A day trip to Hiroshima - Emma Jane Explores

A one-day itinerary for Hiroshima and Miyajima

Any trip to Japan should include at least one day in Hiroshima. This cosmopolitan city has a tragic past that is important to explore and understand, but it also has far more to offer than just sorrow and tragedy – in my opinion it is one of the best places to visit in Japan

Hiroshima is easily accessible on a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto but it also definitely warrants a longer stay if you’re able to squeeze it into your itinerary. With that said, Osaka is a wonderful destination to base yourself in, particularly if you’re travelling in Osaka with kids.

Why is Hiroshima so famous?

Hiroshima is so well known and a city of fascination due to the tragic events that occurred towards the end of World War II. On the morning of August 6th in 1945 the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, devastating the city and the people who lived there. 

Not only did the destruction almost level the city, but the radiation from the nuclear strike caused innumerable issues for the Japanese people living there for generations, including causing cancer and other radiation-related illnesses for decades after. 

Hiroshima was the target for the first atomic bomb strike as it was a very important economic and military centre of Japan with a bustling port. It is also hypothesised that because Hiroshima had remained relatively unscathed from air raids throughout the war, the impacts of this new type of nuclear weapon could be easily observed. 

How to get to Hiroshima

Hiroshima is accessible on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from either Kyoto or Osaka. From Osaka to Hiroshima Station, the trip is around 1 hour and 20 mins and from Kyoto it is slightly longer at 1 hour 45 mins. 

The trains in Japan are honestly part of the fun of travelling in this country. They are so efficient and fast, they’re far more convenient than driving and often even than flying. 

What to do on a day trip to Hiroshima

Morning – Visit the Hiroshima Peace Park

Most visitors to Hiroshima will head straight to the Hiroshima Peace Park where the Peace Memorial Museum, A-Bomb Dome, Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims  and Children’s Memorial are located. Whilst there’s so many more things to do in Hiroshima, this area is where I’d start in the morning and make my way through all the exhibits and notable areas for a few hours as there’s lots to see. 

Day trip to Hiroshima - Emma Jane Explores
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Image: Canva

Peace Memorial Museum

The Peace Memorial Museum is one of the most moving museums I’ve visited. It is right up there with Memorial Museums such as the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial in Germany, the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City and the Killing Fields Memorial in Cambodia.

The scale of human tragedy that occurred in Hiroshima is on full display here with countless exhibits of belongings left behind including clothes, children’s toys and a watch that stopped when the bomb was dropped.

The museum also has a huge section focused on disarming nuclear powers and why nuclear weapons should stop being developed. Admission for the museum is only 200 JPY which is incredible value and you could honestly spend an entire day consuming the amount of information here.

A-Bomb Dome

The A-Bomb Dome is a stark reminder of the tragedy and devastation of the atomic bomb. This shell of a building was once the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall which was very near to where the explosion of the atomic bomb took place. Every person in the building died instantly when the bomb exploded, but amazingly the central section of the building including the steel frame of the dome remained standing. 

You are not able to enter the building, but you can’t spend one day in Hiroshima without taking a long and reflective pause at this UNESCO World Heritage Listed site.

Day trips from Osaka
The A-Bomb Dome in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Image: Canva

Children’s Peace Monument

Another absolute tear-jerker within the Peace Memorial Park is the Children’s Peace Monument. The memorial recognises the youngest and most innocent victims of the bombing of Hiroshima – the children. Of course, many many children were killed directly due to the explosion of the bomb in 1945, however this monument also focuses on the many more who found themselves deathly ill due to exposure to the bomb’s radiation and suffered long beyond the events of the bomb itself. 

The colourful paper cranes at the memorial are in recognition of the story of Sadako, a then-two year old who survived the bomb, but who developed leukemia within the decade after the bomb was dropped and tragically died. Sadako folded 1000 origami cranes in the hope that this would make her well again, however she passed away at age 12. 

The Children’s Memorial in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Image: Canva

Lunchtime – Eat a Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki in Okonomimura

After you’ve spent the morning reflecting on the horrors of the atomic bomb, it’s time to eat. And when you’re in Hiroshima you absolutely must try a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. If you’re not familiar with okonomiyaki, then here’s a quick, tantalising run down. 

This Japanese dish is kind of like a savoury pancake, that includes ingredients like cabbage, egg, flour, vegetables and usually your choices of protein and/or seafood. The mix becomes a batter and is cooked on a grill, often in front of you. The final touches are sauces and fish flakes. The Hiroshima version also adds in soba noodles and is more layered – which is a delicious addition. 

There’s no better place in Hiroshima to eat okonomiyaki than in Okonomimura – which is quite literally the Okonomiyaki Village. This area is around 15 minutes walk from the Peace Memorial Park, so it is a very easy lunch stop full of over 20 different okonomiyaki restaurants to choose from. Momotarou is my pick for a delicious and very filling lunch – this place has been in operation since 1961 and is still run by the same family.

Make a stop at Hiroshima Castle

If you are running short on time, then Hiroshima Castle may be something you skip over, especially if you’ve come from Osaka and have visited the castle there. However, if you have the time, this castle is well worth visiting. Obviously the original castle was destroyed in the events of 1945, but the replica is stunning and is particularly pretty in Sakura (cherry blossom) season. 

For only 370 JPY you are able to enter the castle, however you may also just enjoy walking around the grounds which are totally free to explore. The Hiroshima Castle is around a 20 minute walk from Okonomimura – the perfect length of time to walk off that tasty lunch!

The beautiful Hiroshima Castle. Image: Canva

Afternoon – Visit Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island is worthy of its own day trip, however if you are only spending one day in Hiroshima then you can’t possibly miss seeing this gorgeous sight. The island is full of free-roaming deer and it is home to the most beautiful Japanese landscape including wonderful red maple-leaf viewing in November. 

Take the ferry to Miyajima Island

The ferry port to get to Miyajima is a little further afield, but you definitely want Miyajima on your one day in Hiroshima itinerary. From Hiroshima Castle, you will need to walk back to Shin-Hakushima station and then take the train 8 stops to Miyajimaguchi which provides access to the ferries to the island. If you are carrying a Japan Rail Pass, you will be able to use this pass on the JR ferry – make sure you board the right boat! Without a JR Pass, the ferry will cost you around 200 JPY. 

Itsukushima Shrine

Miyajima Island’s most visited site is undoubtedly the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine. This shrine is the home of the floating torii gate and the shrine itself is perched on stilts above the sandy island. Itsukushima is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a shinto shrine dedicated to the daughters of the God of storms and seas. The shrine complex is large with many rooms and two great halls and it costs around 100 JPY to enter. 

Free roaming deer and the floating torii gates of Miyajima. Image: CANVA

Mount Misen Ropeway

If you are able to squeeze it in, then I definitely recommend you take the Mount Misen Ropeway up the mountain to see wonderful views back over Hiroshima and the Seto Inland Sea. The total trip takes around 15 minutes from the base of the ropeway up to the second station, Shishi-iaw and from there you definitely want to do the 30 minute walk up to the peak of Mount Misen to get the best view. 

A return trip on the Mount Misen Ropeway will cost 2000 JPY per adult and 1000 JPY per child. Good news for those travelling with small kids – any child younger than elementary school age goes free with an accompanying adult. Take note, the final return departure time is 4.30pm – make sure you don’t miss it.

The Mount Misen Ropeway on Miyajima Island is a must do. Image: Canva

Daisho-In Temple

The final stop on our Miyajima Island visit is the stunning Daisho-In Temple. The Buddhist temple complex features the Five Story Pagoda and the Senjokaku Hall, the hall of 1000 Tatami Mats. It is extra famous for the incredible fire-red autumn foliage that frames the temple around November each year. 

Keep an eye out for the statues of Buddha dotted around the temple complex wearing little hats. The temple is also home to a flame that in Japanese lore has been burning for 1200 years or more. Daisho-in has been a sacred site since 806 when it was first consecrated.  Entry to Daisho-In costs 200 JPY per adult. Once you’ve finished at Daisho-In, it is probably time to make your way back to the ferry terminal to head back to the mainland and make your way home. 

Is it worth spending one day in Hiroshima?

A Hiroshima day trip is a fabulous idea if you’re tight on time but want to get a taste of this wonderful city. I actually think that Hiroshima warrants a longer stay if you’re able to make it work as it is truly one of my favourite places in Japan to visit. Tokyo is undeniably amazing, Osaka is funky and fun and Kyoto is picturesque and traditional but Hiroshima is right up there with the best of them. Hopefully this post has convinced you to add it to your Japan itinerary when you visit. 

Hiroshima FAQs

Is Hiroshima safe to visit?

Like pretty much every city in Japan, Hiroshima feels friendly and safe. If you’re worried about radiation then set your fears at rest – the levels of radiation in Hiroshima now are no different to anywhere else and it is perfectly safe. 

Is Hiroshima kid friendly?

Absolutely, Hiroshima is a great place for kids and the Japanese absolutely love them. My daughter was constantly kept entertained on public transport by locals wanting to wave and smile at her. 

Can you feed the deer at Miyajima?

No, the deer on Miyajima Island are not like those in the Nara Deer Park. They’re quite indifferent to people most of the time and should not be fed. 

How many people died when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima?

It is incredibly difficult to estimate how many people died due to the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima as the effects were felt long after the initial explosion. It is estimated that around 78,000 people died instantly and about the same amount again died afterwards directly due to the impact of the atomic bomb and the subsequent radiation poisoning. 

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A day trip to Hiroshima - Emma Jane Explores
A day trip to Hiroshima – Emma Jane Explores
A day trip to Hiroshima - Emma Jane Explores
A day trip to Hiroshima – Emma Jane Explores

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