go explore on 24-hour libertyDanielle Hoffpauir | Community Writer
A mix of tragic history and stunning rebirth, Hiroshima has deep cultural roots and fantastic modern experiences. If you haven’t already spent time at the Peace Memorial Park, it should be your first stop.
For something a little under the radar, check out Hiroshima Orizuru Tower for incredible views of the city and Peace Park. Located adjacent to the Atomic Bomb Dome, this 13-floor office building features a rooftop observation deck open to the public for a birds-eye view of the area.
After taking in the view, slide down (literally) to the 12th floor to construct a paper crane or orizuru, and toss it into the Orizuru Wall, a giant art structure on the side of the building filled with paper crane wishes from around the world. Don’t know how to make a paper crane? Not to worry, they offer a video to show you how. There are also several interactive digital art installations starring the orizuru throughout the space.
Be sure to take the wooden spiral staircase back down or, if you’re up for a little adventure, there’s a wooden slide next to the stairs you can coast down. Be sure to look around, too, as the walls are decorated with original work by Shuho Sato, a famous Japanese manga artist. Grab a snack and memento at the café and souvenir shop on the first floor. Tickets are ¥1,700 per adult or ¥1,000 when you show your passport.
Nearby pedestrian-only Hondori Street is known for its abundance of shops and restaurants, including plenty of okonomiyaki. This famous Hiroshima dish is a savory pancake of vegetables, meat, noodles, and more, depending on where you go. Take your pick of okonomiyaki at Okonomimura, a hotspot for this local signature dish with 25 distinct restaurants packed into three floors.
Perhaps best known for Itsukushima Shrine and its floating torii gate, Miyajima is a charming escape that has a little something for everyone. Leave the tiny, bustling streets behind by hiking Mt. Misen. There are three trails to the top that range from 2.5-3 km, each offering their own perspective of the untouched forest as you wind up the mountain. The stunning views from the summit are worth the effort.
Eat like a local after your adventure with rich, buttery oysters, indigenous from the Seto Inland Sea. Stroll down the main shopping street, Omotesando, and stop in Yakigaki no Hayashi, a Miyajima legacy and the first restaurant in Japan to serve grilled oysters. This small town is also known for Anago-meshi, fresh broiled conger eel on top of rice, and Momiji Manju for dessert, a sweet, filled mini cake in the shape of a maple leaf.
A quick train ride from Iwakuni Station l brings you to Miyajimaguchi Station and from there a ferry leaves every 15 minutes for Miyajima. IT&T can purchase your tickets in a bundle in advance.
You don’t need to venture far for a day of fun and good food. Start your morning with a handcrafted java creation at Imm Coffee & Roastery, a boutique coffee shop known for their specially imported beans from around the world and daily fresh baked treats.
Head across the Kintaikyo Bridge and through Kikko Park for a hike to Iwakuni Castle that promises fresh air, a little exercise, and Instagram-worthy views. For an even better look, and interesting samurai history, pay ¥260 to go in the castle for one of the best views in town. The trail doesn’t stop there, though. Instead of heading back down right away, continue on the trail along the top of the mountain for more time with nature.
After working up an appetite, savor a taste of the States with a burger from Grand Chief Burgers. Housed in an old Airstream trailer and teepee, these burgers are made with 100 percent Kuroge Wagyu beef and feature special creations for something new each time you go.
EXPLORE MORE WITH OUTDOOR REC
Let someone else worry about the planning and just show up to one of Outdoor Rec's upcoming spring adventures. There are two hiking trips to Mt. Houben and Mt. Ohira that will get your workout in for the day and reward you with incredible panoramic views of the valley below. Get out on the water with the Yoshino River rafting trip featuring Level 4 rapids or, for a more laid back experience, the Nishiki River paddle for a sunset view.
Finally, take aim with an archery trip on backcountry trails or pedal your way across seven bridges with spectacular views on the Shimanami bike trip. For nominal fees, Outdoor Rec takes care of all the hassle of logistics so you can focus on the fun.
Of course, before venturing out, make sure you’re in compliance with the current liberty order (Marine Forces Japan Order 1050.1) and following guidelines for your Tier-level. If you are unsure what your status is, check with your command. As guests of our host nation, smart and safe adventure is always your best bet.