On August 6, 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was the first city in history to be destroyed by the world’s first deployed atomic bomb during World War II (1939-45). The explosion wiped out nearly everything within a two kilometer radius. After World War II, it was said that the city would be uninhabitable but most of Hiroshima was rebuilt later on, though one area was left as is as a reminder of the devastation of the atomic bomb. Today the city of Hiroshima has been revived and has become a symbol of peace and prosperity. In this 48 hour suggested itinerary, you will be able to see much of Hiroshima’s best attractions as well as visit other nearby destinations like Miyajima.
Things to know before traveling to Hiroshima:
1.Language – Japanese (Nihongo) is the official language of Japan. For foreign visitors, the language barrier can be intense but this should not be a cause for concern. Every railway stations, bus stations and other transportation options have English signage. Even if you had any difficulty navigating, the Japanese people are very helpful to foreigners. There are also plenty of tourist information center, usually located in JR offices. It is, however, recommended to learn a few words and phrases because this can go a very long way in Japan, just like in any other countries. Some helpful words or phrases are as follows:
Arigato Gozaimasu = Thank you
Sumimasen = Excuse me (very handy if you bump into someone or if you want to order in a restaurant)
Ohayou Gosaimasu = Good morning
Oyasumi Nasai = Good night
Onegai Shimasu = Please
Eigo o hanashimasu ka? = Do you speak English?
2.Etiquette – The Japanese people are warm and very welcoming to foreign visitors but it’s important to remember some do’s and don’ts to enjoy a faux pas free journey. When entering temples or castles, it is almost always a must to take off your shoes. If there are rows of footwear by the door, it’s a clear sign to remove your shoes. If you are going to visit temples and shrines, remember to dress modestly. On trains and buses, it is considered rude to speak loudly or to speak on your phone.
3.Money and Costs – Japanese Yen is the official currency of Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun has a reputation of being a pricey destination, and its reputation lives on, but in reality it has become more and more affordable. Sure traveling in the country can be expensive, if one chooses it to be, but there are things you can do to not break the bank. With a strong dollar and weaker yen, travelling to Japan can offer a lot of bang for your buck.
4.Getting around – The city is flat and quite compact so visitors can easily explore Hiroshima on foot. If you are short on time or you prefer less time walking, Hiroshima has Japan’s largest tram network consisting of eight tram lines connecting Hiroshima Station with most major destinations. Taxis are also readily available in the city.
5.Getting there – Hiroshima can be a great two-day extension if you are visiting Tokyo. Flights from Tokyo are about one and a half hour long and prices start at 187 USD. From Europe and USA round-trip airfares start at 615 USD and from South and Central America – 1000 USD and up.
6.Where to stay – Hiroshima has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. If you’re into cultural immersion, it is recommended to stay in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese style hotel or inn. Ryokans serve Japanese breakfast and dinner, which are often included in the rate that would normally range between 10,000 JPY – 15,000 JPY (85 – 125 USD) per night per person. Check out available Ryokans in Hiroshima by visiting Japanese Guesthouses website.
Where to stay in Hiroshima:
Sheraton Hotel Hiroshima (12-1 Wakakusacho, Higashi-ku, Hiroshima 732-0053)
Hiroshima Washington Hotel (2-7 Shintenchi Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730-0034)
Hotel Granvia Hiroshima (1-5 Matsubaracho, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 732-0822)
Urbain Hiroshima Central (5-20 Teppocho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730-0017)
Ryokan Sansui Hiroshima (4-16, Koami-cho Naka-Ku, Hiroshima 730-0855)
Detailed Itinerary 48 Hours in Hiroshima, Japan
Day 1: Hiroshima Self-Guided Walking Tour
Today starts your self-guided walking tour of Hiroshima, once a devastated field because of the atomic bomb. Thanks to the efforts and assistance from Japan and the rest of the world, the people managed to bring their city back to life.
From Hiroshima Station ( 2-37 Matsubara-chō, Minami), walk for 15 minutes to get to your first destination, the beautiful gardens of Shukkeien (2-11 Kaminoboricho, Naka Ward). Before you leave the station, make sure to get an English street map of Hiroshima so it will be easier to navigate (or use Google Maps). The garden was constructed in 1620 as a villa garden for Asano Nagamasa, the daimyō (feudal lord) of Hiroshima. Just adjacent to the garden, you may also make a quick stop at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum (open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; 2-22 Kaminobori-cho, Hiroshima 730-0014). From the museum, it’s only a 10 minute walk to get to your third destination, Hiroshima Castle (21-1 Motomachi, Naka Ward). The original castle was constructed in the 1590s by the daimyō Mouri Terumoto. Walking west, you will reach the Atomic Bomb Dome of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (1-10 Otemachi, Naka Ward), declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Soak up the atmosphere of the Peace Memorial Park before you make your way back to the station to have lunch.
Travel Tip: The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on the trams and buses in Hiroshima so you can purchase Paspy and IC cards to pay the fare. If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary and if you don’t like too much walking, we recommend purchasing a 2-day Hiroshima Omotenashi Pass (HOP) which costs 2,000 JPY (16.90 USD) that offers unlimited rides on all lines of Hiroshima Electric Railway street cars. It also includes round trip ferry to Miyajima and Miyajima ropeway. This pass is cheaper than buying individual tickets.
In the evening, enjoy a relaxing night in an onsen (an onsen “温泉?” is a term for hot springs in the Japanese language, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs). Miharashi Hot Spring and Miyahama Hot Spring are some of the popular hot springs in Hiroshima. These two spas offer splendid view of the Miyajima Island. You can also enjoy a delicious dinner in the area after your onsen experience.
Day 2: Miyajima Day Trip
On day 2, head to Hiroden-Hiroshima Station and get on the streetcar bound for Hiroden-Miyajimaguchi Station. Travel time is approximately 60 minutes. A few minutes walk from the station, you will reach Miyajimaguchi Pier, the jump-off point to Miyajima. The island can be reached by ferryboat and travel time is 10 minutes. The fare for the streetcar and ferryboat are all covered by the 2-day Hiroshima Omotensahi Pass (HOP).
Start your walking tour at the Miyajima Pier. From here, walk for about 10 minutes to reach Itsukushima Shrine, one of the most famous attractions in Japan. The great Torii, an iconic symbol of Miyajima, is a traditional Japanese gate believed to be the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds. Just a short walk from Itsukushima Shrine, you will reach the Daisho-in, one of the most significant temples of the Shingon Buddhism.
Before you take a ropeway to Shishiiwa Station, make a quick visit to Momijidani Park, a stunning park along Momijidani river near the valley at the foot of Mt. Misen. This area is specially beautiful during Autumn because of hundreds of Maple Trees planted during the Edo Period. Then, head to Mt. Misen, reachable by ropeway or by 30-minute hike. The summit offers a stunning view of Miyajima Island and Hiroshima City. Other attractions in the island that you can visit are Nishi-Matsubara and Kiyomori Shrine, Miyajima Aquarium and Miyajima Museum of Historical and Folk Materials.
Although the city cannot rival the dining scenes In Osaka or Tokyo, Hiroshima boasts a diverse set of culinary delights which is among the best in this part of Japan. For dinner, try some of the best restaurants in the city like Guttsuri-ann (1-36 Tannacho, Minami Ward), Nagataya (1-7-19 Otemachi, Naka-ku, ), Hassei (4-17 Fujimicho, Naka-ku, ) and Okonomimura (5-13 Shintenchi, Naka-ku). Do not miss to try the local delicacy called Okonomiyaki – typically batter, cabbage, pork, and optional items such as squid, octopus, and cheese. Noodles (yakisoba, udon) are also used as a topping with fried egg and a generous amount of okonomiyaki sauce.
This is the end of our 48-hour suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form the only way to travel the city. There are several alternative routes of travel within the city and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Hiroshima and Miyajima!
Have you been to Hiroshima or anywhere else in Japan? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.