Planning a solo trip to Hiroshima? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital of Japan’s Hiroshima Prefecture, with around 1.2 million inhabitants.
- The largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu.
- Known as the first city in human history to be attacked with a nuclear weapon – an atomic bomb (“Little Boy”) was dropped on Hiroshima by US Air Force bomber Enola Gay on August 6, 1945. 80,000 people were killed almost instantly, and many more died from radiation. Almost 70% of all buildings were completely destroyed.
- Nicknames: International City of Peace and Culture, The City of Rivers, Venice of Japan
- Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY).
- Spoken languages: Japanese.
- Best time to visit: when the cherry blossoms are in bloom (springtime). Note: summers are humid and September is typhoon season.
- Arriving via airport: the Electric Railway shuttles visitors from Hiroshima Airport to Hiroshima Bus Center and JR Hiroshima Station – fares start at ¥1,300. Buses will take you to the city (and suburbs) for the same price. Taxis are not cheap – the fare will be ¥130,00 – 170,000.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Hiroshima Hostel EN. Comfortable beds, very friendly and welcoming staff – and a superb location perfect for exploring the city (right next to a JR and bus station). Exceptionally clean. Social atmosphere – great for meeting fellow travelers.
- The area between Hiroshima Castle and Highway 2 has a sprinkling of hostels and plenty of mid-range and luxury options. This area also features the most tourist attractions.
- The Hirodem is an intricate streetcar network that charges ¥130 per ride within city limits.
- Cycling is popular in Hiroshima as the bike trials are numerous and well-marked. Many hotels and bike rental outlets offer this service to travelers.
- Buses cost just ¥150 (though they do not pass any major attractions).
- The Astram (the metro) connects downtown Hiroshima to the northern suburbs for ¥180-470.
- Drinking age is 20, and last call is around 1:30 AM (bars close at 2 AM).
- The massive nightlife district known as Nagarekawa is chock full of narrow streets where tons of bars, clubs and late-night eateries, from multi-story meccas to hidden hole-in-the-walls, can be found plastered together.
- Great bars in Hiroshima that locals love: Tropical Bar Revolucion, Bar Cedar, Bar Alegre, Bar rude edge, Flat Sake Bar, and SAND BAR.
- If you’re looking for a quieter night out, head to the wine bars in Hakushima.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- A visit to the city’s somber sights is only customary and should start at Peace Memorial Park, a complex of monuments constructed at the site of the A-bomb drop. Peace Memorial Museum and the stark remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome stand at the edge of the park.
- The Hiroshima Museum of Art is European in style, and holds works by renowned painters such as Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso. Japanese art (in the Western style) is also featured.
- Originally built in the 16th century, Hiroshima Castle was obliterated by the atomic bomb. Nevertheless, its latest manifestation is a sight to be seen. The best part of the castle is the grounds on which it sits on, surrounded by over 350 cherry blossom trees between a river and the backdrop of the city skyline.
- Shukkeien Garden has a path that winds through scenic Japanese landscaping, across a bridge and past a sprinkling of traditional tea houses. One of the best gardens in Japan.
- Hondori Street is a car-free pedestrian arcade lined with restaurants and shops. Take a stroll and take in the spirit of the city!
- Known more for its charred history than its prosperous present, Hiroshima is a pretty modern city crossed by rivers and framed by sakura, or cherry blossoms, in the spring. Nowadays, the youth of Hiroshima Twitter about the latest trend, businessmen dash off to work at the break of dawn and neon signs signal a new age of nightlife. There’s plenty to do, see and love in Hiroshima.
- Great restaurants in Hiroshima: Otis! (Tex-Mex), Restaurant Chambord ($$$ – French), RajCurry, Caro (Italian).
- Where to find good cheap eats: The JR Hiroshima Station’s food court is chock full of decent Japanese fast food, as well as some big American chains – all cheap.
- Dangerous areas: avoid the neighborhoods east of the train station at night. Otherwise, the city is generally very safe at all hours.
Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days