AWS Travel Guide: Hiroshima
Warning: If you haven’t yet figured out how obsessed I am with Japan, this post will solidify your suspicion.
I just finished my Tour-de-Nippon last week, concluding the extravaganza with a few days in Hiroshima Prefecture, and have so much to share about the area. You don’t want to skip this city, folks!
Hiroshima’s rambling prefecture is filled with hundreds of fascinating and exciting activities and places. I would highly recommend allocating at least 2 nights in the area in order to soak in the peaceful atmosphere, more if your schedules allows. While the metro and train systems seem (at least to me) slightly more difficult to navigate, the whole area is accessible without the need of a vehicle.
Hiroshima: Japan’s pacifist city
Within Hiroshima city itself (Hiroshima-shi) rests the crumbling remains of Genbaku Domu, otherwise known as the A-Dome. The skeletal remains of the industrial promotional hall is an eerie reminder to all of consequences of war. As thus, the whole area is infused with an atmosphere of pacifism. As an American, I couldn’t help feel ashamed and saddened for the loss of lives as I gazed at the monument.
The Memorial Peace Park also contains a history/peace museum that is worth checking out. In many places across the area, you can still touch and see the scorched stones and statues, with shadowing effects from the heat of the bomb, visible to this day.
Although completely destroyed in the bombing, Ri-Jo, Hiroshima’s 1500’s style castle has been reconstructed in the center of the city. (This is a great location for history nerds!)
Floating Torii of Itsukushima
Make sure you take the JR line, rather than the old school electric railway (it will make the difference of a whole hour of transport time). From Hiroshima station, take the JR Sanyo line to Miyajima Guchi station, and a 10 minute ferry across. Good news! Your JR Pass is good on this ferry. I highly recommend visiting this shrine at the end of the day, when the sun sets just behind the hills.
Itsukushima is illuminated at dusk, and dozens of amicable deer meander around the island and beach area. It’s perfect for a photo-op!
If you happen to find yourself near the area during the day-time, you can canoe right up to the torii, or rent a seat on a boat tour of the island, or simply roll up your pant legs and walk to the shrine during the low-tide.
Miyajima is well equipped for a relaxing vacation as well. If you stay at one of the many hotels or ryokans, make sure to relax in an onsen for a few hours. *Be careful if you are tattooed, and check with the hotel/ryokan before attempting to enter an onsen*
Okunoshima Island: Land of Bunnies
I’m OBSESSED with this place. If you haven’t seen my previous post exclusively about my love of Bunny Island, you can here. I have never seen such a fascinating place: an island completely dominated by wild rabbits.
I wish my life was as blessed as these rabbits. They spend their days alternating between relaxing and receiving food and massages from tourists. What a life.
The island is easy to get to, but the train schedules can be a bit of a pain. Watch out for large gaps in the schedule. You might find yourself stuck near Tadanoumi station for a few hours if you don’t plan ahead.
Shimanami Kaido: If you have a day (and a car) to travel across the islands of Hiroshima prefecture, there is a bridge linking many famous islands together, called Shimanami Kaido. Shimanami Kaido is almost 60km long, and ties 8 diverse areas together, each with very different attractions. Some harbor castles that have survived the test of time and war. Others used to be armory factories, and are considered national treasures of Japan.
Sera Fuji En/ Sera Yuri En: Some of the most gorgeous floral gardens in Japan are within a day’s trip of Hiroshima station. Sera Fuji En contains giant Wisteria trees and a plethora of sakura (cherry blossom) flowers, and you can bathe in the scent of lilies at Sera Yuri En. Pack a small lunch and enjoy the sunshine in one of these amazing gardens!
Temples/ Shrines: Structures as old as the 15th century dot the whole prefecture, including 5-story pagodas and giant Buddha statues. Hike through wooded paths to view temples on oceanfront land, or admire the detail in Senkoji Temple.
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