Hiroshima offers a wealth of activities, sites, and opportunities for foreign tourists to learn about the cultural and historical dimensions of Japan. Easily the most famous city in western Japan, Hiroshima not only has a lot to offer in and of itself but can act as a hub for travel throughout the entire region.
Access to and from this capital city can be made via most any means of transportation. Hiroshima has an international airport, a large seaport, and is one of the main stops on the national train line.
Tourists can fly in from other countries on a variety of airlines, or, if you are already in Japan, Hiroshima is less than four hours away from Tokyo via the Shinkansen bullet train, and less than two hours away from Osaka. Hiroshima is laced with six major rivers that drain into the Seto Inland Sea, and one can take cruises along them, even to places as far away as Miyajima.
Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park
For those interested in history, Hiroshima has the world-famous Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park a short streetcar ride from the station. The Peace Park contains many sculptures and monuments dedicated to those who died in the bombing.
There are also museums and exhibit halls that contain a wealth of materials relating to the event. Tourists who don’t speak Japanese can rent headsets and tapes in English and other languages that explain the exhibits. Hiroshima is tireless in its efforts to promote peace throughout the world and ensure that atomic weapons are never again used against humanity.
There is also a library with materials in many foreign languages(mostly English) that relate to the bombing. People with an interest are able to check the books out and read them for free. It also contains many sculptures and monuments dedicated to those who died in the bombing.
There are also museums and exhibit halls that contain a wealth of materials relating to the event. Visitors who don’t speak Japanese can rent headsets and tapes in English and other languages that explain the exhibits.
Hiroshima is tireless in its efforts to promote peace throughout the world and ensure that atomic weapons are never again used against humanity. There is also a library with materials in many foreign languages (mostly English) that relate to the bombing. People with an interest are able to check the books out and read them for free.
Hiroshima has many museums and parks for those who are interested. The museums range from the Hiroshima Museum of Modern Art, located on Hijiyama (there is also a manga reading library close by) to the prefectural museum of art located downtown. Exhibits change frequently, and one never knows what might be on offer, from French Impressionists to artifacts from Egyptian tombs to cells from animation classics.
In addition to the Peace Park, Hiroshima has Shukkeien (with the Prefectural Museum of Art right next to it), a miniature garden based on a Chinese design. This small and lovely park is built around an hourglass-shaped pond and can be toured in as little as 20 minutes.
There is also the central park (called Chuu-o koen), with Hiroshima castle located right next to it. Hijiyama offers a bracing walk up a wooded hillside and provides a scenic overlook of the city. All of the main tourist attractions are located within easy walking distance of a streetcar stop, with most having a stop right in front of them.
World’s Greatest Animation Festival
If you visit Hiroshima at the right time (in late August) you can catch the International Animation Festival. Held every two years, it is a 5-day collection of animation gems from around the world screened at six theaters at the festival site near Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. Among the movies screened at the 2004 festival were “Destino” from Disney Enterprises, Inc., “Broken Down Film” by Osamu Tezuka, and “Song of the Miraculous Hind” by Marcell Jancokvics.
Mazda’s Museum of Automotive Technology
Unlike all the other major Japanese auto manufacturers, Mazda Motor Corporation makes its home in Hiroshima, not Tokyo. As a complement to its plant tours, Mazda has a museum that shows both the history of the company and many of its modern innovations such as the rotary engine. With English language cassettes to help guide visitors along, this museum can see seen in an hour or two and makes for a pleasant and informative side-trip.
Famous local food: Okonomiyaki!
No trip to Hiroshima would be complete without sampling the local specialty food: okonomiyaki. Unlike the Kansai version of okonomiyaki, Hiroshima layers its ingredients to produce something along the lines of a vertical Japanese pizza. Many of the shops are run by middle-aged men and women who have made a career out of preparing okonomiyaki.
These restaurants offer a homey atmosphere and patrons are welcomed into a family-style setting, with total strangers talking to each other over the griddle. There are literally thousands of okonomiyaki shops in the Hiroshima area, but you can find a collection of them in Okonomi-mura and also in Okonomi-kyowakoku.
Finally, the English language website Gethiroshima.com has a wealth of information about the city. Constantly updated, there are reviews of everything from bars and restaurants to movie theaters and sightseeing spots, listings of festivals, events, and so on. If you’re going to be in the city for more than a couple of days, check it out.