Four weeks ago, I started the Going Solo in Japan Series & talked about my 3-day stay in Nagoya. I’ve been to beautiful parks & gardens & enjoyed the peak of autumn in a laid-back & chill city.
After spending 3 awersome days in Nagoya, I headed down south to Hiroshima. I took a 3-hour Willer Express bus ride to Osaka, then another 6-hour night bus to Hiroshima. I had a 3-hour layover in between trips but I just stayed in the bus terminal. Upon arrival in Hiroshima, I went straight to the only fast food restaurant open at 6:0 am – McDonalds to have breakfast. It was also the same time when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Fukushima Prefecture. I was so relieved I was 1,000+ kilometers away from the epicenter.
With my friend Michiko in Shukkeien Garden
Michiko, a good friend of mine, decided to join me in my 2-day trip around Hiroshima. She is currently working somewhere in Fukuyama (about 1.5 hours away from Hiroshima). I waited for her to arrive in the train station before we headed to the hostel to drop off our things.
We only had limited time in Hiroshima but we made sure we’ve done as much as we can. Let me give you the details on where we stayed, what we went & what not to miss in Hiroshima.
As mentioned in my Going Solo in Japan summary blog post, I stayed in Hana Hostels / J-Hoppers Hostels because of excellent reviews & also to avail their discount every 3-night stay. I only had 1 night in Hiroshima so I decided to stay in Hiroshima Hana Hostel.
Hiroshima Hana Hostel is a well-rated backpackers hostel located a few minutes walk from the JR Hiroshima Station. I stayed in a 4-bed male dormitory room while Michiko stayed in a 4-bed female dormitory room. Each hostel bed has it’s own reading light, pillow & sheets, curtains (for privacy) & universal plug. I paid ¥2,800 for a night’s stay. Affordable, right?
Hiroshima Hana Hostel’s 5th floor common area
The hostel features common lounge, kitchen & dining facilities. There is also a common rooftop terrace (with laundry facilities) where you can hangout & drink with other guests. Since there were only a few guests during my stay, I had my solo drinking session in the rooftop (Michiko fell asleep! Haha).
Note that the hostel is located near the main train station in Hiroshima; you will hear every train that arrives & leaves the station. Good news is the hostel reception provides free ear plugs for guests who wish not to be disturbed by the train noise. I would recommend staying in Hiroshima Hana Hostel; it is centrally-located & it has everything you need.
Hiroshima 3-Day Tourist Pass
This is how the tourist pass looks like
Michiko & I went to the tourist information center to ask for a map & to ask for the best way around Hiroshima for 2 days. I ended up getting the 3-day Hiroshima Tourist Pass (Small Area) for only ¥1,000. The pass includes unlimited rides to city buses, trams & a round-trip ferry ride to Miyajima Island. Good deal, right? Make sure to have your passports (Michiko forgot hers!) with you because the pass is only sold to foreigners.
One of the modern trams in Hiroshima!
Places We Visited
Just like any other city, there are lot places to see in Hiroshima. Michiko & I decided to go to start with the farthest then to those just within the city. We went to the following places:
Itsukushima, more popularly known as Miyajima Island, is a famous small island in Hiroshima Bay, about an hour away from the city. It is famous for the torii gate which is submerged in water during high tide. This structure also marks the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine.
Itsukushima Shrine “submerged” in water
The island has different temples & forest walking trails. It also has freely wandering deers & monkeys. The best way to explore the island is by foot. We spent around 5 hours walking around the island.
How to go to Miyajima Island:
- Fast route: Take the Sanyo Line from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station (around 20 minutes for ¥410) then take a short walk to the port. Board the JR Ferry (around 10 minutes for ¥180) to Miyajima Island. This route is recommended & free for all JR Pass holders.
- Slow route: Take Tram Line 2 from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station (around 45 minutes for ¥260) then walk to the port. Board the Matsudai Ferry (around 10 minutes for ¥180) to Miyajima Island.
Enjoyed the autumn colors while walking around the island 😍
If you are not in a hurry, I recommend taking the slow route just like what we did. We passed by different Hiroshima sightings along the way plus the tram experience was nice.
Genbaku Dōmu / Atomic Bomb Dome
The Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall when the bomb exploded in August 1945. The dome is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome from the Motoyasu River side
Access: From Hiroshima Station, take Tram Line 2 or 6 & get off at Genbaku-Domu Mae Station. A one way ride costs ¥160 & takes about 15 minutes.
Hiroshima Dreamination (only from mid November to early January)
Hiroshima Dreamination is a decorative street feature along Peace Boulevard where trees are decorated with colorful illuminations & giant monuments & characters. The bulbs are lighted from 5:30 pm to little past 10:00 pm every night.
One of the very few photos I took when we went to see the dreamination
Access: The dreamination structures are a short walk from the Peace Memorial Park. It is something you check out when you are in Hiroshima during autumn & winter. (No entrance fee required)
Shukkeien Garden is a historic Japanese garden located in the middle of Hiroshima City. The garden features scenic ponds, beautiful tea places, pavilions & a rainbow bridge.
Spent a few hours walking around the peaceful Shukkeien Garden 😍
Access: The garden is a 15-minute walk from Hiroshima Station. Alternatively, you can take Trams 1, 2 or 6 to Hacchobori station then transfer to Tram 9 to Shukkeien-mae station. The garden has an entrance fee of ¥260 per person.
Also known as the Carp Castle, the Hiroshima Castle is one of the few castles built literally in the middle of a city & not on top of a hill. The original castle was destroyed during the atomic bomb explosion in 1945 but was eventually rebuilt in 1958. What I like about this castle is its simple design & its wooden exteriors.
Outside Hiroshima council – its wooden exteriors made it look beautiful 😍
Access: Hiroshima Castle is 10 minutes by foot from the Shukkeien Garden. Entrance to the castle grounds is free but entrance to the castle building costs ¥370 per person.
What Not To Miss In Hiroshima
I ate some really good food / snacks in Hiroshima which you must not miss when you visit the city. Check them below:
Momijis everywhere in Miyajima Island; you can buy per piece or per box.
Momiji manju is a Japanese maple-leaf shaped steamed bun that originates in Miyajima Island. It features different fillings like green tea, cream cheese, custard, red bean, chestnut, chocolate, etc. My favorite fillings are custard & cream cheese. Please take note that these steamed buns should be consumed 5 days from the time it was bought. Too bad I wasn’t able to bring some back home.
Reichan’s Okonomiyaki – Yum!~
Okonomiyaki is one you should not miss in Hiroshima. It is the famous pan fried food made of cabbage, batter & anything you want in it. We tried Reichan, located in the 2nd floor of the JR Hiroshima Station.
Meiji Green Tea Ice Cream (!!!!!!)
Literally freaked out when I saw this in Lawson. Wish we have this here in PH! 😋
In my recent 2-week trip in Japan, I only saw this Meiji Green Tea Ice Cream in Hiroshima. I found it in Lawson convenience store near JR Hiroshima Station. The last time I saw this was in a 7-Eleven Convenience Store somewhere in Taitō, Tokyo. It’s a must try in Japan! I wish we have this here in the Philippines.
How I wish I stayed longer in Hiroshima but I had leave for Kyoto to meet another friend who is travelling in Japan. I would love to go back & explore more of what the city has to offer.
Hiroshima is a city one should not miss when visiting Japan. It may not be as busy as Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka but it is definitely as beautiful as any other Japanese city.
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Thank you for reading! 😊
PS. All photos above were shot using my HTC Re & HTC One M8.