Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Hiroshima is one of the most beautiful and most interesting prefectures of Japan but a lot of its beauty is often overlooked. As the site of the worlds first nuclear bomb attack, it is often visited as a form of memorial and with the intent to honour those who suffered. While this is an important part of Hiroshima’s history and a key part of any visit to Hiroshima, there is so much more to this unassuming prefecture. Hiroshima has access to some great day trip locations, making it perfect for extending your trip beyond the usual city centre locations.
One of the most popular day trips from Hiroshima is Miyajima Island, the home of Itsukushima shrine. Within a 30-minute train journey and a short 10-minute ferry (included in the Japan Rail Pass), you can be out of Hiroshima City and on the beautiful, relaxing island of Miyajima. Miyajima is famous for a number of things, one of which is the large population of wild deer who roam freely through the town and nearby forest. One of the few places on the island where you won’t see deer is on the grounds of Itsukushima Shrine. Itsukushima is famous for its ‘floating’ red torii gate, set out in the sea. The shrine is located right on the shorefront and when the tide comes in, the shrine appears to be on the water. The buildings are on stilts and with wooden paths connecting the buildings, the shrine has truly embraced the connection to the sea and changing nature. The island is also home to Momijidani Park, one of the most beautiful maple parks in Japan. It has been named as one of the best locations for viewing autumn foliage. The park is located at the base of Mt. Misen, and for a more extensive experience of Miyajima, visitors can hike or use a cable car to visit the top of the mountain. The deer also enjoy the park and mountain, making walking through the area feel like walking through a Disney movie. A visit to Miyajima to wander around the traditional town streets, visit the deer and experience the floating shrine is a great way to spend a day in Hiroshima and is one the most highly-recommended trips in the area.
Another beautiful location in Hiroshima prefecture is the area of Onomichi. A small, quaint town, located about an hour from Hiroshima city by train, Onomichi is a delightful escape from the busy cities. It is home to the often-popular ‘Temple Walk’, a walking route through the town connected 25 different temples. There are also a number of museums located along the walking route. Perhaps the most well-known temple along the route, Senko-ji temple, is a great detour as it is located in the large Senko-ji park, at the peak of a small mountain. Visitors can either walk or use the nearby ropeway to reach the top and take in the beautiful views over Hiroshima and the Setouchi sea. The park is especially beautiful and has been named as one of Japan’s top cherry blossom viewing spots. The beauty of the Temple Walk and the nearby Senko-ji Park is that it is truly customizable. It can take any amount of time from half an hour through to an entire day, depending on how much time is spent at each temple or museum. Onomichi is a great option for a slow, relaxing day, while still taking in the beautiful sights and scenery.
For a step back in history, Takehara is a wonderful location for a day trip from Hiroshima. It’s located a little further than some of the other options, at around one and a half hours train journey from Hiroshima city, but Takehara provides a very different experience to most other areas. Takehara is a small city which has been largely preserved since the Edo era (1603 – 1867). It was a merchant city, largely specializing in salt production and so the city is lined with merchant houses and shopfronts. It is a great example of a traditional Japanese commercial town. Takehara’s official product is bamboo and so there are a lot of bamboo related activities and traditions in the town. There are many beautiful bamboo handicrafts and even bamboo festivals at certain times of the year. Visiting Takehara is a great way to experience Japan as it once was.
Hiroshima is an often underrated area of Japan. It is more relaxed than many of the main cities and has cultivated a sombre, yet hopeful atmosphere regarding their troubled history. Visiting the Peace Park and other memorial locations in Hiroshima are a go-to, but Hiroshima has so much more to offer. Spending some time on day trips to the nearby areas is a great way to experience not only Hiroshima prefecture but the history, nature and beauty of Japan.