Historic Hiroshima

Hiroshima has been redefining itself over the decades after its tragic place in history and today, is one of Japan’s major urban centres.

Founded as a castle town in the 16th century, it’s fair to say that most people venture to Hiroshima to see the city’s monuments to peace. But also to learn about the devastation caused by the Atomic Bomb (A-Bomb) on 6 August 1945 at 8.17 am, when Hiroshima was vaporised.

What to see

Rebuilt over decades, Hiroshima is a beautiful modern city sprinkled with green peaceful spaces, numerous bridges zig-zagging across several rivers, and friendly locals.

Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia

Although the Atomic Bomb exploded 600 metres above the Shima Hospital in the Saiku-machi district, people below were instantly exposed to temperatures as high as 3,000°C-4,000°C and perished. Townscapes completely changed forever.

Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
View from Motoyasu-bashi Bridge

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Take a stroll to the expansive 120,000-square-metre Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the Naka Ward’s western area, along the Ōta River delta, on Hiroshima Bay. Before the Atomic Bomb, this area was the commercial and political heart of the city. The reason the area was chosen as the pilot’s target,

Flame of Peace, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The park holds more than enough to spend a full day visiting its different spaces, monuments, and buildings, aimed at non-nuclear proliferation and of course, peace. Although confronting, the park is a pleasant area to explore, dotted with statues and explanations in English (mostly) and Japanese.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome)

Incredibly, only several buildings stood after the first Atomic Bomb exploded in 1945 with the Atomic Dome the only structure left standing in the area.

Over the years, most of the remaining buildings have been torn down as deemed unsafe or to make way for new buildings.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Atomic Bomb Dome

The only building left now and perhaps one of the most confronting images scarring Hiroshima’s riverside is the remnants of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial’s skeletal dome. The dome was registered in 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before being severely damaged in 1945, the Atomic Bomb Dome was originally the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
A different view – Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Atomic Bomb Dome)

The remains symbolise the “pledge to convey the horror of the atomic bombing and the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons and eternal world peace”.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (entry ¥200 pp + ¥400 pp for a recording) is confronting but tastefully presented, depicting actual photos accompanied by words of survivors and artefacts. The museum omits the actual reasons why the A-Bomb was dropped. There’s a hint of Japan instigating the war with the attack on America with Pearl Harbour and the British in Malaya. But no objectiveness on why Japan started this – to expand the empire or that it was part of the Tri-Partide Axis.

Atomic Bomb, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Taken in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

No one can dispute the impact, destructiveness, and suffering of Japan’s people as a result of the A-Bomb, although an objective explanation is warranted. I’ve visited Auschwitz Museum Birkenau Camp and Majdanek in Poland, which are honest but brutal accounts of what occurred in history. Facts cannot be erased or dismissed.

Flame of Peace

The base of the Flame of Peace sculpture represents “two wrists joined together, and the two wings on either side represent two palms facing upwards to the sky”.

Flame of Peace, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Flame of Peace

Kenzo Tange’s design was twofold: to “console the souls of the thousands who died begging for water” but also “to express the hopes for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting world peace.

The flame was lit on 1 August 1964 and burning since then as a protest of nuclear weapons and will “continue to burn until there are no nuclear weapons left on Earth”.

Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims

The Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims memorial, which is inscribed with the names of the 1945 Atomic Bomb victims was designed in 1952.

Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims

Children’s Peace Monument

The Children’s Peace Monument specifically commemorates the 2-year-old girl Sadako Sasaki irradiated by the bomb but lived for another 10 years.

Children's Peace Monument, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Children’s Peace Monument

This monument for peace is also in memory of all the children that died as a result of the bomb.

Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound

Strewn with corpses after the bombing, countless bodies were brought to this spot and cremated in 1946. A new vault was built in 1955. Unclaimed ashes kept in various places were brought to this new vault, which lies under the mound and now holds ashes from approximately 70,000 victims.

Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound

“Ashes were unclaimed because the entire family had perished or because they were persons of unknown identity.”

Peace Bell

Built as a symbol for the spiritual and cultural movement to create a world of true peaceful coexistence without any nuclear weapons or wars, the Peace Bell was completed in 1964.

Peace Bell, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Peace Bell

Monument to Korean Victims and Survivors

Dedicated to the Koreans that lost their lives in the bombing, the Monument to Korean Victims and Survivors features a turtle-shaped base and a crown of twin-dragon sculptures.

Monument to Korean Victims and Survivors, Matsubaramachi Park, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Monument to Korean Victims and Survivors

The shape represents the “folk belief that the souls of the dead rise to heaven on the backs of turtles”.

Matsubaramachi Park

Along the Enko River and not far from the JR Hiroshima Train Station, Matsubaramachi Park is definitely worth a visit.

An enjoyable walk through the Promenade of Peace takes you along glass plate sculptures with poignant messages.

Around Hiroshima

Hiroshima streets, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Hiroshima streets

Where is Hiroshima?

Situated south-west of Honshu Island, Japan’s main island, Hiroshima is home to over two million people.

Getting there from Osaka

If you’re near Osaka’s Minimariachi train station, then take the short trip to Umeda station in the morning to connect with the JR 10:30 am bus (¥3,259) to Hiroshima.

The bus arrived on time to the minute and arrived at Hiroshima 5 hours later, on time and to the minute. Impressive.

Stopping three times for a toilet and snack stop, you only get a 5-10 minute break, which is always at one of the 7-ELEVEN stores.

map of #Osaka to #Hiroshima, #Honshu Island, #Japan, #Asia

The hilly countryside along this stretch of Japan’s Honshu Island from Osaka reminds me of Calabria in southern Italy.

It’s only just Spring so a wintery brown landscape unfolds on this not so congested inland highway.

JR Bus trip from Osaka to Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
JR Bus from Osaka to Hiroshima

Very impressed with the bus service from buying tickets to the end journey. Japan runs smoothly except for booking online accommodation.

Where to eat

Hiroshima offers numerous restaurants serving delicious food at reasonable prices. This city is famous for its amazing and addictive Okonomiyaki.

Once you try an Okonomiyaki, you’ll crave more of this savoury pancake dish, which consists of wheat flour batter and various scrumptious ingredients cooked on a Teppan. Check the Eat and Sleep in Osaka, Japan post for more information on this traditional dish.

Downstairs in the JR Hiroshima Train Station seems more expensive than upstairs where this restaurant is but sadly, I don’t have a name – just look for the above open kitchen.

For a reasonable coffee at a good price with great staff, Tully’s is a cafe chain found in many of Japan’s cities. You can find a Tully’s in the very clean Shareo Underground Mall.

Shareo Underground Mall, Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
Shareo Underground Mall

Where to stay

As this is March 2023 and Japan is open for business once more after COVID-19, this means the government is giving locals accommodation discount incentives to jump-start travel in Japan.

Accommodation is booking fast and we’re lucky to book a great apartment at short notice for three nights with everything supplied for self-catering.

The very modern Minami-ku Apartment with a private bathroom is close to the JR Hiroshima Train station.

Leaving Hiroshima

Visiting the very helpful Tourist Information Centre at the JR Hiroshima Train Station, decide to buy JR Bus tickets direct to Okayama (¥3,000‎ pp) instead.

JR Bus Station, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Asia
JR Bus Station

Decided against the train as it takes 3 hours with 2 changes, compared to the bus, which takes only 2 hours. The Shinkansen takes 41 minutes but is much more expensive.

JR Shinkansen train station Hiroshima, Japan, Honshu Island, Asia
JR Hiroshima Train Station – strangely quiet for the Shinkansen entrance

Coming next: Memorable Miyajima Island

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.


24 responses to “Historic Hiroshima”

  1. Sartenada Avatar

    Hello. High quality post having a great interest! My hat! Thank you very much. Matti

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Matti
      Thank you for your kind feedback – much appreciated!

  2. Len Kagami Avatar

    A place full of emotion! I was struck by the clock in the museum, which stopped at the time of detonation. Beautiful photos of Hiroshima, especially the Okonomiyaki 😛

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It certainly is a destination full of emotion. The clock is a sobering reminder and there’s also one in Bologna (Italy) to denote the bombing in the train station.
      Thank you for your feedbck and taking the time to comment.

      1. Len Kagami Avatar

        Wow! I didn’t know about that incident. I saw that clock in Bologna Central but just thought that it ran out of battery. Thanks for the info.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, it was a bombing on the 2 August 1980 that killed 85 people and injured many more.
        Bologna holds a Remembrance Day every year on the 2nd but the clock mural and the clock in the station are always there I believe.

  3. Liesbet @ Roaming About Avatar

    Incredible guide about Hiroshima, Nilla. I hope to visit Japan one day, but doubt it will be affordable for us. Maybe we get to house and pet sit again by then. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Liesbet

      Lovely to hear from you and thank you for the great feedback! I hope you get to Japan as it’s a wonderful country and easy travelling. Accommodation can be expensive but self-contained apartments keep the cost down. You can always find cheap meals if you eat out though entry to museums is expensive, but as you say, house and pet sitting would be ideal. You’ve given me an idea for when we return to Japan.
      Hope that all is well with you. 🙂

  4. 100 Country Trek Avatar

    We visited Hiroshima in Japan and such an amazing site. Thanks for sharing this idea and I love these images Anita

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, Anita. When were you in Hiroshima? I was there in March this year and still trying to catch up with my posts.

      1. 100 Country Trek Avatar

        Yes we visted there in 2019 in Kyoto. It was such a disaster in Hiroshima. Anita

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ah right, we also visited Kyoto but later in the trip – spent 7 weeks in Japan and it wasn’t enough.
        Yes, a complete disaster as was Nagasaki, but not as many killed as in Hiroshima.

  5. Toonsarah Avatar

    I think your choice of ‘confronting’ as an adjective is spot on, but like you this is a place I’m glad to have visited. I take your point about the lack of background info in the museum about the circumstances leading up to the dropping of the bomb, but on the whole I found the approach pretty balanced and I respect their decision to focus on that moment in the war which changed not only Hiroshima but the world forever. Have you seen Oppenheimer?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      This whole area is dedicated to Peace and like you, I respect this decision.
      The whole picture of the context is missing at the museum, which usually depicts a timeline of events leading up to a catastrophic event such as the Atomic Bombs.
      No, I haven’t seen Oppenheimer yet, but hear lots about this film. I’m on the road until 2025 and haven’t had the chance to see a movie yet.
      Appreciate you taking the time to comment Sarah.

  6. Yetismith Avatar

    The horror of Aug 6th 1945 is unimaginable. I cannot conceive of the terror in Japan after the second bomb fell. Or the pain and suffering of the survivors. It is one of those moments in history that should be highlighted around the world as a reminder. Those of us who grew up right after the war had a healthy awareness even though, as I think I wrote, I am not sure quite how I came to know about Hiroshima. Maybe it was considered a really dreadful thing that “the good guys” did. If only the not-so-illustrious leaders of our world could be made to duke it out along with their carefully selected teams, like World Rugby. Now that would be hot television. Your article is the most I have ever read about Hiroshima and I can imagine it would have been quite confronting.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      There’s no denying of the horror and terror the people endured when both bombs were dropped. Graphic images resulting from this bomb will forever be burnt in my mind, but even before I visited the museum.
      Regardless of the war and sides, heinous crimes are committed. Leaders around the world continue to push their countries to war for whatever reason. The war machine is a money-making machine.
      I often wonder if they even stop to think of the suffering and consequences, but then again, post-war has its monetary benefits as a country requires re-building. Perhaps I’m becoming too cynical?
      Thank you for your feedback – this article was hard to write.

      1.  Avatar

        No I think you are realistic, not cynical. Money and power are all that matter and if people are killed or suffer, they were “collateral damage”.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Totally agree but there’s too much collateral damage – when does the war machine stop…

  7. Frank J Peter Avatar

    Thanks so much for this. I had the privilege and honor of gently ringing the peace bell at dusk in 2015. If I was king of the USA I would make a visit to the peace park and museum a required part of every American’s education.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Frank
      Agree. I also believe that everyone including our illustrious leaders should especially visit all of the war graves around the world as these too are confronting.
      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  8. sheetalbravon Avatar

    Hiroshima has been in my mind ever since I watched the movie Oppenheimer. So your post surfaced timely for me and I really enjoyed reading your detailed trip with the excellent photos. Still thinking of all that death and destruction and then the rebuilding process. Great post, Nilla.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Sheetal
      I haven’t seen Oppenheimer yet.
      Hiroshima is a poignant reminder of what war brings, but still, we don’t seem to learn.
      Thank you for your feedback and please feel free to share with anyone travelling to Japan. The 7 weeks there earlier this year were excellent!

  9. Tra Italia e Finlandia Avatar

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      You’re very welcome Luisella and hope that all is well with you.

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