While Hiroshima Prefecture is most known for being one of the prefectures that were bombed during the Pacific War, its lesser known history as the center of trade and cultural differences will make you want to return. Despite its constant exposure to trade, Hiroshima still retains much of its Japanese roots and architecture. From festivals, mountain climbing to food and shopping, there’s always something to do or try all year round.
Okonomiyaki literally means fried-whatever-you-like, allowing you to choose your favourite ingredients. While in the Kansai region all the ingredients are mixed together in a batter and grilled like a pancake, the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is layered, and the whole thing is topped with a savory-sweet sauce and fresh green onions.
Tsukemen (つけ麺, dipping noodles) in Hiroshima is served cold, and with a hot, spicy chili soup for dipping. Like soba, the noodles are dipped in the sauce before eating. Other prefectures usually serve a non-spicy pork or bonito broth, though the eating method is the same.
As Hiroshima is naturally blessed with rivers, oysters are abundant and rich in nutrients. Being one of Hiroshima’s most notable seafood, many restaurants serve broiled oysters on the half shell and are eaten plain or seasoned with ponzu, lemon, or soy sauce.
Another specialty is the kaki no dotenabe (牡蠣の土手鍋, oyster hotpot) which is made with a miso-based broth.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum
These places are well known internationally and are must-visits for their rich and tragic history. Visited by locals and tourists alike, the Peace Park (平和記念公園) has many monuments in remembrance of the past, and also filled with beautiful flora. A visit to the nearby Peace Museum (広島平和記念資料館) which has exhibits in English is always worthwhile, with visitors spending a few hours understanding the tragedy.
Remade in 2011, Miyajima Aquarium (宮島水族館) boasts an impressive number of aqua species which can be found in the Seto Inland Sea. There are also some imported species like sea lions and otters, which are well-loved among visitors. Do check out the various shows and feeding times to see these sea creatures in action!
Ono Wildlife Sanctuary
The Ono Wildlife Sanctuary (おおのの自然観察の森) resembles a combination of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve where many flora and fauna are protected within this area. This place is a must-visit for nature lovers, bird watchers, and cyclists who desire a countryside getaway. However, do note that there are no buses that reach there; the easiest way to reach the sanctuary is by car.
Kinkō Inari Shrine
This shrine resembles Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine with its row of red torii gates which lead up to the Inner Shrine area. Located on the side of Mt Futaba, the Kinkō Inari Shrine (金光稲荷神社) is also part of the Peace Pagoda Hike which starts from Hiroshima Station to the Peace Pagoda at the summit of Mt. Futaba.
Bihoku Hillside Park
The Bihoku Hillside Park (備北丘陵公園) showcases beautiful seasonal blooms all year round, and is a very popular destination. Stroll through large fields of sunflowers, daffodils, cosmos and other flowers, visit the farming village which houses craft centers, a hillside lawn and even a kagura (shinto music) hall, or cycle on their 4.6km course. There is even a playground for children, making it suitable for families to visit.
You can go kayaking in the Seto Inland Sea. While the kayaking course in Miyajima Island takes you close to the big torii gate at high tide, the course in Tomonoura allows you to enjoy a leisurely kayaking course at night.
You can rent a bicycle and cycle around the islands of Seto Inland Sea, which is a cheaper way to travel around, or opt for a cycling course. Some cycling courses pass through the countryside where you can enjoy the nature and fruit orchards.
This community park is located in Fukushima, known as みろくの里. There are different zones in this amusement park which sets it apart from big names like Disneyland or Universal Studios Japan, making it an interesting place to visit and have fun! It also has a hot spring, an art museum and a swimming pool. Special performances and events are also held annually at the park.
Sake Town – Saijo
If you love sake, this town is a must-visit. Housing some of the best and oldest sake breweries, you can visit the breweries and learn about how sake is made in Saijo. There are also complementary tastings where you can enjoy the freshly brewed sake. The clean and fresh water in Saijo is one of the key ingredients which make their sake delicious. Definitely attend the Saijo Sake Festival () if you are in town!
Side trip to Miyajima Island
You need to take a ferry to Miyajima Island and it is completely worth the distance. One of the most beautiful and important World Heritage site is the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社), where you can view the torii gate in the sea. In addition to the sacred atmosphere of Miyajima Island, there are many traditional ryokan to stay in while enjoying the seasonal beauty.