I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hiroshima, to be honest. Obviously I knew of the atrocity which happened in 1945, but I was ignorant enough to think that maybe there was residual radiation left in the area and it would be a bit of a dangerous place to go…
That isn’t the case by the way, and people enquiring about my trip have asked me the same thing, so I don’t feel quite so stupid. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs were detonated above ground, so most radioactive materials were dispersed into the atmosphere. There was minimal fallout immediately after the event in the form of ‘black rain’, which was obviously horrendous at the time but it was a short term thing. These days, background radiation is the same as pretty much anywhere else.
First full day we had in Hiroshima was spent looking at the castle. The original one was burnt down due to the atomic bomb, but it was rebuilt in the same style and now houses a museum inside of it.
This is a tree which actually survived the blast – I thought this was amazing, that’s one tough tree! There were a few more like this in the castle grounds; they understandably look a bit worse for wear but they’re still going!
These are the remaining foundations of the Imperial Military Headquarters in the castle grounds, which fell down in the bomb blast.
Frontage of Hiroshima castle – it looks much more impressive outside than inside, and no photography was allowed inside either. The museum is interesting though, it focuses on the history of the castle and pre-war Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (A-Bomb Dome)
This is the famous landmark of Hiroshima – the A-Bomb Dome. The atomic bomb detonated directly over this building, leaving the walls mostly intact as the blast was forced downwards. The building was apparently an exhibition hall at the time, and has been preserved in the state it was left in after the bomb hit.
It’s a really eerie thing to look at, and clearly stands out as being a massive contrast to the surroundings of newly-rebuilt Hiroshima. There were apparently huge debates as to what to do with the building, and a lot of people wanted it pulled down so they could forget about what happened. But, it remains today as a memorial to the victims and serves as a reminder to the world.
Peace Memorial Park & Museum
The memorial park is quite a substantial area of land alongside the Motoyasu River dotted with various monuments to the victims.
The Cenotaph Monument holds the names of all the people killed by the atomic bomb. If you look through the arch, you can see both the Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome. The Peace Flame has been burning since the 1960s and will apparently be blown out when all atomic weapons in the world have been destroyed (let’s hope that happens, shall we?).
The Hiroshima Peace Museum is at the end of the park and is absolutely fascinating; I actually came out of there quite tearful! One exhibit really stuck in my memory; it was the burnt tricycle of a little boy who died instantly. The photo I just linked was by another tourist and for some reason I was compelled to comment on the photo (I hardly ever comment on Instagram photos). Weird thing is, I actually met the photographer a few days later in a hostel in Kyoto – small world!
As for Hiroshima city itself, they have done an absolutely fantastic job of rebuilding over the last 70 years and it’s now a really nice, clean city. There is a very long shopping arcade called Hondōri Street right through the middle, which contains zillions of shops.
Of course I wanted to buy everything but I had to be careful with my luggage space, and anything I purchased would have to be dragged to both Kyoto and then Tokyo afterwards, so I had to be pretty well behaved in that respect!
Streetcars run through the city which you can hop on and off of to quickly get around; they’re pretty slow but quite fun 🙂
We got on this older style streetcar when we were feeling lazy one morning.
I liked the city a lot actually, and it just felt a lot calmer and laid back than Tokyo had a few days before. I could certainly see myself living somewhere like this.
There are various rivers running through Hiroshima city; this is one of them. The weather was starting to look a little overcast by this point!
We tried to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Hiyajima Park, but it was unfortunately closed for refurbishment at that time. I did get some pretty special mosquito bites from the park though, so yay.
And also quite a nice view of the city from a lookout point nearby.
Here are a few photos from various walks around the city. Everywhere was pretty close, so it was easy to walk to anywhere you wanted to go to, really.
This was a restaurant called Yakeppachi we went to which served okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake/omelette associated with the Hiroshima area. It basically means ‘grilled as you like’ and is egg and cabbage based with pretty much any other filling you like. It took us ages to find this place after we found it online – as you can see from their sign, it contains no English characters whatsoever, so we didn’t know if we were in the right place. So if any other people are trying to find it, this is what it looks like! They do have English menus inside, too.