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Hiroshima may be best known for the atomic bomb dropped on it on August 6, 1945, but travellers visiting the Japanese city of 1.1 million will do themselves a favour by remembering that there is more to Hiroshima than that one event. The city's Peace Memorial Park is the focal point of tourism to the city, but dig a little deeper and you'll find a thriving cosmopolitan city with cultural attractions like Hiroshima Castle and Miyajima.
Japan has countless traditional festivals and holidays. Then when you add the local festivals that number just grows and grows. Here is a list of the few major national traditional festivals.
Hiroshima has a subtropical humid climate with warm, wet summers and drier but mild winters. Summers last from June to September when average highs are mostly between 26 and 31 °C and nights are between 18 and 24 °C. Winters from December to February see highs of 8-11 °C and lows of 0-3 °C. Most of the annual rain falls between March and October, while winters are relatively dry with some chance of snow, especially in January and February.
Hiroshima Airport (HIJ) has a number of flights. Both ANA and JAL offer flights from Tokyo Haneda and Sapporo Chitose airports. ANA also offers flights from Narita, Sendai and Okinawa. There are direct international flights from Dalian, Guam, Shanghai, Seoul, and Taipei.
Buses connect the airport to JR Hiroshima Station (48 minutes, ¥1340) and the Hiroshima Bus Center (51-53 minutes, ¥1340). There are also buses from the airport to Okayama, Onomichi, Iwakuni, Tottori, and other spots in the Chugoku region.
Hiroshima is connected by rail east towards Tokyo and west towards Fukuoka. Check Hyperdia for schedules and prices.
It is roughly 40 minutes from Okayama (¥5500) and 90 minutes from Shin-Osaka (¥9710). Tokyo is four hours away via Nozomi (¥18,040) and five hours via Hikari.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you cannot use the Nozomi, so if you are traveling from Tokyo or Nagoya you will have to take one of the two hourly Hikari trains and change at either Shin-Osaka or Himeji to the Hikari Rail Star or Sakura. There are also a few Hikari departures from Nagoya in the morning that run directly to Hiroshima with no change of trains necessary.
Traveling overnight by train from Tokyo, you can take the 10:00pm Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto train to Okayama, then take a Mizuho train to Hiroshima, arriving at 7:21am. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can book a carpeted floor space on the overnight service at no charge. Otherwise you can travel in a compartment or room by paying the applicable room fee and surcharges. Once arriving in Okayama, Rail Pass holders must change to a Sakura at Okayama, arriving in Hiroshima just before 8AM.
Regular train services run through Hiroshima on the Sanyo Main Line (between Kobe and Kitakyushu), along with several local lines.
From the San'yo Expressway, take exit 29 for Hiroshima. Heading southwest on National Highway Route 54 will take you to the center of town; Route 2 is the major east/west artery, south of the city center. Confirm in advance that your hotel offers parking — not all do, and public parking is both expensive and hard to find.
Long-distance buses arrive and depart from the north exit of JR Hiroshima Station, where there is a JR Bus counter, and the Hiroshima Bus Center in the city center. There is service to and from cities in Kanto, Kansai, Kyushu, Shikoku, and much of the rest of Japan.
The New Breeze overnight bus runs between Tokyo and Hiroshima. There are two nightly departures in each direction: departing from Tokyo at 8:00pm and 9:00pm, with both buses arriving in Hiroshima at 8:00am the next day. The trip costs ¥11,600 one way, ¥21,200 round trip.
There are two overnight buses from Osaka - the Sanyo Dream Hiroshima from JR Osaka Station and the Venus from the Namba bus terminal. Both cost ¥5700 one way, ¥11,000 round trip. One overnight bus runs from Kyoto between JR Kyoto Station and Hiroshima at (¥6300 one way, ¥11400 round trip).
Daytime express buses run from Osaka (about five hours each way), with five departures daily (¥5000 one way, ¥9000 round trip) and two from Kyoto (5 1/2 hours, ¥5500 one way, ¥10000 round trip).
Among the many discount bus carriers that ply these routes, Willer Express runs services from Shinjuku in Tokyo (from ¥6600 one way), and from Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe (from ¥3400 one way), with online booking in English available.
Ferries dock at Hiroshima's Ujina Port, which also serves as terminus for several tram lines. Ishizaki Kisen operates daily service to and from Matsuyama in Shikoku, with some boats stopping in Kure along the way. The ride (known as "Superjet") takes 70-80 minutes to reach Matsuyama and costs ¥7100 each way. Slower ferries arrive in about 2 1/2 hours at a much-reduced cost of ¥3600.
Hiroshima has an extensive tram (streetcar) network, which is operated by Hiroden (広電). It's a slow but reliable way of getting around. The trams themselves are a mix of old rattle-traps and sleek, new "Green Movers" — although they all run on the same lines for the same fares. There's no difference other than the smoothness of the ride. Because the trams were bought from other cities, you're getting a tour of Japanese transit history — some have been in service for more than fifty years, and that might be an old Kyoto tram taking you through Hiroshima.
Most lines originate from JR Hiroshima Station, and run frequently during daytime and evening hours, approximately one tram every 10 minutes per line. Boarding and payment procedures vary by tram; however, the entrance and exit are clearly marked in English. (If in doubt, just follow the locals.) Pay as you exit. Change machines are usually available on board if you don't have exact change — check near the front or back of the car. Trips within the city are a flat ¥160, save for one line that runs between Hakushima and Hachobori for ¥110; trundling out all the way to Miyajima-guchi (to catch a ferry to Miyajima) will set you back ¥280. One-day passes are available from the tourist office for ¥600 (¥300 children), or ¥840 (¥420 children), which includes the ferry to Miyajima.
Bus lines run through Hiroshima and out to the suburbs. Generally speaking, these serve areas more likely to be used by locals than visitors. Signs include English, and buses depart next to the tram depot in front of JR Hiroshima Station.
The modern Astram (アストラムライン) metro links the city center with the northern suburbs, although there aren't many tourist sights out that way. Trips range from ¥180-470 by distance, with departures every few minutes between 6AM-midnight. The underground station at the end of Hon-dōri, near the Peace Park, is the terminus in the city centre.
Hiroshima is a great city for cycling. Most of the sidewalks are fairly wide by Japanese standards; the paths along the branches of the rivers offer a very pleasant ride, and if you're looking to test your legs, head up to the hills around Hijiyama Park. Many hotels will be happy to arrange bike rentals.
Hiroshima is famous for its style of okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), which literally means "cook it as you like it". Often (and somewhat misleadingly) called "Japanese pizza", it is better described as a type of savory pancake made with egg, cabbage, soba noodles, and meat, seafood or cheese. It is grilled in layers on a hot plate in front of you and slathered liberally with okonomiyaki sauce, with optional extras such as mayonnaise, pickled ginger, and seaweed. It sounds and looks like a mess, but is very tasty and filling. To give you a sense of the civic pride involved here, the Hiroshima tourist information office offers a map with a whopping 97 shops serving okonomiyaki within city limits, and reports have several hundred more in the area. Micchan (みっちゃん) is the most famous of the Hiroshima- style okonomiyaki restaurants with long histories. It has a few branches in and around the center of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima style and Osaka style are the two competing types of okonomiyaki, and if you raise the subject of okonomiyaki with a local, be ready to state your preference between the two! Basically, in Hiroshima the ingredients are layered and pressed together while cooking, while in Osaka the batter is mixed together first, and the ingredients do not include soba noodles. According to local legend, both dishes originate from a cheap snack called issen yōshoku (一銭洋食) or "one-cent Western meal", which consisted of a wheat and water pancake served with scallions and sauce. Representing the other side of the pancake divide, Tokunaga (徳永) is the bext-known Kansai-style okonomiyaki restaurant in Hiroshima.
A row of excellent, informal okonomiyaki restaurants has sprung up on the second floor of JR Hiroshima Station (the ASSE Dept. Store). If you don't know what to order, ask for "niku-tama soba" and that will be all they need to know. There are Japanese and American chain restaurants clustered near the station, including Starbucks on the third floor (south exit), McDonald's on both sides of the station, a Lotteria burger shop in the underground plaza between sides of the station, a couple of sushi shops past the okonomiyaki joints on the second floor (south exit), yet another okonomiyaki shop on the second floor (north exit, by the shinkansen gates), and an Indian restaurant on the sixth floor (south exit), among many others. Most will serve until 10:00pm, though McDonalds stays open later.
Hiroshima is also famous for its oysters (available between October and March) and a maple-leaf-shaped pastry called momiji manjū (もみじ饅頭). (Momiji is the leaf of a Japanese maple tree.) Momiji manjū are available with a variety of fillings, including the more traditional anko (あんこ), red bean and matcha (抹茶), or green tea; it's also available in cream cheese, custard, apple and chocolate flavors. Boxes of momiji manjū are considered the quintessential Hiroshima souvenir, but Miyajima is the best place to buy it fresh.
Nagarekawa has the highest concentration of bars in Hiroshima - the good, the bad, and the hostess - but there are a number of good, quiet wine bars on Hakushima-dori, and plenty of foreigner-friendly pubs clustered around the giant PARCO building. Yagenbori-dori is full of bars and clubs that are spread across floors of the various high-rise buildings.
Sake enthusiasts should not miss the chance to visit the breweries of Saijo, particularly during the annual festival in October
For a short night before an early train, the cheapest digs in town will be to nap in the easy chairs at the two Internet cafes outside the south exit of JR Hiroshima Station, or possibly a Nagarekawa karaoke box. You won't be the only one doing it, particularly on weekends. In particular, the brand new WiP Internet cafe on the southwest side of the station is a right gem, offering a 9-hour private booth nightpack for ¥2190, inclusive of shower usage and offers the rare option of staying in a separate non-smoking area.
|Backpackers Hostel K's House Hiroshima||1-8-9, Matoba-cho, Minami-ku, Hiroshima city, Japa||Hostel||91|
|Backpackers Miyajima||1-8-11 Miyajimaguchi Hatsukaichi-shi||Hostel||-|
|Hiroshima Hana Hostel||Kojinmachi 1-15 Minami-ku||Hostel||90|
|Hiroshima Youth Hostel||1-13-6 Ushita-Shinmachi Higashi-ku Hiroshima JAPAN||Hostel||-|
|Hotel Million City||3-2-24, Ohtemachi, Naka-ku||Hotel||72|
|J-Hoppers Hiroshima Trad Guesthouse||5-16, Dobashi-cho Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi||Hostel||91|
|Kasuga Ryokan||3-6-23 Otemachi Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi||Hostel||-|
|Kyoubashi Ryokan||10-15 Kyoubashichou Minami-ku||Hostel||88|
|Minsyuku Ikedaya||6-36 Dohashicho, Naka-ku,||Hostel||-|
|Ryokan Sansui||4-16 Koamicho Naka-ku,||HOSTEL||89|
|Reino Inn Hiroshima Peace Park||3-7-3, Otemachi Nakaku||Hostel||86|
|Ryokan Chizuru||4-12, Fukuro-machi Naka-Ku||Hostel||68|
|Hotel Flex Hiroshima||7-1 Kaminobori-cyo Naka-ku Hiroshima-shi||Hotel||-|
|Hiroshima Garden Palace||1-15 Hikari-Machi||Hostel||-|
|Hiroshima Peace Hotel||2-6-14,Yokokawa-cho,Nishi-ku,Hiroshima-shi||HOSTEL||-|
|Akicafe Inn Guesthouse||2-7-1F Enkobashicho, Minami-ku, Hiroshima City Hiroshima Perfecture||HOSTEL||89|
Hiroshima features the standard array of English teaching opportunities, with branches of major eikaiwa like Geos, AEON and ECC as well as small, niche language schools. The Hiroshima International Center is a good place to make inquiries, as is a Saturday night at The Shack or Kemby's (see Drink).
Mazda is largest employer of foreign personnel in the area, due to their relationship with the Ford Motor Company in Detroit and their manufacturing plants in South America. Contract workers from Southeast Asia and the South Pacific are brought in by Hiroshima-based firms for industries such as shipbuilding, notably in the nearby city of Kure.
Some non-Japanese work illegally - or under-the-radar - as bartenders or sell jewelry in Nagarekawa, which motivates occasional visa crackdowns.
Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.
A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.
Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).
The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.
The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.
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