Hiroshima Castle (Hiroshima-jo, 広島城), also known as the Carp Castle, was originally built in 1589 by feudal lord Mori Terumoto, one of the Five Elders appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Following 1600's Battle of Sekigahara and Mori's retreat to Hagi, Hiroshima Castle came to be run by the Fukushima clan and later the Asano clan through the Edo Period. Whilst surviving the fate of many castles dismantled during the Meiji Restoration, Hiroshima's original castle—designated a National Treasure in 1931—was ultimately destroyed in the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The current castle is a 1958 concrete reconstruction of the timber-built original.
The castle grounds comprise a number of unique sites to discover alongside the towering black five-storey keep, which houses a modern-day museum. A number of ruins can be seen across the castle grounds, including towers, gates, the Imperial General Headquarters from 1894-95, and the main tower's original location prior to its reconstruction and move to the north-west corner. The ruins of a war office communication bunker, where the first radio broadcast was made following the 1945 attack, can also be visited as well as a number of trees that survived that fateful day. In the south-west corner of the Honmaru (main compound) lies Hiroshima's Gokoku Shrine, with the Ninomaru (defensive compound) further to the south, proudly displaying restored gates, bridges and turrets.
Inside the keep, the museum showcases four floors of exhibits, with a fifth floor observation platform at the top offering panoramic views of Hiroshima's downtown area. A basic English guide service is available.
– The first floor explores Hiroshima Castle's history, its defensive traits and its role in feudal Japan.
– The second floor explores the castle town's life and culture, and what samurai lifestyles were like.
– The third floor houses weapons and armour exhibits (try on some 16th-century military samurai armour!)
– The fourth floor displaying special exhibits related to Hiroshima's history and culture.
Outside, the castle grounds and moat make for a pleasant walk—especially during the cherry blossom season—and is popular with joggers. The inner moat here is the only to survive of the original three, which were also fortified by the natural defence provided by the Otagawa River.
Following its restoration, the castle's main keep now serves as a historical museum that covers four floors, with an observation deck on the fifth floor.
This secondary defensive compound sits off the southern side of the castle grounds along the moat. View the restored gates, bridges and turrets. Free admission. Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (Apr–Sept) or 16:30 (Oct–Mar)
In the evening, Hiroshima Castle can be seen lit up making for a beautiful sight and reflection in the surrounding moat.
Hiroshima Castle is about a 10-minute walk north from the downtown area, including Kencho-Mae Station (Astram Line) or Kamiyacho-higashi stop (Hiroden streetcar).
Meipuru-pu: sightseeing bus
The castle is also on the route for the Hiroshima sightseeing loop bus, Meipuru-pu, which starts from Hiroshima Station. The castle is a 6 minute ride and the second stop on the route.
The castle is about 10-15 minutes walk from both Peace Park and Shukkeien Garden. By foot, it can form part of an ideal day itinerary.
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