One or two days Hiroshima itinerary – The complete self-guided tour

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Spending one day in Hiroshima is a must-do while in Japan. With this one or two-day Hiroshima itinerary, you’ll feel like you saw and learned the full Japanese history in a self-guided tour.

While most people associate Hiroshima with the terrible event that took place on the 6th of August 1945, I would like to focus this post on everything that represents Hiroshima. That’s why this self-guided tour for one day in Hiroshima is not only focused on this event, but it covers way more.

Why I’m doing this, you ask? Because Hiroshima is not a victim. Hiroshima used to be a very strong city, coming from a small fishing village from the 12th century. Hiroshima is not represented by the atomic bomb. Hiroshima was there, with its personality and history before the bomb demolished it all.

If there’s one thing that you’re taking from this post and this visit, I would like it to be this: Hiroshima was not killed by the atomic bomb but it survived, despite being the target of one of the most tragic events of the 21st century.

In the end, Hiroshima is Japan. Hiroshima is a survivor. As Japan can survive everything that life throws at it, earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis to name just a few, Hiroshima survives the atomic bombing.

And maybe you think I choose the wrong tense, I should have used the past tense. No, I shouldn’t have. Hiroshima’s survival is not an event, it’s a never-ending activity that happens day after day. You don’t survive a nuclear attack, you live with it every day.

It’s still there, as strong as possible, and it’s there only for a reason: for you to go there, visit it, and tell the history to everyone you know. This is how we don’t forget. And this is how we can ensure that we’re not repeating history. Only by knowing it and sharing it.

Hiroshima Cenotaph - A must see in Japan

Best time to visit Hiroshima

The short answer to this question would be: in this lifetime. But I assume you’re looking for a more detailed response. OK, I will deliver then.

Hiroshima is located in the Chugoku region, way in the South of the main island of Japan, Honshu. Still, you cannot expect tropical temperatures here, but you might encounter warmer temperatures compared to say Tokyo.

If visiting right after New Year’s day, you have a chance of having pretty cold weather, you might even see some snow, but the temperatures are mostly above freezing level. If you dress properly and walk a lot, you may enjoy this time of year as you encounter fewer crowds and smaller prices.

Towards the end of March and beginning of April, you can start to notice cherry blossoms here and there, as they start blooming here earlier than in the northern areas. May is also a good month to visit, as the temperatures are very nice, the crowds are fewer as sakura is ending, and the average rainfall is still pretty good.

June is very warm, about 68 F (20 °C), but this is when the rainy season starts in Hiroshima. It might rain daily for a while, or it might rain one hour from time to time. So just take your umbrella and/or a rain jacket with you at all times.

July, August, and September are Summer months here, and the temperatures will get in the 90s (30s °C), sometimes even exceeding this value. September and October are also known for being part of the typhoon season in Japan, so take this into account before you book your flights.

Late October, November, and December are a great bet because the temperatures are milder and you can see the fall foliage here, another Japanese special similar to sakura, but better (read here why I think November is the best time to visit Japan). I would avoid December if possible as the holiday season will get the prices pretty high up.

In conclusion, March and April are good fits if you also want to see cherry trees in bloom, May is great due to comfortable temperatures, June is warm but humid, and October and November are great for fall foliage hunting.

Outside view of a tea house in Shukkeien Garden

How to get to Hiroshima

While some people avoid Hiroshima because it’s far from the Tokyo and Kyoto areas, the two hotspots any first-time visitor will head to, Hiroshima is not that hard to get to. Japan is known for its extensive transportation options and to be frank, you have so many options to reach Hiroshima there’s no reason not to.

By plane

Hiroshima has its airport not far away from the city. While it’s mostly served by internal flights, you still have an option to reach it directly from Hong Kong or Taiwan as well. Take this into account when you’re setting up your Japan itinerary. Use Skyscanner to help you plan your flights better.

From the airport, you have a few options to reach the city. If you have a JRPass, you can use the Hiroshima-Airport Limousine bus called Mihara Eki Mae until the Hongo Station, and then you’ll use the JR San-yo line to reach Hiroshima.

By train

If you don’t plan to spend more than a day here, you will probably visit Hiroshima on a day trip from Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto. In my humble opinion, doing this from Tokyo is pure madness, as your day will be mostly spent on the way there and back, but who am I to judge your way of doing things?

From Tokyo, your trip will take about 4 hours one way, and you can use the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen direct line, which is NOT included in your JRPass. There are other lines you can use instead with a bit of added time as they stop to more stations along the way. You just have to look them up a day before or directly in the train station at departure.

You can buy your JR Pass from here!

If coming in from Kyoto, your trip will take around 1 hour and 45 minutes one way, while getting into Hiroshima from Osaka will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Still, not an easy trip, but compared to coming in from Tokyo, I’d say this is one of the best options.

If none of these options sound good, you can always spend a night in Hiroshima. Here are some hotel recommendations for you. Remember, Agoda returned better prices for us in Asia forever, but you choose the booking option that fits you, in the end.

Low budgetMid budgetLuxury option

By bus

Wow, this won’t be easy! But if you’re up for the challenge and you want to keep all the extra money you can, try using this service. They have very good reviews and the site is very easy to use.

A bus trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima would set you back about 8.000 Yen (~80$), but if you choose a night bus you won’t spend that money on accommodation anyway. The trip will last about 13 hours anyway, all of which will be spent in an enclosed space with people you don’t know.

Using the same company but having the departure point from Osaka, you’ll pay around 4.000 Yen (~40$) and you’ll spend about 6 hours on your trip. This can be a good solution if you want to stretch every dime while seeing more of the country at the same time.

How to get around Hiroshima

While the city is quite big, you will visit most of it on foot anyway. Most visiting spots are bundled together in Downtown Hiroshima, so you just have to reach the A-Dome and you’re all set.

To do this, you will most probably use a tram. There’s a flat fee of 160 Yen for a tram trip, and you can use your ICoca card to pay for it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, head to my using a tram, bus, or metro in Japan post and learn more about this.

You can also use the buses (although you probably won’t, as it’s less convenient than the tram), and it’s worth mentioning that they’re included in the JRPass, so you might want to look into this option if you’re trying to stretch your budget to cover more icecream.

You can also use a taxi, which I usually don’t suggest as it can be very expensive. Depending on the number of people your party has, you might get a good deal out of it, especially when trying to avoid logging huge luggage in public transportation when going from the airport or train station to the hotel.

What you must see in Hiroshima

The Hiroshima Castle

Start your Hiroshima one-day itinerary here, with this reconstructed castle from the 16th century. A great place to see the cherry tree flowers if you’re planning to visit during spring, this castle is a great replica of the one that was devastated by the bomb.

Gokoku Shrine

This shrine may not look like much, but it’s on the castle premises and is very dear to the locals, as it was rebuilt after the blast and is the center of most annual Shinto traditions. Take a few minutes from your time to see this quiet place.

A-Bomb Dome

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage, the Hiroshima peace memorial site will leave you speechless and will prepare you for everything you will experience after. One of the very few buildings that are still standing, this quiet place will make you feel small and aware of the atrocities that it has seen.

Hiroshima Children’s Peace Monument

As always, children are the sad victims of all that’s bad in the world. This monument is here to remind the world that children suffer the most in times of war and that they should never have to see and feel what they have during those times.

The Peace Memorial Park

This beautiful park encapsulates plenty of other smaller monuments, each of them having a perfectly chosen purpose. A walk here will both prepare you for what it’s coming and give you a short mental and spiritual break.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The core of this day trip Hiroshima itinerary, a visit to this museum is what everyone needs to do in this lifetime. Full of information in all shapes and sizes, you cannot leave this place until you have taken it all in. It will hurt you, you might cry (I know I did), but it must be seen.

Shukkeien Japanese Garden

Finish this plentiful day with a stroll through one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens on this side of the country. It will show you that, no matter how bad it is, Hiroshima and Japan will always find beauty and peace in everything.

Other things you might be interested in this Hiroshima itinerary

Hiroshima Museum of Art

If you’re planning a Hiroshima two-day itinerary and you’re passionate about art, this museum hosts a collection of paintings in full European style, but also Japanese painters who have chosen Western styles for their craft.

Hiroshima Mazda Museum

If you’re a car fan, a visit to this museum might be interesting for you. Even though you have to schedule your visit in advance (find more information here), it’s pretty cool that you can see the assembly line and learn about some state-of-the-art engines.

Hiroshima Orizuru Tower

Said to be the best place to watch the sunset in Hiroshima, you can come here and enjoy some origami lessons, interesting food, and an all-around nice experience. Make a reservation in advance if you want to be guaranteed a spot.

Extra tips for visiting Hiroshima

  • If you’re comfortable with English, don’t buy the audio guide at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It just reads the things written on the walls, word by word.
  • You’ll receive two postcards made out of recycled paper from all the cranes brought here by children. Send them to people to raise awareness about what happened here. It’s a nice souvenir, but it can also be a strong message carrier.
  • Come early, as there are plenty of things to see, and the trip from Osaka or Kyoto is not short. You can always finish the day with a sunset view in the Orizuru Tower, but you’ll need to finish with the rest until sunset to do so.
  • Spread the word about Hiroshima. Tell the world Hiroshima is not a victim. Share what you saw here with everyone you know. We mustn’t forget what happened there.

Key takeaway

This one or two-day Hiroshima itinerary encapsulates everything you need while visiting this beautiful place. And you will see that, no matter how you arrive here, where you come from, and what do you value, you will leave this place more humble than you have ever been.

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