Atomic Bomb Dome- At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945 the first atomic bomb in history was dropped on Hiroshima. Although the Atomic Bomb Dome was located directly beneath the explosion it avoided complete destruction and the remains of the building still stand today. The residents of Hiroshima decided to keep this tragic reminder of war intact, and it is now a symbol for world peace. This site was designated a World Heritage Site in 1996. Walking up to the dome was a powerful reminder of the horror the bomb caused and how many lives were taken.
Peace Memorial Museum- A quick walk from the dome, through a peaceful park with monuments to lives lost, will bring you to the museum to learn more about Hiroshima and the atomic bomb. This museum is as depressing as you would expect, but for me it was necessary to attend. There were many stories of children and their deaths to remind you of how cruel war can be, and one particular thing I found extremely moving was the children's journals that survived. They wrote about things that children would write about, doing chores and homework, and had no idea that they were about to die. I also learned that Hiroshima was given no warning about the bomb, and that the leaders of the US forces wanted to cause as much devastation, physical harm, and mental harm that was possible. I was never taught that in my history class, and always knew that it was meant to be an end to the war, but not that it was meant to cause lasting suffering to the civilians.
Classic Tram- You can ride the vintage streetcar in the center of Hiroshima. I just got lucky and happened to get on one, and even though I'm from New Orleans I still enjoyed it, because, hey, these are Japanese vintage trams, and they are super cool!
Sun Mall- This was a fun mall because it was filled with modern and vintage clothing stores all in the same place!
Nagata-ya- Two places you get okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory potato pancake containing a variety of ingredients, are Hiroshima and Osaka, so I made sure to get my fill while in Hiroshima. This was one of the best tasting okonomiyaki I had during my stay in Japan, and I recommend you sit at the bar to watch the masters at work. I went during lunch time, and had a short wait. I chose an oyster one with udon noodles, and it was perfection on a grill, and I split it with my partner. One is easily enough for two.
Cafe Ponte- They have charbroiled oysters!!!! Which again is not a big deal if you are from the states, but it doesn't exist in Spain. Oysters exist, but never charbroiled, and I was so very happy to eat them both raw and charbroiled again. Also, Hiroshima is known for oysters, so that's another reason I wanted to get oysters while here. I had my oysters with a bottle of local sake, and that was a wonderful choice. This restaurant is right at the beginning of the Peace Memorial Park, and it has outdoor seating with heaters. It was my first place that had the call button for service too, which was fun. If you don't already know, at many restaurants in Japan they have a call button on the table that you hit when you need them, so that they don't disturb you, and you don't disturb them unless you need something. Oh, Japan, how I love your politeness and cleverness.
Okonomi-mura- This is a type of food theme park located in a large building with many different okonomi kitchens, basically similar to a food court, but with only one thing on the menu-okonomiyaki. We chose a stand that looked busy with only two seats left at the bar/grill, and pointed to the number we wanted. Oh yeah, and one extra fun part about eating okonomiyaki is that you eat it directly off the grill with a tiny spatula. At this place we ordered two, and I wasn't able to finish mine, which made me feel bad because the chef is right in front of you, so once again you might want to only order one and share if you are with another person.
Obscura Coffee Roasters- A peaceful, minimalist cafe with excellent coffee and excellent service. One thing they do at most cafes in Japan that I love is they give you a little basket beside your table to put your belongings in, so that you don't have to put it on the floor. The attention to detail and customer service in Japan is like no other place I've ever been. When I first got back from Japan, I would look at the floor for my basket, but then realize that I was now visiting inferior cafes to the ones in Japan. Oh, the sadness when you return from paradise.
Codomolive- A hip izakaya
Dumb Records- Like many bars in Hiroshima, you enter a large building first and then find this small bar on one of the floors (I can't remember which one). This was a living room type bar that had a few records for sell, and a super friendly owner/bartender. I got a sake and wrote in my journal, as I watched the place fill up with young locals that were smoking, laughing, and listening to punk music. The atmosphere of this bar was perfection for me.
Hiroshima is known for its nightlife, and it has many late night bars. Here is a list of a few you might want to check out, and remember that many of them are inside large concrete buildings, so you have to search a little.
Backpackers K's House Hiroshima- Full disclosure, I don't normally stay in hostels, but I stayed at quite a few in Japan, because they are known for their cleanliness and peacefulness. This was the case with K's House. It was very basic, but it had everything I needed. I stayed in a private ensuite room. A great thing about this hostel is that it has a shared kitchen and a shared coin-operated washer too, so I was able to get some laundry done while there. Another great thing, is that it is family owned and the service was friendly and professional. It was walking distance to all the sites, and I only took the tram one time because it was sooo cold, and because I wanted to ride one of those 70s style trams.
Hiroshima had a different vibe for me than the other cities I visited in Japan. It had a little bit of grittiness (by Japan standards). An example, is that I saw my first homeless person in Japan here in Hiroshima, and actually I think maybe my only homeless person. He of course had an artistic flare, and had sewed stuffed animals over his entire wardrobe making him look like a walking 6 year old girls closet. I was impressed. I must reiterate that I in no way felt like it was dangerous, but just different with the late-night bars, and almost a feeling of going back in time to what more of Japan's cities might have looked like 30 or so years ago. In keeping with that 70s vibe I recommend you listen to Harumoi Hosoni, specifically his 1970s album influenced by the music of New Orleans.
LISTEN- Haruomi Hosoni's Bon Voyage Co.