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Three Amazing Days in Hiroshima

Updated on December 29, 2014

I Finally Made It To Hiroshima

Hiroshima. The first thing that usually comes to mind when people hear that, is the atomic bomb. With the Peace Memorial Park being one of the most prominent features of the city, it's impossible to ignore Hiroshima's wartime past. But Hiroshima is more than that. It's a modern city with just over 2 million people living inside the metropolitan area.

Visiting Hiroshima has always been on my list of must-see places. And since I've been living in Japan for over 20 years now, it's a wonder as to why I waited so long. For a weekend trip, I usually find myself going to Osaka or Kyoto, which is just a 3-hour bullet train ride away. Further out, I've been to Hokkaido in the north and even made it to the beautiful Okinawan islands to the south. However Hiroshima lies somewhere between these places-too far to go for a quick weekend and not far enough to go by plane. This past winter, I finally decided to drop some money on a ticket and hopped on a plane for my 90-minute flight to Hiroshima.

*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

So Please Tell Me...

Have you visited Hiroshima before?

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I Freeze to Death in Hiroshima

Hiroshima
Hiroshima

Ok, I am over exaggerating but I swear, it was freezing when I arrived. My flight took off at 7 AM and arrived 90 minutes later at Hiroshima airport. Upon arriving, I was surprised to see that it was snowing. As I stood outside of the terminal, trying to figure out how to get into the city, I started to shiver from the freezing temperature, forcing me to get my thermal gloves out. Once I figured things out, I was on the bus headed into Hiroshima city.

Hiroshima is a modern city with extremely friendly people, an ancient castle smack in the center of the city and distinctive hearty cuisine. I had my hotel room booked for two nights so I knew I could take things at my own pace. Still, I wanted to visit nearby Miyajima as well as Iwakuni, which has one of the most beautiful and picturesque bridges in Japan.

My hotel was located conveniently in the city right next to the train and bus stations, making for easy access to the places I wanted to visit. The best thing about my room was the view of the castle with the mountains surrounding most of the city. Although it looked cold just looking outside my window, I couldn't wait to explore every nook and cranny of the city. Also on the itinerary today was the Peace Memorial Museum and the A-bomb Dome, which is a designated UNESCO world heritage site.

*Photo : View from the bridge looking towards the Peace Memorial Site

Images of Hiroshima

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The main transportation within the city is by environmentally-friendly streetcars.The view from my hotel window. Can you spot the castle in the middle of the moat?Lots of hot tea and coffee breaks to keep from freezing my butt off.Hiroshima's most popular souvenir is a small maple-leaf shaped cake with a history of more than 100 years.Many arcades like this one provides shopping under a protective roof.Metropolitan Hiroshima has everything you need and is a shopper's paradise.One of the shopping arcades at night.
The main transportation within the city is by environmentally-friendly streetcars.
The main transportation within the city is by environmentally-friendly streetcars.
The view from my hotel window. Can you spot the castle in the middle of the moat?
The view from my hotel window. Can you spot the castle in the middle of the moat?
Lots of hot tea and coffee breaks to keep from freezing my butt off.
Lots of hot tea and coffee breaks to keep from freezing my butt off.
Hiroshima's most popular souvenir is a small maple-leaf shaped cake with a history of more than 100 years.
Hiroshima's most popular souvenir is a small maple-leaf shaped cake with a history of more than 100 years.
Many arcades like this one provides shopping under a protective roof.
Many arcades like this one provides shopping under a protective roof.
Metropolitan Hiroshima has everything you need and is a shopper's paradise.
Metropolitan Hiroshima has everything you need and is a shopper's paradise.
One of the shopping arcades at night.
One of the shopping arcades at night.
One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children's Peace Statue
One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children's Peace Statue

This true story about Sadako, a young 12-year-old girl affected by the radiation from the atomic bomb, is heart-wrenching, beautiful and inspiring. Never to give up, she decides to fold 1000 cranes , hoping that if she succeeds, her wish would be granted. A powerful and inspirational story that will stay with you long after you finish the book.

 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the A-Bomb Dome

Peace Memorial Park
Peace Memorial Park

After a light lunch of a soul-satisfying bowl of hot noodles, I walked a half-dozen blocks to the Peace Memorial Park. As I crossed the bridge over to the site, I was stunned at the silent beauty of the place. It's hard to miss the A-Bomb Dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. When the bomb exploded, this was one of the buildings to remain standing. It is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While visiting the main facility which is the Peace Memorial Museum, I was hurled into a whirlwind of emotions. The museum surveys the history of Hiroshima and the nuclear bomb which hit the city. The main focus of this museum is on the events that occurred on that day and the effects it had on human suffering. Going through the museum, it was hard not to shed a tear and there were a few times that I almost burst into full-blown crying and had to sit down a few times. In the end, I was happy that I got to see this place. And despite the somber exhibits of the museum, the message was of hope. A hope for everlasting peace and a reminder that peace should never be taken for granted. At the end of my visit I didn't feel sad as I had expected. Instead I felt uplifted, hopeful and wanting to believe in the goodness of humanity.

*Photo : A-Bomb Dome

Peace Memorial Park

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The Children's Peace Monument is a statue dedicated to the memory of children that died as a result of the bomb.Paper cranes from around the world are sent to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue.Sasaki Sadako, a young girl who died from radiation believe that if she folder 1000 paper cranes, she would be cured.The skeletal ruins of the former Industrial Promotion Hall.This building was the closest to the hypocenter of the nuclear bomb and remained partially standing after the blast.The A-bomb Dome was left standing in memory of the casualties.The A-Bomb Dome is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.Standing in front of the building was surreal.Peace design created from 1,000 folded cranes by grade-school students.
The Children's Peace Monument is a statue dedicated to the memory of children that died as a result of the bomb.
The Children's Peace Monument is a statue dedicated to the memory of children that died as a result of the bomb.
Paper cranes from around the world are sent to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue.
Paper cranes from around the world are sent to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue.
Sasaki Sadako, a young girl who died from radiation believe that if she folder 1000 paper cranes, she would be cured.
Sasaki Sadako, a young girl who died from radiation believe that if she folder 1000 paper cranes, she would be cured.
The skeletal ruins of the former Industrial Promotion Hall.
The skeletal ruins of the former Industrial Promotion Hall.
This building was the closest to the hypocenter of the nuclear bomb and remained partially standing after the blast.
This building was the closest to the hypocenter of the nuclear bomb and remained partially standing after the blast.
The A-bomb Dome was left standing in memory of the casualties.
The A-bomb Dome was left standing in memory of the casualties.
The A-Bomb Dome is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The A-Bomb Dome is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Standing in front of the building was surreal.
Standing in front of the building was surreal.
Peace design created from 1,000 folded cranes by grade-school students.
Peace design created from 1,000 folded cranes by grade-school students.

Miyajima and Itsukushima Shrine

Miyajima Shrine
Miyajima Shrine

My second day called for taking an hour train ride outside the city and taking a short boat ride to the island of Miyajima. Out of all the shrines in Japan, this was the one I wanted to visit the most. Up until this day, I've only seen the it on postcards, books and TV and I was extremely excited about seeing the place with my own eyes.

Itsukushima Shrine is located and built over water as well as the symbolic torii gate. It's an incredibly beautiful island with quaint streets and bustling shops as well as other temples, many wild deer and virgin forest. Many people stay overnight but I could only spare a day and decided to make the most of my short time.

Photo : The torii gate at high tide.

Images of Miyajima

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The island had lots of places where one could be alone with the peace and serenity of the place.Wild deers that pop out of nowhere.During low tide, you can walk up to the torii gate. This was around 10 AM.The grand torii gate up close.The shrine itself is painted a bright vermillion red.The entire complex is built right on top of the ocean floor.The shrine.As you can see, it is still low tide.During high tide, this entire area is filled with water.Just behind the shrine complex, there are numerous streets leading to shops, houses and other temples.A cafe that served a mean cup of green tea.Beautiful stairs made of stone can be found all over the island.Random paper lantern outside a shop.A side street with the virgin forest in the background.Steps lead closer to a temple.A beautiful walk lead me to a temple I had all to myself.
The island had lots of places where one could be alone with the peace and serenity of the place.
The island had lots of places where one could be alone with the peace and serenity of the place.
Wild deers that pop out of nowhere.
Wild deers that pop out of nowhere.
During low tide, you can walk up to the torii gate. This was around 10 AM.
During low tide, you can walk up to the torii gate. This was around 10 AM.
The grand torii gate up close.
The grand torii gate up close.
The shrine itself is painted a bright vermillion red.
The shrine itself is painted a bright vermillion red.
The entire complex is built right on top of the ocean floor.
The entire complex is built right on top of the ocean floor.
The shrine.
The shrine.
As you can see, it is still low tide.
As you can see, it is still low tide.
During high tide, this entire area is filled with water.
During high tide, this entire area is filled with water.
Just behind the shrine complex, there are numerous streets leading to shops, houses and other temples.
Just behind the shrine complex, there are numerous streets leading to shops, houses and other temples.
A cafe that served a mean cup of green tea.
A cafe that served a mean cup of green tea.
Beautiful stairs made of stone can be found all over the island.
Beautiful stairs made of stone can be found all over the island.
Random paper lantern outside a shop.
Random paper lantern outside a shop.
A side street with the virgin forest in the background.
A side street with the virgin forest in the background.
Steps lead closer to a temple.
Steps lead closer to a temple.
A beautiful walk lead me to a temple I had all to myself.
A beautiful walk lead me to a temple I had all to myself.

Broiled Eel and High Tide at Miyajima

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Random trinkets at one of the many shops on the island.The island is known for broiled eels on top of rice.A shop selling rice paddles.The tide is coming in.The torii at high tide.Deers doing what they do.The tide is coming in!The last photo I took before heading back to the mainland.
Random trinkets at one of the many shops on the island.
Random trinkets at one of the many shops on the island.
The island is known for broiled eels on top of rice.
The island is known for broiled eels on top of rice.
A shop selling rice paddles.
A shop selling rice paddles.
The tide is coming in.
The tide is coming in.
The torii at high tide.
The torii at high tide.
Deers doing what they do.
Deers doing what they do.
The tide is coming in!
The tide is coming in!
The last photo I took before heading back to the mainland.
The last photo I took before heading back to the mainland.

The Kintai-kyo Bridge in Iwakuni

Iwakuni, Hiroshima
Iwakuni, Hiroshima

The final day of my trip consisted of a visit to the small city of Iwakuni, which is about an hour away by bus. The rest of the day was spent shopping for souvenirs, checking out of the hotel and heading to the airport for my trip back home. I had a fairly busy day planned, so I made sure I woke up before 7 AM and finished eating breakfast by 8 AM before boarding the bus to my destination.

Iwakuni is a small city with a population of 150,000 people and is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, just outside of Hiroshima. The city is best known for the structurally unique Kintai-kyo Bridge. Completely made of wood and without the use of a single nail, the bridge makes five arches onto huge stone pillars that cross the Nishiki River. Kintai-kyo Bridge is considered to be Japan's most elegant wooden bridge.

In olden times, the city of Iwakuni was one of the feudal domains of Japan with a castle overlooking the city from the mountain top. The castle was reconstructed in the 1960s and can be visited together with the bridge.

*Photo : Kintai-kyo Bridge

The Beautiful Kintai-kyo Bridge

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Let's take a stroll to the bridge.It's quite an amazing sight even from a distance.The mountains add to the beauty of this place.Amazing architecture.All wooden without using any nails.This has got to be the most beautiful wooden bridge I've ever seen in my life.Not many people come here but that's the beauty of this place.The water looks crystal clear from the bridge.The castle on the mountain top can be reached by gondolas.The local specialty in this part of town is this pressed sushi.
Let's take a stroll to the bridge.
Let's take a stroll to the bridge.
It's quite an amazing sight even from a distance.
It's quite an amazing sight even from a distance.
The mountains add to the beauty of this place.
The mountains add to the beauty of this place.
Amazing architecture.
Amazing architecture.
All wooden without using any nails.
All wooden without using any nails.
This has got to be the most beautiful wooden bridge I've ever seen in my life.
This has got to be the most beautiful wooden bridge I've ever seen in my life.
Not many people come here but that's the beauty of this place.
Not many people come here but that's the beauty of this place.
The water looks crystal clear from the bridge.
The water looks crystal clear from the bridge.
The castle on the mountain top can be reached by gondolas.
The castle on the mountain top can be reached by gondolas.
The local specialty in this part of town is this pressed sushi.
The local specialty in this part of town is this pressed sushi.

Local Delicacies

Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki

Food is another reason to visit this part of the country. Hiroshima is known for a handful of local delicacies, but two that were on my list to try were the Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki and Oysters.

Although okonomiyaki is found in other parts of the country such as Osaka, it is made completely different here. Okonomiyaki is usually made by mixing various ingredients into a flour-based batter but in Hiroshima, each ingredient is cooked separately, finally layering everything on top of each other before serving.

Hiroshima also accounts for about 60-70% of Japan's oyster production and they are especially plump and delicious in this part of the country. In fact I never really cared much for oysters until I had some on this trip. I loved the oysters so much that I had a whole plate of them on both nights of my stay!

*Photo : Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki and Oysters Oh My!

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A typical okonomiyaki joint, which there are many in Hiroshima.The beginnings of the okonomiyaki. Here are the noodle and flour batter layers being cooked.The egg layer and cabbage layers.The entire thing is flipped over.Meat is added to the top then flipped over again.The dish is finished off with a savory sauce.I also got myself an order of oysters cooked with butter.Simply eaten with a squeeze of lemon. Pure heaven!The second night, I tried a different okonomiyaki place. They served it with the egg layer wrapped around the entire thing. This was good too.
A typical okonomiyaki joint, which there are many in Hiroshima.
A typical okonomiyaki joint, which there are many in Hiroshima.
The beginnings of the okonomiyaki. Here are the noodle and flour batter layers being cooked.
The beginnings of the okonomiyaki. Here are the noodle and flour batter layers being cooked.
The egg layer and cabbage layers.
The egg layer and cabbage layers.
The entire thing is flipped over.
The entire thing is flipped over.
Meat is added to the top then flipped over again.
Meat is added to the top then flipped over again.
The dish is finished off with a savory sauce.
The dish is finished off with a savory sauce.
I also got myself an order of oysters cooked with butter.
I also got myself an order of oysters cooked with butter.
Simply eaten with a squeeze of lemon. Pure heaven!
Simply eaten with a squeeze of lemon. Pure heaven!
The second night, I tried a different okonomiyaki place. They served it with the egg layer wrapped around the entire thing. This was good too.
The second night, I tried a different okonomiyaki place. They served it with the egg layer wrapped around the entire thing. This was good too.

Make Okonomiyaki at Home

Okonomiyaki: Japanese Comfort Food
Okonomiyaki: Japanese Comfort Food

One of the most popular food in Japan, okonomiyaki is true comfort food. Learn how to make this delicious dish at home in all its different forms-Osaka, Tokyo and Hiroshima style. He even includes some new-style fusion okonomiyaki recipes which taste as good as they sound.

 

Hiroshima, I'll Be Back

HIroshima streetcars
HIroshima streetcars

So after two nights and three days of exploring Hiroshima and its environs, I feel content-happy that I made it here. I finally get to cross one more thing off my bucket list. But the funny thing is that now I am itching to go back to Hiroshima again, perhaps staying just a bit longer next time so that I can see things at a slower pace.

Next time, I want to visit the places I didn't have time for. I completely forgot about checking out the castle just outside my hotel. But what I most want to do is this. I want to go to that small island called Miyajima one more time and this time, I'll stay overnight. I'll sleep to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shores of this strange and mysterious island. Then I'll wake up to the sight of the virgin forest in the background and perhaps taking an early morning walk with only the occasional wild deer crossing my path.

*Photo : Streetcars in Hiroshima

What Did You Think?

Would you like to visit Hiroshima?

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Essential Information

Click on any of the links below to learn more about each place.

Hiroshima

Miyajima

Iwakuni and Kintai-kyo Bridge

I really hope you enjoyed reading about my Hiroshima trip. Please feel free to leave your comments here. They are always appreciated.

Thank you so much for visiting!

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    • amandascloset0 profile image

      amandascloset0 3 years ago

      I would like to visit there someday. It is a very nice lens and I love the pictures, particularly of the bridge. It's gorgeous ! Thanks for sharing your trip!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thank you for the tour of Hiroshima. i really enjoyed your lens and your photographs are beautiful!

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      Visiting Hiroshima would be amazing. I hope I get to go to Japan someday.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 3 years ago

      I would love to go there. I know that there's much history, and would like to see the special areas and places steeped in history. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I love taking these journeys with you. One day I will visit these places in person. Until then, please keep unveiling the heart and soul of Japan. I am so drawn to this beauty.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      Iived in japan when i was a child. i've always wanted to go back for a visit.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      I've always wanted to see Japan but for some reason never thought about visiting Hiroshima. You've got me wanting to go there!

    • stereomike83 profile image

      stereomike83 3 years ago from UK

      Great Lens, I'd love to explore Japan one day and think based on this that Hiroshima would have to be on the list of places to go if I did manage such a trip!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      Boy those oysters look delicious! Thanks for this introduction to Hiroshima.

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 3 years ago

      Love your pictures and the deer!

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 3 years ago

      I would love to visit; I love things Japanese (though I have to be careful about the food; I can't eat all of it). I would want to stay a long time. It is amazing how well they have rebuilt, and they show us how stupid it is to take a victim attitude and not get out there and do so. They have a wonderful spirit. I understand that the two cities that were bombed contained a high percentage of Christians. I find that most interesting for a number of reasons. It's obviously a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Great tour lens, smine27!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this wonderful tour.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Until now, whenever I thought of Hiroshima, pictures of relentless devastation and suffering came to mind, for that was all I had seen. Your story of a modern city teeming with life, famous for certain delicacies, and never forgetting its past, the more recent and the ancient, fill me with hope. May we all be so resilient in the decades to come. Thank you for sharing your weekend in this locale. It is lovely.

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 3 years ago

      What a nice lens and a tribute to Hiroshima.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Lovely lens as always, you tell the story so beautifully. I felt like I was there with you....thanks!

    • profile image

      nonya222 3 years ago

      Fascinating and great info. Loved it.

    • trevorjb1406 profile image

      trevorjb1406 3 years ago

      Great lens, really loved it! I would like to take my camera to Japan for a couple of weeks! Unlikely now but who knows?

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 3 years ago

      This is just my kind of place. The torii gate is gorgeous. It must be exciting to see the tide coming in. The food looks delicious, especially the oysters! I don't know if I'll have a chance to visit there, but I enjoyed the tour!

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      You're making me want to go so badly, especially to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the A-Bomb Dome, to Miyajima and Itsukushima Shrine, the Beautiful Kintai-kyo Bridge, and off course to try all those wonderful looking foods. I'm going CRAZY !!!

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have the book 1000 Cranes! The food looks amazing.

      Cheers

      Grace

    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 3 years ago

      Nice lens and an excellent tribute. Your pictures tell only pf the partial beauty that exists there today. Thank you for sharing. Your message that you felt hope, after seeing the old and new Hiroshima, is an excellent description. I felt much the same upon my visit. The difference in the now vibrant and modern Hiroshima is a message (I think) that all things are possible. Congratulations on being awarded the Purple Star.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      I can't imagine going to such an amazing place. I haven't ventured very far out of my hometown, but I would love to visit other countries and see great places such as Hiroshima some day. I can see why you want to visit Miyajima the most, I think that would have been top of my list as well. My fiancé and I really love the Japanese culture, it would be so great to be able to travel there someday. Thanks for sharing such an interesting place I hadn't otherwise really heard about. Loved your photos and the way you described everything!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      Beautiful pictures and thank you so much for sharing your personal emotions. I am particularly pleased to heard you found a kind of peace while visiting. Such unspeakable things humans sometimes do to each other. But also such a wonder we can come together and learn from the event and the aftermath. I hope you are able to visit again and share the experience.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I loved your lens, it was amazing as always, I got goose bumps just looking at the picture of the A-Bomb Dome. Thanks for a wonderful tour and sharing your experience. :)

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 3 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I enjoyed your photos and I hope the Peace Memorial will always serve as a reminder of the importance of peace and to keep these horrible weapons from ever being used again.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Fascinating lens about a place steeped in history that it seems would be truly worth spending time at!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      A lovely tour, Smine! Loved experiencing it through your photos. Your weekend (or longer) trips sound like such a fun way to explore. We are lucky you share them with us!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I would love to go there, really enjoyed your story and the photos are terrific as well

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I love that you share the world with me. Thank you.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love your travels and your lenses about them. I'm glad your lens also mentioned the beautiful aspect of Hiroshima, and not just the devastation from the A-bomb. This is a great historical lens, and I'm including it on my Facebook page Hand In Glove With History.