I recently spent three days in Hiroshima, in western Honshu, the main island of Japan. I enjoyed visiting Hiroshima but for me it was a bitter-sweet trip.
Visiting Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome) and the Peace Memorial Park deeply affected me. I won’t start a discussion about the reasons behind Hiroshima bombing but I deeply believe this should never happen again. The atomic bomb not only killed thousands of people in Hiroshima but also caused unspeakable suffering to survivors.
The sad story of Sadako inspired the Children’s Peace Monument. Children from all over the world still send folded paper cranes to be placed beneath Sadako’s statue. They make the same wish which is engraved on the base of the statue: “This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world”.
The iconic Dome pays tribute to the events of August 6th and also reminds visitors of Hiroshima’s efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. Because human spirit is so resilient, Hiroshima has managed to revive and become a city of culture and prosperity.
If you want a peek into Hiroshima’s past, you can visit Hiroshima Castle in the middle of the city. The Castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945 and later rebuilt. The entrance to the castle is so pretty.
Follow the path and end at Hiroshima Castle. So beautiful! You can go in, climbed the stairs (5 stories so it’s not bad) and enjoyed the panoramic views of the city from the top floor.
Plum trees blossoms in the Castle’s gardens.
It’s most likely that you’ll be in Hiroshima a couple of days so you must go to Miyajima Island. The beautiful Itsuku-shima-jinja (Itsuku-shima Shrine) is said to be one of the three most beautiful sights in Japan, and was designated as a nation’s historic site. Its symbol is the Great Torii Gate (shrine gate) that stands in the sea. (How to get there? catch an early ferry from Miyajimaguchi, 25 minutes south of Hiroshima station)
Just like in Nara, you’ll find adorable (and wild) deer
Lots of little stores and eateries in the island. Hiroshima is famous for its oysters so I had fried oysters for lunch
Beautiful and peaceful temples in the island provide the perfect spot to enjoy a break
Back in Hiroshima, if you have some energy left, visit the beautiful Shukkeien Garden that dates back to 1620. Around the garden’s main pond there are a number of tea houses and a path which winds around it and passes through all of Shukkeien’s various miniaturized sceneries. Follow this path around the garden and don’t forget to feed the fish in the pond!
Take Hiroshima’s streetcars, locally known as “Hiroden“, to go around the city. The history of Hiroden is old and it has always been the means of transportations for Hiroshima people for a hundred years. You can learn how to ride them HERE
After a long day sightseeing, you’ll be hungry. Dishes like Okonomiyaki and oysters are the stars of Hiroshima but there’re many other local delicacies!
Hiroshima Okonomiyaki (photo via gethiroshima.com)
Hiroshima Momiji Manjyu (photo via visitmiyajimajapan.com)
One more personal tip…
Japanese female photographer Ishiuchi Miyako has produced an amazing photo collection of clothing and personal effects which once belonged to some of the 140,000 people estimated to have been doomed by the bomb. Here’s a great article about her work: “Behind Things Left Behind: Ishiuchi Miyako“
All photos on this blog were snapped by me unless otherwise noted. If you see something you’d like to share, please be sure to provide a link back to this space. Thank you!