Here is our fabulous gay guide to Hiroshima with the best places to sleep, eat, drink, travel highlights and more.
Whenever you tell people you have visited Hiroshima, it is often met with a sorrowful expression and a soft ‘oh’.
Ever since the city was devastated by the atomic bomb towards the end of World War II, an attack that killed over 140,000 people, it hasn’t shaken outsiders’ perceptions of it as a tragic place.
And while the devastating event still holds an important role in shaping Hiroshima’s recent culture, it is only a small part of what makes the city so significant. There is also another side to the city that is vibrant, social, boisterous, and artistic.
We 100% fell into the trap of expecting to find a near-dystopia, with stern-faced locals and high tensions. What we found were laidback residents who couldn’t have been more welcoming to foreigners! We explored epic museums full of world-class paintings that stimulated our minds, picturesque parks that stimulated our spirits, and a gay friendly nightlife that stimulated our, well, bodies…
When we weren’t busy scurrying around the must-see sights, we were gorging on okonomiyaki – and if you don’t know what that is, you soon will! Who’d have thought you could put together dough, cabbage, and pork, and have it turn out so darn delicious? Plus, Hiroshima has its own special way of making it unique from all other areas in Japan.
Read on for our detailed gay travel guide to Hiroshima and also make sure you check in with our bumper gay guide to Japan.
Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥
Stay connected in Hiroshima…
by pre-ordering a pocket WiFi device. Pocket WiFi will save you a lot of money on roaming fees plus you can feel confident knowing you're accessing the internet safely and securely. For more info, check out our comprehensive guide to renting pocket WiFi in Japan.
Is Hiroshima safe for gay travelers?
Hiroshima is a very safe place for LGBTQ tourists. We never had any problems checking into a double bed hotel room or sharing a table at a romantic restaurant. Japanese culture is very much about staying in your own lane and not infringing upon what other people do with their lives. That's why we rate Japan as one of the most gay friendly destinations in Asia.
Having said that, Japanese people (especially the elders) are a conservative bunch. They don’t like PDAs and barely tolerate handholding. Therefore, kissing in public is viewed as highly inappropriate… and that goes for straight couples too!
There isn’t a massive gay scene in Hiroshima. To be fully honest, it was one of the smallest scenes we found in Japan, nothing like the fabulous gay metropolis of Tokyo. There are a handful of bars that are exclusively LGBTQ, but other than that everywhere else is for straight people. Although spots like Step 1 and Club G attract tons of tourists from around the world, most of whom are open-minded and free-spirited, making it easy to make friends while feeling comfortable.
Gay hotels in Hiroshima
The Japanese do everything with an incredible attention to detail, whether it’s customer service or the presentation of your hotel room. We love the Japanese for this! Nothing is ever too much work and staff will bend over backwards to make you comfortable, whether you’re staying in an upmarket hostel or a modest guesthouse. There aren’t any exclusively gay hotels in Hiroshima nor is there as much of a range as the gay hotels of Tokyo, but each of these places we stayed at were very LGBTQ-friendly:
Grand Sauna Hiroshima (men only)
In a nutshell
- Male-only sauna and capsule hotel
- Friendly and personable staff
- Delicious meals served at the on-site restaurant
- Multiple baths, Jacuzzis and sauna for relaxing
When we heard this was a capsule hotel, Seby legitimately thought it meant a “time capsule.”
“Does this mean we can go back and visit Studio 54? Or watch the closing night of Cats on the West End?”
“Sadly not Seb… and who on Earth would choose that second option?”
Nope, a capsule hotel is a type of accommodation that contains small bed-sized rooms called ‘capsules.’ Rather alien to us in the West, but they’re all the rage in Japan and other Asian countries.
Grand Sauna is male-only but attracts a mixture of straight and gay clientele. Sure, you’re bound to bump into a few other friends of Dorothy there, but don’t go expecting a mini gay-resort experience. When we arrived, the staff didn’t have much English, but were still as helpful as possible. We were given PJs and lockers to put our stuff in.
The highlight of the hotel is the sauna, with steam rooms and public baths – just be prepared to strip everything off to use it. Trust us… even if you wear boxers, you’ll get funny looks from the local guests. Once you get used to baring it all, you’ll settle into how relaxing it is.
The gay hotel also serves breakfast and dinner at very reasonable prices in their onsite restaurant – perfect for those on a budget. We felt a bit like Dracula laying in his coffin at night-time as we nestled into our pods, which just adds to the fun!
Prices at Grand Sauna Hiroshima start from $35 per night:
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel
In a nutshell
- Luxurious five-star hotel
- Central location, close to popular sights
- 4 onsite dining options
- Orgasmic spa treatments and swimming pool
The Sheraton Grand Hiroshima is simply divine! After all, it belongs to the gay friendly Marriott family… and those guys don’t do anything modestly.
It’s based beside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, as well as tons of popular shops and restaurants, plus Hiroshima Station, which can get you to almost anywhere in the city.
All the rooms have incredible city views, which are totally worth the buck. Especially at night when everything gets lit up. We couldn’t believe how even the most “basic” of rooms still had a king-sized bed, flat-screen TV, marble bathroom, and mini-bar. And wait until you hear about the premium option. The Club Suite gets you access to a private lounge where you can enjoy complimentary breakfast, afternoon snacks and evening cocktail service.
Their main onsite restaurant, Miyabi-Tei, is the best way to dive into the quintessential Japanese experience, complete with a sushi bar, Teppanyaki grill, and Kaiseki menus. Then for a drink? Kick back in the bar or head to the Lobby Lounge to gorge on an assortment of croissants, pretzels, and candies.
All guests can also enjoy the indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and fitness center. One of the things we loved the most about our experience here was the Shine Spa. It contains six treatment rooms, where you can enjoy facials, foot therapy, and deep-tissue massages. Bliss!
Prices at the Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel start from $267 per night:
Roku Hostel Hiroshima
In a nutshell
- Excellent budget option
- Simple yet cosy rooms
- Friendly and sociable staff
- Great links to the city and tourist sights
Whether you’re looking for a short or long-term stay, Roku has you covered. With cozy rooms, scrumptious meals, and smiling staff, there truly is no better welcome you could get in Hiroshima.
Those on a budget or traveling in a group will be happy to find they offer shared dormitories. These are basic accommodation-style quarters, decorated with fine woods, which give it a cabin-like ambience.
If you’re looking for something more secluded, go for the private twin room. It’s tatami-style, meaning you’ll sleep on a mat on the floor in traditional Japanese fashion.
For socializing, you can pop into the bar/lounge where you’ll meet fellow guests and chat with the delightful bar staff. There is an outdoor terrace section where you can take in the cool night air and marvel at the dazzling Hiroshima nightlife. It’s decorated with indoor plants and wooden furniture, making it feel like fall all year round.
In the mornings, they serve breakfast for an additional 400 yen (around $4), which, for as cheap as it seems, is surprisingly quite filling. There's a shared kitchen if you want to cook your own meals to save money as well. Staff also offer a free walking tour of the Hiroshima Memorial – which is a great way to get acquainted with the city.
Prices at Roku Hostel Hiroshima start from $26 per night:
Gay bars in Hiroshima
It may be small, but it’s there… and it’s not going away. We're talking about the gay scene of Hiroshima! Hiroshima’s gay bars are exactly what you might expect in a Japanese city. Colorful and welcoming, albeit a bit reserved. They are typically small, so it makes for a cozy sanctuary for them to escape to. Here are some of the best gay bars in Hiroshima, as well as queer-friendly alternatives:
This is a moderately-sized gay bar, perfect for a friendly gathering before heading out to the clubs. It’s a great mix of people from across the LGBTQ spectrum. The staff are friendly, and although we couldn’t speak each other’s languages, we still found little ways to communicate. The host did make us giggle when they charged our straight peers more money for seating. Sure, it’s not the same as being discriminated against in marriage, but it’s something. “Now you know how it feels!” we kept teasing.
Open: Goli Macho is open Tuesday to Saturday until 3am and on Sunday until 1am
Location: It's located at 3-6 ebisucho5F Jewelebisu building
Owned by a super sweet lesbian couple, Nagomi is a quiet, tiny gay bar on the second floor of a building. We’d say, it could host 20 people tops. Drinks are reasonably priced, and music is played at a low volume – being inside really felt like we were a part of some hidden secret. Especially since everyone else who visited seemed to know each other. Saturday nights are for lesbian/women-who-love-women only… so, sorry, but no boys allowed!
Open: Nagomi is open daily until 1am
Location: It's located at 2-8-26 Hikarimachi, Higashi-Ku Sasaki Building
Is it a bar? Or is it a shrine to music? We think it’s a bit of both! Mac Bar is covered in pop-culture references to the world’s most beloved artists. You could literally spend hours skimming through the shelves of CDs that line the walls. And the DJ seemed to know everything there was to know about music. No request was too obscure or silly. If we wanted Gaga, they’d happily play ‘Born This Way.’ If some other lady wanted a bit of Dolly they’d blast a bit of ‘9 to 5’. It's basically, a gay man’s Spotify playlist come to life, with drinks!
Open: Mac Bar is open Monday to Saturday from 7pm
Location: You can find it at 3-3-4 Tatemachi, Naka Ward
Gay clubs in Hiroshima
There aren’t any gay clubs in Hiroshima (sadly) – but we didn’t really expect there to be. After all, this isn’t Tokyo. So, it’d be unfair to expect as much. However, there are tons of clubs that have an international crowd, wild parties, and themed nights: all things that gay people love. Here are the best gay-friendly clubs in Hiroshima to check out:
A night at Step 1 is pretty much what the inside of our minds looks like all the time. Pulsing Latin music. Drinks flowing. Energetic live performances. And hot bar staff. It couldn’t be more over the top and ridiculously camp. Just like it says in the name, this gay friendly club attracts many internationals which makes it a great place to pop into, be social, make friends, and pick up travel recommendations.
Open: Step 1 International Bar is open daily until 5am Friday and Saturday
Location: It's located at 5-3, 5 Nagarekawachō, Naka-ku
They don’t call it the No. 1 hip hop club in Hiroshima for nothing. Club G is the antithesis of Japanese culture. It’s loud. It’s unapologetic. And it’s not afraid to hold back. In the past, they’ve had events like ‘Turn Up Tuesday’ and ‘Up in Da Club’ with great music and drink discounts. We especially loved their Latin night, with music from some of our favorite Latinx divas. Think Shakira, Selena, J-Lo, and so much more.
Open: Club G is open daily until 5am
Location: It's located at 7-6 Nagarekawa-cho, Naka-ku
An eclectic DJ setlist? Bespoke Japanese-style cocktails? Guests from all over the world? It could only be a night at Barcos. Situated in the bustling downtown area, Barcos has managed to maintain its legacy as a wild night out since it first opened. DJs will play (almost) any song you request, and the bar staff will happily make your drink just the way you like it. So, you pretty much feel in control the whole evening. And the best part? Tourists get in for free!
Open: Barcos Hiroshima is open until 6am Friday – Sunday
Location: It's located at 7-9 Yagenbori, Naka Ward
Where to eat in Hiroshima
Japanese food is one of our favorite cuisines and we were dying to eat out as much as we could. A little tip a hotelier told us about: if a place doesn’t have that many local people dining in, you might want to give it a miss. After all, they know their food best. We always keep this in mind when traveling. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Hiroshima for gay travelers:
We heard from many folks that this restaurant had the best okonomiyaki in the city – even its own website wasn’t afraid to boast about it. Naturally, we had to test it for ourselves. We’re delighted to say it holds up. It was messy, it was an explosion of flavors, it was utterly Heaven. The décor is super cute, with posters and knick-knacks dotted around the room. Our hostess explained it was a homage to the Showa period, who was the emperor from 1926 to 1989, making it feel ultra-nostalgic (even for us who had never witnessed the era).
Usually, flat noodles wouldn’t be something that would have us jumping for joy. But in this place, they work. After many years of trial and error, the chefs mastered their recipe, creating a dish that is so mouth-wateringly delicious, it’ll have you itching for seconds… and thirds… and maybe even fourths! Their special soy sauce, which again was perfected through years of experimentation with various ingredients, goes great with everything. It’s very clear how much pride the staff have in the food they serve. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but each of our dishes was completely worth devouring.
Let’s face it, you can’t go to Japan without gorging on some sushi. And Sushitei was our absolute favorite spot that served it. Not only were staff super sweet, but they were full of recommendations on what we should try. Menus were (thankfully) provided in English, and we could choose between a set menu or individual dishes. Everything is delicious, the freshest sushi, sashimi and tempura. There are several Sushitei locations across the city, but we went to the Hikarimachi branch. It’s a fabulous place to bring families, with tables that sit up to 15 people.
What to do in Hiroshima
While we recommend devoting some of your time to commemorating the tragic events of the nuclear bomb in 1945, you don’t have to spend your whole trip thinking about it. Hiroshima had an identity before the war, and it will continue to have an identity long after it. There are stunning parks, fascinating art galleries, or magnificent island trips to lose yourself in, and that’s barely scratching the surface.
Visit the Peace Memorial Park
You can’t visit Hiroshima without seeing the Peace Memorial Park. It is one of the truest ways to appreciate how deeply the city was affected by the atomic bomb. It’s an intense experience, but a necessary one. The park features a museum, which goes over the events and history pre-and post-World War II. The most striking feature of the park is the A-Bomb Dome – a building that had been partially destroyed in the explosion. It’s still standing today and serves as an ode to preserving peace around the world. Join a walking tour with a guide to learn all about the history in more depth.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
To help further your understanding of the Hiroshima tragedy, visit the Peace Memorial Museum. It's the second most visited attraction in Japan, after Miyajima Island – which is also in Hiroshima (more on that below). At the Peace Memorial Museum you will find items that once belonged to the victims, as well as the chance to read and view testimonies provided by survivors. It's message to the world is ‘No More Hiroshima’ – stressing the necessity for keeping peace and to never again resort to the brutal act of using nuclear weapons.
Visit Hiroshima Castle
Having been destroyed in the atomic blast, Hiroshima Castle is a prime example of Japanese resilience. What was once home to the city’s feudal lord (daimyo), it was a defining feature of the skyline from the 1590s. It was rebuilt in the late 1950s as a replica of the original, re-opening as a museum on Hiroshima history before World War II. Most fascinating is how three trees survived the bomb and can still be found inside the castle to this day – a eucalyptus, a willow, and a holly. We visited the castle as part of a bike tour, which was a really fun way to explore the city.
Hiroshima Museum of Art
Art lovers will have a field day with this one. Spanning centuries, the Hiroshima Museum of Art covers iconic periods like romanticism, impressionism, and modernism (to name just a few). It houses works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Matisse and Renoir, along with traditional Japanese art which is just beautiful. The museum is also home to the iconic Picasso painting “Two women sitting at a bar” and Van Gogh’s “Daubigny's Garden.” After you’ve finished feeling cultured, you can pop into the lovely café, then drink some tea or coffee, while enjoying an array of yummy cakes and sandwiches.
Take a day trip to Miyajima
Emerging from the dense fog that surrounds the island of Miyajima (also called Itsukushima), is the iconic Torii gate. Standing upright in the water, it serves as a symbol to visitors that they are moving from the mundane to a sacred place. We’d recommend setting appart half a day to explore the island as there are several shrines and temples to visit, including the Daishō-in Temple on Mount Misen. Just be prepared for the wild deer who inhabit the island as they won’t be afraid to dash across your path from seemingly nowhere. The high-pitched scream we both emitted when one shot across our trail could probably be heard throughout the country!
We all love pancakes – and okonomiyaki is the savory Japanese version. Things are done a little differently in Hiroshima. Whereas in other parts of Japan, locals like to mix up their ingredients, Hiroshima natives like to layer them. They use an assortment of foods like cabbage, pork, squid, and cheese, depending on your mood. Some even like to throw in noodles as a topping with a bit of fried egg and okonomiyaki sauce. Sound messy? It for sure is. But delicious? You bet!
Plan your trip to Hiroshima
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Hiroshima. Read on to find out everything the gay traveler should know before they go.
Travel insurance: Japan is a safe destination, but that doesn't mean things won't go wrong during your time in Hiroshima. Travel plans can be derailed by things beyond your control, like accident, illness or even just losing your luggage. We never travel without ensuring we have adequate travel insurance.
How to get there: You can fly directly into Hiroshima Airport from other airports in Japan as well as from Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei. If you're coming from further away then you will need to transit in one of those cities. If you're already in Japan you can also reach Hiroshima via bullet train from Osaka. Hiroshima Airport is about 50km (30 miles) away from the city, which you can reach via bus or taxi, although we personally prefer to pre-book an airport transfer.
Visa requirements: Travelers from 68 countries including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and most EU countries coming to Japan for tourist reasons don't need a visa to enter. You will need your passport and proof of onward travel though. Make sure you also check your personal visa requirements before making any arrangements to visit Hiroshima.
Vaccinations: Generally, you won't need any specific vaccines before traveling to Hiroshima, apart from being up to date on routine vaccines such as measles, mumps, chickenpox, and covid-19. If you are planning to visit any rural areas in Japan then you may want to be vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis. Make sure you always check with your doctor or travel nurse before making travel arrangements and see the latest Japan health advice here.
Getting around: Hiroshima has a good public transport system, including historic trams, buses, ferries and the metro. You can save money on transport by getting a 1, 2 or 3 day hop-on hop-off tourist pass, which will enable you to see most of the best spots, including Miyajima. If your hotel is very central then you might not need to use public transport too much at all, as you can walk to most of the sights in the city center.
Currency: The currency used in Japan is the yen, abbreviated to JPY. $1 converts to around 110 Japanese yen while €1 is worth about 122 yen.
Tipping culture: Many Japanese people believe that good service should be the standard, so tipping is not customary here. You can tip if you really want to, but don't be surprised or offended if it is refused. Also, never just give cash from your wallet or purse, make sure you put it in an envelope first and then hand it to the person with both hands.
Internet access: Free WiFi is usually offered in hotels, airports, train stations, restaurants and cafes in Japan, but not everywhere. Paid WiFi hotspots are more common, so if you know you will be needing to use a lot of internet during your travels to Hiroshima then you may like to rent your own portable WiFi device during your trip.
When to visit: Hiroshima experiences a temperate climate, so you can visit at any time of year really, although fall and spring are generally the prettiest. Summer can be a bit humid but is still the busiest time for tourists. Winter is quite mild, and also popular for snow bunnies, being the second busiest time.
Gay map of Hiroshima
Here's a map of all the places we've mentioned in our gay guide to Hiroshima (all the ones that are listed on Google maps anyway). We hope it helps you plan your own fabulous trip to Hiroshima!
For more inspiration:
- Check out our gay guide to Japan's Yaeyama Islands
- Find out what it's like to grow up gay in Japan
- Read our gay travel guide to Osaka
- Along with the best gay tours of Tokyo
- And don't miss our transformation into geisha in Tokyo as well!
- If you're heading to Taiwan, you should totally check in with our Taipei gay guide