Hiroshima for kids – Japan with the family

Hiroshima is one famous city in Japan for a sad reason: it’s the place where the first atomic bomb was launched. Even though it destroyed a good part of the city and killed many, many people, Hiroshima is now one incredible touristic destination. Have here our guide to Hiroshima for kids – Japan with the family!

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Where is Hiroshima

Hiroshima is in the Chugoku region of Japan. It’s around the southwest of the country. 

You’ll find there’s Hiroshima-ken (the prefecture of Hiroshima) and Hiroshima-shi. On this post, we’re talking about the city of Hiroshima, or Hiroshima-shi. 

It’s around 2,5 hours away from Osaka by bullet train and about 4,5 hours from Tokyo by also bullet train. If you’re planning to use a lot of bullet trains (or Shinkansen) in Japan, I suggest you grab a JR pass. Click here for more information!

Family-friendly accommodation in Hiroshima, Japan

We tend to like Airbnb for freedom and space. And the price, most of the times. We stayed in this Airbnb, which was great. It’s less than 3 minutes walking to the Peace Park, the museum, and across the street from a convenience store. 

It’s also surrounded by so many great restaurants, it’s hard to stop eating. 

This apartment is on a building with an elevator, it was clean and tidy when we arrived, and the beds were super comfortable. The only problem was the internet limit – with 500 Mb per day, it was not even near enough to cover our working needs. 

Luckily, we had rented mobile internet with Ninja Wifi. Click here to get a 10% discount!!!

On this photo, you can see the A-bomb Dome and the city all built around it. And it’s an amazing city!

Hiroshima: things to do

There are many things to do in and around Hiroshima. Find below our favorites!

Hiroshima Peace Park (Heiwa Kinen Koen)

The Peace Park in itself is pretty big, and it comprises most of the monuments and memorials of the bomb victims. The best part is that it’s all free.

  • The Museum with the history of Hiroshima and the part dedicated to the bomb. It was closed for earthquake proofing when we went. It can be disturbing for kids, so have that in mind before entering.
  • The A-Bomb Dome, which was one of the very few buildings to withstand the bomb. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is kept as it was after the explosion. It’s also called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. 
This photo was taken on a Sunday. We thought it’d be less crowded on Monday BUT we were wrong – it had so many school groups! The good thing is that I was able to hear snippets of history here and there. 😀
  • There’s the Cenotaph for the victims (aka Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace). It’s an arched tomb for the people killed by the bomb and if you look through it, you’ll be able to see the fire and the A-Bomb Dome all in one look. 
  • The Children’s Peace Memorial, with a little bell, sculpture of children who died there and, around it, you’ll see Tsuru art from children all around the world asking for peace.
  • The Peace Bell is also there and you can ring it – the rule is that you wait for the sound to die before ringing again. And to be gentle. It’s to send the sound to the whole world so we remember the lives lost and the costs of a bomb of that kind.
  • The Flame of Peace was lit on August 1, 1964, and it’s always burning, no matter the weather. It hopes for a world without nuclear weapons. 
This is the tomb with the fire in the middle and the dome at the end. Unfortunately, the wind was strong and the fire was very low, barely visible. That’s the one place that ALWAYS has a line.

Other A-bomb related sites

  • Rest House of Hiroshima Peace Park, which is a store that used to be a kimono store. Only one person inside the building survived the bomb, and this person was in the basement at the time. The basement was kept intact, as it was after the bomb explosion. You can now tour it.
  • Old Bank of Hiroshima was one of the only buildings to survive the bomb virtually intact, even though it stood less than 400 m (0.25 mi) from the epicenter. 
  • Ground Zero (Shima Hospital). The original hospital was completely destroyed with the blast, but it was rebuilt. Now it has a plaque explaining all about the bomb. 

Hiroshima Castle

The castle is beautiful, but kind of the same if you’ve visited a Japanese castle before. The castle entry is ¥360 per adult, ¥180 for kids between 15 and 18, and free for children under 15 (2019 prices!). 

Hiroshima Castle is beautiful and the gardens are stunning – it must be the best part of every castle, really.

Part of the guarding walls is free to enter and we quite enjoyed it. This was something new to us – even after visiting many castles. Beware: you’ll need to remove your shoes, wear something easy to put on and take off. 

Other things to do during your visit to Hiroshima Castle are:

  • Watch the colorful koi and the little turtles playing in the water
  • Find the A-bomb survivor trees
  • Have a sake soft serve ice cream. Yum!
  • Pay a visit to the Gokoku Shrine, in its simplicity and beauty.

Hon-Dori 

This is a great shopping arcade in the city center, with many great shops and delicious restaurants. It’s covered, so you can explore it on any weather. It’s quite a maze, actually, with many alleys and streets mixing up. We loved it! Around it, there’s Don Quijote (one of the best places to find souvenirs). 

We always love those little shopping arcade kind of streets in Japan – they have some of the best food and some little shops that have been surviving for generations!

The Outlets Hiroshima 

This is a pretty big outlet with so many international and national brands! And the price is quite good – for those coming from NZ/Australia, anyway. But it’s all branded, don’t think you’ll find Uniqlo or Daiso outlet, for instance. 

The food floor is the best! Don’t miss it! Rent a car for a few hours and go if you have shopping to do!

Okunoshima: Hiroshima Rabbit Island 

We have a whole post about our visit here! But to summarize it, it was an island where they had a poisonous gas factory. It was abandoned after the war by the humans, but the bunnies took it for themselves and now, they thrive there. It’s a good day trip from Hiroshima city, and it takes around 1,5 h by car + a 10 min ferry ride. And then, you’ll be surrounded by hopping rabbits asking for food.

Miyajima Island

Hiroshima Miyajima Island is one of the biggest tourist spots around. The floating torii gate and the shrine built upon the sea are something out of this world. IF you are able to see it on high tide. 

Unfortunately, when we went, the tide was as low as low can be and it was kind of normal. The torii is huge, the shrine is beautiful, but nothing ethereal like we’d like it to be. 

Check the tides before you go! 

How to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima Island

You go up to Miyajimaguchi station and get the ferry (around every 15 minutes) to Miyajima Island. A return ferry ticket costs ¥360 per adult and ¥180 per kid under 12. 

This is how much the ‘floating’ torii gate was actually floating when we were there. Sad. But compare the size of the torii with the size of the humans under it. It’s quite impressive, I dare say.

What to do in Miyajima Island

  • First of all, enjoy the deer. I know most tourists see them in Nara, but they’re in Miyajima too and they’re very friendly. There’s no deer biscuit and you shouldn’t feed them. But they come up and ask for some. 
  • Then you can visit the market street, which is beautiful and overpriced. Food in Miyajima is more expensive than in Tokyo Disney
  • Have a walk around the parks, which are stunning – you may encounter a raccoon there!
  • Ride the ropeway. If you like that kind of stuff. 
  • Visit Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site, and one stunning shrine on top of the water. When the tide is high. 
  • See the world-famous torii gate. It’s also better when the tide is high, but the size is pretty impressive!
That deer… it’s an actual living deer. We passed it on our way to the torii and it was standing, facing the store. People lined up to take photos of it. Then we saw the torii, the pagoda, the shrine, and walked back a few hours later. There was the deer, relaxing, but still posing for photos. Love animals.

Ujina Island

Hiroshima has many islands as part of the prefecture and a lot of them are connected by bridges.

We visited Ujina Island because it was very close to the city in itself. It’s a very small island, around 20 minutes from Hiroshima city center, and a beautiful place. I mean, if you’re into wild stuff.

We found red chinned lizards, some kind of bird of prey (did I tell you my eyesight isn’t too good?), some funny (and huge) hairy-bellied caterpillars, and… well, sea roaches. Many of them. I mean, it was even scary. Some of them were HUGE!

But it’s still a beautiful island. 

This is Ujina Island. The lighthouse is visible through most of the island but it’s not the highlight. The sea cockroaches are. Just kidding.

Where to eat in Hiroshima with kids

First, we need to talk about Hiroshima food. Hiroshima is very famous for the special okonomiyaki and for the momiji manju

Okonomiyaki is a savory dough and topped with many different things. Usually, the dough is quite thick. In the case of the Hiroshima okonomiyaki, the dough is more of a crepe and most of it consists of noodles. It ends up being more of yakisoba (the fried noodles), and it’s good! Try out some places, as they have different textures, seasonings, and toppings! 

We had our okonomiyaki at a place called Mi-chan, and it was delicious and the service was perfect. We loved it! It’s around 2 blocks from the Peace Park. 

Momiji manju is a little bun filled with something sweet – usually sweet azuki bean paste – in the shape of a maple leaf, which is the symbol of Hiroshima. Yum! 

This is my okonomiyaki. Now let me tell you something – don’t order one per person. Share. One okonomiyaki is enough for an adult couple. Seriously. We ordered 5. Imagine how we walked home afterwards.

Other good places to eat in Hiroshima:

  • Miyaji Abura Soba – you know ramen, right? The noodles in a soup? Well, this is the same thing, without the soup. Yep. You have to try it. And ask the attendant on how to eat it best! It’s one delicious thing!
  • At The Outlets, there are 2 places we recommend: the Hiroshima Ramen Wadatou for Hiroshima style ramen (I really couldn’t tell the difference, but it was good!) and Cocoro Mochi for fruit mochi (fruits covered in thin fresh rice dough)! Just one of the best desserts I’ve ever had!
  • A gyoza (dumplings!) restaurant called NO GYOZA NO LIFE, which was super good! Visit it off meal times for a better experience. It can get quite crowded!

Is Hiroshima safe?

If we’re talking about the common safety issues, life theft, pickpockets, assaults, then, yes, it’s perfectly safe. Don’t worry about a thing. Seriously. It’s Japan. 

The view from the inside of the guarding walls of Hiroshima Castle. I really love that the grounds are free – and they always are our favorite part!

Then again, if you’re wondering about the nuclear residues from the bomb, I’d say it’s pretty safe. People live there and there has been no record of health issues from the radiation – at least not anything above the norm for the country.

How to get from the Hiroshima airport to the city?

You can use taxis (it’d be a little pricey, as the trip takes around 50 minutes), the JR bus + train, or the bus.

We took the limousine bus to the Hiroshima bus terminal and it cost ¥1340 per adult (one way) and ¥670 per child (up to 12 years old). It was comfortable, it had wifi, and it was easy as a breeze. And, I mean, how can we get tired of buying our tickets from the machines? It really makes us feel like we’re in Japan. 

For ¥100, you could sit on the tatami and watch the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine from above. The trick was – you had to be barefoot. Converses and Japan – not a good match.

Public Transport in Hiroshima

It’s super easy to use public transport in the city. We used it – including the ferry! – a few times and it works perfectly fine. It’s easy to get anywhere and the bus drivers are super patient and helpful. They’re very used to tourists. 

But the city is incredibly walkable. You can walk a whole day and not feel it at all! 

We also rented a car to drive to Okunoshima – up to the ferry terminal, because it’d be cheaper for us than get a tour or arrange all the transport by ourselves – and to Miyajima – also up to the station. Just beware that parking on the streets is prohibited in most places in Japan, and parking lots cost quite a lot of money. 

To finish the post, a photo of the A-bomb Dome near the sunset. Please remember that that is the site where hundreds of people died – be respectful when you’re there. Acknowledge them. And respect their families, who may still be around.

To finish it…

I need to say that this was our first visit to Hiroshima, but it won’t be the last. We absolutely LOVED it, all of it! 

It’s super beautiful, tidy, clean, and one of the greenest big cities we’ve seen in Japan. It’s quite unbelievable. 

It’s a city that really shows the power humans have – how we can turn devastated things into something really, really beautiful. 

  • City / Country
  • Minimun Stay
  • $ ~ $$$
  • Child-friendlyness
  • Best local transport option
  • Safety
  • Do we recommend it?
  • Hiroshima / Japan
  • 2 days
  • $$
  • Perfect for families!
  • FOOT!
  • Super safe!
  • Very much!
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