I primarily used Hiroshima as a base for a long day trip to the town of Onomichi (which I’ll feature next week) but after I got back from that expedition I visited Hiroshima Castle. Originally constructed in the 1590s, this castle was part of a new wave of Japanese castles that were built down on the plains rather than on top of hills or mountains. The city of Hiroshima sprang up around the castle and it remained standing until the end of World War 2 when the castle, along with most of the rest of the city, was wiped out by the atomic bombing of August 6, 1945. Reconstruction of the castle began in the 1950s and some of the castle buildings were restored but much of the castle grounds are now a public park.
Near the castle’s southern gate one of the reconstructed walls is open to the public. Inside you can see what the interior of the castle’s buildings used to look like and there are exhibits detailing the castle’s construction.
Also nearby the southern gate I came across a cool miniature garden and there was an area where a bunch of tents were being set up. A food festival was going to be held at the castle but unfortunately it wasn’t going to happen until several days after I had left Hiroshima.
In the southwest corner of the castle is a Shinto shrine called Hiroshima Gokoku. The shrine is popular spot for New Years celebrations and rite of passage ceremonies for children. Hiroshima Gokoku used to be in a different part of the city but in 1965 it was rebuilt within the castle grounds.
Very close to the center of the castle you can find some foundation stones where a building used to stand. Towards the end of World War 2 the Japanese military used Hiroshima Castle as one of their headquarters and before the atomic bombing there was an administrative building here.
Hiroshima Castle’s main tower was rebuilt after the war and like many other castles in Japan it now houses a modern museum dedicated to the castle’s history. Photography is prohibited in most of the museum but I can show you this one shot of the bowls and plates that feudal lords would have dined with. The main tower is five stories tall and at the top you can step outside to get a view of the castle grounds and surrounding area. If you know where to look you can catch a glimpse of the A-Bomb Dome in the distance.
After finishing at the main tower I took a long walk around most of the castle’s moat. In its heyday Hiroshima Castle covered a larger land area and the moat we see today was actually the innermost of three moats that protected the castle. The trees at Hiroshima Castle were starting to change colors but it looked like it would be at least another week or two before they hit peak colors. Thankfully I still had quite a few weeks left in my journey across Japan, so I’d get to see peak autumn colors elsewhere.