Want a unique Japanese experience, besides the Shinkansen bullet trains, then visit Hiroshima. Hiroshima is an amazing city, down the bottom of mainland Japan. We got there via our Japan Rail Pass, (reminder to buy before you leave home), on a Hello Kitty themed bullet train, from Osaka to downtown Hiroshima, in a little over two hours, with about 340kms of scenery whizzing by.
- Travel $0 included on JR Pass
- Photo opps+++
- $$ Accommodation
- Low Risk
- Attractions we saw all free
- Mazda: ages: 8 to 80+
- Christmas Lights: kid friendly
- Peace Memorial Park: kid friendly
We stayed two nights at Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima, booked through bookings.com. This place was super affordable and one of the best equipped and biggest rooms we stayed in. Spacious, lovely beds and we had great views over the river, park and street life below. We could have stayed at least another two days as there was plenty to do and see.
We went to Hiroshima for three reasons. One to do the Mazda Museum , two to go to Miyajima and see the Itsukushima Shrine and the deer, and finally because of the bomb. The atomic bomb. As the world knows the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan towards the end of WW2 and one of them was aimed at Hiroshima. My eldest and I had just finished a World War 2 in colour Netflix series, so were keen to see a modern day Hiroshima. We were not disappointed. He, being a little car nutter, was also the motivation for the Mazda Museum visit. This turned out to be super interesting from a corporate culture point of view, so I loved it too.
Hiroshima, forever the drop site for an atomic bomb, yet so much more … covered in Christmas lights and every second person pushing a pram with a toy size exotic lap dog inside, bouncing along, surreal …
I chose this hotel as it is right next to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. So the Atomic Bomb Dome, now a world Heritage Site, is just a 5 minute walk away. Then, from nearby Hiroshima Station it takes only about 40 minutes to get to another World Heritage Site, the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima. That was an amazing day trip, so I will write on that another time.
It was a moving and emotional experience at the Atomic Bomb Dome, made me weep, yet the powerfully positive energy from new Hiroshima made my heart sing and filled me with joy…
Hiroshima Peace Park is best walked from one end to the other. Take your time, this is our modern day history and we should absorb some of the gravitas of the place.
The Mazda Museum was a different experience altogether. The fully guided, free tour, offered a real insight into Japanese corporate culture, as well as a huge slice of Mazda history, development and PR spin. It was awesome and this corporate culture nerd, me, loved it. The English tour is only once a day for 19 people. Bookings can be made in advance, up to a year out, on the Mazda website. Make sure you do this as soon as you can as spaces fill up fast.
Best free tour ever, left wanting to immediately buy a Mazda and live the Mazda inspired dream!
Getting there is hassle free. Take a local train from Hiroshima to Mukainada Station (5 minutes, frequent departures), and from there walk to the Mazda Head Office, about another five minute.
There is a cafe on site so get there ahead of time and soak up a slice of corporate Japan. When the tour starts you are all on a bus and there are very strict rules about no photos of the site. Once inside the museum you can photograph almost anything, except the production line.
We travelled in late November and lucked in with an amazing display of Christmas lights. This boulevard went for about three city blocks, directly in front of out hotel. We went for walks both nights as it was such fun and so engaging. The lights were amazing and watching the other little families enjoying the installation was a treat for a people watcher like me.
Nothing like fairy lights to make me smile like a carefree six year old ….
We found lots of cute places to eat close by to the hotel. Various prices. Plus lots of shopping malls. One of my kids needed throat gargle while here, and I must have looked particularity lost as a nice young Japanese man took me three blocks and delivered me to the door of a chemist. So kind.
You will notice lots of paper cranes around the Peace Park and within the shops nearby. Here is the story behind how this became a thing. Sadako Sasaki was the girl who began making the original Hiroshima cranes. She was a survivor of the bomb, but became sick not long after. She made them as a wish for a better future.
So we loved Hiroshima. There was history, remembrance and reverence everywhere. Along with optimism, progress and joy. The puppies in the posh prams had me gawking. This beautiful city had me at hello and it felt very welcoming and real. Make sure you get it on your itinerary.
If you haven’t received my Japan with Kids pre travel guide, then subscribe and I will send you a copy. It’s easy to read, with tips, lessons and ideas that I have test piloted for you. Cheers Le
Bullet trains … here are a couple of do’s and don’ts …..
- Do be early – bullet trains run on time
- Do keep behind the yellow lines on the platform
- Do let people get off first before you get on
- Do bring your own food to avoid the limited and more expensive range on board
- Do travel light as there is not a huge amount of on board storage
- Do use headphones
- Don’t be late, bullet trains wait for no one
- Don’t sit on the ground while waiting on the platform – a guard will tell you off – even kids
- Don’t be surprised if you are susceptible to travel sickness, trains go fast and you can feel the motion
- Don’t bring smelly / messy food
- Don’t put your bags on the seats – either under them or in the designated areas