Ten Best Things to do for Free in Hiroshima

Ten Best Things to do for Free in Hiroshima

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William P. White

Most things that we do outside of our home in life come with a cost of some sort; usually money (but also in such commodities as time, effort, etc.).  It is typically the financial costs that we tend to consider most when we want to go out and about and travel outside our homes.  Whenever we want to go somewhere, we normally have to calculate the costs of travel, food, and entry fees to places we want to visit to see if it is within our budget.  We simply have come to expect that when we go out that we will usually have to pay some type of fee to do things that interest us.  

This does actually not have to be the case for many things we wish to do, if we use our imagination and resources to find places that are open at no financial cost to us (although time and effort may have to be spent).  There are so many things to do in the Hiroshima area that are completely cost free to the public.  We just have to search, and we can come up with many things to do, that will not cost you any money.  I will attempt here to list a few of my own that interest me, but please know that there are many more that I will not be able to list here in this article.  This is just a starting point for those interested in getting out and exploring the wonders that Hiroshima offers. 

Most of these things on this list involve being in and around nature, but there are some other locations that offer interesting options to explore when looking to find a cost free day exploring the city of Hiroshima. 


  1. 01. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
  2. 02. Miyajima
  3. 03. Hiroshima City Central Library
  4. 04. Saijo Sake Street
  5. 05. Hiroshima Castle
  6. 06. Onomichi
  7. 07. Hijiyama Park
  8. 08. Downtown Wal
  9. 09. Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) Kure Museum
  10. 10. Mitaki Temple
  11. 11. Moment of Joy

What Day?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Perhaps the most obvious and best known location in the city of Hiroshima is the Peace Memorial Park located in the center of the city.  This park was once a busy commercial and residential district during World War II.  It is now a sprawling area covered with monuments, museums, and remnants of days past during a dark time in Japanese history. 


There are many areas of the park that one can visit that offer simple views of nature, and a peaceful place to relax and reflect on things if you so desire.  You can take a leisurely stroll around the park, stopping at various locations to admire the scenery, or observe the art and designs created for the park.  You can ring the peace bell; you can sit by the fountains or river that runs through the park; visit the artwork in the center of the park done by various local artists; or take a glance at the paper cranes created by Japanese children to offer peace to all who stop by in remembrance of the victims of the past.


The main attraction of this park is its serenity.  Anybody can stop by and just sit and read, relax, sleep on the grass, or just walk around enjoying the natural surroundings.

I have visited many times, and each time I discover something new.  The only thing you need to bring with you on a visit here are your thoughts and feelings.  Everything else is free.  I highly suggest that you stop by occasionally to experience the strong feeling of peace and serenity that this location emits.  Millions visit every year: both locals and travelers.  It never disappoints!  


A link to the park area is here:  https://visithiroshima.net/world_heritage/a_bomb_dome/  


Another favorite place of mine (and many others) is Miyajima Island, which is located around 30 minutes by train and car from Hiroshima.  This place is well worth the visit.  It is a walker’s delight with so much to see on a stroll in the area.  Once there you will see local deer roaming the ferry area and all surrounding areas.  They are docile, but direct.  They want you to feed them.  Most people just blend in with them and they give you an instant emotional attachment to nature.

Upon entering the island and moving to your right, you will see Itsukushima Shrine.  This shrine is around 1500 years old and one of the more sacred in Japan.  You will also see the large torii gate in the water that has become one of the symbols of the island and of Japan itself.  It is stunning to look at and impressive in its scope.  The Itsukushima Shrine is also a wonder to behold.  There is a fee to enter, but you can get great views and photos from the surrounding area if you like.  There is so much to see all around that something will surely catch your interest.  

You can also climb up to the local temple, called Daisho-in Temple, built in 806.  It sits on the top of a hill that offers wonderful views of the bay and surrounding cities.  You can climb the staircase to the temple, and take in the stunning views of Miyajima from up high.  There is a fee to enter the temple, but you can wander around the area for free.  There are also plenty of hiking trails in and around the temple area.  You can look around to explore them.  Certainly one may tempt you to traverse it.


Basically, the Miyajima area invites you to commune with nature for a day as you may be tempted by the shops and attractions within your view.  But looking is free of course!  But the further you get away from the center of the town, the quieter and more peaceful it becomes, and you are invited by nature to freely roam about the area in solitude.  I generally like to read and meditate in this area when time allows.

A visit to Miyajima does not need to cost anything if you decide to wander the island and experience all it has to offer from nature.  The simple beauty of the island is a sight to behold.  Please consider a trip here if you want to experience the wonder of Japan and the Hiroshima area.  It is free to look at and wander around.  Just try to steer clear of the commercial aspects of the island.  This place is a must see in my estimation!

Miyajima web link is at:  https://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/

Hiroshima City Central Library

If a day of peace and quiet mixed with knowledge and information strikes your fancy, you may want to visit the Hiroshima City Central Library located in Motomachi Nakaku.  The library offers numerous books, magazines, and newspapers for free to borrow or check out.  You can sign up for a free library card and use the library anytime you wish.  They have an English language website at https://www.library.city.hiroshima.jp/english/ which allows you to search online for books in your language that you may wish to use or check out.


They have books and materials in English, Chinese, Korean, German, and French.  So there is something for a wide variety of outsiders living in Hiroshima.  There are 13 libraries in the Hiroshima Library system; and each is available to library card holders.  The English web link above lists them and their locations.

If you do not wish to travel too far in and around Hiroshima, and possibly indoor peace and quiet are what you are looking for, then a visit to the library might be on your list.  I have always liked libraries.  They offer solitude, knowledge, and discovery all in the same area.  If you want to find a way to relax, learn, and turn to your introspective self, then maybe the Hiroshima City Library can take you to places in your mind from the pages of other minds that you will find on the shelves!


Saijo Sake Street

If you want to visit the past while enjoying the present, I suggest a stroll down Saijo Sake Street in eastern Hiroshima.  I have visited here a few times, and it never disappoints.  You feel like you have been transported back in time when samurai roamed the area.  The buildings are a mixture of traditional old-style Japanese along with modern apartments and stores.  A nice blend of then and now for those with an interest in exploring various aspects of Japanese culture.  

There are 7 breweries on this street and most offer tours and free sake tasting on certain days.  The street is not too big, and there are many other sights in and around the area to view.  Again, as with most locations you want to visit, it is free to roam and observe and take photos.  There is so much to offer in each sake brewery alone for sights, sounds, and taste (if you wish to partake of the local liquid offerings).  Saijo is well-known inside and outside the Hiroshima area.  It offers a taste of the flavor of Japan in both its local products and its cultural aspects.  High on my list if you have an interest in exploring.

The weblink for this area is:  http://saijosake.com/

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle was originally built in 1591 sometime just before the Edo Era.  It was destroyed during the WWII Atomic Bomb on 6 August 1945, and then rebuilt in 1958.  

Like samurai and sake, castles just seem to be a traditional part of Japanese culture.  They are all over the country and some are more impressive than others.  Hiroshima Castle is one that seems typical of the era in which it was built, and has surrounding gardens and a moat.  You do not need to enter the castle to experience its beauty and splendor.  There are signs (in Japanese and English) with descriptions of the architecture and structure of the building, as well as the landscape and history of the castle.  It is a perfect place to peacefully transport yourself back in time while sitting in the center of the metropolis of Hiroshima.  A great place to wander and take photos, or sit and read while eating lunch.  

If you have some free time, and just want to experience nature, architecture, and history, then please consider going to this area to view the castle and its surroundings; just sitting down and relaxing there can take you to unknown places in your mind.  It takes you back in time, and gives you a blend of history and culture all for the price of walking the grounds!

The web link is:  http://www.jcastle.info/view/Hiroshima_Castle



Onomichi is located on a hill near the port of Hiroshima along the Seto Inland Sea in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture.  The town has bridges that connect to various small islands and well as ferries to take you across this area.  The area is known for a well-known temple walk that connects 25 separate temples; with Joudo-Ji Temple as one of the more famous ones along the route.  There are hiking trails that will take you to the top of Mount Senkouji, where the park there has fabulous views of spring cherry blossoms.

The temple walk route is about 2.5 kilometers long, and can take anywhere from 2 hours to a whole day depending on how much time you wish to visit each temple.  There are many other attractions along the way to view as you walk amongst Japan’s long and storied buddhist heritage.

A visit to Onomichi is characterized by nature, religion, and spirituality.  There is much to see and do in this small town.  Just enter the city limits and you can just wander around freely without a care in the world.  This is a place that one must visit if you live in Hiroshima.  So much to see and do, and it will not cost anything except your time.

Hijiyama Park

A true gem of a location within the center of the city of Hiroshima.  It is a short walk up the cherry blossom lined street with outstanding panoramic views of all of Hiroshima.  There are also park benches along the path to the park that offer a time to rest or just sit and enjoy the surroundings.  The park at the top of the hill is ideal for relaxing and eating a small meal, or just sitting and chatting, or even solitude and reflection if that is what you need.  

This park is so peaceful and quiet.  You can even visit the free Manga Museum located in the park.  They have English language manga as well as thousands of Japanese manga and magazines and periodicals. 

There is also The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art on the hill that has sculptures in the yard along with some other exhibits.  No need to enter the museum if you do not want to pay the entry fee.  You can just roam the grounds and take in the art and surrounding views of the city from the top of the hill.

This park is near a tram stop and about a 10-minute walk to the top of the hill.  It seems hidden, but it is there if you look.  Well worth a visit if you just want to get away for a few hours and discover a bit about yourself!

The web link is:  https://www.trip.com/travel-guide/kure/hijiyama-park-18105649/

Downtown Wal

A simple, yet enjoyable way to enjoy something for free in Hiroshima is to just walk around the city for a day, and forgoing public transportation altogether.


There are many routes to take by just starting from Hiroshima Station with a guide map, or using your cell phone and Google Maps.  You will have to plan the route yourself, but the tourist information center outside Hiroshima Station offers English maps with a variety of tourist sites listed; so you can create your own route.  Most desired visitors spots are accessible by walking within a 15-20 minute time frame and then moving on to the next site on your list.  You can wander from parks and gardens to castles and shopping areas.


Most tourist spots are easily recognizable and easy to find.  I will not list a route for you since everybody has different tastes, but the web link below does offer some suggestions that may help.  That being said, if I may, I would recommend two locations that would make my list:  Hondori Shopping Street and Kinokuniya Book Store.  Both are located nearby each other.  One has a multitude of shops to browse as well as the sights and sounds of Japanese life that passes by you with each step you take.  Great offerings of food, clothing, and other shops to browse as you walk along.


The other is the bookstore on the six floor of Aqua Hiroshima Center Street in Motomachi.  Unfortunately, there is no English web link available.  So you will have to track and locate on your own.  Kinokuniya has an English book section at the back of the store, and there is also a Starbucks on the premises to sit and read while enjoying a beverage.  Browsing the English book section could result in a serendipitous find of a book you have been searching for but could never find!


You can find some examples of walks at the GPSMYCITY web link:  https://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/hiroshima-2288.html

Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) Kure Museum

The JMSDF Kure Museum is a naval exhibit of the history of Japanese submarines and minesweeping vessels.  This museum tries to promote a more clearer understanding of the JMSDF role in carrying out the protection of the nation, as well as the formation and use of naval forces throughout Japanese history using submarines and minesweeping ships.  It shows the history of the JMSDF and the historical relationship between the naval armed forces of Japan and the city of Kure.

There is an exhibit of a recently decommissioned JMSDF submarine; and offers explanations of the current status of both submarines and minesweepers.  Visitors are given the opportunity to go inside the decommissioned submarine to experience what it must be like to live and work on such a vessel; this is a great opportunity for civilians to see up close what the Japanese Navy does to protect and serve their fellow citizens and the nation.

This cost of entry to this museum is completely free.  The travel time from Hiroshima to Kure is about 45 minutes, but the museum is well worth it.  If military history is of interest to you, then consider a visit to this museum.

The weblink is:  https://www.jmsdf-kure-museum.go.jp/en/

Mitaki Temple

Mitaki Temple, built in 809,  is located on Mitaki Mountain and is about 4km from downtown Hiroshima.  If you are up for it, you can walk it in less than an hour.  It has an atmosphere all its own with waterfalls, Jizo statues (with red bibs), and hiking trails with nature in abundance.  It has an indescribable and special feeling as you walk around it. 

You have a sense of walking back in time with just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of downtown Hiroshima. 


It has cherry trees leading up to the temple which make for great viewing in the spring, and in the fall its changing leaves burn red and other autumn style colors.  Both seasons are a must see if you live in Hiroshima.  The photography of this area is well known.

The hiking in this area is outstanding and offers wonderful views of nature and its surroundings such as a bamboo forest. 

There is also a small, delightful teahouse in the temple ground area that serves basic Japanese foods and sweets.  You can sit both inside or outside.

If you want to experience hiking in the Hiroshima area, I highly recommend this place.  It is a true joy to experience.

The GetHiroshima.com web link provides some English info at: http://gethiroshima.com/museums-attractions/mitaki-temple/


Moment of Joy

Simple and straightforward, my moment of joy was just walking into Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park.  Many people get a sensation upon first sighting the park and knowing its history.  I was just overcome with a strong wave of emotion, and knew that I was in the right place at the right time – for me at least!  Nature has a way of drawing out our own recognition of our natural surroundings.  The Peace Park had that natural effect on me!


All locations and experiences above are designed to get the visitor out and about in and around the city of Hiroshima; and for free is possible.  When we think of doing something for free, we usually think of financial costs; and this is a definite consideration.  It appears near impossible to find free things to do anywhere nowadays, but exploring, walking, reading, etc. will always top the list of free things to do in my opinion.


These ten items on the list offer you a free experience that can actually add to your personal value rather than have you spend your hard earned money for the chance to do something.  I hope you can see some of  these things and invite a variety of encounters that may add to your pleasurable experiences in your life.