Tokyo has Tokyo Tower and the popular Skytree, Osaka has the Umeda Sky Building but what about Hiroshima? Say hello to the newly opened Orizuru Tower!
Owned by Hiroshima Mazda Co., the main attraction of the 13-story building is the observation deck at the top. Refurbished and redesigned by the Hiroshima-based architect, Hiroshi Sambuichi, the Tower and deck offers views not only of the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park below, but also the mountains surrounding Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima. It’s a nice place to go for a date and when I visited in the late afternoon, the sunset was spectacular.
It’s location right on the edge of Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park has been somewhat controversial as both the local residents and commercial developers of the city struggle to maintain the balance between the sacred area and the desire for yet another tourist attraction which will bring revenue.
Orizuru Tower opened to the public back on July 11, 2016 but the official opening was only a few weeks ago on the weekend of September 23rd, 24th and 25th. At this time it was open for free and more than a few locals turned out to take advantage of the deal. The lines were long and some people waited for up to five hours.
I must admit I was a little miffed because I had paid the usual and very hefty 1700 yen to go in mid July. At that price it has been mainly overseas tourists who have been visiting, as more than a few people (both Japanese and expats) I’ve spoken to, have simply refused to pay that amount of money. Children are not much cheaper unfortunately with 12-17 years paying 900 yen, 6-11 years paying 700 yen and 4-5 years paying 500 yen respectively. For a family outing it makes it an expensive one and with little kids and not much of interest for them, I would suggest going elsewhere.
For an additional fee of 500 yen if you purchase your tickets on the first floor, or 600 yen if you wait until the 12th or 13th floor, you also make a paper crane from specially designed paper. The staff are happy to assist you and when you’ve finished your creation, you can drop it into the 50m tall ‘Orizuru Wall,’ which can be seen from the outside. I was already broke from the 1700 yen entrance fee and have made my fair share of cranes with Japanese students in the Peace Memorial Park so I didn’t opt for this.
If you don’t feel like paying anything at all, you are welcome to visit the first floor for free and this is where you can wander around browsing a selection of local products. There’s also Akushu Café where you can sit down and enjoy a drink or small meal either inside or out on the terrace. Takeaway versions are also available.
All in all, although the view is nice, there are other views that are cheaper or even free in Japan. I guess if you live here you can go once and say that you’ve been, but if I was simply visiting Hiroshima, I don’t think I would pay to go.
For more information on Orizuru Tower, check out their website, www.orizurutower.jp which is available in Japanese, English and French.
Photo by Jade Brischke