Hiroshima, Japan

The Saddest Thing About Hiroshima

One of the first places I visited back after starting my blog was the Vietnam War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I hadn’t particularly wanted to go to the museum, but the couple I was traveling with were eager to go, and since I was still shell-shocked from my decision to leave my “real life” behind as I had, I didn’t raise any objections.

I heard weeping behind me as I stood before an exhibit on the use of Agent Orange. “I can’t believe those heathens did that,” the male voice whimpered. He sounded like he was from the States, which made the content and tone of what he was saying perplexing, in addition to being offensive.

“And to think,” his female companion said, “many of them have the gall to come here. Can you imagine what a Vietnamese person would say if they met an American?”

The good news is that this particular piece of history did not repeat itself during my short stay in Hiroshima, Japan at the end of last week, excepting of course the parallels in past atrocities against humanity. There were a few people who lost their shit walking past the Atomic Bomb Dome and looking upon various memorials around the A-Bomb Dome, but in general, my two days in Hiroshima were a condescension-free affair.

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Where to Stay in Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a somewhat anti-climactic destination, so it makes sense that hotels here wouldn’t be all that. To be sure, I stayed on Miyajima Island (which I’ll talk more about in a few paragraphs), but if you’re looking for a passable place to stay in Hiroshima-proper, choose Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel on the high end or Urbain Hiroshima Central on the low end.

Things to Do in Hiroshima

As ashamed as I am to admit this, the experience of paying respect to A-Bomb Victims in Hiroshima left me feeling a little empty, and not just because the modern city of Hiroshima that rises around the Hiroshima Peace Memorial leaves little indication that any war ever occurred here. In spite of how solemn the scene should’ve been, due not only to the aforementioned dome and memorials, but from a purely energetic perspective, I felt cold and disconnected as I walked away from the A-Bomb Dome.


To be sure, while Hiroshima is a modern and prosperous city, it’s also a slightly dull one, when all is said and done. Within the city-proper there are only a few notable things to do that don’t relate to the war, namely riding the historical street cars, dining on local okonomiyaki and seeing attractions such as Hiroshima Castle and Shukkei-en Garden.

Miyajima—The Real Highlight of Hiroshima

While looking at pictures of Japan, have you ever noticed a massive torii gate floating in the water, usually with an epic sunset behind it? That’s Itsukushima Shrine, located on Miyajima Island, which is only a short boat ride from Hiroshima’s Miyajimaguchi Port.


There are other things to do on Miyajima, including an epic hike that leads to an even more epic view point, but it’s really all about the gate!

Rabbit Island and Kintai Bridge


One of the primary objectives of my first trip to Japan was visiting a pair of islands that were home to tons of rabbits and cats, respectively. While both of these places were slightly disappointing, namely because of how many fewer animals there were than I’d been led to believe, Rabbit Island (officially Okunoshima) remains a worth excursion to take if you have two days in Hiroshima.


An alternative option, if you too or afraid of disappointment or if you simply don’t like rabbits (what’s wrong with you?) would be to take the Shinkansen to Shin-Iwakuni, then travel by bus to the town of Iwakuni, where you’ll find Kintai Bridge. This 17th-century wooden is particularly gorgeous when cherry blossoms are blooming, but is a worthy day trip from Hiroshima any time of year.

The Bottom Line

Terrible events happened in Hiroshima, but the saddest thing about the city is how disappointing it is as a destination. Paying respect to the memory of the A-Bomb victims is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it’s almost the only thing there is to do in the city. Pad your visit with excursions, such as to magnificent Miyajima, to avoid getting bored during your two or three days in Hiroshima.

Leave Your Daily Hell   Filed under: Japan

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is the author of 847 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Raphael Alexander Zoren April 14, 2014 at 7:57 am

Interesting perspective as always, Robert! When I visited the Hilton Hotel/Prison in Hanoi I was shocked to see a Vietnamese tour guide ranting and ranting against Americans…in a tour group made of 80% Americans. I bet he didn’t get any tips afterwards!

PS. Kind of scary that according to your author box this was your 666th post 😮

ATA April 14, 2014 at 7:58 am

Generalization at it best. Don’t give a f**k to them. The history is the history, no one can erased it. What we can do, reflect and learn.

Robert Schrader April 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Eeek! Bad luck or good luck?

Robert Schrader April 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Yes, exactly!

Claude Glover May 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm

In 1992 I made my first trip to Europe, using Munich as the gateway. I’ll never forget the overwhelmingly melancholy sensation of looking down on the German countryside on a beautiful June morning, and thinking about my father flying over the same country nearly 50 years before in a B-17 in the 8th Air Force. It was one of those ah-ha experiences where you gain insight and vividly get that history is fluid and very dynamic, and that it’s just not a good idea to get stuck in the past (although it’s obviously not good to be ignorant of it). Kudos to you for refusing to fall into the trap of making and believing wild generalizations about people and their countries…the world needs much more of that attitude.

Robert Schrader May 9, 2014 at 8:10 am

Thanks for your powerful comment, Claude. Wow, Europe in 1992. I wish!

Randy June 19, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I first visited Hiroshima in 1979. The museum left me with a sense of powerless in a sea o humanity. I lived in and near Hiroshima for seven years and love the city and the people. I return every year to visit family and friends. I would recommend visiting to all who tour Japan. Today there is a river boat that departs from a dock near the Atomic Dome that will take you to Miyajima and back. It’s a tour between two World Heritage Sites.

Robert Schrader June 23, 2014 at 8:04 am

Thanks for the tip!

Chalsie January 6, 2015 at 2:38 am

Really glad I’ve stumbled upon your blog! Throughly enjoying the read.

It’s interesting how different our perspectives of Hiroshima are! I walked away feeling the museum really spoke of peace, and forgiveness. Not dwelling on the past but learning from it.

We definitely shouldn’t been punished for horrible decisions our forefathers have made! But I think we should still recognise the harm and pain caused. For instance, I’m from Australia, and to this day we still haven’t recognised the horrible genocide inflicted on Aboriginal Australians. We’ve certainly got a long way to come!

Robert Schrader January 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Thanks for providing your perspective, Chalsie! Glad to have you.

terezib February 18, 2016 at 3:52 pm

when our private tour guide (a young man about 20 years old) took us to the War Remnants Museum (that’s it’s current official title) in Saigon in 2007, he seemed very pro-American, and rather anti-French, for having started the whole mess in the first place. That is the feeling I got the whole time we were in Saigon – everyone was very nice to us, and I did get a few comments about the French. They apparently STILL don’t like French tourists, LOL.

Robert Schrader February 20, 2016 at 8:41 am

Sacre bleu!

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