A travel guide to Hiroshima: Witness the past and present coexist

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Worldwide and disastrously known to have suffered, on August 6, 1945, the atomic bombing perpetrated by the United States which made between 70,000 and 250,000 deaths according to sources, Hiroshima is the tenth-largest city on the island of Honshu and the eleventh in the country with 1.194 million inhabitants (2015). Founded in 1589 on the north coast of the Seto Sea, Hiroshima was a major urban center during the Meiji era and concentrated 340,000 people during the Second World War.

Completely rebuilt after the war, Hiroshima has become a place to commemorate atomic atrocities, a symbol of pacifism and a major economic center of western Japan. The Hiroshima tours are mainly to see what was done in the past and what it has become now.

Are you coming to visit Hiroshima and don't know what to do there? Although almost razed to the ground on August 6, 1945, the city, rebuilt as a "city of peace", has a historic and cultural heritage that cannot be overlooked in Japan. To help you prepare for your trip, we have compiled a list of essential things to see and do to visit Hiroshima.

1. Hiroshima Castle

Completely destroyed by the atomic bomb of August 6, 1945, Hiroshima Castle (Hiroshima-jō) was erected in 1590 and rebuilt in 1958. Today it is a museum dedicated to the history of the city before the Second War. World. The castle was the seat of the daimyo, the feudal chief of the city's Han fief.

Originally built in pinewood, the current castle only has the main tower, erected on a stone foundation of 12.4 meters and capped with 5 floors, 26.6 meters high. The park surrounding the building offers a pleasant setting where to stroll or picnic on sunny days.

2. The Dome of Genbaku

Who ignores the famous photo of the Dome of Genbaku, a symbol of peace and the atomic bombing of the city? This building, built in 1915, served as the Industrial Exhibition Palace of Hiroshima Prefecture before the war. As it was built in concrete, part of the building resisted explosion - killing instantly all the people in the vicinity -, and has been inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage monuments since 1996. The place, essential things to do to visit Hiroshima, symbolizes the hope of lasting peace.

3. Peace Memorial Park

This large park surrounded by water and greenery in the city center commemorates the tragedy the city suffered in the early hours of August 6, 1945, destroying a very active and very commercial district. The Peace Memorial Park was completed in 1954 and is home to several essential monuments for anyone who loves history and comes to visit Hiroshima: the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the cenotaph for the victims of the atomic bomb and the statue children of the atomic bomb.

The park, in spring, is very popular with locals for these cherry blossoms. We see grains of charred rice in a lunch box, a tricycle on which a 3-year-old child was riding or burnt hair, to remember that in an instant, everything was destroyed forever. 1.3 million tourists visit the site each year.

4. Strolling at Shukkei-en

What to do in Hiroshima? While the water flows peacefully in its basins where carp spawn, the wind shakes the leaves of the trees, we commemorate - singular contrast - the violence of the war by thinking of the pain of an entire people bruised by the atomic bomb.

Built in 1620, the Shukkei-en garden is on the other side of the castle, on the banks of the Enko river. This park - meaning "close view" - was opened to the public in 1940 and represents large natural spaces in miniature. Located a few meters from ground zero, the point of impact of the atomic bomb, the garden represents the Japanese miracle, the incredible effort made by the Japanese people to rise from the ashes.

5. The Hiroshima Botanical Garden

Located in the Kurashige district to the west of the city, the botanical garden opened in 1976. You don't know what to do in Hiroshima? Go for a stroll in the 18.3 hectares of land in the botanical garden, to enjoy tropical and subtropical greenhouses all year round: cacti, tropical lotuses, begonias and fuchsias grow peacefully among 11,700 species and 23,600 different plants.


6. The Mitaki-dera temple

When you come to visit Hiroshima, you should not miss the Mitaki-dera temple. Built in 809 by the monk Kukai, this Buddhist temple is famous for sakura, the singular change in color of the leaves of trees in the fall. It represents the place where the victims of the atomic bombing can find salvation. Access to the site, to the north of the city, is via a hiking trail through a dense forest of maple trees: an unmissable place of meditation that invites peace, serenity, and meditation.

7. Hiroshima Orizuru tower

Visiting Hiroshima seen from above, does that tell you? Opened in 2016, this tower offers a unique view of the surrounding mountains, the city, the Genbaku Dome, the city's castle and the island of Miyajima. Going up the stairs to the 13th floor, you get a 360 ° panorama of the city. The Hiroshima Orizuru tower, 50 meters high, is located near the Peace Park. Hiroshima day tours cover this tower and many other places. If you don't have many days on your trip, this place is highly recommended to put in your list.

8. Miyajima

What to do in and around Hiroshima? Who does not know the famous photo with the Tori Shinto placed on stilts to give the feeling that it is floating on the water? It is in Miyajima that it is located, an island in the south of the city. Miyajima, a must to visit Hiroshima, is described as one of the three most beautiful sites in Japan. The sacred island, it would be inhabited by the gods and its sanctuary, enthroned above the sea, was erected in the 6th century.

Pass a night on the island to appreciate the charms of the Machiya-Dori district and the color changes according to the lighting on the temple.

9. Asa Zoo

The Asa zoo, open since 1971 in the Asakita-Ku district, is a 49.6-hectare zoological park where 170 species of animals live (giraffes, lions, pandas, rhinos, etc.). The zoo is very popular with locals and offers a great idea for a walk if you don't know what to do in Hiroshima.

10. Okonomiyaki-mura

The village of Okonomiyaki (Okonomiyaki-mura) is the Hiroshima district where the famous okonomiyaki, a succulent Hiroshima specialty, is produced: it is a kind of pancake enclosing meat, fish, seafood and cabbage, the favorite dish of the locals. There are more than 2,000 restaurants offering this typical dish of Japanese gastronomy. The very touristy district has 24 okonomiyaki shops, each restaurant has its own recipe.

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