Hiroshima, known for its two world heritage sites, Itsukushima Shrine and the Atomic Bomb Dome, is a popular site visited by many tourists both from around Japan and the world. You can easily enjoy a day-trip or a one night trip to Hiroshima with your family from Kyoto. Thanks to Yuko, who until last year was raising her kids in Hiroshima, we have some great tips to share with you on how to enjoy Hiroshima with your family.
Basic Information about Hiroshima
Located on the west side of the Japanese archipelago, Hiroshima Prefecture is a popular spot visited by more than 50 million tourists a year. Itsukushima Shrine, with its gorgeous appearance, attracts tourists from all over the world. Among its beauty, Hiroshima also has a sad history, being the first place in the world where the atomic bomb was dropped. Visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome will give you a chance to think about history with your children. It is only about an hour and forty minutes by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima from Kyoto. You could easily go for just a day, but since you are going anyway, why not stay overnight and have even more fun?
Going to Hiroshima with Kids
1. World Heritage Site – Itsukushima Shrine
Itsukushima Shrine is a famous shrine in Hiroshima and is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vermillion torii looks as if it is somehow floating on the sea. In addition to the beauty of the Itsukushima Shrine, there are plenty of points for children and parents to enjoy on their trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima.
The ferry to Miyajima is fun for kids and parents
Itsukushima Shrine is located on an island called Miyajima. You can get there in about 10 minutes by ferry. It’s a short ferry ride, but traveling on the sea is exciting for both children and parents. The ferry runs every 15 minutes, so even if you miss one, you won’t have to wait long for the next one which is great when you are traveling with kids.
Kids will be excited to see deer
Miyajima is famous for its deer. Kids are always excited about the deer roaming around. While your children are distracted by the deer, you may be able to enjoy looking around Itsukushima Shrine.
Please be careful though! When my child was two years old she touched a deer’s hind area. The deer was surprised and kicked her and she flew about one meter! Luckily she didn’t have any serious injuries. Please be sure to warn your children not to touch the deers’ hind areas.
Science lesson from the tides
The torii at Itsukushima Shrine does not always look like it is floating in the sea. Because the sea level changes with the tides, there are times when the torii looks like it is floating and other times when you can actually walk to it. It depends on the season, but generally in the mornings the tide is low and you can walk to the torii. As you walk to the torii your kids can study the ground and see what they can find that was left behind with the receding tide. The chance to study science by experiencing the tides at a World Heritage Site is a unique experience.
It is only in Japanese, but for information on the tides at Itsukushima Shrine visit, http://www.miyajima.or.jp/sio/sio08.html (If it is below 100cm, you can walk to the torii)
Shopping with family at Miyajima
On Miyajima, where Itsukushima Shrine is located, you can find many souvenir shops and cafes. Hiroshima is famous for its oysters and you can find unique shamoji (rice paddle) shaped lucky charms. You can enjoy shopping and eating with your family.
Construction around torii – going on until August 2020
A rare event, happening only once in 70 years, Itsukushima Shrine is now under construction. The torii currently looks like this.
Miyajima Itsukushima Shrine Information
From Hiroshima Station – take JR to Miyajimaguchi Station, about 30 minutes. From there take the ferry to Miyajima.
2. Another World Heritage Site – Atomic Bomb Dome
After visiting Miyajima, return to Hiroshima City to visit the Atomic Bomb Dome. The Atomic Bomb Dome is sometimes referred to as “negative world heritage” in the hopes that we never see such a tragic event again. The building was originally built for a different purpose, it almost collapsed due to the atomic bombing 30 years after it was built. The central dome barely survived the bombing, with only the framework and outer walls remaining.
You can’t go inside the dome, but you can easily see how the atomic bomb was a brilliant weapon just from the outside.
Next to the Atomic Bomb Dome is “Peace Memorial Park”. At the “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum” on the park grounds, you can see the history of Hiroshima being destroyed through the various pictures and exhibits.
You may think it is too difficult for small children, that the content is too heavy, but if your kids are elementary age or older, they can understand on their own. The Atomic Bomb Dome is a very somber place, but an important place to visit. By visiting Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb Dome, you will be able to see the damage that can be done by war and feel the benefits of peace.
Access from Miyajima to Peace Park
The Peace Park is a bit far from Miyajima and requires multiple transfers. For an easier transit, we recommend using the boat which goes between the Peace Park and Miyajima. It takes about 45 minutes and boats leave about every 30 minutes. Click here for timetables and reservations, http://www.aqua-net-h.co.jp/en/heritage/
Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Park Information
Atomic Bomb Dome
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
3. The delicious smell of sauce pulls you to Okonomi-mura
Okonomiyaki is Hiroshima’s soul food. It’s a bit different from the okonomiyaki you can eat in the Kansai area because Hiroshima style okonomiyaki has noodles in it! If you would like to try Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, then you must go to Okonomi-mura (literally: Okonomi-village). You can walk there from the Peace Park in about 10 minutes. Make sure you take your appetite because you can choose from 24 different food stalls in this sort of food theme park. As you near the Okonomi-mura the smell is sure to make yours and your kids’ stomachs start growling!
4. A paradise for cyclists – Setouchi Shimanami Kaido
If you can stay overnight in Hiroshima, you can enjoy cycling with your family. Hiroshima has a path where you can enjoy a refreshing bike ride. On the 60km road connecting Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture and Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture, you can enjoy cycling while enjoying the scenery of the islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
You can rent bicycles, so you can ride with your family for however long you have. If you start from Onomichi you can go to Mukojima and then to Innoshima and back which is perfect for a one day trip.
You can also cycle only on the individual islands. If you feel the wind in your hair while looking at the blue sky and sea, you are sure to make great memories with your family.
Setouchi Shimanami Kaido Information
From Hiroshima Station take the JR to Onomichi Station – about 50 minutes.
5. Island of rabbits – Okuno-shima
Hiroshima has a mysterious island of rabbits. 700 rabbits, to be exact! The rabbits on the island are used to being around people because many tourists visit daily. Adults and kids alike will enjoy petting the soft creatures.
It takes about 15 minutes by ferry to Okunoshima Island. When you arrive at the port near the island, you can see the rabbits running around.
You can try feeding the rabbits some of the food provided if you would like. However, during seasons with many tourists, the rabbits may be full and not come for the food you offer them.
Address: Ohkunoshima Tadanoumi-cho Takehara-shi, Hiroshima 729-2311
One Day Trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima
This time we gave you tips on traveling from Kyoto to Hiroshima. You can experience parts of Japan different from Kyoto with your kids. Kyoto Station is centrally located and the Shinkansen stops there, so it is very convenient for traveling to other places in Japan. We have articles about trips from Kyoto to other cities like Tokyo and Osaka and plan to add more in the coming months.