Hiroshima City is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chugoku Region, situated in the western part of the largest island (Honshu) in the archipelago. Hiroshima City consists of wards, or “Ku,” which are as varied as the people who live in them. Some are particularly popular with expats due to their available services and conveniences, such as easy access to international schools or common expat companies. These wards include: (Stars indicate more information on these areas below)
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Having trouble working out which area is best suited to the type of lifestyle you would like to lead in Japan? See our comprehensive guide for information on the popular expat areas to live in Hiroshima.
The majority of people living in city areas in Japan use the name of the closest station to refer to their neighborhood. For example, those with an address in Naka-Ku in Hiroshima would say that they lived in Hondori, or whichever the closest station to their home is.
Asa-Kita-Ku and Asa-Minami-Ku The best thing about living in Asa-Kita-ku is that you are closer to the mountains, the beautiful countryside, and the Hiroshima International School. Unfortunately, it is less convenient and there are few transportation options to the city center. There’s a Fuji department store, small eateries, car dealers, and clinics along the main road. However, there are few JR train connections here. Asa-Kita-Ku offers outlet malls, movie theatres, and restaurants. The Midori, Gion, and Yagi residential areas have views of the mountains and rivers, JR stations, Astram stations, access to the Sanyo expressway onramp, as well as good department stores, eateries, and outlet malls. It takes between 20-40 minutes to commute by bus, car, or monorail into the city center. Transportation: Astram Line, JR Line, Bus. Highlights: Hiking, mountain views, shopping: Gion, Midori, and outlet mall area in Yagi. Sightseeing: Transportation Museum, Asa Zoo, Big Arch Stadium (soccer).
Higashi-ku is a mixture of city life and fun, and Japanese suburban life and culture. Areas near the Shinkansen side of Hiroshima station, such as Ushita, are particularly popular. Ushita has long been popular with expats because it offers convenience and easy commutes into and out of the city. It also has a lively local culture and friendly community. Two Ushita traditional Japanese restaurants, Irakuan and Kitaoka Kaiseki, were awarded Michelin stars. Ushita has an active community that hosts the fun Hozuki festival every July, as well as traditional festivals at the Wasedajinja Shrine. The Ushita “Big Wave” (Higashi-Ku sports facility) has an Olympic sized pool in summer and ice rink in winter. The Fudoin temple is located nearby, and the UshitaYama hiking trails run in the mountains behind Ushita town. Other towns further inland in Higashi-Ku may offer more housing options, but these areas are a bit farther removed from the city center and less convenient. Transportation: Astram Line, Streetcar, Bus, JR Train, Shinkansen, access to riverside cycling routes. Highlights: Good supermarkets, parks, temples, shrines, hiking, sports centers, town festivals, decent dining, shopping, and nightlife options. Near the Aeon shopping mall. Sightseeing: Fudoin temple, Peace pagoda, Toshogu shrine. International Schools: Sophia International Kindergarten (1-6). Bus pick-ups for HIS.
Minami-ku Osugacho, Danbara, Hijiyama, Shinonome, and the Fuchu areas are located behind the Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium and are popular residential areas for expats. American wholesale retailer Costco recently opened next to the baseball stadium. Danbara is home to the Hiroshima University Hospital, which is highly recommended for any medical care. In the Shinonome area, there is a fashionable drive-through Starbucks coffee shop. Hijiyama Park offers pleasant walks, views, playgrounds, and it is perfect for picnicking. The park includes a beautiful Modern Art Museum. There are many interesting boutique shops, hair salons, and eateries in Minami-Ku. The Ujina Ferry Port is close by, offering great dining and shopping options. Minami-Ku is between the city center, Route 2 (the main public road to Kure or Miyajima), and Hiroshima Station. Transportation: Streetcar, Bus Highlights: Near Hiroshima station, excellent dining and shopping options Sightseeing: Hijiyama Park and Museum, Baseball Stadium, Mazda Museum, Mt. Ogonzan, Ujina Port & Cruise Liner Port.
Naka-ku is the urban business and residential center of Hiroshima. Residents here are not lacking for a choice of places to eat and shop. There is no need to rush for the last train or pay for an expensive taxi to get home after enjoying a night out. This area is perfect for people who love the conveniences of city life. The areas of Fukuromachi, Takaramachi, Funairi, Takanobashi, and Yoshijima are popular with expats and offers many apartments, often with views of the Peace Park or rivers. Hakushima and Noborimachi provide a range of restaurants and parks. There is a large department store, Fuji Grand, in Takaramachi. Everything is only a walk or a short cycle away. However, if you have a car, parking can be expensive, and daily commuting is painfully slow. Hiroshima’s most significant annual festivals happen in this ward. The area of Noborimachi is a lovely residential area near Shukkeien Gardens and a short commute to town or the main station. A little further north of Hiroshima castle is neighboring Hakushima. Hakushima is an excellent choice for international families, especially if a family member will be commuting outside the city by car or train. In addition to essentials such as the Vesta grocery store and Yamaya liquor and import store, Hakushima has a verdant park and many charming little shops. Dining options include the Q gardens restaurant complex and the top restaurant in Hiroshima’s 2013 Michelin Guide, Nakashima, awarded a prestigious three-star rating. The nearby French restaurant Mille also got a star. It is a short walk or bicycle ride to Hiroshima Station, the castle, and the city center. Hakushima offers an easy commute out of the city via Route 54, Sanyo expressway.
Nishi-ku This ward’s Yokogawa, Tenmacho, Koi, and Kannon areas are popular areas with expats. Yokogawa has a JR, bus and streetcar station, a good range of eateries and bars, and a traditional atmosphere. Tenmacho is close to the Peace Park, the city center, and many other riverside parks. There is a YOURS supermarket, Hyakushoyakai organic grocer, a large post office, some lively bars, and popular restaurants here. The hillside areas of Koi and Kannon offer quite a few housing options with a quick commute to the city center. However, there are only a few residential area shops or eateries. The Sanyo expressway can be reached in about ten minutes using the No. 4 City Expressway tunnel. Streets can be steep and narrow in this area, but the plus side is that there are plenty of small parks, hiking trails. The views of the city and the Seto inland sea are stunning! The HIS bus also stops here. Accessible by: Streetcar, Bus, Train. Highlights: City and ocean views, parks, hiking, nearby department stores Sightseeing: Mitaki Temple
A popular area lies along Coindori, which meaning “Coin street,” named after the mint, which is open each Spring so the public can enjoy the magnificent cherry blossoms at the facility. Itsukaichi does offer the convenience of rail, streetcar, bus, and expressway access. There are many decent restaurants, cafes, and specialty shops. Hillside residences offer great views but lack nearby shops or conveniences. Transportation: JR Line, Bus, Streetcar. Highlights: Hiking, Onmaku Sushi, Skateboard and MTB park, Honyu hot spring, Botanical Gardens, the Coin-dori area.
If you love exploring the mountains and countryside near Hiroshima and want to frequent Miyajima, then living in Hatsukaichi may suit you. Unfortunately, public transportation options are poor, and commuting by car is often on slow roads. It would be difficult to commute into town from this area each day, but there is access to the expressway onramp. This area is excellent for sightseeing and is not far from the neighboring Iwakuni’s Kintaikyo Bridge. Transportation: JR Line, Bus, Streetcar Highlights: Miyajima, Imose-no-taki Falls, Arcadia Village hot spring, Megahira Ski Lodge and hot spring, Yuki hot spring, Mt. Gokurakujiyama and the Chichiyasu Dairy Farm and Water Park (in summer)
Kure Kure has been a naval base since 1889 and was famous for its shipbuilding technology in the Far East before WWII. There is a lot of fascinating maritime history at the Yamato Museum. Kure has a population of over 140,000 people, including residents of the islands dotted around it. There is a pleasant city center with shops, parks, and eateries, as well as many charming coastal towns to discover. Kure is well known for its sake (Japanese rice wine) and delicious seafood dishes. The Kure fireworks festival in July is quite a sight to behold as bursts of light explode over cranes, ships, and submarines in the port. Although there are expressways, it takes at least an hour to get to Hiroshima City from Kure. Transportation: JR Line, Bus Highlights: Yamato museum, Submarine port, pretty beaches, and the interesting coastal towns of Kurahashi and Kamagari. Kure’s traditional Hondori shopping area is fun for sightseeing, if you are comfortable living in the countryside and won’t need to commute to the city center, then Higashi-Hiroshima is a beautiful area that will suit your needs. There is an abundance of parks, temples, orchards, hiking trails, waterfalls, hot springs, and other natural sights to enjoy.
It is near the airport and not far from Takehara, Mihara, Onomichi, and Fukuyama. It takes about 45 minutes to drive the 40km (25 miles) to Hiroshima City on the expressway, and over an hour on local roads. The main town of Saijo is well known for its sake breweries and signature red tile-roofed houses next to lush green rice fields. Saijo has a population just over 127,000, which has been increasing since industry in this area began gaining momentum. There is a fair amount of English speakers around thanks to the influx of international students at the local universities. Traditionally, Saijo has retained its place as one of Japan’s top sake brewing regions for hundreds of years and consistently does very well in national tasting competitions. Every October, the town fills with up to 200,000 visitors enjoying the annual sake festival. This is a fun and lively time to enjoy great sake and all the tradition surrounding it. Transportation: JR Line, Bus, Shinkansen Highlights: Sake festival, hot springs, parks, temples, historical sights, sake breweries, nearby fruit picking, and Tom’s Dairy Farm
Higashi-Hiroshima and Saijo Areas
If you are comfortable living in the countryside and won’t often need to commute to the city center, then Higashi-Hiroshima is a beautiful area that will suit your needs. There is an abundance of parks, temples, orchards, hiking trails, waterfalls, hot springs, and other natural sights to enjoy. It is near the airport and not far from Takehara, Mihara, Onomichi, and Fukuyama. It takes about 45 minutes to drive the 40km (25 miles) to Hiroshima City on the expressway, and over an hour on local roads. The main town of Saijo is well known for its sake breweries and signature red tile-roofed houses next to lush green rice fields. Saijo has a population of just over 127,000, which has been increasing since industry in this area began gaining momentum. There is a fair amount of English speakers around thanks to the influx of international students at the local universities. Traditionally, Saijo has retained its place as one of Japan’s top sake brewing regions for hundreds of years and consistently does very well in national tasting competitions. Every October, the town fills with up to 200,000 visitors enjoying the annual sake festival. This is a fun and lively time to enjoy great sake and all the tradition surrounding it. Transportation: JR Line, Bus, Shinkansen Highlights: Sake festival, hot springs, parks, temples, historical sights, sake breweries, nearby fruit picking, and Tom’s Dairy Farm