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What to do in Hiroshima and Miyajima

Let’s talk about what to do in Hiroshima and Miyajima in Japan and also some of the tragic history that devastated Hiroshima. The most devastating nuclear disaster in the history of the world, unfortunately caused by man himself. A place where I felt a deep sadness at the same time I felt great joy in seeing the renewal, the willpower and the unity that took over the whole country after the disaster.

*What to do in Hiroshima and Miyajima was updated in August 2018

Welcome to beautiful Hiroshima

Beautiful monuments and messages all over the city

On August 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima in Japan woke up to the sky on fire. At 8:15am they suffered the biggest and most terrible attack in the history of the world. The United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the city causing practically the devastation of the local people, it was the first nuclear attack in human history. Thousands of people died or were seriously injured, poisoned and contaminated for the rest of their lives.

I will list some facts that I was able to learn at the city museum before suggesting an itinerary there:

– The nuclear bomb, made of uranium, was created with the intention of forcing the end of the second world war, that is, the surrender of the Japanese.

– The second war had already ended when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on the 6th. This means that the Japanese had already surrendered, why was the bomb dropped then?

– There are those who defend the thesis that it was necessary to justify all the money spent on the production of the bomb, so it was used even after the end of the war.

– There is also the story that the Japanese tricked the United States by “giving themselves away”. However, they were buying time to plan the attack on Pear Harbor.

– More than 300,000 people were killed in the attack. Thousands of other people have suffered for years and years with diseases such as cancer, infections, disabilities and deficiencies of organs and limbs,

– Only one building in the city (photo in the post) was not entirely destroyed. Everything melted!! If the buildings and streets are gone, can you imagine the effect of the bomb on human beings?!

– Minutes after the attack, a dark rain began, strong and that burned the skin as it fell on the population. The accounts of people who witnessed the rain can be found at the Peace Memorial Museum and are heartbreaking,

– 3 days after the attack on Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second bomb on the city of Nagasaki killing about 73,000 people.

Catastrophic post-attack scene

After the American attacks, the Japanese people became more united and developed a sense of giant reconstruction. Currently the city of Hiroshima is beautiful, there are flowers coloring all the streets, several monuments in honor of the dead, origami in the shape of a bird (called crane) on all sides, streets and parks full of trees and an extremely well-kept lake in the center of the city. Even the ruins of the only building that survived the bomb attacks beautify the landscape.

Why so many cranes all over the city? A child survivor of the disaster discovered he had leukemia about 10 years after the attack. Sadako, as she was called, made a thousand origami in the form of a bird for world peace and the health of all survivors of the attack. Sadly Sadako passed away but her story and fight for peace will forever remain in all Japanese hearts. Right in the center of Hiroshima there is a statue and a bell in honor of Sadako, beautiful and sad story!

Thousands and thousands of cranes in the square in honor of the children

How to get to Hiroshima:

The best way to travel around Japan is by train, regardless of the city you are leaving to visit Hiroshima, go by train. From Tokyo by bullet train takes about 4 hours using the JR Sanyo Shinkansen line, see here more details. Hiroshima is in the south of Japan, far from other tourist cities, so I recommend putting it on your itinerary as the final point of your trip.

On a basic Japan itinerary, start in Tokyo, head to Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and end your itinerary in Hiroshima. The train line that connects Osaka to Hiroshima is the same as the one mentioned above, Sanyo Shinkansen, you should take the train at Shin Osaka station.

Where to stay in Hiroshima:

The best neighborhood to stay in the city is in Naka-ku, near the Peace Memorial Park. The closer to the river, the more beautiful it is. Staying in this region, you can see everything on foot. My hotel recommendation goes to Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshimaaffordable price, great infrastructure, modern and in the heart of the neighborhood.

Mitsui Hotel. Photo disclosure.

How many days to stay:

I recommend exactly two days, no more, no less. You will understand from the list of attractions that I will go through below. But basically you need a day to see all the attractions in Hiroshima (there is plenty of time) and a day to go to Miyajima. More than that is missing the opportunity to know other amazing places in Japan 🙂

What to do in Hiroshima and Miyajima (finally the cool part lol):

Day 1: Attractions in Hiroshima

Peace Memorial Park: this is where practically all the city’s attractions are located. I recommend starting the walk through the “Atomic Bomb Dome“, the only building that was partially left standing after the nuclear attack. Cross the Ota River and discover Children’s Peace Memorial, where there are thousands of cranes and the tribute to Sadako. In a short walk towards the Peace Memorial Museumyou will pass a beautiful monument that was created with the bomb dome in the background (see photo).

There is also a flame that is permanently lit in this park, the aim is to make the world aware of the real impact of nuclear weapons. Finally, set aside about two hours to visit the museum and a box of tissues, it is a lot of images and surprising objects. It is worth going through the entire museum calmly, to understand and experience a little bit of this tragedy.

Next, I recommend getting to know the Hiroshima Castle, you can go walking and enjoying the landscape. To close the day you can meet the Shukkei-en, a beautiful garden on the banks of the river Ota, you can also go walking. Even if you have already seen the bomb dome during the day, I recommend taking a trip to it at night. Illuminated, it leaves the landscape bucolic and beautiful.

Starting my ride on a beautiful summer day

Atomic Bomb Dome

All details preserved

It’s chilling!

Bell of Peace, also in the square

This is the intensity with which the Japanese deal with tragedy

Memorial to Children

Some of the strong images I saw inside the museum

If the bottle melted like that, can you imagine what happened to the people?

The bomb dome seen at night

Day 2: Itsukushima – Miyajima

Itsukushima is popularly known as Miyajima, an island located in Hiroshima Bay. The island is known for its temple called Itsukushima, it was built in 1168 by Taira no Kiyomori, the most powerful man in the country at the time who believed that this island was a sacred place. So many people go to Miyajima to say thank you. To get to the island you need to take a boat from the port of Hiroshima and the journey takes about an hour.

Once on the boat you will already see the famous tori, a symbolic arch placed in the middle of the waters to represent protection for the island. Upon disembarking you can enjoy the local movement of the “centrinho”, take a photo with deer (yes, there are deer roaming the island) and end the day visiting Itsukushima temple.

Another suggestion is to do everything in a single day, with day trips from Kyoto or Osaka. Maybe it gets a little tiring but.. if you only have 1 day and don’t want to waste time changing hotels etc. it’s an excellent opportunity. I’ll leave the link of a reliable tour below:

Hiroshima and Miyajima Guided Tour from Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima

Arriving in Miyajima

Classic photo when disembarking on the island

Walking through the “centrinho” of the island

Super calm the deer

Itsukushima Temple

Another corner of Itsukushima temple

Typical Hiroshima Dish:

I can’t finish this article without mentioning okonomiyaki. A typical Japanese dish originating in Hiroshima and delicious. There are dozens of restaurants that offer it on the menu, my suggestion is to choose one where you can sit in front of the plate where the okonomiyakis are made. Or even in a restaurant that you can make your own.

Okonomiyaki is a “pancake” made with several ingredients; the dough is made with a special flour and fish broth. The stuffing can vary a lot, usually yakissoba style noodles, cabbage, other vegetables, fish and/or meats, rice, furikake (Japanese seasoning) among other things. All the ingredients go to the plate in a neat order for the pancake to be nice and firm and to finish, put mayonnaise, special sauce for okonomiyaki and katsuobushi which are very thin flakes of fish.

This style of restaurant that I recommend, facing the plate

Preparation of Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki ready and delicious

What you need to eat in Japan

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