. Stroll Around Shukkei-en
A stroll around Shukkei-en is one of the top things you can do in Hiroshima. For those interested in getting their Japanese garden on, a trip to Shukkei-en would be a great idea. This is a historic Japanese garden, dating back to 1620 when construction first started. It was, however, badly damaged by the atomic bomb, being fairly close to ground zero, but it was still used a refuge for victims.
Shukkei-en was renovated to its former glory in 1951. Today, it’s a great place to soak up what a Japanese garden is all about – landscapes in miniature, ponds, bridges, stone lanterns, and tea houses.
As many traditional Japanese and Chinese gardens are, it’s actually inspired by West Lake in Hangzhou, China – a freshwater lake surrounded by pagodas, bridges, and other sights of interest that has been influencing East Asian garden design for centuries.
- Location: Shukkei-en
- Cost: ¥260
- Tips: Stop for tea (or coffee) at the quaint Sensui-tei teashop
9. Amble Through Hijiyama Park
Hiroshima is filled with natural spots that make it easy to take a moment, soak it all up, and reflect. Hijiyama Park is one of those places.
Filled with trees that come alive in cherry blossom season, as well as a number of sculptures, Hijiyama Park also happens to be pretty high up compared to other spots in Hiroshima. That means a trip here can result in beautiful panoramic views of the city below, and the Seto Inland Sea further out.
Visiting this place is a cool thing to do in Hiroshima if you’re into taking your time and wandering around. Also located here is Hijiyama Skywalk – a very ‘Japan’ way to get up to the park, consisting of covered moving walkways and escalators. You can also find Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and the Manga Museum, too.
- Location: Hijiyama Park
- Cost: Free
- Tips: We’d recommend the Skywalk… just for the fun of it
10. Ride the Tram Around Hiroshima
This has got to be one of the coolest things to do in Hiroshima… if you like trams and history and stuff. The city has some pretty modern trams on its Hiroden (Hiroshima Electric Railway) system, sure, but you’ve got to ride one of the historic trams.
These older trams, which you’ll recognize as being painted a sort of cream color on their top halves and dark green on the bottom, are where it’s at for train geeks and visitors to the city. Trams such as numbers 651 and 652 are basically living museums, having actually survived the atomic bomb blast and continuing to serve the city. Basically a lesson in resilience.
Not only that, but they’re a good way to get around!
- Location: Anywhere
- Cost: ¥180 flat fee per journey (¥280 to Miyajimaguchi)
- Tips: If you’re planning to transfer, ask the driver for a “norikaeken” (transfer ticket)
11. Visit Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle is one of the great things to see in Hiroshima. Originally built in the late 16th century, Hiroshima Castle (or Carp Castle, as it’s sometimes affectionately known) may be a 1950s reconstruction, but visiting it is nevertheless one of the top things to do in Hiroshima. You can guess what destroyed the primarily wooden castle in 1945, right?
While the castle itself can be explored in museum-like fashion (which further tells the story not only of the castle’s history, but the A-bomb, too), it’s also the grounds within the castle walls that make for an interesting stroll. Cherry blossom is pretty stunning here against the castle backdrop.
Another of the city’s nature spots, it’s even home to three trees that somehow survived the blast of the atomic bomb – a eucalyptus, a willow, and a holly.
- Location: Hiroshima Castle
- Cost: Admission to the main keep ¥370
- Tips: Check out the nearby Hiroshima Central Park, complete with Hiroshima Art Museum
12. Find the A-bombed Camphor Tree
There are a number of tales of things miraculously surviving the atomic bomb blast, like those three trees back at Hiroshima Castle for example, but none made quite as much an impact for us as this one.
Hibakujumoku Kusunoki – literally ‘A-bombed camphor tree’ – is located in a small, nondescript park in the Futabanosato area of the city. The evergreen tree is big, and on its backdrop of new development and inner-city surroundings, truly exemplifies the commitment to starting afresh that you feel in Hiroshima.
Wanderers will enjoy finding this spot. Head north from here to find the 17th-century Hiroshima Toshogu Shrine, climb its stone steps, and soak in the serenity.
- Location: A-bombed camphor tree, Futabanosato
- Cost: Free
- Tips: Explore the area for more hidden surprises
13. Hike up Mt. Futaba
Further north of Hiroshima Toshogu Shrine is Mt. Futaba. This is an excellent spot for walking and hiking. On the way up to its top, there are a couple of small Inari shrines, dedicated to the Shinto god Inari, who are associated with rice, prosperity, the wellbeing of households, business and prosperity… and foxes. These feel particularly mystical in the natural setting.
At the top is a Peace Pagoda. This stupa was constructed in 1966 as a symbol of prayer for the atomic bomb and, of course, world peace. As you might expect, it’s a peaceful spot. From here, there’s also a nice view of the city below. When the Carps are playing, you can hear the roaring and chanting from the stadium!
- Location: Peace Pagoda, Mt. Futaba
- Cost: Free
- Tips: Keep walking down the steps, then east through the suburbs to continue your hike at Onagayama
14. Join in with Hanami
This is another one of the most famous things to do in Hiroshima – hanami. Literally “flower viewing,” this essential celebration of the coming of spring is played out while the sakura or cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Arrive at the right time of year, and you’ll see plenty of parents and children crowding the parks of the city on weekdays, sitting on blue tarpaulin (as everyone seems to); business people merrymaking at lunch; and groups of friends and families eating, drinking and talking late into the night.
The areas of Central Park, the Peace Memorial Park, and even within the walls of Hiroshima Castle are all prime spots for hanami – as are the green spaces located along the cherry tree-strewn rivers of the city. Get yourself some tarp, grab some snacks, and join in.
- Location: Almost anywhere
- Cost: Free
- Tips: Make sure to arrive at the right time (late March-early April)
15. Get Lost at Mitaki-dera Temple
Hiroshima does chilled nature and tranquility pretty well, and Mitaki-dera is no different. This Buddhist temple in the west of the city dates all the way back to 809 and is dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kannon.
Stunning in the fall, with red leaves providing vibrant color pops as you stroll around the temple grounds, the woodland setting of Mitaki-dera (mi-taki meaning ‘three waterfalls’) is a serene place for pictures, walking, and generally breathing some fresh air. Thankfully, this spot is, for the most part, un-touristed.
There are 300 mossy, stone statues of Buddha here, steps to climb, streams, and yes – a few waterfalls, too. It’s another peaceful place in Hiroshima.
- Location: Mitaki-dera
- Cost: Free
- Tips: Not usually busy, except (maybe) in the fall
Other Amazing Things to do in Hiroshima
- Enjoy the Senko Ji Temple and Park
- Visit the Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum
- Ride on the Miyajima Ropeway
- See the Daisho-in Temple
- Spend a day at the Mazda Museum
Where to Stay in Hiroshima?
Hiroshima has some fabulous Airbnb’s to choose. To feel more at home, we use Airbnb – you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code here. Or take this coupon for your first stay!
Hotel Granvia Hiroshima
This hotel is directly connected to the JR Hiroshima Shinkansen station so if you’re arriving late at night this is a great option. It has fabulous reviews, 6 restaurants, and a spa.
Nest Hotel Hiroshima Hatchobori
This hotel is set in a great part of the city center. It’s only a 1.2 kilomter walk to the Atomic Bomb Dome and 1.4 to te Peace Memorial.
Quick Japan Travel Tips
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Japanese: “Kon’nichiwa” and “Arigatō”
- How to say ‘Rabbit’ in Japanese: Usagi
- Currency: Japanese Yen – (JPY) – ¥
- Visa: Most Visitors to Japan can enter visa free for up to 90 days.
- Weather: The weather on Okunoshima varies depending on season. Japan celebrates four seasons. In the winter you can expect colder, windy temperatures, while summer is hot and humid. Spring and Fall are fantastic times to visit as the air is cool and crisp
What to Pack for Japan?
Wondering what to wear in Japan? You aren’t alone. Japan can be a very tricky country to pack for as there are so many styles you can go with, and of course, every season is different.
We’ve traveled to Japan during all their four seasons. Most of Japan is a four-season country and winter travel is vastly different than summer. Here are the essential Japan packing list items to bring with you depending on the season you visit!
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights.
Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Japan. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm. To up your photography game, a bit consider the Fuji X-T3. We just bought that camera and found the images to look amazing. Check out our other travel cameras here.
Japan mainly uses the Type A plug like North America, but there is generally no socket for the grounded portion. Make sure you find a good universal adapter like the one I have to keep you charged. Otherwise, you may struggle to find one once you land.
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