Look beyond tragedy and see the whole picture
It’s easy to think of Hiroshima as a victim but this prefecture doesn't let tragedy define it.
In the center of the Chugoku region on Japan’s main island of Honshu, Hiroshima prefecture offers a wealth of attractions beyond the sobering monuments to the atomic bomb, located in the prefectural capital of Hiroshima City. While it’s important to visit these, you shouldn’t leave with the impression that tragedy is what Hiroshima is all about.
Uncover the region’s tranquil temples, quaint port towns and welcoming, friendly people to see the whole picture.
Hiroshima city makes a great base for exploring the region. Spend a decent amount of time seeing the city’s main sights, including the Peace Memorial Park and UNESCO World Heritage A-Bomb Dome, as well as the reconstructed Hiroshima Castle. Stuff yourself with Hiroshima-yaki at Okonomimura, a kind of okonomiyaki theme park with lots of restaurants serving up the local version of this savory pancake. A 40-minute train ride will take you to neighboring Saijo, Hiroshima’s sake (rice wine) town, where you can attempt not to fall over at the end of a walking tour of the district’s numerous breweries.
The Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima is one of Japan’s most iconic scenes and an easy day trip from Hiroshima. Lunch and dinner ferry cruises operate between Hiroshima and Miyajima, or you can take the train or tram from the main station, though it’s worth staying overnight on Miyajima if you can.
In the south of the prefecture, Tomo-no-ura is a picturesque fishing town that’s part of the Setonaikai National Park. Another quaint port nearby, Onomichi has a well-signposted temple walk that takes in 25 of the town’s 48 temples dotted among its slopes. Onomichi is also the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido — a 60 kilometer highway of nine individual bridges connecting Honshu and Shikoku that makes for a spectacular cycling route.
The Sandan-kyo gorge is a gorgeous place for trekking, especially in autumn with the changing of the leaves, and you can take a riverboat through the ravine passing through the waterfalls. It’s about two hours from Hiroshima city.