A name synonymous with tragedy and unimaginable sorrow, Hiroshima needs no introduction, and any visit to this important city should include an open mind and eagerness to hear its painful story. It can be heavy going, but the modern city’s many facets are a balm. You get a sense of peacefulness as soon as you arrive in Hiroshima. Ghosts from the past lie at rest and have made way for a prosperous city with some of Japan’s most vibrant nightlife and fantastic food, most famously the very different version of Osaka’s delectable and messy okonomiyaki.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
A large park covers the area where the bomb detonated directly overhead, with the heartbreaking Genbaku Dome overlooking it. Despite its solemn origins, it’s a tranquil place to wander for a while, or you can get the hard bit over with first and enter the museum. Dedicated to the eternal memory of the event, it can be difficult to take in all the information and emotion, but more than anything it pays homage to the peace that now exists and makes a longing plea for it to continue. It may lend you a surreal impression of modern day Hiroshima.
This famous island, just offshore from Hiroshima in the Seto Inland Sea, is the serene setting for one of Japan’s most photographed views: the floating Torii gate that marks the approach to Itsukushima Shrine. This very old, revered place of worship, built as a dwelling place for the Shinto gods, is the chief reason to visit the island, but once you’re there it would be a shame not to take advantage of the easy walking trails behind the town, spotting the numerous wild (but very relaxed) deer that often suddenly appear. We highly recommend a stay at one of the atmospheric ryokan to really highlight the island's romantic landscape.
Not everybody’s cup of tea, perhaps, but Mazda is Hiroshima’s largest contribution to ‘Japan Inc.’, and there aren’t many places in the world where you can get a close look at a working, high-tech production line, let alone one responsible for some of the world’s most famous cars. Corporate Japan, and its transformative effects on the country that have helped create the economic and technical powerhouse Japan has become, are a key part of the national story. The museum is run by the company itself and the highlight is watching robots assemble real cars.
Wander along the ancient trails of Kumano Kodo and its spiritual shrines, enjoying the peaceful, and enchanting surroundings as well as taking in the hospitality of local families along the way.