Hiroshima Castle is really worth visiting and was a highlight of my visit to Hiroshima and Japan.
The castle has a moat and is in a city centre park setting. I was lucky to be there at the end of March this year. The castle looked spectacular as a backdrop to all the cherry blossom trees in the park.
A visit to Hiroshima castle is also a wonderful contrast to the nearby Peace Memorial Park and Peace Museums.
Hiroshima Castle was originally built in 1592 by a powerful feudal lord called Mori Terumoto. He had the castle built in a strategic position where the Ota River once surrounded the castle on three sides.
Today, the castle is located right in the city centre of Hiroshima, surrounded by progressive high-rises and metropolitan buildings, but in a scenic area with a large park and gardens and the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine nearby.
With its traditional old Japanese castle façade, a three-story keep and a multi-story watchtower, it is a surreal scene in the heart of modern Hiroshima. The castle is just one of many famous landmarks in Hiroshima Japan and is well worth a visit.
The Japanese people take ‘Sakura’ the cherry blossom season very seriously, and you’d have to be early or lucky to find and claim a spot in the city park in the vicinity of a cherry blossom tree, to sit and simply admire the blossoms ‘hanami’ or enjoy a ‘bento’ picnic with the family.
The castle is also affectionately known as ‘Rijo’ or ‘Carp Castle’ and – although I saw many large and colourful carp fish swimming in the moat – I’m told that the nickname is actually due to the castle’s carp-shaped roofing facias.
The castle we see in Hiroshima today is a faithful representation of the original that was destroyed during the WW2 atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The keep was reconstructed in 1958 using concrete and the castle grounds were turned into a public park.
Miraculously, a couple of trees in the castle grounds survived the bombing.
One, a eucalyptus tree, is now 10m tall and 2.75m wide was just 740m from the hypocentre. It’s wonderful to stand next to it and see the tree still thriving today after all it has endured.
Hiroshima castle is worth visiting as it was one of the highlights of my visit to Hiroshima. The park is free but there is an entrance fee of 370 Yen to the castle and the tower. It’s worth checking the opening hours and current ticket price on the castle website.
The castle now houses a museum that over several floors in the tower provides information about the history of the castle and the city. I would say to allow two hours for the visit and then take whatever time you need to enjoy the park.
Exhibits inside the castle include art and artefacts related to the castle’s history and Hiroshima’s recovery after the atomic bombing.
There is also a wonderful and authentic Samurai Warrior Exhibition on the third floor at the castle that I found absolutely fascinating.
The exhibit included displays of items of Samurai culture and swords and weapons and armour and belonging to the former lords of the castle.
It was incredible to see the knives and long swords in glass cases – many without their handles – but still shiny and sharp looking despite being many centuries old. The blades were forged from only the purest steel ‘tamahagane’ or ‘jewel steel’.
There are also suits of armour made from iron and leather plates and dome-shaped iron helmets ‘kabuto’ and scary looking ‘mengu’ facemasks with snarls and fangs and lacquered finishes – also made of leather and iron – designed not only to protect the face but to intimidate enemies in battle.
Continuing on and upwards from the Samurai exhibit on the third floor, on the top floor of the castle and on the ramparts, there is a viewing platform and wonderful panoramic views of the park below and the city of Hiroshima.
From this elevated platform you can see views of the city’s other famous landmarks, such as the Bomb Dome and The Peace Memorial Park and, on clear days, you can apparently see out to Miyajima Island.
Visitors to this castle can explore both the historical aspects of the castle and its significance in the context of Hiroshima’s recovery after the devastation of World War II.
The reconstructed castle serves as a symbol of resilience and the city’s commitment to peace. The park and the gardens are a wonderful place to enjoy a walk and especially so during the cherry blossom season.
Hiroshima castle is just a 15 minute walk from the Peace Park area, which is very close to the accomodation where we were staying, so this is the route we took and by foot. We used Booking Dotcom (affiliate link) to book our accomodation at a wonderful and traditional Japanese J-Hoppers Guesthouse which is a budget accomodation I can highly recommend to you.
By staying at J-Hoppers we were able to budget for a city centre hotel at the next stop in our Japan trip which was Tokyo.
The castle is just a 10 minute walk away from Shukkiein Garden and so we combined both and went to the gardens straight from the castle.
The castle is also a 10 minute walk from Kamiyacho-nishi or Kamiyacho-higashi tram stop or street car (12 minutes from Hiroshima Station by lines 1, 2 or 6).
The castle is also on the route for the Hiroshima sightseeing loop bus, Meipuru-pu, which starts from Hiroshima Station and departs three times per hour. You can use your Suica Card on the local public transport in and around Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Station to Hiroshima Castle by bus also takes about 10 minutes to Kamiyacho or Motomachi then a 2 minute walk.
THE BACKPACKING HOUSEWIFE RECOMMEDS USING BOOKING DOTCOM
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