Naka-ku is the urban business and residential center of Hiroshima and is thus perfect for people who love the conveniences of city life. Residents here are not lacking for choices of places to eat and shop, and being so central there is no need to rush for the last train or pay for an expensive taxi to get home after enjoying a night out. The areas of Fukuromachi, Takaramachi, Funairi, Takanobashi, and Yoshijima are favored by ex-pats, and offer many nice apartments that often have views of the Peace Park or rivers. Other popular areas include Hakushima and Noborimachi that offer a good range of restaurants and parks and are a short commute to town or the main station.
One of the great things about Naka-ku is that everything is only a walk or a short cycle away. Train lines abound, and the Hiroshima Dentetsu tram lines go virtually everywhere. For getting out of the city, the main Hiroshima Station is just across the river in Midori-ku. However, for those who find that they need to drive q car, parking can be expensive and daily commuting is painfully slow.
As mentioned, driving around the city centre can be something of a slog, but those living in Hakushima will find an easy commute out of the city via Route 54, Sanyo expressway.
Despite the fact that this is the city center, there is a considerable amount of green space in the area, the most famous of which is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. A neighbor to the Atomic Bomb Dome, this is one of the city’s best known tourist areas, and is a symbol of ever-lasting peace as well as a recreation area for citizens. It was designated as a place of national scenic beauty in 2007. Another popular park area is the grounds that surround the Hiroshima Castle. With the castle in the background, it is a popular site for those celebrating the cherry blossom season in spring. Likewise, the paths that run along side the Ota, Tenma and Motoyasu rivers that trisect the ward are also beautiful when the blossoms are out s well as being popular places to jog all year round.
Hiroshima’s city centeroutdoor family pool is open everyday of the week during the hottest months. There is the rainbow slide for kids, a flowing pool and an open swimming pool.
When it comes to shopping, you are absolutely spoiled for choice in Naka ward.
Fittingly for the central district of one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, there are plenty of dining opportunities in Naka-ku.
The first stop for any visitor to Hiroshima has to be Okonomimura, a four story building filled with small shops dedicated solely to the local delicacy, okonomiyaki. If that is too touristy, then you should check out Mitchan, Hiroshima’s most famous okonomiyaki chain, first opened in 1950. For vegetarian lovers of okonomiyaki, upon request Nagataya Hiroden will grease the grill with vegetable oil (instead of animal fat) and leave off the strips of bacon that are usually added to the standard okonomiyaki.
As well as local dishes, Naka-ku is good for high end restaurants such as Kakifune Kanawa (Oyster Boat Kanawa) that specializes in gourmet oyster course meals served by staff in traditional kimonos. Hiroshima also has Michelin star restaurants such as French restaurant Mille set in an old Japanese home; Iraku-an Soba, a family-run shop serving Edo-era-style light and tasty homemade noodles; Tenko Tempura, run by an English-speaking tempura master; and Nakashima, Hiroshima’s top ranked restaurant with three Michelin stars.
There are of course many Japanese restaurants that will be a little easier on the budget as well. Ippu Udon is family-run noodle shop known for their fantastic homemade Udon and Soba noodles while Nonta Sushi is a ‘kaiten’ (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant that uses fresh, locally caught fish that is bith well prepared and well priced.
If you are missing home comforts there are many, many western restaurants in Naka-ku.Graffity Mexican Diner is a family-run restaurant serving homemade Mexican and American-style dishes and Otis! serves up American-style Tex-Mex, vegetarian dishes and fantastic homemade pies along with occasional live music events in the evening. For giant burgers and American-style food, 1950s “Rock-n-roll” theme restaurant Blue Moon Café is popular with families and is fun for the late night crowd too.
For European food, highly recommended areZona Bel Pizza, which has authentic pizza, cooked fresh at reasonable prices in a casual, fun atmosphere and Caffe Ponte offers sophisticated Italian dining at the picturesque edge of the Peace Park.
For light bites or enjoying a coffee, Andersen Café is a popular Danish bakery with a stylish cafeteria and a storefront café serving western-style breakfasts. Despite the French name, Chamonix Mont Blanc is a Japanese-style coffee shop, established in 1955, that offers breakfast, set meals, and impressive Japanese-style desserts. Café Cinnamon is a charming little blue and white café with friendly owners and wonderful Japanese shokudo (diner) dishes.
There is loads going on in the evening around Naka-ku. Club G Hiroshima is perhaps the main nightclub in town, and is known for its hip-hop nights, but the newer Herbie Hiroshima, an upmarket and luxurious nightclub, is fast becoming something of a rival.
For a pre-club evening, there are many western style bars to choose from in Naka-ku. The Kiwi-Aussie themed bar Southern Cross is one of the few smoke-free bars in Hiroshima. They specialize in serving New Zealand and Australian beer, wine and pub food. The Shack is a spacious, friendly, American-style bar and grill where you can make friends at the counter bar, take a table, or shoot some pool. Another American-style sports bar with pool, darts, WIFI and occasional live music is KeMBY’s, though it is definitely aimed more towards the casual diner than the barfly
There can be no doubt, however, that the ‘local’ for the ex-pat community is Irish bar Molly Malone’s. They have a large menu with lots of hearty pub fare, desserts and a good range of imported and domestic beers on tap. It’s also a popular place to watch international sports.
If you are looking for a more genteel evening then one of Naka-ku’s wine bars should suffice. Allez Allez Du Vins is a basement dining-bar featuring a huge selection of wines and specializes in Galette dishes – a kind of crispy, savory French crepe. Hana Wine is a cozy combination of wine shop and bar offering surprisingly good value for such an up-scale location, stocking unique Old and New World ‘daily drinkers’. Finally, Le Trouvere is a bistro specializing in oysters and wine and is run by friendly world-traveler, Yamamoto-san, who has a passion for pairing great food with his impressive selection of vintages.
Hiroshima is one of Japan’s top tourist destinations for international and domestic travellers alike, and it is in Naka-ku where most of the top spots can be found.
The current incarnation of Hiroshima Castle is a concrete reconstruction of the flatland style fortress which was destroyed in the atomic bomb blast of August 6, 1945. The original castle was built by the Mori clan in 1589 at the delta of the Otagawa river. It was nicknamed the “Carp Castle” (Rijo in Japanese) since the area where it was built was then called the Carp (Koi) seashore. The five story building affords visitors appealing views of the city and an informative exhibition.
A focal point of peace activities and festivals throughout the year, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is definitely a premier destination. The area consists of the Peace Memorial Museum, statues, grassy areas, a cenotaph, the A-Bomb dome, conference halls, and the International Exchange Lounge, where culture classes are available upon reservation. It’s worth spending at least half a day wandering around the park, visiting the museum, and enjoying the calm atmosphere.
The privately owned Hiroshima Museum of Art has many good special exhibitions as well as a collection of nineteenth and twentieth century art, including famous works by Monet and Van Gogh, and The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, has the biggest art collection in Western Japan.
Hiroshima’s biggest annual festivals are also held in Naka-ku, including the Hiroshima Flower Festival, the Peace Memorial Ceremony and the 380 year old Toukasan Festival.
As Hiroshima’s main international kindergarten schools can be found in Naka-ku, it is convenient for those with young children requiring English language education.
For those with older children, Hiroshima International School (ages 3-18) is between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on whether you drive or take public transport.
Naka-ku offers a wide selection of options for dining and entertainment. You can see some of this variety using the map below.
See listings for properties available now for rent in Naka-ku on JapanHomeSearch.com by clicking this link (it will return only Naka-ku results), or browse the Hiroshima Housing Cost Survey data below, which will give you a snap shot of what sort of expat housing is available in the area.