An In-depth Guide: Hiroshima, Japan

A colourful, energetic city with a unique history waiting to be explored; the city of Hiroshima cannot be missed when visiting Japan. The city endured devastation in 1945 from an atomic bomb, although Hiroshima was rebuilt, and visitors of the city can explore this historical event first hand. The city is home to a collection of treasured locations to uncover and explore. Here are a few tips to help you plan your next visit to Hiroshima, Japan.

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Seasons of Hiroshima

The seasons in Japan can be quite diverse, with some months bringing along temperatures above 30°C, whereas other months can bring forth snow. This means travellers need to know what the weather will be like when they are visiting to ensure suitable clothing is packed.

Summer: June, July and August – 22°C to 30°C

Autumn: September, October and November – 14°C to 23°C

Winter: December, January and February – 3°C to 11°C

Spring: March, April and May – 10°C to 20°C

Best Time to Visit Hiroshima

Peak season for travel Japan is during the cherry blossom season, when the vibrant foliage of the cherry blossoms trees provides a bright pink, widely enjoyed backdrop to the city. This typically takes place in early April and mid-November. Although this time of the year can be spectacularly beautiful, hotel prices are much more expensive. It should also be noted that between April 29 and May 5, most of the population receive the week off work (otherwise known as Golden Week to locals). Hotel prices increase during this times and crowds are at an all-time high.

The rainiest months of the year are June and July. Most days in these months will be wet so if you are visiting during this time, an umbrella may be a good idea. Weather is also likely to be hotter and humid during this time.

May is a nice time to visit Japan. Temperatures are pleasant and hotel accommodation is affordable. As this month doesn’t fall into peak season, crowds are also smaller. Late autumn through to early spring can also be a pleasant time to see Japan. Although temperatures are colder, the cities (such as Hiroshima) can sometimes be highlighted by white, snowy surroundings.

Flight Time and Cost

Flight costs to Japan will vary between the departure and arrival destinations, different airlines and how far in advanced tickets are booked. Booking tickets last minute will result in a much more expensive airfare, so it’s best to book a few months in advanced. Travellers wishing to visit Japan can expect a flight from Australia to cost upwards of $800. However, various flight sales throughout the year with budget airlines can bring prices down. It is also important to note that flight prices will vary between arrival points. Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and the most popular arrival destination. Hiroshima isn’t a popular arrival point and is a much more expensive city to fly into. However, Osaka (located approximately 2 hours bullet train from Hiroshima) is typically a much cheaper arrival destination.

The flight time to Japan is reasonably long, depending on the departure point. Travellers departing from the east coast of Australia can expect a 9 – 10 hour flight time, whereas departures from the west coast will take around 13 hours.

Due to the longer nature of the flight, it may be a good idea to bring along items to make the journey more comfortable. Ear plugs or head phones, an eye mask and approved toiletries can go a long way towards making a flight much more enjoyable. Walking, standing and stretching (at appropriate times) are also recommended.

Accommodation in Hiroshima

Hotel prices in Hiroshima will vary between the peak and low seasons of travel. For example, a 3 star hotel in the city during the cherry blossom season will average $270 (AU) per night. However, those visiting in the shoulder travel seasons (such as late May) can expect to pay around $200 (AU) per night for a 3 star hotel.

If you are wishing to save money on accommodation, it’s best to shop around and be patient. Wait for a deal to come by that suits your criteria and be prepared to buy when it arises. Although staying towards the heart of the city can be more expensive, it’s much more convenient in Hiroshima.

Top Attractions in Hiroshima

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is one of the city’s major attractions, covering approximately 120,000 square metres. The parkland is situated upon the area of town that used to be the buzzing heart of the city before the atomic bomb was dropped. It was decided that the area would not be rebuilt to its prior state, but rather turned into a large memorial for peace. Just by wandering through the colourful, serene parkland, visitors can sense the emotional weight it carries. Within the memorial park is the peace museum and the atomic dome; two very popular spots amongst tourists.

Entry Cost: Free

Time to Allocate: 1 – 1.5 hours

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Reminding visitors of the past devastation of the city, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum delves deep into the history of Hiroshima and focuses on the dropping of the atomic bomb. The Museum recounts the events leading up to the bomb, the devastation it caused and some eye opening personal stories. The experience overall provides visitors will a comprehensible understanding of this major historical event, as well as a deeper appreciation of the city.

Entry Cost: Adults: ¥200

Time to Allocate: 1.5 hours

Atomic Bomb Dome

Located across the river from the memorial park, the Atomic Bomb Dome provides visitors with a visual understanding of the just how catastrophic the atomic bomb truly was. The dome is the remains of the city’s promotional hall after the bomb went off. The building was one of the few that remained standing. The hall was initially going to be demolished, although through the efforts of the public, it has been preserved over the years as a memorial for peace.

Entry Cost: Free

Time to Allocate: 30 minutes

Miyajima Island

Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is a small island located within the Hiroshima bay, accessible via ferry. The island is known for the giant torii gate, officially called the Itskushima Shrine, which travellers can explore up close when the tide is out. When the tide is in, the shrine appears to be floating upon the water. Countless wild deer inhabit the island and interact with tourists at various popular spots. The island has an array of shrines and temples to explore, along with food stalls and markets, making it much more than a spiritual attraction.

Entry Cost: Ferry Ride: ¥180 each way. Additional charges for Itsukushima Shrine and other attractions.

Time to Allocate: 3 hours

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Hiroshima Castle

A classic, towering Japanese castle surrounded by a vibrant garden; The Hiroshima Castle attracts various travellers visiting Japan. The structure was opened in 1592 and stands in the centre of the city. After the Hiroshima Castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb, the structure was rebuilt, using some traditional building materials and techniques. From the top floor of the 5 storied castle, visitors can enjoy sweeping views of the city. The castle is only a 15 minute walk from the Hiroshima Peace Park and is a must see when visiting the city.

Entry Cost: ¥370.

Time to Allocate: 1.5 hours.

Transportation around Hiroshima

When it comes to navigating around Hiroshima, travellers are gifted with a wide array of options. Public transport is recommended over renting a car. This is because the system is very cost effective, extremely easy to use and conveniently located throughout the city.

Hiroden Street Car

The Hiroden Street cars have been a way of life for citizens for many years and prove to be very useful when navigating within the heart of Hiroshima. Eight different routes are available to travellers. When using these cars, enter towards the middle carriage and disembark near the driver, paying the exact fare. This is because change cannot be given, however change machines are available near the fare boxes. Tickets start at ¥180.

Taxis

Taxis can often be extremely convenient and useful, although expensive compared to public transport. If you are wishing to catch a taxi, the illuminated sign on the top of the car will mean it is vacant. You may either flag down a taxi or find a taxi station. The passenger doors will open automatically. The starting fare for a taxi in Hiroshima typically begins at ¥540.

Public Buses

The public bus system in Hiroshima is very thorough, with many routes available throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. Most tourists will generally use the red and green Hiroshima buses. Fares typically begin at ¥160. When boarding, enter through the middle of the vehicle and take a number. This number will indicate where you boarded the bus. When you leave, pay the driver the exact amount.

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Foods to Try in Hiroshima

Japan is a dream when it comes to new foods, with a vast array of flavours to experience and enjoy.

According to Lonely Planet’s Money and Cost Guide to Japan, on a midrange budget, a meal for two will cost around ¥6000.

Sushi – a well-known and widely enjoyed Japanese food. Typically contains rice and raw fish.

Miso Soup – Commonly served with traditional Japanese meals. Made from fish stock, miso bean paste, green onions and tofu.

Sashimi – Thinly sliced raw meats (fish and seafood are the most popular).

Tempura – Battered seafood and vegetables.

Yakitori – Grilled chicken on a skewer.

In Summary

The city of Hiroshima is one of the most lively and energetic cities of Japan. Visitors can explore the devastating history of this location as well as uncover the collection of hidden scenic treasures among the city. Navigating throughout Hiroshima is also very simple, with a variety of cheap, public transport options available. Next time you are visiting Japan, be sure to head down south to the beautiful city of Hiroshima.