We all know the sad story of Hiroshima and the first usage of nuclear weapons against civilians. It happened on 6th August 1945 and it changed the city forever. Experiencing that, one would expect that the people would hold a grudge, but not the Japanese, they moved on.
The city now thrives and has a very modern feel.
How to get around Hiroshima?
Prior to our arrival they introduced “The Hiroshima pass” (3 days – 1000 Yen approx. 8€) which covers all the trams, buses and the ferry line to the famous island of Miyajima. If you have this pass, you don´t have to worry about transportation. Trams are frequent and very reliable; after all you are in Japan. 🙂
Must see/do in Hiroshima
If you have only two full days in Hiroshima focus on two things: Miyajima Island and the peace park with museums and memorials.
You will need approximately one hour by tram and then 10 minutes by ferry from the city centre. Home to the famous Itsukushima shrine, in front of which is the great Torii that is only accessible at low tide and is a UNESCO site. But beware; we discovered that UNESCO sites in Japan attract big flocks of foreign tourists. We are not complaining, because we were part of the flock, but a heads up to anyone who doesn´t like “touristy” areas. It is crowded for a reason – because it is amazing.
The torii itself has no entrance fee. The place is beautiful – not only the shrine, but the temples and pagodas surrounding it make it a place worth visiting. This was also our favourite full bloom sakura spot. It doesn´t get any more Japanese than this.
They also have deer living freely (so if you can’t make it to Nara, here’s your chance to meet some deer) that are very docile, but please don´t take Japanese selfies with the animals. With a Japanese selfie I mean holding the animal and forcing it into a perfect shot position.
There are also many restaurants around the area, but for reasons unknown to us they all close around 17.00 (maybe they did because two days later J.F. Kerry visited the place).
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The entire park along the river with hundreds of cherry trees is dedicated to the memory of the A-bombing. Only one building remains from that time – the A-Bomb Dome. It survived the bombing (160 metres from the hypocentre) only because of the steel dome structure.
Visit the Peace Memorial Museum (200 yen) and rent an audio guide in English (300 yen) and the stories about 140.000 dead will get faces and names. Burned clothes, rusty toys and even original stone stairs are on display.
In the centre of the park is the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims above the Pond of Peace.
If you walk straight, you’ll reach the Children’s Peace Monument.
The story, why this monument was erected, moved me deeply: Sadako Sasaki was only two years old when the bomb exploded. She had a good childhood until she was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 12. She was hospitalized and her roommate told her a story about paper cranes: if you fold 1.000 paper cranes, you have one Wish. So she began to fold with the wish of getting healthy in her mind. Although she folded around 1.400 cranes, she died on an October morning. Her classmates folded 1.000 paper cranes which were buried with her. Since then Sadako is a symbol of the impact nuclear war has on innocent people.
One sight we also want to mention: Hiroshima National Peace memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. It is right next to the Cenotaph, build underground – there, where the victims of the A-bomb are now. This isn’t a museum, but a building, dedicated to all victims – their portraits and names are on display and short but shocking testimony videos of survivors will get under your skin.
It is a sad place and it inspired us to write an article about heart-breaking experiences on our travels.
Hiroshima is an example what determination and forgiving are capable of.
Nowadays the park is very popular for locals and their picnics under the cherry trees. We did the same. Get a meal from any of the convenient stores and join the party, it´s great fun.
During our stay in Hiroshima the cherry tree blossom was at its peak and maybe that is why we liked Hiroshima very much.