BUDGET TRAVELER’S DAY IN HIROSHIMA
Hiroshima is a city with an interesting but horrifying history and it should be on every traveler’s visit list. Thanks to good and fast train connections, traveling inside Japan is convenient and easy. Hiroshima is reachable by train only in five hours from Tokyo. The most common way to travel around the country is to buy the JR Railway Pass before coming to Japan.
If you want to cut your budget even more though, there is an alternative way to get to Hiroshima – by hitchhiking. We used this method and it didn’t cost us anything but allowed us to meet interesting and friendly locals on the way. Whatever mode of transport you decide to use, once you get to Hiroshima there is a lot of stuff to do for free or for a reasonable price. Even though Japan is known as a pricey travel destination, it is possible to explore the country on a budget and still get the most out of it. Hiroshima is not an exception in this.
Moving around the city
In Hiroshima, the city center and the main sights are located in a relatively compact area. You can forget about the trams and explore the city on foot! Another good option is to rent a bike for a day. There are several rental spots around the center and railway station.
Budget Accommodation in The Evergreen Hostel
For us The Evergreen Hostel was an obvious choice for the accommodation as it is budget-friendly and located right next to the most important sightseeing spots. When we arrived in Hiroshima, we went to check-in to the hostel right away. For our pleasant surprise, we were greeted with a warm and nice atmosphere and smiling people. We instantly felt like home and spend a nice evening in the common room, drinking tea and chatting. Next day it was time to find out how the budget traveler’s day in Hiroshima looks like so we hit the sack early.
After a good night’s sleep and a hot shower, it is important to fuel up for the coming day. Preparing the food yourself from time to time can save many yen. The hostel has a well-equipped kitchen and the closest supermarket is only two blocks away, so cooking is made easy. Today’s breakfast is french toast with banana and a cup of free coffee – a perfect way to start the day.
Peace Memorial Park
After only five-minute walk from the hostel, we find ourselves in the most important place to visit in Hiroshima. The Peace Memorial Park is full of history and memorial statues. It reminds us of the atomic bomb attack that happened here on 6th of August, 1945. The weather is beautiful but the thought about the terrifying events brings a shadow on the sunny day. The atmosphere in the park is peaceful even though there are many tourists and school kids around. The people seem to respect the memory of the lost people.
We see the Peace Bell, Children’s Peace Monument and The Senotaph. On the other side of the river there is the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings that wasn’t completely destroyed in the bomb attack. Only less than 200 meters from this building, located on a small street, there is a plaque indicating the Ground Zero. The bomb exploded in 600 meters’ height exactly above this point. We return to the park, follow the folks and enter the Peace Memorial Museum. This is definitely a must place to visit for everyone who comes to Hiroshima. The museum is full of interesting information and going trough the place takes about one or two hours.
Walking around the park: free
Peace Memorial Museum: 200 yen
Hiroshima Castle, Central Park and Japanese Garden
After the interesting and sad experience in the A-bomb museum, it is good to calm the mind a bit and see something else. By following the riverside to the north, you soon reach the Central Park of Hiroshima where you can walk around and see a small temple. Hiroshima castle area can also be explored for free. You only have to pay if you want to enter the castle. On a sunny day the castle park is a nice place to rest and have some snack. If you haven’t seen enough green by now, continue a few more blocks to east and you will find a Japanese garden Shukkeien.
Exploring the park and castle area: free
Entering the castle: 360 yen
Shukkeien garden: 260 yen
People Watching and Okonomiyaki Heaven
Wandering around the city center and observing the people doesn’t cost anything. The lively streets are full of tax-free shops, restaurants and busy businessmen rushing somewhere. The most famous local food in Hiroshima is okonomiyaki, the Japanese version of omelet. In Okonomimura, you can find numerous restaurants in three floors serving the dish. For a serious budget traveler, these places might be a bit beyond the budget though.
We decided to go for a cheaper option and try the recommended okonomiyaki restaurant Tekka right next to the hostel. The dining table has a built-in hot plate that keeps the food warm. Eating okonomiyaki steaming hot with a special spatula is an interesting experience indeed! We order one okonomiyaki with extra noodles and squid. The portion size is huge and definitely enough to be shared between two people.
Okonomiyaki in Tekka: 850 yen for two persons
Night Out in Hiroshima
After taking a small rest and a cup of coffee in the hostel, it is time to find out what Hiroshima has to offer in the evening. From November to January, there is a beautiful illumination show set up in Peace Boulevard. Different shapes built from thousands of lights look incredible in the dark.
A good place to have a drink after the long sightseeing day is the Nagarekawa district. The area is known for its nightlife and has bars and clubs for every taste. For a reasonably priced drink, choose a standing bar, tachinomi, and avoid paying sneaky seating charges. You can always ask the locals where to find the closest one. After a couple of drinks, you will definitely be ready to sleep!