Hiroshima is one of the top destinations of Japan, with a vibrant local culture and wide variety of tourism highlights, and this only gets better for Japan Rail Pass holders. Hiroshima is unique in that it has a special sightseeing bus, ferry and city rail lines that are all included in the pass. Not only that, due to its location, the city is a great base for many fun day trips. In this post, we’ll explore the best expert tips to maximize the value of Japan Rail Pass when visiting.
Value tip number 1: Visiting in the first place
Hiroshima is located in the south-west of Japan's main island and is a considerable distance from the capital of Tokyo. That means some travel is required to get there, not to worry though, as Hiroshima is conveniently located on the high-speed Shinkansen network with direct connections to cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka and that’s exactly why it’s a must-visit with the Japan Rail Pass. Having a look at Shinkansen fares, a typical return ticket Tokyo - Hiroshima will cost ¥ 38,480, that’s already more than the cost of a full 7-day Japan Rail Pass at just ¥29,650. Even if you’re already a bit closer, a return ticket from Kyoto - Hiroshima is ¥22,840, which could be done as a day trip. The additional cost of using a JR Pass on either of these routes is zero, and that’s just where the savings start!
Value tip number 2: Riding the tourist bus in Hiroshima
Uniquely to Hiroshima, the city operates a variety of sightseeing buses around the city that are entirely covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The stops are at many of the important sightseeing spots, including the A-Bomb dome, Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima castle, Hachobori (downtown) and Hiroshima station. The bus departs conveniently from the backside of Hiroshima station, all you have to do is show your pass to the driver when boarding. A normal fare is ¥200 per ride, which certainly adds up when sightseeing for a full day.
Value tip number 3: Riding the ferry to the iconic Miyajima island
Look at any guidebook for Japan and the floating torii-gate of Miyajima is there. A visit to the island is a lot of fun. Visit Itsukushima shrine, feed the roaming deer, take the cable car up Miyajima mountain or explore one of the many hiking trails. Then finish the day by trying some local foods on offer. For more information, see our full guide to Miyajima.
Using the Japan Rail Pass, travel to Miyajima is fully covered! First take a local train from Hiroshima station to Miyajima-guchi, from there it is a 5-minute walk to the JR Ferry to the island. A local train return ticket normally costs ¥840, while the ferry is ¥360 for a return.
Value tip number 4: Going on side trips
Hiroshima is perfectly located to explore the Sanyo area, with some of the best hidden gems Japan has to offer. Think of the old castle town of Iwakuni, try authentic Ramen in Onomichi or visit Tomonoura, the town that inspired the Ghibli film Ponyo on the cliffs.
Train fares start at ¥1,540 for a return trip to Iwakuni, ¥7,220 for Onomichi and ¥9,680 (+ ¥1,120 bus fare, not included) for Tomonoura. All train fares are covered by the pass.
Value tip number 5: Local trains
There are many local JR lines running through Hiroshima, these include the JR Sanyo Main line, Geibi Line, Kabe Line and Kure Line. It goes without saying that all of these are included and can be a big help getting around greater Hiroshima. We recommend using our JR Railway map to get a feel for lines and their layout, which will help maximize your savings. Hotels outside the city centre generally are considerably cheaper as well, and getting a hotel close to a local station will help you save on lodging without adding extra transport costs.
For more information on the best places to visit in Hiroshima, read our Hiroshima Destination guide.