Bushbaby Travel: Inspiring travel for life
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Hiroshima & Miyajima, Japan

Hiroshima, western Honshu’s largest city, needs little introduction. Its name will forever bring to mind thoughts of August 6 1945, and the devastating effects of the atomic bomb attack. Millions of people visit the Peace Memorial Park every year to pay their respects to the victims. And yet, despite being indelibly scarred, Hiroshima is also thriving, with a warm-hearted, internationally-minded community. Bigger and brighter than ever before, a visit here is an important reminder of the power of life over destruction.

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Older children will be moved by a visit to the Peace Park with its central pond and cenotaph inscribed with the names of all the known victims of the bomb. Spot paper cranes – symbols of longevity and happiness – at the Children’s Peace Monument, and gaze up at the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the starkest reminders of the destruction and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You could set out with your brood to explore the city on two wheels – cycling through its parks and along the riverside to the suburbs is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, and will keep active children happy. Wander through Shukkeien park and feed the koi fish in its island-dotted pond, then catch an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which features large-scale installations, videos and a sculpture garden. The Magna Library is a must if your children are fans of the Japanese comics. Feeling hungry? The city is teeming with cafes and restaurants serving Hiroshima’s specialities – oysters and “okonomiyaki” (a type of savoury pancake).

Positioned on the coast, Hiroshima is also the jumping-off point for several islands, including Miyajima (reached in around 40 minutes via train and ferry). The star attraction of this World Heritage Site is its vermilion torii (shrine gate) of Itsukushima-jinja, which seems to float on the water at high tide.

Miyajima is also a good place to get active. Grab paddles and kayak beneath the torii (organised tours are available through Paddle Park). There are some good hikes on Misen, a sacred mountain and Miyajima’s highest peak (530m). Enjoy a family trek through forest and up to the summit, where you can relax on wooden platforms with a 360-degree view across to the mountains of Shikoku. If you’re short on time or are travelling with small children, you can skip most of the uphill climb by taking a two-stage rope-way, which leaves you with just a half-hour walk to the observatory at the top.

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