Hiroshima, Japan Aug. 18 Fri 2:31AM
Hiroshima, A Place to Feel History
Hiroshima Prefecture contains vast mountains to the north and pristine coastline to the south along the Seto Inland Sea. Perhaps most famously known for being home to Hiroshima City, numerous small islands also dot the shores of this prefecture, among them Miyajima, home to Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular destination among both locals and tourists throughout each season.
When many people over the world here the name “Hiroshima,” they recall the city that was the target of the very first atomic bomb in 1945, the effects of which are still tangible to this day. Perhaps what is most spectacular about Hiroshima is its resilience and reinvention, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It is now a major focal point in the global movement against nuclear weapons. The guiding principle in Hiroshima is “peace” -- between people, nations, and cultures. In fact, the Japanese government officially named Hiroshima a City of Peace in 1949, not long after the end of World War II.
Remnants of the city’s tragic history can be observed at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a must-visit for anyone traveling in the area. Within the park are various monuments and vestiges of the atomic bombing, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (commonly known as the Atomic Bomb Dome), the only building that was left standing after the bombing, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where visitors have the opportunity to learn firsthand the atrocities and devastation caused by war. No matter where you’re from, you are guaranteed to leave Hiroshima with a broader worldview and understanding of the importance of world peace.
Hiroshima is now a bustling city of over 1 million people with a rich cuisine, stunning gardens, and multiple museums. The Hiroshima variant of Okonomiyaki (sometimes referred to as Hiroshima-yaki by out-of-towners) layers cabbage, meat, and yakisoba noodles atop a savory batter. True to the city’s resilient nature, Hiroshima Castle, originally built in the 16th century but destroyed by the atomic bombing in World War II, was reconstructed to its former glory in 1958. The Sanyo Shinkansan (bullet train) provides direct access to Hiroshima and the surrounding area, making it a great day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.
A short trip from Hiroshima City, Miyajima is a center of both tourism and pilgrimage, a serene yet popular destination home to many holy sites such as the world-famous Itsukushima Shrine’s floating torii gate, Mt. Misen, and more to discover. Like in Nara, deer, believed to be messengers of the gods in Shinto, roam freely.
Although certainly off the beaten tourist path, the seaside town of Onomichi could be a great place to get a glimpse of a less “touristy” Japan. This quaint port town offers wonderful views of the Seto Inland Sea as well as a rich artistic and historic legacy, having appeared in many classic Japanese films. It’s also known as a great cherry blossom viewing spot for those trying to get outside the main destinations!