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Hiroshima, the city of peace and culture, is well-known for its historical bombing tragedy on August 6, 1945. Located on Honsu Island in the southwestern part of Japan, the city is full of memorable historical spots and blessed with the natural beauty of mountains, sea, rivers, and valleys.
There are so many attractions to enjoy in Hiroshima. Among them are Peace Memorial Park and Itsukushima Shrine, the city’s two World Heritage Sites.
Shukkein Garden is famous for its man-made "shrunken scenery", while downtown Hiroshima is popular for its excellent cuisine. Mazda Museum and Hiroshima Castle will help you understand that Japan is not only about natural beauty, but also about appealing technology.
Peace Memorial Park, alternatively known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, is a memorial of the nuclear bombing in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It has become a focal point for the world's prayers for peace.
There are three main places to visit inside the park: the cenotaph for victims of the bomb, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and the Atomic Bomb Dome.
The cenotaph is also known as the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace. Inside the stone chest there is a record of 297,684 names of all the known victims of the atomic bomb. The phrase "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat this evil" is inscribed here.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum presents an accurate picture of the atomic attack and the tragic aftermath of its radiation. The main building exhibits victims' belongings and also explains thoroughly and scientifically what happened on that tragic day of August 6, 1945.
In 1996 the Atomic Bomb Dome, also known as Genbaku Dome, was granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides these three main places, there are also other memorials and monuments to visit in and around the park, such as the Children's Peace Monumentand Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall.
Location: Peace Memorial Park is around 20 minutes by tram from Hiroshima Station.
Travel Essentials: Every year on August 6, there is a memorial ceremony at the park. It is open from 08.00 to 18.00 (or to 19.00 in August, or 17.00 from December to February). Please note that admission ends 30 minutes before closing.
NB: The Peace Memorial Park is closed on December 30 to 31 every year, so please plan accordingly.
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on Miyajima Island that at high tide appears to be floating. To visit the shrine, you need to get through the floating gate (called "torii"). This vermilion gate is a typical gateway to a Shinto shrine. Itsukushima Shrine is believed to be home to three of Japan's goddesses.
The shrine consists of 17 buildings connected by lantern-lit corridors; its total length is 262 meters. It seems to be gracefully suspended over the sea, looking mysterious, just the kind of place where goddesses may lie.
Location: Take a 25-minute train from Hiroshima to Miyajimaguchi and then take a ferry to reach Miyajima.
Travel Essentials: Usually visitors need to bow when passing the torii and then follow the purification ritual there. Please respect the fact that visitors are forbidden to take pictures at some areas inside the shrine. The best time to visit Itsukushima Shrine is in the autumn, when you can see the island decorated with autumn colors.
Shukkein Garden is a perfect example of a Japanese Garden in the city of Hiroshima. It is one of the Japan's Top 100 Historical Parks. Its name means "shrunken-scenery garden", reflecting the garden’s main characteristic.
The garden presents in miniature many natural formations and scenic views, with careful cultivation of the land and vegetation, such as miniature valleys, forests and mountains.
It also offers some traditional aesthetic features of Japanese gardens and culture, such as tea ceremonies. There are a number of tea houses and a tea shop which allow visitors to enjoy Japanese tea, coffee, and Japanese desserts while seated outdoors.
Location: 15 minutes from Sanyo Express Hiroshima IC and about 900 meters from JR Hiroshima Station via Sakaebashi Bridge.
Travel Essentials: Please walk only on approved paths, do not litter, do not smoke, and do not be noisy or disturb other people. In short, please behave appropriately for the garden environment.
Hiroshima Castle is a fortress surrounded by a large moat and park. It is built on a plain area in the city center. It was both the economic and physical center of the city, until it was destroyed by the bomb in 1945.
Rebuilt in 1958, it has become an excellent museum, providing information on Hiroshima's history and on the reconstruction of the castle itself. On top of the castle, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding city.
Location: The castle is a ten-minute walk from Shukkeien or a 15-minute walk from Peace Memorial Park.
Travel Essentials: Please note that this castle is closed every December 29 to 31.
The Mazda Museum was founded by the Mazda Motor Corporation. It helps visitors gain a quick understanding of Mazda's history, its automobile technology and prospects for its future development. In 1991, Mazda became the first and only Japanese company to win the Le Mans Grand Prix.
The main attractions here are the museum, the Mazda assembly line where you can see a variety of different cars being produced, and a shop providing Mazda merchandise which is also perfect for souvenirs.
Location: You can reach the Mazda Museum in around 5 minutes by foot from the south exit of Mukainada Station.
Travel Essentials: You need to make a reservation beforehand by phone or e-mail, since the museum can only be enjoyed via a guided tour. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance.
Downtown Hiroshima is a good place for trying out Hiroshima's specialty: Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. Two streets offer the specialty: Hondori Street and Aioi Street. Besides sampling the local cuisine, you can find many department stores and restaurants downtown. The place is clean and nice and the food is good and reasonably priced.
Location: Downtown is 3 km from Hiroshima Station. You can connect quite easily by taxi or bus.
Travel Essentials: Stay connected with your Japanese translator, since people there do not generally speak English.
Feel the beauty and uniqueness of Hiroshima by visiting the above main attractions. Don't forget to add Hiroshima and other Japanese destinations to your travel plans using Asia Highlights' professional travel-planner service.