Hiroshima is the sadly remembered Japanese city that suffered from nuclear bombardment. It was the first case in the history of humanity when the atomic weapon was used. It claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The tragic story of a small girl named Sadako Sasaki went round of the globe. This girl died from radiation poisoning but had desperately believed in the legend about a thousand paper cranes that could save her life...
Hiroshima remembers its tragedy, honor the memory of all the innocent victims, and… lives on. This is a friendly city that hosts a wide range of festivals. People come here to see the bloom of the cherry blossom, to haunt the “red leaves” and simply enjoy the hasteless flow of life.
Districts of Hiroshima
In Minami-ku you can find the museum of Mazda Motor Corporation, beautiful parks and recreation spots renowned for their cherry blossom gardens. Governmental buildings, shopping malls, Mitsubishi enterprise, entertainment quarters, and a tourist center of the city are waiting for you in Naka ward.
The central wholesale market is located in Nishi-Ku. It also has a high concentration of accommodation units, parks, plants, and factories.
Higashi ward is the historic center of the town with lots of recreational parks.
New wards are the neighboring inhabited localities Aki, Asakita, Asaminami, Saeki that were merged with the city in the 1980s.
Hiroshima has so much more to offer besides the sights related to the nuclear bombing. The city has splendid parks, ancient temples, and a diversity of modern entertainments.
A brief history
As a result of the military conflict, the principality came over to Fukushima Masanori in 1600. The city and the adjoint provinces formed Hiroshima-Han in 1603. It was the autonomous administrative unit that yielded to the military government of Japan. The new owner continued his predecessor’s legacy. However, the central authorities deprived him of his domains and the status of samurai due to his unapproved construction of fortifications.
The governors of Hiroshima-Han changed one after another. All of them pursued economic growth and development. At the end of the XVII century, the Asano clan came to power. Under its government, the principality became one of the richest in Japan. The population was around 70 000 people at that time. It was a massive commercial center and exported paper, articles made from bamboo, hemp fabric, laminaria, and oysters.
The flourishing period was replaced by decline, starvation, and rebellions. Asano Nagamichi - the eleventh ruler - managed to solve the economic and social problems in the middle of the XIX century. At the time, Japan went through the crises and danger of becoming a colony of the famous Western countries and Russia. As a result, a new monarchic government was formed, and the modernization epoch started for the whole country.
In 1871, Hiroshima-Han was renamed into Hiroshima Prefecture. The area around the castle became the Hiroshima region. In ten years, a new administrative division of Japan kicked in, and this region turned into the city of Hiroshima.
In the last years of the XIX century, a port and railway road were built here. During the First Chino-Japanese War, the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office moved to Hiroshima Castle. Later, it was occupied by the Parliament.
The strong point of the Imperial Japanese Army was formed in Hiroshima during the Russo-Japanese war.
The event that divided the life of the city into the before and after happened on August 6, 1945, at 08:15 local time. In compliance with the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, and Japan’s rejection to capitulate, a nuclear bomb called “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima. The city was almost destroyed in a very few minutes. Around 70 000 people died right after the explosion. Another 60 000 local citizens died from burns, injuries, and radiation sickness.
Four years after the bombing, the Japanese government proclaimed Hiroshima the “City of Peace” and decided to build it anew. By the beginning of the 1970s, the city was almost fully restored.
The city entered the XXI century fully renewed. It knows how to cherish life and enjoy every day.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit Hiroshima
One should take into account the peculiarities of climate and national traditions of the country while choosing the best time for a visit to Hiroshima.
Winters here are traditionally mild. The average air temperature is +5°С - +6°С, and the precipitations are quite rare.
In spring, the average temperature in March is + 9°С, in April — + 14°С, in May — + 18°С. Hanami (“flower viewing”) is one of the most significant events for the Japanese. Starting from March, mass media informs about the regions where the bloom has already begun. The tourist boom related to this even typically happens at the end of April - beginning of May. At the same time, Golden Week begins. This is a full week of various official holidays: Constitution Memorial Day, Children’s Day, Showa Day, and Greenery Day.
Summers are hot in Hiroshima, and the air warms up to around +33°С - +35°С. The downpour season lasts from June to the middle of July. In Japan, they call it the fifth season. The heat decreases a bit in August. Nature reduces the number of precipitations as if giving people a break.
September is usually still hot and humid. Besides, there is a high risk of typhoons following by fitful winds and heavy rainfalls.
October and November are the most comfortable period for visiting Hiroshima. Rains are rare during these months. The average temperature in October is +18°С, and it decreases to +12°С in November. This is the sixth season in Japan - warm and dry autumn. In spring, people come to admire the cherry blossoms, but in autumn and winter, another phenomenon attracts them. From October to the very beginning of winter, it’s time to admire the red and yellow leaves of the maple tree. And when the temperature reaches +5°С, they become fiery-red. This is the start of momijigari - a season of hunting the red leaves.
Festivals and Holidays in Hiroshima
The traditional Flower Festival happens at the beginning of May in Hiroshima. Over one million people participate in this event annually. The holiday is celebrated with theatrical performances, concerts, fashion shows. The local citizens wear national clothes and traditional make-up.
One of the brightest events in the city - Tōkasan Yukata Festival - happens at the beginning of June. This holiday dates back to the XVII century. Local citizens throw a procession along the main streets of the city wearing national clothes - a summer yukata kimono. They head to Enryu-ji Temple to pray and ward off evil spirits for the next year. The festival has lots of gastronomic, music, and theatrical programs.
The first days of July are marked by the Tanabata Festival. It happens in Shukkei-En Garden. This is the analog of the St. Valentine’s Day. On this holiday, the young people write their vows and hang them on the bamboo in the garden. According to the legend, a princess and a cattleman fell in love with each other while being in the sky. However, the girl’s father separated the couple and pulled them apart on different sides of the “great river” - the Milky Way. During the festival, the Japanese contemplate the night sky. The trees in Shukkei-En Garden are all decorated with beautiful illumination.
A Day of Remembrance is the hardest day for all the citizens. They honor all the hibakusha (victims of the nuclear bombing). On August 6, at 8:15 (the time when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945), the Mayor gives a speech in Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Hiroshima International Animation Film Festival happens at the end of August. At this festival, directors from different countries introduce their works. This event is held once in two years in even-numbered years in ANA Crowne Plaza and Hotel Sunroute.
At the end of October, you can attend Yokogawa Zombie Night in Hiroshima. This is the Japanese analog of the European Halloween. The local youths love this holiday. Head to the city’s nightclubs to celebrate.
In the middle of November, they celebrate the Enryu-ji Temple holiday. It is dedicated to the god named Ebisu. According to legends, he helped in trading and gave prosperity. The event lasts for three days and is held in Mitsukoshi and Tenmaya shopping malls and Ebisu Shrine. During the festivity, you can watch the theatrical and masquerade shows. Moreover, you can purchase unique goods at significant discounts in the previously-mentioned shopping centers.
The currency exchange in the airport is the most financially favorable option. There are exchange offices in some hotels. However, they have limits for the sum of the converted currency. A series of formalities follow the same procedure in the bank.
It’s forbidden to talk on the phone in public transport next to the retirees’ seats. The radiation from the phone can damage the cardiostimulator.
It’s improper to leave tips on Hiroshima. Typically, they are included in the bill and compile not more than 10% of the price. It’s the same as far as hotel services are concerned.
The electrical line voltage is 100 watt. You need an adapter for using electrical appliances. You can purchase it in any specialized store.
The majority of the local population doesn’t speak foreign languages. Therefore, it’s wide to take the hotel’s card when you go for a walk. And if you need some assistance, don’t hesitate to address a police officer.
When the cherry blossom is in bloom, Japan is exposed to a high flow of tourists, lines, traffic jams, overbooked hotels, and sky-high prices. You should keep this in mind while planning your trip.
When you go to local markets and shops, you should keep in mind that it’s improper to bargain here.
If you think about renting a car, you should take the left-hand traffic into account. The traffic signs are only in Japanese.
It’s forbidden, or you have to pay for taking pictures in many sights. You can take photos of the local citizens only after the prior consent.
What should a tourist do in Hiroshima?
- Go through or swim under the torii gates. It’s considered to be a good sign in Japan. The ritual gates of the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima island were built in 1875. It’s one of the most recognized symbols of Hiroshima. At full tide (in the first half of the day), the gates dip in the water, and you can swim in a boat through them. At low tide in the second half of the day, you can simply go through the gates.
- See Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. That’s the exact place where the nuclear weapon exploded in 1945. A monument devoted to Sadako Sasaki is one of the most famous memorials on its territory. She was a Japanese girl who believed in the legend of paper cranes. It was her dream to make a complete recovery from leukemia that had developed as a result of the exposure to radiation from the nuclear explosion.
- Shudder at the sight of the Genbaku Dome, also known as Atomic Bomb Dome. This building of the Product Exhibition Hall was built in 1915. Despite the proximity to the explosion epicenter (only 160 meters on the level), it managed to survive. However, all the people who were inside the building during the bombing died. In 1996, the Atomic Bomb Dome was included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.
- Visit the Memorial Cathedral of World Peace. It was built on the money donated by countries and people in 1954 on the initiative of Jesuit priest Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle who survived the explosion of the nuclear bomb. It is the largest Catholic church in Asia.
- See the magnificent Hiroshima Castle, also known as Carp Castle. It was erected in 1593 and was almost wholly destroyed in 1945 during the atomic bombing. It was partially reconstructed in 1958. Nowadays, it hosts a museum that tells the history of the castle, Japanese culture, and also displays a collection of the XVIII-century swords.
- Marvel at the beauty of the Buddhist temple Mitaki-dera. It was built in 809 in honor of Goddess of Mercy Kannon. There are three waterfalls, cherry blossoms, and maple trees on the territory of the temple. By the way, this is a Japanese tradition to contemplate the bloom of the cherry blossom in springs and watch how the maple tree changes its leaves in autumn.
- Explore Shukkei-en Garden (it translates as a “garden of miniature landscapes”). It was founded 400 years ago by the representative of the Asano clan, Asano Nagaakira. In 1940, it was presented to Hiroshima Prefecture.
- Become appeased in Fudōin Temple that was a center of Medicine Buddha cult. The first record of this place dates to the VIII century. In the Middle Ages, the temple burnt to ashes and was rebuilt by a monk. It is one of the few buildings in the city that survived the nuclear bombing.
- Visit the Hiroshima Botanical Garden. It is located on the hill with a marvelous view on the Seto Inland Sea. It gathers around 240 000 plants from all over the world. You can see the stone garden, orchid, cacti, begonias, and fuchsias greenhouses during the tour.
- Shop till you drop in the main shopping street called Hon Dori. Here you can find shops that sell everything: from clothes and footwear to souvenirs and delicacies. This pedestrian street with a wide range of boutiques appeared in 1900. Nowadays, it spreads almost for one kilometer.