Acknowledging their destructive history, yet understanding their ever-present desire for peace, Hiroshima today is a city who’s people have rebuilt on hope for the future, based on painful learnings from the past. If your plans allow, we’d suggest taking two days to fully experience the Memorial, as well as the other areas that make up the character of today’s Hiroshima.
- Peace Memorial Park & Museum. A solemn yet impactful memorial that deserves a full day to properly observe. Insider tip: There is a profound talk given at the Museum in English about the victims that we’d highly recommend. Times vary based on the day, so do check the schedule when you buy your tickets.
- Shukkeien Garden. This literally translates to “shrunken garden.” A popular Japanese style in landscaping dating back to early 1300’s, Japanese landscapers began maximizing the small spaces they were given to work within by miniaturizing scenic views of mountains, lakes and forests in a way that made the gardens seem much larger than they actually were. Shukkeien, a beautiful representation of this, modeled it’s design after Xihu (West Lake) in Hangzhou, China.* There are thatch roofed tea houses throughout the garden where you can sit, reflect and relax, and also a cafe where you can enjoy a quiet lunch after your visit. We simply enjoyed curling up with a book for a few hours in Yuyu-tei (one of the beautiful pond-side tea cottages)!
*Shukkeien was destroyed when the Atomic Bomb was dropped but was fully restored by the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education.
- Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima. A quiet island about an hour away from Hiroshima, Miyajima boasts one of the most picturesque shrines in all of Japan. Erected on the sand, Itsukushima Shrine at high tide looks as though it’s floating on water, which is stunning at sunset. You can check the tide timetable here to make sure you arrive for high tide. To get there, you can take public transit (which includes a short ferry ride), or a direct boat from Peace Memorial Park ($20USD/person each way or $36USD round trip). Insider tip: There are blogs that recommend staying overnight to experience the charm of the island after the tourists leave for the day. If this works for your plans, you can read more about it here.
Koba Bar. Bom, the owner of this bar, is quite possibly the funniest and most welcoming person we’ve met yet, on our travels. He started chatting with us the minute we sat down, and as the night went on, we became fast friends. Known as “rock” bar, he plays a collection of his favorite 80’s and 90’s music, as the videos play via projector on the cement wall leading up to the second floor. The food is great as well (we’d recommend the Koba Pizza and smoked chicken wing), but mostly it’s a great place to unwind and relax in the midst of great company. Insider tip: Make sure to try shujo and/or one of the Japanese whisky’s from Bom’s collection! Ask him to pour you his favorite and you won’t be disappointed!
Suggestion cred: Karen & Will
Old Beans Coffee. This is a small coffee shop with an old, seemingly Eastern European charm, completely opposite of the sleek modern shops you’ll see elsewhere throughout the city. The lady who works there is a sweet older woman who will help translate the Japanese menu to make sure you get what you’re looking for, though asking for an Americano is always a safe bet if you simply want a drip coffee. Free wifi is available for an hour.
Obscura Coffee Roasters. We found breakfast for Westerners a bit hard to find in Hiroshima, but stumbled upon this cafe which turned out to be a diamond in the ruff. The dishes are by no means healthy, but absolutely delicious, and the coffee was done well also, leaving you completely satisfied. If you do end up here, make sure to order the honey toast. It’s very sweet, tasting more like a decadent French toast, and is best complimented by a cup of strong black coffee.