Many places inspire and satisfy the cravings of experiencing things new. Few truly speak to open a dialogue with your soul. Because of its history, Hiroshima is one of them.
Hiroshima sometimes finds itself just missing the cut on itineraries due to it being a bit south from hugely popular Tokyo and Kyoto. While it doesn't have that big city life or famous, traditional themes that tend to draw people to the other two, Hiroshima is one of the more underrated spots in Japan that more people need to see.
Itsukushima shrine is one of my favorite Japanese temples and shrines as it's beautifully set right on the waterfront. It's actually on a separate island entirely, Miyajima, which has a bunch of other historical sights to see. The first thing to catch everyone's eye is the torii gate that sits in the water. The rest of the shrine is on the coastline, and due to the tides, the landscape of the shrine changes quite drastically from being surrounded by water to being able to walk out right under the gate.
Another sight I'd recommend is Senjogaku Hall which is only about 10 minutes away up the hillside.
Oh, and those famous deer walking around in Nara? They're all over Miyajima as well.
Of course the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is also a must see. It's one of the museums in the world that will give you a real sense of the tragedies of war. It was one of the most impactful memories of my first adult trip to Japan, and I strongly feel it should be on everyone's list. It speaks to the heart of any human being.
As you'd might imagine, due to bearing the brunt of the consequences, locals feel strongly against war and nuclear weapons here. On one of my visits to the museum, an older man was walking around handing out handmade paper airplanes with a colorful little origami crane on it - a message to visitors that we all need to work for peace.
Hiroshima people are pretty nice and laid back being that it's a smaller city. I've visited a few times and have always enjoyed my stay.
Hiroshima's most well known food is okonomiyaki, something like a Japanese pancake. While Osaka is also known for it, the difference with Hiroshima's is that it has a lot of noodles in it. Here's one place to check out:
While there are many okonomiyaki spots, Henkutsuya was a recommended one. It's an old, hole-in-the-wall type of place near a shopping district. What's great about it is that it's an authentic local experience with a mix of Japanese and foreign tourist customers. Some good Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and a Japanese beer isn't a bad way to end a day here.