Hiroshima, although synonymous with the dropping of the atom bomb in 1945, is a vibrant city of 1.2 million residents, attracting more than 11 million visitors annually from home and abroad.

The following are some of the main points of interest about the city.

Okonomiyaki

Hiroshima’s soul food is okonomiyaki, also called Japanese pancake. Okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “grilled.” Flour and eggs are mixed with shredded cabbage and green onion, noodles, and thin slices of pork belly. The mixture is spread into discs on a hot plate and fried.

As the name suggests, diners can request additions of shrimp, squid or oysters, also a regional speciality. Okonomiyaki is served topped with a sweet sauce not unlike barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, dried fish flakes and dried green seaweed called aonori.

Okonomiyaki helped alleviate a post-war food shortage in Hiroshima as wheat flour was provided by the US military. Okonomiyaki street stalls then started to spring up throughout the city. There are about 2,000 Okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima prefecture, including 1,000 in Hiroshima city.

The Hiroshima Toyo Carp

The Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the city's popular baseball team, was established in 1949. The name is derived from the city’s castle named Rijo, which means Carp Castle - the city is renowned for the carp of the Otagawa River. Of Japan's 12 professional baseball clubs, the Carp are known for being relatively independent from corporate sponsors. All others are directly owned by a large company, while Hiroshima's team are majority-owned by the Matsuda family, rather than by the Mazda Motor company the family founded.

The team has won the national championship three times - although the last time was over 30 years ago.

Mazda Motor

Japan’s fifth-largest carmaker Mazda Motor is headquartered in Hiroshima. The company was founded in 1920 by Jujiro Matsuda. The carmaker’s two plants in Japan - one in Hiroshima and the other in nearby Yamaguchi prefecture – are responsible for more than 60 per cent of its global production.

The Mazda MX-5, known as Mazda Roadstar in Japan, was awarded the 2016 World Car of the Year by a panel of international automotive journalists.

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations. The shrine is located on an island called Miyajima, which is said to be a divine island from antiquity.

The main building of the shrine is said to have been constructed in the late 6th Century. It is often called a floating shrine because during high tide part of the building appears to be resting on the sea surface. In 1996, the shrine was registered as a World Heritage Site.

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