Hiroshima

Photo © stoa

Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Chugoku Hiroshima

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Introduction

Sun setting at the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

Sun setting at the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

© tommydavis

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.

Those expecting to step off the Shinkansen into a pile of smoldering rubble will be in for a surprise, as Hiroshima has all the ferroconcrete and blinking neon of any other modern Japanese city. Teenagers stream in and out of the station, where McDonald's and the latest keitai (mobile phones) await; hapless salarymen rush down Aioi-dori to their next meeting, casting a bloodshot eye toward the seedy bars of Nagarekawa as they pass. At first glance, it can be hard to imagine that anything out of the ordinary ever happened here.

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History

Hiroshima was founded in 1589 on the delta formed by the Ota River, flowing out to the Seto Inland Sea. The warlord Mori Terumoto built a castle there, only to lose it eleven years later to Tokugawa Ieyasu after the Battle of Sekigahara, which marked the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate. Control of the area was given to the Asano clan of samurai, who ruled without much incident for the next two and a half centuries. Their descendants embraced the rapid modernization of the Meiji period, and Hiroshima became the seat of government for the region, a major industrial center, and a busy port.

By World War II, Hiroshima was one of the larger cities in Japan, and a natural communications and supply center for the military. Forced laborers from Korea and China were shipped in by the tens of thousands, and local schoolchildren also spent part of their days working in munitions factories. Residents of the city must have felt curiously blessed for the first few years of the war, as Hiroshima had been left largely untouched by American bombing campaigns; that was, however, intended to ensure a more accurate measurement of the atomic bomb's effect on the candidate cities, which had been narrowed down to Hiroshima, Kokura, Kyoto, Nagasaki, and Niigata.

On 6 August 1945 at 08:15 the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb dubbed "Little Boy" on Hiroshima. It is estimated that at least 70,000 people were killed in the explosion and its immediate aftermath. Most of the city was built of wood, and fires raged out of control across nearly five square miles, leaving behind a charred plain with a few scattered concrete structures. Corpses lay piled in rivers; medical treatment was virtually non-existent, as most of the city's medical facilities had been located near the hypocenter, and the few doctors left standing had no idea what hit them. That evening, radioactive materials in the atmosphere caused a poisonous "black rain" to fall.

In the days ahead, many survivors began to come down with strange illnesses, such as skin lesions, hair loss, and fatigue. Between 70,000 and 140,000 people would eventually die from radiation-related diseases. Known as hibakusha, the survivors were also subject to severe discrimination from other Japanese, but have since been at the forefront of Japan's post-war pacifism and its campaign against the use of nuclear weapons.

Recovery was slow, given the scale of the devastation, and black markets thrived in the first few years after the war. However, the reconstruction of Hiroshima became a symbol of Japan's post-war pacifism. Today, Hiroshima has a population of more than 1.1 million. Automobiles are a major local industry, with Mazda's corporate headquarters nearby. There are three excellent art museums in the city center, some of Japan's most fanatical sports fans, and a wide range of culinary delights — most notably the city's towering contribution to bar cuisine, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.

Although many visitors, especially Americans, may feel apprehensive about visiting Hiroshima, it is a friendly, welcoming city, with as much interest in Western culture as anywhere else in Japan. Tourists are welcomed, and exhibits related to the atomic bomb are not concerned with blame or accusations. Bear in mind, though, that many hibakusha still live in the city, and even most of the young people in Hiroshima have family members who lived through the blast. As such, the average Hiroshima resident isn't likely to relish talking about it, although you needn't shy away from the topic if one of the chatty fellows around the Peace Park brings it up.

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Sights and Activities

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Most of the memorials related to the atomic bomb are in and around the Peace Memorial Park (平和公園 Heiwa-kōen), reachable by tram line 2 or 6 to Genbaku Dome-mae. Coming from JR Hiroshima Station, you'll see the Peace Park on your left just before crossing the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which is thought to have been the target of the bomb. Once part of the busy Nakajima merchant district, this area was destroyed almost in its entirety by the bomb. Today, there are more than fifty memorials, statues, and other structures in the Park. Some will be obscure in their meaning; others are immediate and devastating. There is no entry fee, save for the Peace Memorial Museum, and access to the grounds is not restricted at night.

A-Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム Genbaku Dōmu). Its skeletal remains of the are the most recognizable symbol of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. In another lifetime, the building was one of the city's best-known sights for an entirely different reason; designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel in 1915, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall (and its fanciful green dome) had a bold European style in a grimy, crowded city with few modern flourishes. Because the explosion took place almost directly above the building, the walls remained largely intact, even as the dome shattered and the people inside were killed by the heat of the blast. Initially, as the city rebuilt, it was left alone simply because it was more difficult to demolish than other remains in the area; gradually, the A-Bomb Dome became the symbol it is today. The "Hiroshima Peace Memorial" was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 amid some controversy — the United States and China both voted against the nomination for reasons related to the war. Today, the benches around the Dome are a favorite spot for Hiroshima natives to read, eat lunch, or simply relax.
Hypocenter. One block east of the A-Bomb Dome (outside Shima Clinic) is a plaque which marks the exact point above which the bomb exploded.
Children's Peace Monument ((原爆の子の像 Genbaku no ko no zō). Lerennially draped in thousands of origami paper cranes folded by schoolchildren across Japan in the memory of the young bomb victim Sadako Sasaki.
Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students. Commemorates the 6,300 students who were conscripted to work in munitions factories and killed in the atomic bomb. There are statues of doves scattered throughout its five levels; at the base is a beautiful Kannon statue, always draped with origami cranes.
Tens of thousands of forced laborers from Korea were working in Hiroshima at the time of the attack. But the Monument in Memory of the Korean Victims of the A-Bomb was erected outside the Peace Park in 1970, and only moved within its boundaries in 1999. Today, the turtle at the base of the monument — symbolically carrying the dead to the afterlife — tends to be draped in his fair share of colorful origami cranes and flowers.
The Peace Bell is engraved with a world map, drawn without borders to symbolize unity. The public are welcomed to ring the bell — not coincidentally, the log is aimed to strike an atomic symbol. (Ring the bell gently, so as not to damage it.)
The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound holds the ashes of 70,000 bomb victims who were unidentified or had no living relatives to claim them. Services are held in their memory on the 6th of every month.
The Rest House was known as the Taishoya Kimono Shop at the time of the explosion. Only one employee, who was in the basement at the time, survived. However, the reinforced concrete building stayed mostly intact. (The interior has been entirely refurbished, but the preserved basement is possible to visit with advance request.) Today, it holds a gift shop, some vending machines, a helpful tourist information office, and — as the name would suggest — a place to rest.
Inside the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims is a stone chest with a registry that is intended to contain the names of every known person who died from the bombing, regardless of nationality. (Names are added as hibakusha pass away from diseases thought related to the radiation of the bomb.) The Japanese inscription reads, "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for the evil shall not be repeated." Note how the arch frames the A-Bomb Dome in the distance.
At the other end of the pond from the Cenotaph is the Flame of Peace (平和の灯 heiwa no tomoshibi). It is said that the fire will burn until the last nuclear weapon is gone from the earth.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, 1-6 Nakajima-chō, Naka-ku, ☏ +81 82-543-6271. Mar-Jul: 08:30-18:00, Aug: 08:30-19:00, Sep-Nov: 08:30-18:00, Dec-Feb: 08:30-17:00, closed Dec 29-Jan 1. The Peace Memorial Hall is dedicated to collecting names and photographs of people who died in the blast. The entrance of the museum leads downward to a quiet hall for contemplation, and then back up again to a set of kiosks with compelling stories and recollections from survivors (in English and Japanese). Like the Cenotaph and the Peace Memorial Museum, it was designed by architect Kenzo Tange. Free.
Peace Memorial Museum (平和記念資料館 Heiwa Kinen Shiryōkan), 1-2 Nakajima-chō, Naka-ku, ☏ +81 82-241-4004, ✉ hpcf@pcf.city.hiroshima.jp. Mar-Jul: 08:30-18:00, Aug: 08:30-19:00, Sep-Nov: 08:30-18:00, Dec-Feb: 08:30-17:00, closed Dec 30-31. This heart-wrenching museum documents the atomic bomb and its aftermath, from scale models of the city "before" and "after" to melted tricycles and other displays and artifacts related to the blast. Some are extremely graphic, evocative, and quite disturbing. The rest of the museum describes the post-war struggles of the hibakusha and an appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the world today. Be warned: a visit here, while absolutely worthwhile, will ruin your day. Allow plenty of time afterward to decompress. Adults ¥200, high school students ¥100, children free. Audio guide ¥200.
International Conference Center, 1-5 Nakajima-chō, Naka-ku, ☏ +81 82-242-7777, +81 82-240-7887 (Restaurant). Daily 09:00-21:00. At the south end of the Peace Park, this complex of buildings has an International Exchange Lounge with English-language publications and city information; it also has the Restaurant Serenade (10:00-19:00).
The Statue of Mother and Child in the Storm, completed in 1960 by artist Shin Hongo, is among the most powerful works of art created in response to the atomic bomb. It depicts a woman shielding her child from the black rain. It's in front of the Fountain of Prayer just south of the Peace Memorial Museum.
The Gates of Peace were installed in 2005 on Heiwa-o-dori, just south of the Peace Park, by a pair of French artists. On the sidewalk and the surface of the gates, the word "peace" is written in 49 languages. The ten gates are meant to represent the nine circles of hell from Dante's Inferno, plus a new one: the hell created by the atomic bombing.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Hiroshima Castle (広島城 Hiroshima-jō), 21-1 Moto-machi, Naka-ku (Genbaku dome-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-221-7512. Mar-Nov: 09:00-18:00, Dec-Feb: 09:00-17:00. The original Carp Castle (Rijō) was built in the 1590s by Hideyoshi's warlord Terumoto Mōri, predating the city itself. It was destroyed by the atomic bomb, by which time it was serving as a military headquarters, and reconstructed in 1958. Some of the original stone foundations can still be seen. Today, the castle grounds are a nice place for a walk, and definitely Hiroshima's favorite place for hanami (cherry blossom parties), with more than 350 sakura trees. The five-story castle museum is an attractive reconstruction of the 16th century donjon, with interesting relics and armor to see (and try on), as well as some informative displays about the history of the castle and the city. The view from the top is worth the entrance fee all by itself. No elevators are available - visitors will be walking the five stories by stairs. ¥370 adults, ¥180 children.

Mazda Museum (マツダミュージアム), 3-1 Mukainada-chō, Fuchū, ☏ +81 82-252-5050. Tours weekdays 09:30 and 13:00 in Japanese, 10:00 in English, lasting around 90 minutes. Space is limited, and they ask that you call first to make a reservation. Bookings can be made in English. Mazda's corporate headquarters are a short distance outside of Hiroshima. The tour is a must for any automobile fan, but if you have any serious technical questions, then you should go on the Japanese tour and bring along your own interpreter, as there's less detail on the English tour. Highlights include the Mazda Cosmos (the world's first car with a rotary engine) and the 4-Rotor Mazda 787B, which is the only Japanese car to win at Le Mans. From there you will be taken to their Ujina plant and the actual assembly line, with a look at some of their concept vehicles. From JR Hiroshima Station, take the San'yo Line in the direction of Saijō or Mihara to JR Mukainada Station (two stops); cross the rails and exit through the south exit. From the train station exit, head straight on the street a little to the right of the exit until you see the confusingly labelled pharmacy, called "Zoom-Zoom". Head down the stairs opposite Zoom Zoom into an underpass and you'll exit in the Mazda Admin building's parking lot. Free.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

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.

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full. There is also a major festival in the southern city of Fukuoka this week, it is called Hakata Dontaku.

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Weather

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.

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Getting There

By Plane

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.

By Train

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.

By Car

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.

By Bus

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.

By Boat

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.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

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.

By Bike

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.

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Eat

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.

Okonomi-mura (お好み村), 3-3 Nakamachi, Naka-ku (Hatchobori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-241-2210. The shops keep their own hours, but most will be open around 11:00, and a few stay open until 02:00-03:00. Three floors packed with no less than 27 okonomiyaki shops. This, indeed, is Hiroshima culinary nirvana. They all serve beer and okonomiyaki with some variations (kim-chee oysters, etc.), and they'll all start clamoring for your business as soon as you walk through the door. It's right behind PARCO, with a distinctive 'Okonomi-mura' arch out front. Figure on ¥700-1500 for a meal.
Organ-za, 1-4-32 Tokaichi-machi, Naka-ku (Morimoto Building, 2F) (Tokaichi-machi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-295-1553. M-F 17:30-02:00, Sa 11:30-92:00, Su 11:30-00:00. If you and your companion have completely different tastes in mind, Organ-za offers dishes from India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and others direct from the imagination of a capable and creative chef. English menus are available. There's also a full bar (tended sometimes by Chie from the late, lamented Alcoholiday) and frequent live music. Most entrees ¥850, with dessert sets and drinks ¥500.
Otis!, 1-20 Kako-machi, Naka-ku, ☏ +81 82-249-3885. M-Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 17:00-23:00. Serving Tex-Mex in Hiroshima for more than twenty years, Otis! is the most vegetarian/vegan/organic-friendly restaurant in town, with items clearly marked on their English menu. In addition to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and nachos, they have a varied of made-from-scratch bakery items including muffins, brownies, and rye bread, as well as a handful of other items not easy to find in Japan such as jambalaya and lentil curry with brown rice. The atmosphere is more that of a small live house or indie cafe than a restaurant, with the walls covered in graffiti messages from passing musicians, and the corners stacked with audio equipment and unusual stringed instruments-- they also have a fairly busy schedule of live music, both Japanese and international. Most meals ¥700-1200, shows ¥2300-4500 including a drink.
Sankanou (三冠王), 11-2 Ōsuga-cho, Higashi-ku. M W-Sa 17:30-23:30, Su to 22:30. A tiny okonomi shop in a little back alley near the railroad tracks and beside Hiroshima Station. The shopkeep speaks English and is a friendly, enthusiastic young manga fan. He's decorated his shop with Gundam models, moe-moe figurines, manga posters and baseball and wrestling action figures. This shop serves okonomiyaki in the traditional method, directly on the hot griddle built into the table in front of you. Highly recommended for a visiting anime/manga nerd in search of true Hiroshima okonomiyaki (the same way Ukyo serves it in Ranma ½!) Food and a cold draught beer for about ¥900.
Tachikoma (たちこま), 1-3-9 Dambara, Minami-ku (Dambara 1-chome tram stop), ☏ +81 82-262-7635. F-W 17:00-23:30. A tiny okonomoyaki shop where locals go, with very friendly owners. The okonomiyaki is quite good and filling, and there's beer to enjoy with it. Figure on ¥1000 for a meal.
Cusco Cafe, 5-23 Hatchobori, Naka-ku (Jogakuin-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-502-7366. Su-Th 11:00-00:00, F Sa 11:00-13:00. Spanish and Peruvian cuisine including paella and ceviche, plus a smattering of other dishes such as pizza and pasta. There's a pleasant, eclectic ambiance to the decor and the menu, and a full bar if you're not in a hurry. Lunch sets ¥790, Multi-course set dinners from ¥1500-3500; burgers, chicken, and other dishes from ¥590-950; tapas from ¥390 each.
Caffe Ponte, Motoyasu-bashi, Ote-machi (5 minutes walk downriver from the A-bomb dome), ☏ +81 82-2477471. M-F 10:00-22:00, Sa Su 08:00-22:00. Italian restaurant and cafe just next to Peace Memorial Park. Indoor seating for up to 30, but when the weather is not too hot or too cold there's a nice view of the Park and Motoyasu river outside on the terrace. Pasta and Drink set for ¥1280 is the most popular choice, but also offers 5-course dinners and wide selection of Italian food into the late evening. Menus in English, and there's usually some English speaking staff on hand.
No-no Budou, 78-6 Moto-machi (Sogo-Pacela Credo Building, 7F) (Kamiya-cho nishi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-502-3340. Daily 11:00-15:00 and 17:30-21:00. A non-smoking, healthy "viking" buffet style restaurant with a wide selection of curries, tempura, and other Japanese dishes, some of which are made with locally-grown and organic ingredients. They have a great selection of juices, tea, and coffee, too. ¥1575 for lunch (¥2100 for dinner); for nomihōdai (飲み放題)(all you can drink), add another ¥1900.
Roopali, 14-32 Wakakusa-cho, Higashi-ku, ☏ +81 82-264-1333. M-Sa 11:30-14:30, 17:00-21:30; Su 11:30-21:30. Good food on the quieter Shinkansen side of JR Hiroshima station. A wide range of curries are on offer, and there is plenty to eat for vegetarians. The thali sets are good and filling. Comprehensive English menus are available, and it's kid-friendly to boot. If you're just arriving in Hiroshima on an empty stomach, you can't do much better than this. Sets from ¥2000.
Graffity Mexican Diner, 4F Exa Bldg 6-4 Fukuromachi, Naka-ku, ☏ +81 82 243-3669. 11:30-14:00, 18:00-01:00. Yes - good Mexican food does exist in Japan. The owner and chef worked in San Diego for many years, and the food is tasty, traditional mixed with experimental, and they even have hot sauces. Open for lunch and dinner, English spoken. Large groups welcome, call ahead. ¥200-2500.
Ikinari Steak, 2-1 Mikawacho. 11:00-01:00. Range of quality Japanese and international steaks served on hotplates with corn. Some standing room, some tables, can get very busy. From ¥2000.
Standing Sushi Restaurant, 2 Mikawacho (next door to Ikinari Steak). 17:00-03:00. Standing room only at this good-value sushi bar. Start with a few here, then move next door for a steak! From ¥500.
Akushu Cafe, 〒730-0051, Naka Ward, Otemachi, 5 Chome−9−1F−RF (at the bottom of Orizuru tower, across the road from the atomic bomb dome), ☏ +81 82-569-6802. 10:00-21:00. Popular with tourists, expats, and locals alike. This is likely because of the Obscure Coffee Roasters coffee they offer, or the unique fusion dishes on the menu, redefining traditional Hiroshima flavours, most notably the okonomiyaki "stick" (wrap) and an okonomiyaki donburi. There are also burgers, fish and chips, oysters, and various sweets and desserts (including a matcha ice cream + Momiji Manju). There's also a big screen for various Japanese sports games and events. From ¥400-700, or around ¥1300 for an item off the grill.
Kanawa (Oyster Boat) (かなわ), Moored across from the Otemachi Building, Naka-ku (Chuden-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-241-7416. M-Sa 11:00-14:00, 17:00-21:00; Su to 20:30. Docked just south of the Peace Park, this floating restaurant offers some of the tastiest oysters in Hiroshima, along with lovely traditional decor and nice river views (more so at night). There's plenty of room aboard, but it does fill up, so reservations are suggested. Lunch sets from ¥3100; dinner ¥7000-¥15,000, not including drinks.

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Drink

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

Barcos, 7-9 Yagenbori-dori, Naka-ku (Sanwa Building, 2nd floor) (Hatchobori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-246-5800. Daily 08:00-17:00. All races and creeds are in attendance on an average night at Barcos — from the locals to the international community (and not just English teachers), from fashionistas and lunkheads to lost souls and chatterboxes. If you come on a weekend or a holiday, be prepared for a massive crowd. The DJs play a wide range of music, including soul, techno, R&B, and Latin, but they're happy to take requests. Mambos Latin Bar, on the third floor of the same building and with the same owner, focuses on the Latin music, with dance classes in various styles in the early evening before things get rolling.
Club Quattro, 10-1 Hon-dori, Naka-ku (PARCO Building, 10F) (Hatchobori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-542-2280. Doors open for most shows at 18:00 on weekdays, earlier on weekends. The biggest rock venue in town, Club Quattro hosts most of the major touring bands that deign to visit Hiroshima. Tickets vary; anywhere between ¥2-8000 depending on the band.
Fukuya Beer Garden, 9-1 Matsubara-cho (11F), ☏ +81 82-568-3111. Daily 18:00-22:00, varies by season. Many of the department stores have beer gardens on their roofs, and this is a nice one, directly across from JR Hiroshima Station — just you and a few hundred of your closest friends under the stars, sharing a terrific city view. Regardless of the crowds, though, there's plenty of room and the lines are well-managed. Admission varies from ¥1000 to ¥2500 by day of the week and season, which includes all you can drink, some desserts, and a ton of Western and Japanese fried food.
Kemby's, 2-9-13 Ote-machi, Naka-ku (Fukuro-machi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-249-6201. Su-Th 18:00-01:00, F Sa 18:00-02:00. A big, friendly bar that's a favorite with locals for watching major sporting events. There's plenty of seating, and pool & darts as well. The English menu offers enough food (mostly Italian and Mexican) to make this a valid dinner spot.
Mac Bar, 6-18 Nagarekawa-cho, Naka-ku (Hatchobori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-243-0343. M-Sa open 18:00, close varies — as late as 06:00. A friendly, venerable hole-in-the-wall owned by a chatty fellow with a massive collection of rock CDs. He's happy to take requests or just talk about music.
Molly Malone's, 1-20 Shintenchi, Naka-ku (Teigeki Building, 4F) (Hatchobori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-244-2554. Open 11:30 daily, close late. Another popular foreigner hang-out. It's a reliable source for rugby and soccer games, but arrive early if you want a good viewing spot. The Irish food is great (¥850-1800), and the desserts (¥700) are quite good with a beer. Happy Hour M-Sa 17:00-19:00.
Mugen 5610, 1-3 Yagenbori-dori, Naka-ku (Atsuma Building, 2&3F) (Hatchobori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-240-7788. Daily 10:00-04:00. Local and traveling DJs spin quality dubstep, reggae, and drum 'n bass with the aid of a great sound system. The two floors are split between a big dance space and a more laid-back bar area. Cover is usually around ¥1200, which may include a drink or two.
Centre Point, 5F 3-12 Yagenbori, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi (Walk down Nagarekawa-douri and turn left just after you see Amipara game center on your left and Poplar convenience store on your right, head down to the end of the street and Centre Point Hiroshima is on the 5th Floor of the building on the left corner of the block facing you.), ✉ dgclimited@gmail.com. Small and modern bar on the top floor of an office building. Owned by a DJ, he performs there and brings in visiting acts from across the country. Cocktails are a speciality, and beer on tap costs about ¥600 a glass.

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Sleep

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.

JMS Aster Plaza (Hiroshima International Youth House), 4-17 Kako-machi, Naka-ku (Wel City/Kosei Nenkin Kaikan bus stop), ☏ +81 82-247-8700. City convention center with guest rooms on top two floors. Cable Internet access in rooms, coin-fed access available in lounges, coin laundry facilities on 7th floor. Front door locked at midnight. ¥5760 adults, ¥3620 minors (or event-related discount).
K's House, 1-8-9 Matoba-cho, Minami-ku (Matoba-cho tram stop), ☏ +81 82-568-7244. Part of the popular hostel chain. No curfew or lockout, free wifi, computers with Internet access available in the lobby for a small fee, and laundry facilities. Take the south exit from JR Hiroshima Station, then follow the tram tracks across the river. When they split, follow the tracks that go along the river, and look down the streets to your right. You should see a large K's House sign. ¥2500 for a 6 person dorm, ¥10,800 yen for room for 3 people with private bathroom.
Hana Hostel, 1-15 Kojin-machi, Minami-ku (Enkobashi-cho tram stop, or a short east from JR Hiroshima Station), ☏ +81 82-263-2980. A comfortable hostel. Every private room has a bathroom or a toilet/washstand. They offer free wifi with your laptop (¥100 per 30 min for hostel computers), and rental bikes at ¥500 per day. There's no curfew or lockout, and they're willing to hold luggage early or after check-out. 4-6 bed dorm ¥2700, private rooms from ¥3500 per person.
J-Hoppers Trad Guesthouse, 5-16 Dobashi-cho, Naka-ku (Dobashi-cho tram stop), ☏ +81 82-233-1360. A lively hostel with English speaking staff. Every private room is Japanese style. They also offer free wifi with your laptop (¥100 per 30 min for hostel computers) and rental bikes (¥500 per day), with no curfew or lockout and held-luggage services. 8 bed dorm ¥2500, private rooms ¥3000 per person.
Business Ryokan Sansui, 4-16 Koami-cho, Naka-ku (Koami-cho tram stop), ☏ +81 82-293-9051, ✉ sansui@ccv.ne.jp. Run by Kato-san and her family, this ryokan is quiet and clean, with breakfast available at ¥600. An excellent place to stay if you wish to practice your Japanese and mingle with the locals. Kato-san closes the doors at midnight. Rooms by reservation only, from ¥4200 single, ¥7500 double.
Hiroshima Town Hotel, 6-20 Nishi Hiratuka-cho, Naka-ku (Hatchbori tram stop), ☏ +81 82-546-0705. Sort of a hybrid of a business hotel and a love hotel, featuring a bewildering array of cheap rates from the 70 minute "shower" (¥2300) up to 20 hours (¥5900). It is clean, convenient, and comfortable.
Minshuku Ikedaya, 6-36 Dobashi-cho, Naka-ku (Dobashi-cho tram stop), ☏ +81 82-231-3329. The rooms at this minshuku are clean, bright, and pleasant. The staff speak enough English to get you checked in, although you may not see a trace of them afterward. Single rooms with/without bath from ¥4200 to ¥5775; double rooms from ¥7350 to ¥9450.
Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima (三井ガーデンホテルズ), 9-12 Nakamachi, Naka-ku, ☏ +81-82-240-1131. Although the hotel is three-star, it provides many services such as free Wi-Fi, buffet breakfasts and three restaurant choices. Some guests have the chance to overlook the Hiroshima Peace Park right at the windows of their room, and there is a close to 360° view surrounding the Sky Restaurant where people enjoy their breakfast. Expect around ¥10000 for single and ¥15000 for double.
Chisun Hotel Hiroshima (チサンホテル広島), 14-7 Nobori-cho, Naka-ku (Kanayama-cho tram stop), ☏ +81 82-511-1333. Bright, new, small rooms. Buffet breakfast is available for ¥1200. Economy to deluxe single rooms for one person range from ¥7500-9500, including.
Hotel S-Plus Hiroshima Peace Park, 3-17 Komachi, Naka-ku (Chuden-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-541-5555.
Dormy Inn, 3-18 Komachi, Naka-ku (Chuden-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-240-1177. Centrally located along Heiwa-o-dori, this is a comfortable and friendly full-service hotel with Western-style rooms, free laundry facilities, bike rentals, and a great sento bath. There's a complimentary taxi service from JR Hiroshima Station with advance reservation. Rooms from ¥7500 single, ¥9750 double.
Hiroshima Grand Intelligent Hotel, 1-4 Kyobashi-cho, Minami-ku (Inari-machi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-263-5111. A tall, pleasant Western-style hotel with a suitably grand lobby and comparatively modest guest rooms. Breakfast is served for ¥1350 buffet, ¥600 toast set. LAN Internet access is available in every room. Rooms from ¥6300 single, ¥10,000 double.
Hiroshima Intelligent Hotel Annex, 3-27 Inari-machi, Minami-ku (Inari-machi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-263-7878. Just down the street from the Grand, with comparable facilities. Rooms from ¥6300 single, ¥10,000 double.
Hotel Active!, 15-3 Nobori-machi, Naka-ku (Kanayama-cho tram stop), ☏ +81 82-212-0001. Cheaper than most business hotels, featuring small but modern, fashionable rooms with LAN Internet access, and helpful, cool staff. Rooms from ¥5980 single, including large Japanese-style breakfast.
Oriental Hotel Hiroshima, 6-10 Tanaka-machi, Naka-ku, ☏ +81 82-240-7111. Very stylish 4-star hotel (though the outside doesn't look like it). Features a lot of modern Japanese and European art. Make sure to check out the bar on the 23rd floor which is quite pricey but makes up for it with its 360° view of Hiroshima and an interesting ceiling. Rooms from ¥6000 double.
Via Inn, 2-50 Matsubara-cho, ☏ +81 82-264-5489. A tall business hotel with tiny rooms but a fair number of amenities, including Internet access in the lobby. It's tucked away behind the post office. Head between the coffee shop and the convenience store to find the front desk. Rooms from ¥6195.
Aioi Ryokan, 1-3-14 Ote-machi, Naka-ku (Genbaku dome-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-247-9331. The closest traditional Japanese accommodations to the Peace Park, although only the upper floors have a view. Breakfast and dinner are included in the rate, and their versatile kitchen earns rave reviews for dishes high and low on the elegance scale. All of their tastefully appointed rooms have private baths, but there are communal baths on the seventh floor with a memorable view of the A-Bomb Dome. Rooms with private baths from ¥21,000 single, ¥37,800 double.
ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima, 7-20 Naka-machi, Naka-ku (Fukuro-machi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-241-1111. Great location near the Peace Park, with multiple restaurants, a health club, Internet access, and all the amenities the price would suggest. Rooms ¥16-20,000 single, ¥24-33,000 twin.
Hotel Granvia, 1-5 Matsubara-cho, Minami-ku, ☏ +81 82-262-1111. Located right outside the Shinkansen gates, this will be the most convenient hotel for any late-arriving travelers. The cheapest single rooms with no meals (¥7600) aren't much more than an average business hotel, but spending time at the elegant lounge and restaurant — and splurging on a luxury twin room with a terrific view (¥22,000) — will raise the price tag.
Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima, 3-3-1 Ote-machi, Naka-ku (Chuden-mae tram stop), ☏ +81 82-249-3600. Just off Heiwa-odori, the top floors of this tall, modern hotel offer the best views of the Peace Park other than the Rihga Royal (below). There are two restaurants (Italian and Japanese) on-site. The amenities are basic (free Internet), but the location is excellent. Rooms from ¥8925 single, ¥16,800 twin.
Rihga Royal Hiroshima, 6-78 Motomachi, Naka-ku (Kamiya-cho nishi tram stop), ☏ +81 82-502-1121. Overlooking the Peace Park, this luxury hotel is also the tallest building in Hiroshima. There are several restaurants and lounges on premises, and a massive swimming pool/sauna for a fee (¥3150 adults, ¥1575 kids). Baseball fans take note: this is where visiting teams stay when they're in town, so the lobby is a good place to pick up autographs. Rooms start from ¥16,170 single and ¥23,100 double. Found a suitcase full of money? Royal suites clock in at a mere ¥346,500.
Sheraton, 12-1 Wakakusacho (Next to main rail station), ☏ +81 82-262-7111. Excellent quantity, modern well furnished, spacious sized rooms. Breakfast buffet reasonable but not the best.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Work

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.

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 34.479988
  • Longitude: 132.437363

Accommodation in Hiroshima

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This is version 22. Last edited at 14:17 on Nov 12, 19 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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