If you are planning a stay in the picturesque old world beauty that is Kyoto then there is one day trip you must do before you leave – Hiroshima. Whilst Kyoto can fill many a day exploring the nooks and crannies of Gion, stumbling across incredible food markets or getting close to nature in the wondrous Bamboo forest there is another gem that shouldn’t be missed a mere 2 hour bullet train ride away.
Hiroshima was a real highlight of our trip to Japan and despite the horrific history of this infamous city, the way in which it has rebuilt itself and instilled a sense of calm and peace into its very being is something to be admired and used as inspiration.
Whilst we were in Japan we travelled around quite a bit using the futuristic looking bullet trains to travel across the country. During our time in Kyoto we were able to take an early morning bullet train for a day trip to Hiroshima, two hours to the west.
We arrived in Hiroshima at 9am and headed straight to the tourist information counter where they informed us that our JR (Japan Rail) passes were eligible for the sightseeing bus which would take us around Hiroshima for no extra charge. Having learnt this we jumped on the bus and headed over to the Peace Memorial park to see where the atomic bomb dropped, including the remaining a-bomb dome which unbelievably survived the aftermath of the bomb.
After walking through the park we paid for admission to the museum, you should definitely opt to pay for the audio tour guide, which should take around an hour from start to finish. This museum is incredibly eye opening and moving and is the one thing that you should go and see to help truly understand the culture of Hiroshima.
Once we left the museum we walked east along Peace Boulevard turning off to walk through Nagaregawa and Yagenbori where all of the nightlife is supposed to be and then found our way to Okonomi-mura area, where we stopped for a traditional lunch of Okonomiyaki, a local dish of noodles, egg and pancake. Be warned one will feed two…we ordered one each!! Fatties.
Once we had stuffed ourselves full of noodles we walked through the quaint streets of Hondori past lots of cute looking boutiques and restaurants taking in the atmosphere. We then headed north to the re-built Imperial Palace, which is surrounded by gardens. I would highly recommend climbing the many flights of stairs to the top of the palace for the amazing views over Hiroshima.
After visiting the Palace we decided to walk east to the ever so peaceful Shukkeien gardens. This was such a wonderful accident stumbling across these gardens as they are some of the most beautiful and tranquil gardens I have ever visited. They epitomise the Hiroshima legacy to promote peace over vengeance.
Once we had spent a couple of peaceful hours basking in the spring sunshine amongst the cherry blossom trees we jumped back on the bus (the green line) back to the train station in order to head back to Kyoto.
If you have been I would love to know what you thought, give me a shout in the comments below to share your story.