Guide to Visiting Hiroshima & Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Life forever changed for Hiroshima and its residents on 6 August 1945 when the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on the city.

Now, over 70 years later, visiting Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, which comprises a number of memorials, monuments and museums dedicated to the legacy of the attack, is one of the most important sights in Hiroshima, if not the whole of Japan.

Although I knew that a visit with ‘highlights’ that include the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Children’s Peace Memorial and Peace Memorial Museum was going to be tough going,  I spent a day there nonetheless.

There is plenty of literature cataloguing this internationally significant event so I won’t do it the injustice of a short summary here. Instead, the following is a guide to things visiting Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park as well as additional activities in and around Hiroshima.

I earn a small commission if you buy from links in this post (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting me.

Hiroshima peace memorial mosaic blanket

Things to Do at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

If you get the opportunity to visit the city, I would highly recommend adding Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to your Hiroshima itinerary. While it won’t be the most upbeat day you will have, it’s a healthy reminder of the ongoing need to support the effort for world peace.

Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park is a prominent feature of the city that stretches over 120,000 square metres. Sat where the financial and political centre once stood prior to the bombing, the space today is a haven of tranquillity where people go to remember the fateful events of 1945 or simply just be.

The purpose of the Memorial Park is not only to memorialise the victims of the Hiroshima attack but also to shine a light on the history of nuclear attacks and advocate world peace.

The sights below are all located within the park and well signposted so that you’ll easily be able to find your way around.

The Atomic Bomb Dome

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome

The Atomic Bomb Dome, which is more formally titled the Hiroshima Peace Memorial but is also commonly known as the A-Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome, is probably the most important building in the park. Once a Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (a place where local business promotion was carried out), the structure is one of the few buildings that remained standing after the bombing.

Today the A-Bomb Dome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been left almost exactly how it was after the attack as a reminder of the suffering caused by the bomb.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Grounds

Tree in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Grounds

After the atomic bomb was dropped, it was thought that nothing would grow in Hiroshima for up to 75 years. If that were true, Hiroshima would be a barren land even now. Fortunately, greenery is thriving and nowhere more evident than in the park, as illustrated by this super-hairy tree.

Sadako Sasaki Paper Cranes – Peace Memorial Museum

Sadako Sasaki paper cranes

If you haven’t heard the story of Sadako Sasaki, be warned it is a sad one. A local girl, Sadako was two years old when the bomb dropped and although her family were initially relieved she survived the bomb, ten years later, aged 12, she developed leukaemia.

Believing the old adage that by building a thousand paper cranes, she would be granted a wish, Sadako tried to recover from her illness by tirelessly folding paper cranes. Sadly, her efforts were in vain and Sadako died, leaving her classmates to complete her crane folding.

The image above is of some of Sadako’s cranes, which can be seen in the Peace Memorial Museum.

Children’s Peace Memorial

Children's peace memorial statue with paper cranes

At the top of the nine meter monument, a bronze statue of a young girl lifts a golden crane entrusted with dreams for a peaceful future. The inscription on the monument reads: “This is our cry. this is our prayer. For building peace in the world.”

Sadako’s story prompted the building of the Children’s Peace Memorial within the park to commemorate Sadako and all the other children who died as a result of the bomb.

Children holding peace poster outside memorial at Hiroshima
Colourful peace crafts

Today, the crane has been taken as a symbol of peace. Many school children were at the memorial during my visit, such as the class above who were donating their own crane mural as many children before them have also done.

A group of children were singing at the memorial and while I couldn’t understand the words, I’ve no doubt their soft song was a sad one. Afterwards, I felt humbled to watch as the small girls and boys cried for the generation of children who were strangers to them but who had suffered at the hands of the bomb. One of the hardest things to see is the emotional scar it has left on the local population even today.

The Hiroshima Peace Flame

Hiroshima peace flame

The Peace Flame is another memorial to the bomb and has been continually aflame since it was first lit. It is said that the flame will remain lit until the world is free of all nuclear bombs.

Global map of nuclear weapons

Map of nuclear weapons around the world

Sadly, the following is a map of the current existence of nuclear weapons around the world, demonstrating that it will be some time yet before the flame can be extinguished.

Hiroshima Memorial Cenotaph

Hiroshima Memorial Cenotaph concrete curve

Near the centre of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park stands a large concrete structure known as the Memorial Cenotaph which holds the names of all of those killed by the bomb. The arch shape was designed to be a shelter for the souls of the victims.

School children in front of the Hiroshima Memorial Cenotaph

The inscription reads: “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima: enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The museum features a number of floors that record the history leading up to the war, the dropping of the bomb, the aftermath and many artefacts. As sombre as it is, I was impressed by the objectivity and completeness of the history, which included Japan’s attacks on China and Pearl Harbor. You can read about my visit to Pearl Harbor here.

Survivor quote at Hiroshima museum
A dragonfly flitted in front of me and stopped on a fence. I stood up, took my cap in my hands and was about to catch the dragonfly when…

The museum included survivor recollections of the event.

Watch from Hiroshima museum stopped at time of bomb

This watch stopped at the exact time the bomb hit.

There were also aerial images depicting the city before and after the bomb, demonstrating the level of destruction.

Aerial map of Hiroshima before the bomb

Hiroshima before the bomb. And Hiroshima after the bomb.

Aerial map of Hiroshima after the bomb

Petition for world peace

The week before I flew to Japan, the country mobilised its defence missiles through fear of attack from North Korea, a country known to have nuclear weapons, but with no real clarity on the extent of their nuclear ability. The threat is ongoing and a reminder that peace cannot be taken for granted.

Chart summarising nuclear weapons by country

While I’m sure my signature won’t create peace all on its own, I took the time to stop at the petition box and sign a form. As I left the Peace Memorial Park, I couldn’t help but wish that a visit to Hiroshima were mandatory for every person at least once in their lifetime.

Hiroshima Museum Petition Box

If the world needs a painful reminder of the destruction and devastation caused by war and, worse, nuclear war, it rests in the city of Hiroshima and in it the hope that we can, if not immediately, then perhaps with a new generation, get closer to the promise of enduring world peace.

Things to do in Hiroshima

Miyajima Torii Itsukushima shrine and  gate at sunset

If you have more than a day to spend exploring Hiroshima, here are some other popular attractions that I would certainly recommend adding to your Hiroshima itinerary.

Itsukushima shrine

A world-renowned shrine built on the water which is most well known for its iconic ‘floating’ torii gate. The shrine is located on the island of Miyajima a short distance by ferry from Hiroshima city. I visited during my trip to Japan and it is one of the must see attractions from Hiroshima.

Shukkeien Gardens

The oldest Japanese garden in Hiroshima City, dating back to 1620. A tranquil landscape of flowering trees, peaceful lakes, koi ponds and teahouses.

Hiroshima Castle

Originally constructed in 1589, Hiroshima castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb then rebuilt after WWII. The beautiful wooden 5 story castle, which is surrounded by a moat and gardens, is now home to a museum about Hiroshima’s history.

Okonomi-mura

A 3-story ‘food park’ in the city where all the shops sell the famous Hiroshima dish of Okonomiyaki (distinctive savoury pancakes).

Find out more about Okonomiyaki here: Okonomiyaki: One of Japan’s Best Food Inventions

Best tours of Hiroshima

Seeing the city under the expert guide of a local is often the best way. Here are some of the best tours in Hiroshima that you can book in advance.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Miyajima Day Tour

Hiroshima Like A Local – Customized Guided Tour

Hiroshima Cycling Peace Tour

Getting to Hiroshima

Hiroshima is located on Japan’s Honshu Island in the South of Japan.

If you’re not staying in Hiroshima itself, the city can also easily reached from Osaka and Kyoto.

From Osaka, take the 15 minute JR ride to Shin-Osaka and from there transfer to the train to Hiroshima which takes 1hr30. See route on Rome2Rio here.

From Osaka, take the train direct for 1hr40. The Japan Rail Pass covers the journey. See route on Rome2Rio here.

Travelling around Japan by train? Check out my post: Guide to the Japan Rail Pass

Getting to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

When in the city, streetcar number 6 will take you to Peace Memorial Park. The fare is 150 Yen each way and is paid when you get off the streetcar. Make sure you have the right money as no change is given.

Where to stay in Hiroshima

Hiroshima Washington Hotel is a centrally located hotel, only a 15 minute walk away from the Peace Memorial Park. The hotel has clean and spacious rooms with lovely views over the city and mountains (try and get a room on one of the higher floors), as well as an on-site restaurant and a generous breakfast buffet.

For a proper Japanese capsule hotel experience, try Capsule Hotel Cube. A fun, authentic and extremely affordable way to stay in central Hiroshima for a couple of nights. The individual capsules are spacious and there is also a common room with sofas and TVs to chill out with the other guests.

J-Hoppers Guesthouse is another slightly alternative option for accommodation which offers dorm-style rooms, as well as private Japanese rooms with traditional bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor. There is a communal lounge, shared bathrooms and a self-use kitchen for all guests. The guesthouse is a 5-10 minute walk away from the Peace Memorial Park.

Related Articles

What to Eat in Japan – 20 Alternatives to Sushi

Where to Stay in Japan on a Budget

A Life Changing Experience – Eating Kobe Beef in Japan

Okonomiyaki – One of Japan’s Best Food Inventions

I Ate Fugu in Japan and Lived to Tell the Tale

How NOT To Visit Mount Fuji in Spring

Guide to the Japan Rail Pass

Like this? Share this guide to Hiroshima on Pinterest…

Hiroshima peace blanket
Author - Jo Fitzsimons

Hi, I'm Jo, the writer behind Indiana Jo. In 2010 I quit my job as a lawyer and booked an around the world ticket. As a solo female traveller, I hopped from South America to Central America, across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It was supposed to be a one-year trip but over a decade later, it's yet to end. I've lived in a cave, climbed down a volcano barefoot, spent years as a digital nomad, worked as a freelance travel writer, and eaten deadly Fugu. Now I'm home, back in the UK, but still travelling far and wide. You can find out more About Me.

Leave a Comment