Hiroshima Prefecture is located in the southern part of the Chugoku Region, facing the Seto Inland Sea. The prefecture is widely known for its two UNESCO sites: the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Itsukushima Shrine with its iconic torii gate that appears to be floating in the water. Many people visit the area to learn more about the events that happened here during the WOII. But the prefecture of Hiroshima has so much more to offer. As you travel inland, Hiroshima becomes more mountainous and rich in nature. The area also offers some delicious signature dishes such as okonomiyaki, the savoury Japanese pancake, oysters and the Momiji Manju. In this article we will list the best places to visit in the prefecture of Hiroshima!
- How to get to Hiroshima?
- Highlights Hiroshima
- Where to stay in Hiroshima
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours
How to get to Hiroshima?
From Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and the other main cities, you have the option to take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima Station. The Nozomi trains connect Hiroshima and Tokyo in about 4 hrs. Alternatively, you can take the Hikari and Sakura trains and reach Hiroshima in about 5 hrs, with a transfer in Shin-Osaka.
You can also take a domestic flight to Hiroshima airport, located about 50 minutes outside of the city centre.
1. Hiroshima Peace City
Hiroshima is known as the city of peace and linked to one of the most terrible events in history, the first atomic bomb drop on August 6, 1945. Throughout the city you will find many reminders of the horrible event and the aftermath. The city’s most famous sight is the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings that wasn’t completely destroyed by the atomic bomb and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remains of the building are located in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, which was established after the Second World War. There are several points of interest located in the park, including the Children’s Peace Monument and the Peace Memorial Museum. Combine a visit to these impressive places with a visit to the large Hiroshima Castle and the Shukkei-en Garden, often said to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. For pretty sunset views, make your way to the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower, from the rooftop observation deck you can overlook this city and see the sun going down.
To learn about the tragic history if Hiroshima, the reconstruction of the city and other interesting places of Hiroshima, we recommend you join a guided tour. The local guide will be able to explain the story and show the city in a captivating way.
Miyajima (宮島) is a small island that is a popular day trip from Hiroshima City, it can be reached in an hour from city centre. The ‘Island of Gods’ is home to one of Japan’s most famous torii gates, the floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine. When you visit Miyajima island at low tide, you can walk all the way to the torii, but the best pictures are taken at high tide. At about 500 m above sea level, Mount Misen is the highest peak on the island, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the Seto Sea. You can either take one of the three hiking trails to the summit (1~2hrs) or take the ropeway. We recommend you take the ropeway up from Momijidani Station as you’ll still need to walk for about 30 minutes to reach the top of Mount Misen. Walk down, taking the Daishoin Course and pay a visit to the Daishoin Temple on the way.
The island is inhabited by about 2,000 people and over 1,000 deer that wander around freely, they are very used to people and friendly and cute for taking pictures. Many people only visit the island as a day trip, but spending the night on the island is a great experience too. There are many local ryokan, with onsen, and the view at night is stunning too. To make most out of your visit, join a private tour where a local guide will show you all the best things to see and do.
When visiting Miyajima, you should try their local sweets made in the shape of a momiji (maple leaf). The sponge cake is traditionally filled with red bean paste, but there are some other flavours like chocolate, vanilla and matcha too. Many shops on the island sell this cake, just follow the delicious smell!
How to get to Miyajima
- From Motoyasu Bridge in Hiroshima Peace Park there is a direct boat to Miyajima (45min, ¥2,000 one way).
- You can also take the JR train from Miyajimaguchi Station and from there take the JR ferry to Miyajima (1 hr, ¥600 one way – if you hold a JR Rail Pass, it is valid on JR ferry).
3. Takehara – Hiroshima Little Kyoto
Take a stroll back in time at Takehara (竹原市), also known as Hiroshima’s Little Kyoto. Takehara was a lively town, thriving on its salt and sake production back in the day. The well preserved townscape consists of many old merchant houses and shop, shrines and temples. A number of traditional buildings are transformed into cafes and restaurants and accessible for visitors. Enjoy some sake at the Taketsuru Sake Brewery, that is still in operation, and learn more about how sake is brewed. A visit to this historical town can be well combined with a trip to the nearby rabbit island!
How to get to Takehara
Take a bus from Hiroshima Bus Centre (~90 min).
4. Okunoshima or Rabbit Island
Located in the east of Hiroshima, the small island of Okunoshima (大久野島) is home to approximately 1,000 wild rabbits, roaming around freely. Rabbits are often considered of a symbol of fertility and childbirth. The animal island has not always been the cute destination to see the furry animals. During the World War 2 it used to house a secret chemical weapons factory. One theory about how the rabbits came to the island it that the rabbits were used to test the effectiveness of the weapons and were released at the end of the war. You can still see and visit the ruins of the factory and see how an island changed over time into the cutest destination. The circumference of the island is about 4km, making is possible to hike the complete surface. The views along the way are breathtaking!
How to get to Okunoshima
Take a ferry from Tadanoumi Port, located within walking distance from Tadanoumi Station.
Onomichi is a calm, nostalgic port town located on the hills of eastern Hiroshima along Seto Inland Sea. On the north side of the station you’ll find Senko-ji Park, a beautiful park popular for cherry blossom viewing in spring. The city is well known its temple walk that connects 25 historic temples. You can visit one of them, Senko-ji Temple built in 806, near the top of a small mountain overlooking the town and the Seto Inland Sea. It is also possible to ride the ropeway, which runs every 15 minutes, to the top.
The town is known for its many slopes and narrow streets, giving the town a nostalgic atmosphere and Onomichi has been featured in several popular films and literature, including the popular film Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu and popular anime Kamichu. While wandering around the maze backstreets, you may come across Cat Alley or Neko no Hosomichi, where you can spot many cats looked after by the locals. There is a small Manekineko Museum displaying the famous “lucky cat” goods. Onomichi is also the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido, a 60 km long tall scenic road, linking the city to Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, passing small remote islands. This route is hugely popular among cyclists.
How to get to Onomichi
From Hiroshima take the Shinkansen to Shin-Onomichi Station (45 min).
6. Shimanami Kaido Cycling Trail
The Shimanami Kaido is a toll road of approximately 70 km crossing the Seto Inland Sea and connecting Onomichi in Hiroshima to Imabari in Ehime Prefecture. The scenic road has a dedicated cycling route of about 80 km that is famous among cyclists and often described as the best cycling road in Japan. You can rent bicycles in both Onomichi and Imabari and the full trail can be comfortably completed in a day.
7. Eat Hiroshima’s specialty food: Okonomiyaki & Oysters
Hiroshima is often said to be the capital of okonomiyaki, a delicious Japanese dish that can be described as savoury pancake with noodles. There are several different versions of this dish, but the one from Hiroshima is the most popular throughout Japan. The Hiroshima Okonomiyaki stacks its ingredients instead of mixing them like the Kansai version. The ingredients also differ and include shredded cabbage, noodles, and pork. You will easily spot many okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima, a great place to try okonomiyaki is Okonomi-mura, located in Hiroshima city. The building is home to over 20 different okonomiyaki restaurants spread out over six floors.
Hiroshima boasts the largest production of oysters in Japan and a visit to Hiroshima isn’t complete without trying the raw or grilled oysters. On miyajima, there are many food stalls offering the fresh catch of the day, either grilled at the BBQ or raw.
8. Sandankyo Gorge
Sandankyo Gorge is a 16 km long gorge located in eastern Hiroshima. The gorge is known for its scenic views, waterfalls and hiking trails offering a great escape into nature. Especially in autumn, when the red leaves blanket the area, the area is a great spot to visit. The paved hiking trail is suitable to everyone and passes a few different scenic spots including some stunning waterfalls. Along the way you can also take a ride in a small boat for ¥500. After finishing the hike, you can take a dip in the public onsen of the Sandankyo hotel, overlooking the Yokokawa River. Because of the snow conditions in winter time, the gorge is only accessible from April to late November.
How to access Sandankyo Gorge
We recommend taking the express bus at 8.18am from Hiroshima Bus Station and return with the same bus at 3pm.
10. Cruise on the Seto Inland Sea
The Seto Inland Sea or Setouchi separates Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, three of the five main islands of Japan. Many ships sail through the waters of the Seto Inland Sea offering a great day out on the water. You have various options enjoying the scenic views of the natural beauty of many islands dotting the Seto Inland Sea and the epic bridges. You can take the ferry from Hiroshima to Miyajima and admire the views of Itsukushima Shrine through the torii, from the sea. Or take a boat departing from Onomichi headed for Ikuchi Island, famous for its’ lemon production. You have many different cruise options, and each are unique in their own way but all provide a leisurely experience to enjoy the scenery in a comfortable sea breeze.
Where to stay in Hiroshima
- Hotel Grandvia Hiroshima – luxury hotel at the heart of Hiroshima city
- Miyajima Guest House Mikuniya – Japanese guesthouse located near the ropeway station on Miyajima
- Hotel Cycle – Refurbished warehouse hotel located near Onomichi station
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
The best way to discover the area of Hiroshima is with a local guide who can show you the best places and explain you the stories behind it. Japan Wonder Travel offers a tour where you learn more about the historical events of Hiroshima and explore the beauty of Miyajima Island. The itinerary can also be customized to your requests, for more information, please visit the website below!
Besides the two World Heritage Sites Itsukushima Shrine and the Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Prefecture offers much more. The prefecture is known for is natural beauty and traditional, nostalgic townscapes. Many tourists only visit Hiroshima as a day trip, but there is much more to see and do and we recommend you spending at least a few days in the are to capture all its beauty! If you need some help sorting out your trip to Japan, advise on the best places to visit or getting tickets to events, we would be very happy to help, just let us know!
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