WHEN TO GO
- Climatology: Hiroshima has a moderate climate. In winter maximum temperatures are around 8ºC (46ºF) and minimum temperatures usually do not go below 0ºC (32ºF); in summer maximum is around 32ºC (90ºF)and minimum is 25º (77ºF), but humidity is usually 100%, especially in July and August, generating a muggy sensation. Although rains are not very frequent, in summer they can reach almost 50% probability.
- It is a second-class destination for international visitors, who focus on the classic Tokyo–Kyoto axis, and among those who prolong their trip, it is not uncommon for them to visit it as a day trip on their way to Miyajima or Fukuoka. For these reasons there are usually no problems finding accommodation, except when festivals:
- The Flower Festival is the most important. Despite the name, it does not have as much to do with flowers as with parades, concerts and other events. It is in the first week of May coinciding with the Golden Week, so it can be a difficult time to find accommodation.
- The Peace Memorial Ceremony. In Memorial Park, place where the bomb fell, celebrated on August 6 of each year, anniversary of that fateful day in 1945, at 8:15 am, the time it exploded. There is another ceremony at 8 pm, where lanterns are placed in the river.
- The sake festival (Sake Matsuri). In Saijo neighborhood, beginning of October. It costs 1500 ¥ and we can taste as much sake as we want from local distilleries.
How to get there:
- Train. Hiroshima is in the Shinkansen line. It takes 4h40min from Tokyo, 1h50min from Osaka or 1h25min from Fukuoka. Those who doubt whether the Japan Rail Pass is profitable, keep in mind that a one-way trip from Tokyo costs around ¥ 18,000, when the one-week JRP costs ¥ 29,110.
- Airplane. The international airport offers daily direct flights to major Japanese cities and some destinations in China and South Korea. It is 40 km east of the city, that can be reached by bus:
- To Central Train Station: every 15 – 30 minutes, 1340 ¥, 45 minutes. From 8:20 am to 9:40 pm to the city and from 6 am to 7:20 pm to the airport.
- All buses go through the Main Bus Station, 1300 ¥.
- There are direct buses to the main cities of Chugoku, to highlight Okayama.
- Bus. The aforementioned Main Bus Station is in the center, just 500 meters east of the Monument to Peace (A-Bomb Dome). There are buses to all the main destinations in the country, and night buses to Tokyo (12 hours, 2 per night, 11,000 ¥), Kyoto (6300 ¥) and Osaka (¥ 5,700).
- Ferry. There are two a day to Matsuyama, in Shikoku, one fast (75 min, 6500 ¥ per journey) and one normal (2h30min, 3600 ¥).
How to move around:
- The few attractions in Hiroshima are close to each other, in the center of the city and can be visited on foot. The Main Bus Station is as we have said is in the very city center.
- From the Train Station Memorial Park is almost 30 minutes on foot in a westerly direction, passing by very close to Hiroshima Castle. The simplest is to take the tram, with a 180 ¥ flat rate. From station to park, there are lines 2 (red) and 6 (yellow). It takes about 15 minutes. There are one day passes that cost 600 ¥ and include the slow return ferry from Miyajima, and 3 day passes for 1000 ¥.
- Metro and the buses can be very useful for the inhabitants of the city, but not for tourists.
- It is a quite flat and safe city for cycling. Most accommodations rent them for about 500 ¥ per day.
WHERE TO EAT AND SLEEP
Almost all the accommodations are located in the sector between Memorial Park and the Train Station. There are for all tastes and pockets, at a better price than in the big cities. At least there are half a dozen well located hostels with ratings above 9/10. I stayed in one of them, the Hiroshima J-Hoppers Guesthouse. That zone coincides with the one of greater number of restaurants.
In case anyone asks, no, there is no trace of atomic radiation in the city.
It has a gray spot, to call it somehow, within the extreme safety in this country: the small but central Nakaregawa sector, which is immediately to the southeast of the main area of restaurants and hotels, is the red-light district of the city, but as in those in Tokyo or Osaka, the feeling of insecurity is null even at night. Even avoiding services related to prostitution you should be cautious, as there are bars and clubs where not only exorbitant amounts are charged for the drinks, but for every minute that the client spend inside, and although it is specified in the rules of the establishment, everyone that does not speak Japanese can be an easy target.