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Hiroshima

To the modern observer, Hiroshima belongs in the same class as any thriving Japanese metropolis. It is home to a million residents, ample accommodation and a historic castle that dates to the 16th century. But beneath the fine polish of this modern city is the quiet remembrance of a day just a few decades ago when Hiroshima fell to the atomic bomb. Visitors flock here to visit the memorials and demonstrate solidarity. But rather than finding a city of depressed or downtrodden people, they're greeted with optimism, friendliness and a progressive outlook.

Peace Memorial Park in the city center is a collection of moving, often heartbreaking museums and memorials. The Children's Peace Monument is perhaps the most sobering as it immortalizes Sadako, a young girl and victim of fallout. As Hiroshima was rebuilding, Sadako inspired the entire city through her quest to fold 1,000 origami cranes. An old saying states that a person who folds this many cranes gets a single wish granted. Sadako never finished her thousandth crane – she got to 644 before leukemia took her life, but she lives on in Hiroshima's very real quest to end nuclear armament.

Hiroshima Castle was rebuilt in the 1950s after being destroyed by the bomb. The grounds boast hundreds of sakura (cherry blossom) trees, which are lovely in the springtime. The castle is located near Chuo Park and operates an interesting museum. Several other parks and temples on the fringes of the city are wonderful daytrip destinations.

Intense ground-up construction has yielded some truly remarkable hotels near Hiroshima. These are planted throughout the central district, as well as near Hiroshima Airport. This domestic terminal serves several prominent cities in Japan.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Hiroshima, click on the interactive Hiroshima map on the left-hand side of the page