Exploring Japan is now going to the Chugoku region, the westernmost part of Honshu, with Hiroshima Prefecture.
Hiroshima is located on the Seto Inland Sea on the southern side of western Honshu. It’s the first prefecture in this region that I’m writing about. It has a population of 2,857,990. The capital city is Hiroshima. The 5 biggest cities in Hiroshima are:
- Hiroshima (1,173,980)
- Fukuyama (465,238)
- Kure (240,820)
- Higashihiroshima (183,834)
- Onomichi (148,085)
The population is slowly decreasing, though Hiroshima city’s population is increasing.
Hiroshima Castle is a reconstruction, since the original was destroyed in the atomic bombing in 1945. It’s a concrete reproduction, though some more recent work is done using traditional methods. It’s now a museum for Hiroshima’s pre-war history.
Fukuyama Castle in Fukuyama was a huge castle, though it was destroyed in World War II. It’s a reconstruction now, and it serves as a history museum.
Things to see and do
Hiroshima is famous for two major things. Of course, the world’s first atomic bombing on a city happened at Hiroshima city, so there are many sights related to that, including the Genbaku Dome, or Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Nearby is the island of Miyajima (Itsukushima) with it’s very famous and often photographed Itsukushima Shrine. Both locations are very important national treasures in Japan, while the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hiroshima is a major tourist destination in Japan for obvious reasons. The city itself is rather typical of Japanese cities as far as appearances go. The most likely place anyone will visit is the Peace Memorial Park, which has many things to see. In addition to the Genbaku Dome, you can also see the Children’s Peace Monument, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. There are an incredible number of monuments in the area. Too many to list. In addition to the castle and Chuo Park, which surrounds it, there are other things to see. The Hiroshima Children’s Museum, a science museum with a planetarium, and the Hiroshima Museum of Art could be good to see. Another museum is the Hiroshima City Manga Library. Fudoin is a temple that survived the bombing. Mazda’s headquarters are near Hiroshima, so there’s also the Mazda Museum. Mitaki-dera is a beautiful temple with three waterfalls. Shukkeien is a very beautiful Japanese garden that’s considered one of Japan’s best. Hiroshima has plenty of festivals to see, too. There’s the Peace Memorial Ceremony, of course. The Flower Festival is a major festival with live performances. And then there’s the Food Festival, which has a lot of food for you to eat.
Fukuyama, Hiroshima’s second city, also has plenty to see. Tomonoura is a very scenic port area with several temples and shrines. Myooin is a major temple with a 5-storey pagoda. Kusado Sengen is a medieval town that was excavated. The city has an annual Rose Festival, as its city flower is the rose.
Hatsukaichi, near Hiroshima, is the city famous for Miyajima and the Itsukushima Shrine. It’s an absolutely beautiful shrine built on the coast, and it appears to be floating at high tide. It’s a must see, I think. Miyajima has more than just the shrine. The Marine Plaza Miyajima is an aquarium. You can also see the Miyajima Natural Botanical Garden on the island. There used to be a castle on the island, Miyao Castle. You can visit the ruins there. In August, you can see the Miyajima Underwater Firework Festival.
Higashihiroshima isn’t famous for much, but it does have a festival that sake lovers will want to see. It’s the Sake Festival in Saijo.
Kure is known for its link to the sea and shipbuilding. You can visit the JMSDF Kure Museum, showing the history of the Japan Marine Self Defence Force, as well as the Kure Maritime Museum (also known as Yamato Museum) which features a 1/10 scale model of the battleship Yamato. Mount Noro is a good place for hiking and enjoying nature.
Miyoshi is a small inland city that features the Origami Museum.
Mihara city is known for the Buttsuji temple, and also has the ruins of Mihara Castle. The destruction of this castle is a bit unusual. It was demolished to make space for a train station in the late 19th century, and in 1975, the entire site was split in half by a shinkansen station.
Onomichi is a beautiful city filled with many temples and shrines. I can’t list them all, but here are some major sights. Senkoji Park is on Mt. Senkoji, and is well-known for its cherry blossoms. On the hill is Senkoji, a historic temple. Jikoji is a temple where you can make your own little Buddha statue. Tenneiji is a temple that has 500 statues in its main hall, and nearby is the Maneki-neko Museum, dedicated to the lucky cat. Saikokuji has a beautiful red pagoda. Jodoji is a temple that was founded more than 1400 years old. If you like art, you can visit the Onomichi City Museum of Art.
Hiroshima is famous for a very popular kind of food, Okonomiyaki. It’s similar to a pancake, but it’s filled with vegetables, meat, seafood, and pretty much anything you’d like to include. Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki is layered, and contains a large amount of ingredients.
Have you been to Hiroshima? Leave a comment with your recommendations.