Hiroshima has a wealth of opportunities to offer travelers of all stripes. History buffs and those wishing to commemorate and honor peaceful virtues may think of Hiroshima as a stop on their Japanese adventures, but the area also boasts many vacation-worthy options. Foodies looking for local cuisine can try their hands at making Hiroshima-yaki, a variant of the okonomiyaki cabbage pancakes popular throughout Japan. Relax and watch the fishermen at Tomonoura, or take in the many temples and shrines that dot the landscape. Past meets present in Hiroshima, where you can get Japanese Wi-Fi access to document your journey and share your experiences with friends around the globe.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
It’s hard to imagine a trip to Hiroshima that doesn’t include a visit to the iconic peace memorial. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is visible from most of the city proper. It’s a place where families gather to spend time enjoying the sights and survivors or their descendants visit to leave gifts in reverence. The highly photogenic memorial welcomes visitors from around the world, its driving goal being to educate the world about how important peace is in modern times. On weekends, the peace memorial plays hosts to musicians and buskers of all types, making it a family-friendly place where history strives to avoid ever repeating itself.
Onomichi Temple Walk
If the many beautiful temples of Japan are more your style for historical sightseeing, the Temple Walk in Onomichi has what you’re seeking. Follow the many signs and wind your way on a path that takes you past 25 Japanese temples. Stop in to visit attendants at the larger locations, or simply pose for photos and enjoy the scenery. Many temples have hosts who speak multiple languages, or you can pack along discrete translation tech and benefit from the fact that temple hosts are exceptionally patient and willing to share their love of Japanese tradition and history.
Okonomiyaki in Okonomimura
Hiroshima has its own regional variant of okonomiyaki, and it is a treat not to be missed when visiting the area. Okonomimura is where the best chefs come to share their take on Hiroshima-yaki, making it easy to try three or more distinct takes on the amazing local dish in one visit. Many of the vendors at Okonomimura follow the tradition of letting guests assemble their own meals. They then flip the batter and ingredients together and cook them to crisp perfection right in front of you. Remember that Hiroshima-yaki tends to focus on fresh ingredients and heavier sauces than many variants. Mayonnaise is less common here than in other areas.
When you’ve got a full stomach and are in no hurry to walk any further, or tackle the 60 kilometers of bike-friendly bridges and roadways on the Shimanami Kaido, take some time and relax seaside at Tomonoura. This fishing area offers many delightful sights, including some of the best cherry-blossom viewing across the water. Local restaurants serve up the freshest catch of the day when your stomach starts to growl again, giving you a dinner treat to complement an okonomiyaki lunch.
Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima
The torii gate found in the waters off of Itsukushima Shrine is one of the best-known images of Japan. Its brilliant red color reflects neatly in the sea during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, making it a picturesque opportunity not to be missed by visiting photographers and bloggers alike. Visit the shrine proper to meet friendly deer and discover views of the gate from the other side of the water. Toss a donation into the box for luck, or just enjoy the breathtaking sights that rival some of the most beautiful shrines in Tokyo.
Spring and early summer are wonderful times to visit Hiroshima, before the rains set in during the late summer and fall months or the winter’s chill. When visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, take care to avoid any buskers claiming to be monks. This is a common ploy used by would-be panhandlers who offer to sell charms or prayers and are really just looking for handouts. Support the local shrines and community by buying from their shops and making donations instead. This way you can be sure that you’re giving and getting things as advertised. Don’t forget to charge your smartphone, as there’s always a beautiful view to capture almost anywhere in Hiroshima.