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Welcome to Hiroshima


Tragedy has turned Hiroshima, the main city of the Chugoku Region on Japan's main island of Honshu, into the country's most famous tourist attraction. On 6 August 1945 the unfortunate city became the first ever target of an atomic bomb. Early in the morning three United States B-29 bombers flew in from the northeast; one dropped its deadly ordnance over the centre of the city, leaving a mushroom cloud that darkened the sky while more than 200,000 civilians died. Today thousands of visitors make a pilgrimage to Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, marvelling at the lively modern city that has overcome its tragedy to become the thriving home to more than a million people. Not surprisingly the city has become vehemently engaged in the promotion of peace, and American visitors are welcomed with open arms along with those of other nationalities. Visitors are drawn mainly to the Peace Memorial Park and its museum, but the rebuilt city is an attractive place to visit in its own right, criss-crossed by rivers and wide avenues and containing several good museums. Nearby are some of Japan's most scenic excursion destinations.

Information & Facts


The climate in Hiroshima is generally temperate, with four distinct seasons. The weather can get very hot during summer (June to August) with the most rain falling in June and July. Winter (December to February) is generally cool and sunny but there is often light snowfall any time between December and March.

Getting Around

Hiroshima still operates an extensive tram network, called Hiroden. Most tram routes emanate from the JR Hiroshima Station, charging a flat rate within the city centre. The city also has a metro system, which only serves the northern suburbs, and is not usually useful for visitors.

Japanese is the official language. Most Japanese people will have studied English at school, but few can speak it well or understand what is said to them.

The currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY), which is equal to 100 sen. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, but most Japanese operate with cash. Cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency exchange bureaux. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and are best taken in US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit cards; only the international ATMs in post offices, airports and some major stores.

Local time is GMT +9.

Hiroshima's original castle, built in the late 16th century, was totally destroyed in the atomic blast but has been reconstructed as a perfect reproduction of the original. The castle houses a museum detailing the city's history and the historic feudal system. The exhibits include some models of ancient Hiroshima and the castle.

Hiroshima boasts the first public art museum in Japan devoted exclusively to contemporary art. The museum is housed in an interesting building designed by Japanese architect Kurokawa Kisho, based on the shape of a Japanese warehouse (Kura). The building is set high on a hill in Hijiyama Park, famed for its cherry blossoms and splendid city views. The museum itself contains the works of established and up-and-coming Japanese artists. For those not familiar with Japanese art the museum has provided information books on the individual artists represented, written in English. There is also an outdoor sculpture garden to enjoy.

The romantic little island of Miyajima lies about eight miles (13km) off the mainland in the Seto Inland Sea. Apart from being scenically beautiful with steep wooded hills, the island is famous for its Itsukushima Shrine featuring a massive red wooden torii (gate). The shrine is partially built over water, and was founded in the 6th century. During high tide the shrine stands in the ocean, which is particularly picturesque when the building is illuminated at night. The rest of the island makes for great hiking opportunities, particularly in spring when the many cherry trees are in bloom. Deer roam free and monkeys chatter in the woods.

Around the epicentre of the atomic bomb explosion in Hiroshima in 1945, a complex of buildings and monuments has been erected in the Peace Memorial Park to commemorate the earth-shattering event. It is dedicated to the promotion of world peace. Central to the park is the only remaining city building damaged in the blast. It was formerly the Industrial Promotion Hall, but is now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park also contains the Peace Memorial Museum, featuring exhibits that graphically portray the horrible effects of the bomb on the city and its citizens. Between the museum and the dome stands the Memorial Cenotaph containing a stone chest, inside which is a list of all those killed in the explosion or who died subsequently from the long-term effects caused by radiation. The Cenotaph also houses the peace flame, which will burn until nuclear war is no longer considered a threat to humanity. Other monuments contained in the solemn park include the Statue of the A-Bomb Children and the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound that contains the ashes of tens of thousands of unidentified victims.

The erosion of the limestone plateau in the northwest of the Hiroshima prefecture has left a beautiful deep gorge, stretching for about 11 miles (18km), full of primeval forest, waterfalls, monkeys, unusual rock formations and the Onbashi Bridge, the largest natural bridge in Japan. Sandankyo Gorge is a favourite route for hikers.

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