One of my best friends lives in Hiroshima, and I had never been there before, so we used our JR pass to spend 2 days in Hiroshima! It was about a 4~5 hour ride on the shinkansen from Tokyo (felt like NOTHING after our 17-hour flight).
Hiroshima was a beautiful, clean, and modern city. There were quite a few tourists but it was nowhere near as congested as Tokyo. I highly recommend going during cherry blossom season if possible. They made the city even more gorgeous!
We of course went to see the Atomic Dome, which is just a short drive from the Hiroshima Station. I felt all kinds of emotions as I gazed at this structure. A haunting reminder of what war can do, in the middle of a beautiful city. It is difficult to imagine that this city was horrifically bombed at the end of WWII just over 50 years ago.
The Atomic Bomb area was a great place to stroll with our children (but if you have a toddler, I highly recommend bringing a stroller). The area has spacious sidewalks and feels like a giant park. My little girl enjoyed collecting sakura (cherry blossom) petals and throwing them into the air.
The above statue is of Sadako and her paper cranes. If you have not heard of this story, you must look it up! You can buy the book on Amazon, or any other major bookstore. This monument honors Sadako and thousands of other children who were victims of the bombing in Hiroshima.
Within an easy walk from the atomic dome and peace memorial is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The museum contains artifacts, stories, videos, etc and aims to help visitors understand the dangers of nuclear weapons. It is hard to walk through the museum without getting emotional.
We strolled through the museum pretty quickly because a lot of it is not appropriate/boring for little kids. There are a few “rest areas” in the museum though, so if there are 2 adults, you can take turns looking at everything.
Not necessarily a “fun” place for kids, but I would still say it is a must-visit place, especially if your children are older than mine (mine are 2 and 4). Excellent for teenagers.
Some of the other things we did in Hiroshima during our short stay was: take the ferry to Miyajima, shop at UNIQLO (love love love!), eat Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and go shopping at a department store. The top floor of the department store had a huge play area for little kids. I’m guessing it’s designed so that one parent can get their shopping done while the other lets the kids run around. The play area looked really fun so we decided to try it out. My daughter had a blast (unfortunately for my son, he was asleep in the stroller and missed out on the fun). There were ball pits, giant slides, dress-up, a sandbox, video games, etc.
Fun, BUT, very expensive!!!! We must have missed the fine print because we were expecting to pay about 1000 yen for a little under 2 hours but it ended up costing over 4000 yen! Crazy. I would NEVER pay that much again. SO, if you see a cool department store playland, make sure you have the workers tell you exactly how much you will be charged BEFORE you decide to do it. If money grows on trees for you, do it, it looked really fun (I can’t remember the name of the place, sorry)!