Japan


Japan destinations

about Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Traditional Culture

On the surface Japan appears exceedingly modern, but travelling around it offers numerous opportunities to connect with the country's traditional culture. Spend the night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), sleeping on futons and tatami mats, and padding through well-worn wooden halls to the bathhouse (or go one step further and sleep in an old farmhouse). Meditate with monks or learn how to whisk bitter matcha (powdered green tea) into a froth. From the splendour of a Kyoto geisha dance to the spare beauty of a Zen rock garden, Japan has the power to enthral even the most jaded traveller.

Food

Wherever you are in Japan, it seems, you're never far from a great meal. Restaurants often specialise in just one dish – perhaps having spent generations perfecting it – and pay close attention to every stage, from sourcing the freshest, local ingredients to assembling the dish attractively. And as you'll quickly discover, Japanese cuisine has great regional variations. The hearty hotpots of the mountains are, for example, dramatically different from the delicate sushi for which the coast is famous. It's also intensely seasonal, meaning you can visit at a different time of year and experience totally new tastes.

Outdoors

Japan is a long and slender, highly volcanic archipelago. It's over two-thirds mountains, with bubbling hot springs at every turn. In the warmer months there is excellent hiking, through cedar groves and fields of wildflowers, up to soaring peaks and ancient shrines (the latter founded by wandering ascetics). In the winter, all this is covered with snow and the skiing is world class. (And if you've never paired hiking or skiing with soaking in onsen, you don't know what you've been missing.) Meanwhile in the southern reaches, there are tropical beaches for sunning, snorkelling and diving.

Ease of Travel

Japan is incredibly easy to get around: you can do a whole trip using nothing but its immaculate, efficient public transport. The shinkansen (bullet train) network now runs all the way from the southern tip of Kyūshū (the southernmost of Japan's major islands) up to Hokkaidō (its northernmost), and reasonably priced rail passes make it affordable. Major cities have subway networks that are signposted in English and these days we're seeing and hearing more English all over. But if getting off the beaten track and outside your comfort zone is what you're after, you can have that experience, too.

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Yoking past and future, Tokyo dazzles with its traditional culture and passion for everything new.

Infinite Possibilities

More than any one sight, it's the city itself that enchants visitors. It's a sprawling, organic thing, stretching as far as the eye can see. Always changing, and with a diverse collection of neighbourhoods, no two experiences of the city are ever the same. Some neighbourhoods feel like a vision from the future, with ever taller, sleeker structures popping up each year; others evoke the past with low-slung wooden buildings and glowing lanterns radiating surprising warmth; elsewhere, drab concrete blocks hide art galleries and cocktail bars and every lane hints at possible discoveries.

Art & Culture

In Tokyo you can experience the whole breadth of Japanese arts and culture. Centuries-old forms of performing arts still play on stages and sumo tournaments still draw crowds; every spring, Tokyoites head outside to appreciate the cherry blossoms – a tradition older than the city itself. There are museums covering every era of Japanese art history and also ones that focus on the contemporary – challenging the old distinctions between art with a capital A, pop culture and technology. But there's a playful side to all this, too: Tokyo is, after all, a city whose public artworks include a scale model of an anime robot.

Tokyo's Food Scene

When it comes to Tokyo superlatives, the city's food scene tops the list. But we're not just talking about the famous restaurants and the celebrity chefs: what Tokyo excels at is consistency across the board. Wherever you are, you're usually within 100m of a good, if not great, restaurant. It's a scene that careens nonchalantly between the highs and lows: it's not unusual for a top-class sushi restaurant to share the same block as an oil-spattered noodle joint, and for both to be equally adored. Tokyoites love dining out; join them, and delight in the sheer variety of tastes and experiences the city has to offer.

Convenience Factor

Tokyo can seem daunting at first: the subway map – a tangle of intersecting lines – is often compared to a bowl of noodles. But once you get out there, you'll be surprised how easy it is to navigate. That subway can take you everywhere you want to go; trains are frequent (though sometimes uncomfortably crowded) and almost always on time, and stations are well-signposted in English. That's not to say you won't occasionally find yourself frustratingly disorientated, but locals are generally eager to help you get back on track.

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Sights

Generally speaking, Tokyo can be divided into central, east and west. The Imperial Palace is in the centre of the city; nearby sights include the kabuki theatre Kabuki-za, in Ginza, and Tsukiji Market, in Tsukiji. The eastern part of the city, around the Sumida-gawa, is often thought of as the old city. Major sightseeing centres here include Ueno, where the Tokyo National Museum is located, and Asakusa, home to the ancient temple, Sensō-ji. The west side, including neighbourhoods like Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya, has more contemporary development. This is where you'll find the streetscapes that have become synonymous with modern Tokyo, aglow with colourful signs and giant video screens, skyscrapers, and attractions like Shibuya Crossing. On and around Tokyo Bay is the city that is still being built: islands of reclaimed land that host leisure and entertainment facilities, the new wholesale market on Toyosu, and many venues for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Sleeping

As in any major city, accommodations will take up a major chunk of your Tokyo budget. But here's the good news: there are plenty of attractive budget and midrange options, and levels of cleanliness and service are generally high everywhere. You can play it safe with a standard hotel or change it up with a more local option, like a ryokan (traditional inn with Japanese-style bedding) or a capsule hotel.

Eating

As visitors to Tokyo quickly discover, the people here are absolutely obsessed with food. The city has a vibrant and cosmopolitan dining scene and a strong culture of eating out – popular restaurants are packed most nights of the week. Best of all, you can get superlative meals on any budget.

Drinking & Nightlife

Make like Lady Gaga in a karaoke box; sip sake with an increasingly rosy salaryman in a tiny postwar bar; or dance under the rays of the rising sun at an enormous bayside club: that’s nightlife, Tokyo style. The city's drinking culture embraces everything from refined teahouses and indie coffee shops to craft-beer pubs and maid cafes.

Entertainment

Běijīng is the cultural capital of China and by far the best place to be if you’re interested in seeing anything from ballet and contemporary dance, to jazz or punk bands. Then there are the traditional local pastimes such as Peking opera (jīngjù) and acrobatic shows, as well as movies, theatre and Běijīng’s various sports teams.

Shopping

Tokyo's range of entertainment is impressive. Take your pick from smoky jazz bars, grand theatres, rockin’ live houses, comedy shows and major sports events. And don't be afraid to sample the traditional performing arts: the major venues that stage these shows will offer earphones or subtitles with an English translation of the plots and dramatic dialogue.

Activities

Tokyo has more English-language courses and tours than ever before. Traditional crafts workshops and cooking courses offer a chance to engage with Japanese culture – and they also get you talking to the savvy locals who run these courses. Outdoor activities – like cycling, kayaking and go-karting – promise an unconventional way to experience the city.

Travel with Children

Tokyo is a parent’s dream: clean, safe and with every mod con. Though crowds can be overwhelming and many top attractions won't appeal to younger ones, there are plenty of sights and activities that will. Odaiba and Tokyo Dome City (in Kōrakuen) are two areas designed especially for families.

LGBT Travellers

Gay and lesbian travellers are unlikely to encounter problems in Tokyo. There are no legal restraints on same-sex sexual activities in Japan, apart from the usual age restrictions. Outright discrimination is unusual; however, travellers have reported being turned away or grossly overcharged when checking into love hotels with a partner of the same sex. Such discrimination is illegal, but is rarely litigated. One thing to keep in mind: Japanese people, regardless of their sexual orientation, do not typically engage in public displays of affection. Tokyo has made great strides in the past couple of years towards openness and acceptance; still, many LGBT people remain fearful of the potential social and economic ramifications of living publicly out – outside of safe spaces like Shinjuku-nichōme ('Nichōme' for short), the city's largest and liveliest gay quarter.

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Kyoto is old Japan writ large: atmospheric temples, sublime gardens, traditional teahouses and geisha scurrying to secret liaisons.

Japan's Spiritual Heart

This is a city of some 2000 temples and shrines: a city of true masterpieces of religious architecture, such as the retina-burning splendour of Kinkaku-ji (the famed Golden Pavilion) and the cavernous expanse of Higashi Hongan-ji. It's where robed monks shuffle between temple buildings, prayer chants resonate through stunning Zen gardens, and the faithful meditate on tatami-mat floors. Even as the modern city buzzes and shifts all around, a waft of burning incense, or the sight of a bright vermillion torii gate marking a shrine entrance, are regular reminders that Kyoto remains the spiritual heart of Japan.

A Trip for the Tastebuds

Few cities of this size pack such a punch when it comes to their culinary cred, and at its heart is Nishiki Market ('Kyoto's kitchen'). Kyoto is crammed with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants, chic cocktail bars, cool cafes and sushi spots to food halls, izakaya (Japanese pub-eateries), craft-beer bars and old-school noodle joints. Splurge on the impossibly refined cuisine known as kaiseki while gazing over your private garden, taste the most delicate tempura in a traditional building, slurp down steaming bowls of ramen elbow-to-elbow with locals, then slip into a sugar coma from a towering matcha (powdered green tea) sundae.

A City of Artisans

While the rest of Japan has adopted modernity with abandon, the old ways are still clinging on in Kyoto. With its roots as the cultural capital of the country, it's no surprise that many traditional arts and crafts are kept alive by artisans from generation to generation. Wander the streets downtown, through historic Gion and past machiya (traditional Japanese townhouses) in the Nishijin textile district to find ancient speciality shops from tofu sellers, washi (Japanese handmade paper) and tea merchants, to exquisite lacquerware, handcrafted copper chazutsu (tea canisters) and indigo-dyed noren (hanging curtains).

Cultural Encounters

If you don't know your matcha (powdered green tea) from your manga (Japanese comic), have never slept on a futon or had a bath with naked strangers, then it doesn't matter as this is the place to immerse yourself in the intricacies of Japanese culture. Whether you watch matcha being whisked in a traditional tea ceremony, spend the night in a ryokan, get your gear off and soak in an onsen, join a raucous hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) party or discover the art of Japanese cooking – you'll come away one step closer to understanding the unique Japanese way of life.

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Sights

Transport to Hiei-zan & Enryaku-ji

Bus/Cable Car Take Kyoto bus (not Kyoto City bus) 17 or 18, which runs from Kyoto Station to the Yase-eki-mae stop (¥390, about 50 minutes). From there it’s a short walk to the cable-car station from where you can complete the journey.

Direct Bus If you want to save money (by avoiding both the cable car and funicular), there are direct Kyoto buses from Kyoto and Keihan Sanjō stations to Hiei Sancho bus stop for the summit (both ¥820) or to the Enryakuji Bus Centre for the Tōtō section (both ¥770). It takes about 70 minutes from Kyoto Station and 60 minutes from Keihan Sanjō Station to Hiei Sancho.

Train Take the Keihan line north to the last stop, Demachiyanagi, and change to the Yase-Hiezan-guchi–bound Eizan Dentetsu Eizan-line train (be careful not to board the Kurama-bound train that sometimes leaves from the same platform). Travel to the last stop, Yase-Hiezan-guchi (¥260; about 15 minutes from Demachiyanagi Station), then board the cable car (¥540, nine minutes) followed by the funicular (¥310, three minutes) to the peak, from where you can hike down to the temples or catch the shuttle bus. Note this cable-car/funicular route does not operate in winter. You can also access Enryaku-ji by the JR Kosei line from Kyoto Station to Heizan Sakamoto Station and then take a bus to the Sakamoto cable-car station, which runs year-round.

Feature: Day Trip to Miho Museum

Around an hour from Kyoto, the architectural masterpiece that is the Miho Museum is a great day trip from the city. The glass-and-marble IM Pei–designed main building sits in a tranquil forested spot close to the town of Shigaraki and is integrated into the natural surroundings. From the ticket office, the museum is accessed by walking through a long tunnel that opens into a gorge. The Japanese, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Chinese and South Asian artworks on display are from the Koyama family collection.

To get there, take the JR Tōkaido (Biwako) line from Kyoto Station to Ishiyama Station (¥240, 15 minutes), from where you take Teisan bus 150 to the museum (¥820, 50 minutes).

Sleeping

You’re spoiled for choice for accommodation in Kyoto. Choose from ryokan (traditional Japanese inns), luxury hotels, business hotels, chic boutique hotels, guesthouses, hostels and capsule hotels. A huge range of hotels and budget guesthouses are clustered around the Kyoto Station area, while the city's best ryokan can be found downtown, spread out in Higashiyama, and in the hills of Arashiyama.

Eating

Kyoto is one of the world’s great food cities. In fact, when you consider atmosphere, service and quality, it’s hard to think of a city where you get more bang for your dining buck. You can pretty much find a great dining option in any neighbourhood but the majority of the best spots are clustered downtown.

Drinking & Nightlife

Kyoto is a city with endless options for drinking, whether it's an expertly crafted single-origin coffee in a hipster cafe, a rich matcha (powdered green tea) at a traditional tearoom, carefully crafted cocktails and single malts in a sophisticated six-seater bar, or Japanese craft beer in a brewery.

Entertainment

If you’ve never seen the otherworldly spectacle of kabuki (stylised Japanese theatre) or the colourful extravagance of a geisha dance, you’ve come to the right place: Kyoto is the best city in Japan to enjoy traditional Japanese performing arts. In addition, you’ll find a lively music scene, plenty of cinemas and modern performances of all sorts.

Shopping

Kyoto has a fantastic variety of both traditional and modern shops. Most are located in the Downtown Kyoto area, making the city a very convenient place to shop. Whether you’re looking for fans, kimono and tea, or the latest electronics, hip fashion and ingenuous gadgets, Kyoto has plenty to offer.

Travel with Children

Kyoto is great for kids. The usual worries aren’t an issue in ultra-safe and spotless Japan. Your biggest challenge will be keeping your children entertained. The very things that many adults come to Kyoto to see (temples, gardens and shrines) can be a bit boring for kids.

LGBT Travellers

LGBT+ travellers are unlikely to encounter problems in Japan. There are no legal restraints on same-sex sexual activities here, apart from the usual age restrictions.

Outright discrimination is unusual; however, travellers have reported being turned away or grossly overcharged when checking into love hotels with a partner of the same sex. Such discrimination is illegal, but is rarely litigated.

One thing to keep in mind: Japanese people, regardless of their sexual orientation, do not typically engage in public displays of affection.

Tokyo has the largest gay and lesbian scene, centred around the neighbourhood Shinjuku-nichōme ('Nichōme' for short), followed by Osaka (centred in Dōyama-chō). Though there have been signs in recent years of growing acceptance, outside of these safe spaces many LGBT people in Japan remain fearful of the potential social and economic ramifications of living publicly out.

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If Kyoto was the city of the courtly nobility and Tokyo the city of the samurai, then Osaka (大阪) was the city of the merchant class. Osakans take pride in shedding the conservatism found elsewhere in Japan, and this spirited city – Japan's third-largest – is a place where people are a bit brasher and interactions are peppered with playful jabs.

It's not a pretty city in the conventional sense – though it does have a lovely river cutting through the centre – but it packs more colour than most; its acres of concrete are cloaked in dazzling neon billboards. The best way to get under its skin is by chowing down on local cuisine and enjoying a drink at an izakaya alongside good-humoured locals. The city's unofficial slogan is kuidaore ('eat until you drop'), and it seems that everyone is always out for a good meal – and a good time.

Sights

Kita

Kita (キタ; 'north') is the city's centre of gravity by day in office buildings, department stores and shopping complexes – plus the transit hubs of JR Osaka and Hankyū Umeda Stations (and the multiple train and subway lines converging here). While there are few great attractions here, there is plenty of big-city bustle both on street level and in the extensive network of underground passages below.

Naka-no-shima, Semba & Osaka-jō

South of Kita, sandwiched between the rivers Dōjima-gawa and Tosabori-gawa, the island of Naka-no-shima (中之島) is a pleasant oasis, with riverside walkways, art museums, early 20th-century architecture and the park, Naka-no-shima-kōen.

If you're coming from Kyoto, the Keihan line runs direct to Yodoyabashi Station; the island is a 15-minute walk south of JR Osaka Station.

Semba (船場), meaning 'ship's place', is the city's historic commercial district stretching along the southern bank of the Tosabori-gawa; there are some fashionable riverfront cafes here.

Minami

Minami (ミナミ; 'south'), which includes the neighbourhoods Namba, Shinsaibashi, Dōtombori and Amerika-Mura, is the funny man to Kita's straight man. It's here that you'll see the flashy neon signs and vibrant street life that you expect of Osaka. By day, Minami is primarily a shopping district; after dark, restaurants, bars, clubs and theatres take over.

Namba and Shinsaibashi subway stations, both on the Midō-suji line, are convenient for this area.

Tempōzan

Trudging through the urban morass of Kita or Minami, you could easily forget that Osaka is actually a port city. Remind yourself with a trip to Tempōzan (天保山), a bayside development with family-oriented attractions, including an excellent aquarium. Take the Chūō subway line to Osaka-kō Station, come down the stairs of exit 1 and walk towards the big wheel.

Banpaku-kinen-kōen & North Osaka

Banpaku-kinen-kōen, also called Senri Expo Park, was the site of the 1970 World Fair – the first such event to be held in Japan and a big moment for Osaka. Little remains of the (for the time) future-forward installations; today it's a sprawling park containing the city's best museum. Nearby, Japan's tallest Ferris wheel offers sweeping park views. Banpaku-kinen-kōen is a stop on the Osaka Monorail; the Midō-suji and Tanimachi subway lines intersect with the Osaka Monorail; so does the Hankyū Kyoto line.

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Sleeping

Osaka has plenty of accommodation in all budgets, including new luxury hotels, stylish hostels, capsule hotels, ryokan and guesthouses; at the midrange your best bet is a chain hotel. Check websites for discounted rates; expect prices to rise by 10% to 20% on weekends. Base yourself in Minami for access to a larger selection of bars, restaurants and shops, or in Kita for fast access to long-distance transport.

Eating

Osaka has a rich food culture that ranks as the number one reason to visit. It's most famous for its comfort food – dishes that are deep-fried or grilled and stuffed with delicacies including octopus and squid. You'll find great food at street counters, in train station basements and along shopping arcades, behind both graceful traditional facades and loud, over-the-top shopfronts.

Drinking & Nightlife

Osakans love to let loose: the city is teeming with izakaya, bars and nightclubs. Craft beer and coffee scenes are on the rise too; see the Osaka Craft Beer Map (www.facebook.com/osakacraftbeermap). In the summertime, rooftop beer gardens open atop department stores. Check Kansai Scene (www.kansaiscene.com) for nightclub information; English-speaking bartenders at pubs popular with expats are another good information source.

Shopping

Osaka is the biggest shopping destination in western Japan, with an overwhelming number of malls, department stores, shopping arcades, electronics dealers, boutiques and secondhand shops. More and more places are offering to waive the sales tax on purchases over ¥10,000. Look for signs in the window; passport is required. Flea markets take place every month at shrines and temples.

Orientation

Osaka is a gigantic, sprawling city of 223 sq km, but most visitors stay downtown, which is basically divided into two main areas. Kita (Japanese for 'north') contains the business and administrative core of Umeda, and the major transit hub of JR Osaka, Hankyū Umeda and their connected subway stations. Minami ('south') contains the bustling shopping and nightlife zones of Namba, Shinsaibashi, Amerika-mura and Dōtombori. Namba is the hub of two more major train stations, on the JR and private Nankai lines; Tennōji to the southeast, is served by JR and Kintetsu line trains. Osaka's extensive subway system connects them all.

The de facto dividing line between Kita and Minami is two rivers, Dōjima-gawa and Tosabori-gawa, and the island of Naka-no-shima. Osaka-jō (Osaka Castle) sits about 1km southeast of here. The bayside Tempōzan neighbourhood and Universal Studios are west of the city centre.

Fair warning: Osaka's larger stations can be disorienting, particularly Namba and the Umeda/JR Osaka Station area. Exits are often confusingly labelled, even for Japanese people, and English-language directional signage is lacking compared to similar stations in other big Japanese cities.

Adding to the confusion, shinkansen (bullet trains) don't stop at any of these hubs, but at Shin-Osaka Station, three subway stops (about five minutes) north of Umeda and JR Osaka Station on the Midō-suji line.

Travel with Children

Osaka is generally safe and clean, with a solid infrastructure, which makes travel with children reasonably easy. Restrooms in department stores, malls and major attractions have nappy (diaper) changing facilities (department stores also usually have nursing rooms). Supplies can be readily picked up at pharmacies and supermarkets. Crowded trains and streets do make prams a challenge, and may be overwhelming for little ones; you'll want to avoid riding trains and subways during peak commuting hours (7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm). Larger train and subway stations have elevators.

Many hostels offer family rooms, which is the most economical option; cots are available at larger hotels – assuming there's space in the room for it. In general, the larger the restaurant, the more kid-friendly it will be, with separate smoking and nonsmoking sections, booth seating and sometimes even a children's menu. Mall food courts, which usually have samples of food displayed out front, are another good choice.

Tweens and teens will likely appreciate the trendy shops, arcades and neon-lit streets of Shinsaibashi, Amerika-Mura and Dōtombori. River cruises and cycling tours can help keep things interesting. Amusing younger children is a greater task. The waterfront Tempōzan area, with Osaka Aquarium Kaiyūkan and the Giant Ferris Wheel, is designed with families in mind. At the Momofuku Andō Instant Ramen Museum kids can customise their own cup noodles. Universal Studios Japan is an obvious choice, though be aware that the attractions and entertainment are in Japanese. Osaka-jō, in addition to being a cool-looking castle, is surrounded by lawns where children can run around.

LGBT Travellers

Osaka is home to Japan's second-largest gay community (after Tokyo), though it's all but invisible outside of Dōyama-chō (堂山町) – the neighbourhood just east of JR Osaka Station, where gay and lesbian bars are clustered. That doesn't mean you can't be 'out' while travelling here – Japan has no laws that criminalise homosexuality and open discrimination is rare; however, public display of affection (between straight couples and family members too) is considered unusual in Japan.

Some gay and lesbian travellers report being turned away from love hotels; but there are always places happy to take your money too.

The bars of Dōyama-chō are typically super small with an atmosphere carefully cultivated by the 'master' or 'mama' running the show. Most, though not all, are welcoming of foreign travellers; Utopia Asia (www.utopia-asia.com/japnosak.htm), a good resource in general, has a list of friendly places on its Osaka page. Frenz Frenzy is popular with the foreign community – both men and women – and is a good place to start your exploration of the neighbourhood.

Osaka's pride festival, Rainbow Festa (www.rainbowfesta.org/), takes place in October.

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To most people, Hiroshima (広島) means just one thing. The city's name will forever evoke images of 6 August 1945, when Hiroshima became the target of the world's first atomic-bomb attack. Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park is a constant reminder of that day, and it attracts visitors from all over the world with its moving message of peace. And the leafy city, with its wide boulevards and laid-back friendliness, is far from a depressing place. Present-day Hiroshima is home to an ever-thriving cosmopolitan community, and it's worth spending a couple of nights here to experience the city at its vibrant best.

Sights

Worth a Trip: Sandan-kyō

Sandan-kyō (三段峡, Sandan Gorge) is an 11km ravine about 50km northwest of Hiroshima, within the Nishi-Chūgoku-Sanchi Quasi-National Park (西中国山地国定公園). A trail follows the flow of the Shibaki-gawa through the gorge, providing visitors with access to waterfalls, swimming holes, forests and fresh air. The hike is very popular in autumn, when the leaves change colour. Hiroshima tourist office has a hiking map in English.

A dozen buses a day run from the Hiroshima Bus Centre to Sandan-kyō – it's best to catch the one express service (¥1440, 80 minutes), which leaves Hiroshima just after 8am, returning at 3pm. The bus terminates at the southern end of the gorge.

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Sleeping

Hiroshima's accommodation is clustered around the station, near Peace Memorial Park, and along the main thoroughfares of Aioi-dōri and Heiwa-Ōdōri. The city is compact enough that, wherever you base yourself, you're never more than a short walk or tram ride away from the main sights. If you get stuck at the station without accommodation, try a private booth at Futaba@Cafe.

Eating

Hiroshima has an excellent range of Japanese and international eating options for all budgets, especially west of Peace Memorial Park and south of the Hon-dōri covered arcade. Many restaurants offer good-value set-lunch menus, and mall basements are budget-friendly. Hiroshima is famous for oysters and Hiroshima-yaki (noodle- and meat-layered okonomiyaki savoury pancakes). Breakfast options are limited to bakeries.

Drinking & Nightlife

Hiroshima is a great city for a weekend night out, with bars and pubs to suit whatever mood you're in. The city's main entertainment district is made up of hundreds of bars, restaurants and karaoke joints crowding the lanes between Aioi-dōri and Heiwa-Ōdōri in the city centre. Most places serve light meals or snacks, and some have live music.

Shopping

Browse the busy shop-filled Hon-dōri covered arcade for clothes and beauty products. Namiki-dōri is another shopping street, with a range of fashionable boutiques. Hiroshima also has branches of the big-name department stores, such as Tokyu Hands, packed with homewares, must-have gadgets, and gifts; and classy Mitsukoshi, with its designer labels and small basement-floor gourmet food hall and supermarket.

Orientation

Hiroshima's city centre, Peace Memorial Park, tram terminus and most sights are accessed from the south exit of the train station. The shinkansen entrance is on the north exit of the station; this is also where you board the Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus. An underground passageway links the two sides of the station.

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