Visiting Hiroshima is a moving experience. The town spreads along Honshu Island, along the inside coasts of Seto. While firmly focused on the future, Hiroshima doesn't forget its past, and a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Genbaku Dome is a must. You'll enjoy the city's modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere and effervescent nightlife just as much as the peaceful stillness of its natural parkland areas such as splendid Shukkei-en, the town's historic garden.
A TRIP TO MIYAJIMA
Travel by coach following the route to Miyajima-Guchi, here you board the local ferry for the 10-minute cruise to the lovely island of Miyajima. This picturesque island, considered one of Japan's most scenic destinations, is the location of the Itsukushima Shrine and its famous large red torii gate that rises up out of the ocean.
Depending on the tide, the view of the torii gate can be totally different. At high tide the torii seems to be floating while at low tide, visitors can walk up to the gate.
The sight of the torii in the background with Mount Misen is designated as one of the “Three most famous views of Japan” with the Amanohashidate sand bar and Matsushima Bay.
The shrine was established in 593, the first year of the reign of Empress Suiko, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current torii was erected in 1875 after the original one was destroyed. The shrine's torii rises 48 feet above the sea, its columns, made of camphor are 30 feet in circumference and supported by smaller pillars, which are buried in the seabed.
The construction of the sanctuary, consisting of structures on piles and pontoons, is due to the sacred status of the island. The visitors had indeed no right to dismount; when they arrived by boat, they passed under the torii and floating dock on the pontoons. Scene from Noh theatre, also on stilts, is close to the temple.
After your visit to the shrine, you will enjoy a free time to discover the numerous shops located in the narrow streets.
Finally, walk back to the ferry terminal for the trip back to Miyajima-Guchi, where your coach awaits to transfer you to the pier in Hiroshima.
HIGHLIGHTS OF HIROSHIMA
In the years just following the atomic bomb blast on 6 August 1945, scientists doubted if Hiroshima could ever live again. Yet modern Hiroshima rose like a phoenix from its own ashes, and less than five decades since its obliteration, it is a vital city with a population of one million and growing.
From the pier, reach the poignant Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and its powerful museum. Following the bomb attack, only a few concrete buildings remained standing. Though unusable, one of these ruins is now a symbol of the city and the Memorial Park: the Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Promotion Hall, now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, located near the epicentre of the blast. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, the Dome remains a stark and powerful symbol of the destructive force created by humankind. See the Cenotaph, shaped like an ancient tomb and holding the names of the dead, as well as the Flame of Peace, visited daily by monks offering prayers and burning incense.
Continue to the serene Shukkeien Garden, modelled after the famous West Lake of Hangzhou in China. Shukkeien Garden is a quiet respite from the bustle of Hiroshima's busy streets. Plum trees, azaleas, cherry trees and other plants guarantee a blooming landscape, regardless of the season, and its sculpted gardens, paths, ponds, bridges, waterfalls and bamboo groves make the garden an extremely pleasant and photogenic place for a stroll.