Visiting Hiroshima

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan

If you stumbled into Hiroshima without any knowledge of the past, you’d think it was a pretty typical, small Japanese city. Castle? Check. Garden? Check. Endlessly long covered shopping street? Check. Amazing food? Check check check! But it’s not typical, and that knowledge is always in the back of one’s mind when visiting the city and interacting with its people.

The A-Bomb Dome

With Hiroshima now being such a built-up and bustling city, it’s difficult to imagine the destruction caused by the atomic bomb. The A-Bomb Dome lets you see it. Before the bomb, it was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, a building designed by a Czech architect that was used for city exhibitions. The bomb was dropped almost directly above it, but the building wasn’t entirely destroyed. Its skeletal remains are haunting.
A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The Dome stands at the top of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which contains other memorials and a museum. One memorial is dedicated to the children killed during the bombing and while we were there, many school children gathered and performed a song.
Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan

Memorial to the children in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan

The Memorial Cenotaph holds the names of those who were killed by the bomb and the concrete structure that covers it aligns with the Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan

Memorial Cenotaph, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan

The Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is a quiet space for reflection. It contains names and pictures of the victims and has videos with stories from survivors. There is another Memorial Hall in Nagasaki. They are an expression of Japan’s desire for peace.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, Japan

To learn more about people who survived the Hiroshima bombing and their stories, we would recommend reading this famous story the New Yorker published in 1946.

Shukkei-en Garden

Of course, there is much more to see and do in Hiroshima. We particularly enjoyed visiting Shukkei-en Garden. “Shukkei-en” means “shrunken scenery garden” and the garden is meant to represent a shrunken version of the entire country of Japan, complete with mountains, a beach, and its very own bamboo forest. It’s beautiful and peaceful and not overwhelmingly crowded. It was one of our favorite places to visit not just in Japan, but out of our entire journey this year.
Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima, Japan

Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima, Japan

Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima, Japan

Bamboo Forest at Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima, Japan

In the center of the garden, there’s a place you can feed the koi. Since a lot of people do this, the clever fish hang out there waiting to be fed, following every step you take with their mouths wide open.
Koi at Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima, Japan

Feeding the Koi at Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle was originally built in the 1500s but was destroyed by the atomic bomb. It was reconstructed a few years later and it’s a peaceful and beautiful place to visit.
Hiroshima Castle, Japan

Hiroshima Castle gate, Japan

Remains of part of Hiroshima Castle, Japan

Tree that survived atomic bomb, Hiroshima, JapanThis beautiful tree amazingly survived the atomic bomb. 

Miyajima

The most popular day-trip from Hiroshima is Miyajima. Miyajima is actually an island called Itsukushima, which is an island about an hour from the center of Hiroshima. Miyajima means “shrine island.” It’s most famous for Itsukushima Shrine, which during high tide appears to be floating in the water.

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

It’s particularly beautiful at sunset.
Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

Sunset from Miyajima ferry, Japan

Like at Nara, deer roam freely throughout the island (although there are much fewer here, probably because no deer cookies are sold).
Deer and Itsukushima Shrine at sunset, Miyajima, Japan

Deer in Miyajima, Japan

Deer in Miyajima, Japan

Deer and shrine in Miyajima

There’s even a deer wrangler to help get them out of (or into!) your pictures!
Children and deer posing in front of Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

There’s also a shopping street with all sorts of delicious food including Miyajima specialties like oysters and maple leaf cakes. And the world’s largest rice paddle.
World's largest rice paddle, Miyajima, Japan

You can also hike a mountain with beautiful views on Miyajima, but we didn’t feel like schlepping Sarah’s portable oxygen concentrator with us so passed on that.

Tips! The ferry trip from the mainland of Hiroshima to the island takes 10 minutes. There are two ferry companies – JR and Matsudai. On the way to Miyajima, the JR ferry gets super close to the shrine. On the way back, they take the same route. A lot more people take the JR ferry since it’s free with the JR pass, so there could be a wait and/or a very crowded boat.

Carp baseball

During our visit, the beloved Hiroshima Carp baseball team were finding success in the first two games of the Japan Series. As such, everyone throughout the city seemed to be in a really great mood. And it seemed like they ALL were wearing Carp paraphernalia. Sadly, they eventually lost the series to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, but we had a great time cheering them on throughout our travels.
Hiroshima Carp, Japan

Carp-loving Okinomiyaki chef, Hiroshima, Japan

11 Replies to “Visiting Hiroshima”

  1. Looks like an amazing visit with lots of emotional possibilities!

  2. What a beautiful post. Looks truly amazing!

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thank you! It was a really amazing place.

  3. I took a quick peek at Hiroshima this year in March. Some of my memoirs are here: http://aapkispace.com/2017/06/23/japan-travel-memoirs-quotes-personal-reflections-two-friends/
    Would love it if you left me a comment 🙂

  4. I think we visited every spot in your photos when I was there. It was definitely one of the most memorable stops on our trip to Japan. I loved those deer on Miyajima so much.

  5. Hiroshima has long been a place I’m curious to visit. I’ve always wondered how it would feel, as an American, to come face to face with that part of history. Thanks for sharing your trip!

  6. Japan is still on our bucket list, and if we make it there one day, I would love to visit Hiroshima as well. The A-Bomb Dome looks haunting indeed, but I love how they aligned the Peace Flame and the Memorial Cenotaph with it. Shukkei-en Garden looks amazing too and wow, are there wild deer? Cool! Hahaha, a deer wrangler. Genius! 😂 Lovely photos btw.

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thanks glad you liked it! The deer-wrangler was the best. At first we thought he was leading deer away from the picture, but it was in fact the opposite!

  7. Hiroshima looks incredible, and I love the concept of the garden attempting to be like a mini-Japan! Love the layout of your blog as well 🙂

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thanks so much! Really appreciate the feedback.

    2. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      We went to a lot of gardens in Japan, but Shukkei-en was our favorite. We sort of stumbled upon it so it was a super awesome surprise.

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