How to Best Enjoy Onomichi, Hiroshima, a Town of History and Culture
Hiroshima’s Onomichi is a famous sightseeing place that is characterized by a townscape that is brimming with a retro vibe. Here are some of the recommended spots that will make you feel that unique Onomichi atmosphere.
1. Enjoy the views of Onomichi
Located almost in the center of the Sanyo area in southeastern Hiroshima, Onomichi is a town that is sandwiched by the three Onomichi mountains on the North and the river-like long and narrow strait called Onomichi Channel on the South. As the largest port town in the Seto Inland Sea region that has been thriving as a strategic position for trade and transport since the Middle Ages, Onomichi has been filled with buildings and cultural assets from the Middle Ages to modern times, creating a truly unique landscape. There are many ways to enjoy Onomichi, such as walking around the old town and looking at the shopping arcade where retro buildings remain intact until today, but if you want to fully appreciate the scenery that Onomichi has to offer, then it would be best to hop on the ropeway and go to Senkoji Park. Once you get to the summit, go to the observation platform and marvel at the breathtakingly beautifully vista of the town of Onomichi below, and the verdant Seto Inland Sea and floating islands! You have to check out this spot.
The view from the observatory at the stop of Senkoji Park
View from Mt. Nakatakiyama
2. Tour the temples
Onomichi is located in a place that is home to a long list of temples that have kept their structures and appearances intact because they have escaped the fires of war. Because of that, it is sometimes called “the little Kyoto of the West.” There are many must-see spots in town, including Senkoji temple that offers a commanding view of Onomichi from within its precincts, and Saikokuji temple that has a main temple gate that is adorned with a roughly 2m straw zori (a type of sandal that is made by weaving straws together). However, what you should really check out is the ancient temple of Jodoji that was built in 616. Its main temple and two-storied pagoda that have been designated as national treasures were rebuilt or built in the early 14th century, with the two-storied pagoda included in the list of the three most famous pagodas in Japan. This temple is particularly famous for being the setting of the premier movie “Tokyo Monogatari” (Tokyo Story) that was directed by Yasujiro Ozu. It has been visited by a lot of fans of that film. Here at Jodoji, they hold omamori (amulet) making workshops omamori several times a month (reservation required). Don’t you want to make your very own amulet and take it home with you as a memento of your trip?
※Please check the official homepage for the details of the hands-on omamori making.
Two-storied pagoda of Jodo-ji temple
3. Go cycling at Shimanami Kaido
Shimanami Kaido is an expressway that connects Onomichi to Imabari in Ehime. The highway is annexed to a luxurious bicycle and pedestrian route where you can go cycling while gazing at the beautiful sea and the islands around Seto Inland Sea. This route has been drawing a lot of attention not only from cyclists in Japan, but also those from abroad. You will find many full-fledged athletes bringing their favorite bicycles, but along Shimanami Kaido, there are 14 rent-a-cycle terminals operated by the local cities that offer bicycles you can use and leave anywhere along the route. Even people who want to try cycling here while in the middle of their sightseeing trip can easily do so with these rent-a-cycle spots. It is recommended to go biking between Mukojima and Innoshima that is right next to Onomichi. The feel of the sea breeze on your face while you cruise along the coast is truly refreshing! The islands of Seto Inland Sea will look even more beautiful after toiling hard on a bicycle.
Shimanami Kaido Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge painted in the colors of the sunset
4. Stroll through Neko no Hosomichi (Cat Alley)
In Onomichi, which is a port town that is right next to the sea, you will see many charming cats frolicking about in town. Neko no Hosomichi (Cat Alley) is a lane with a unique atmosphere that you can only find in Onomichi. The roughly 200m road that extends from the edge of Ushitora Shrine, which is famous as the setting of the movie “Toki wo Kakeru Shojo” (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), up to the three-storied pagoda of Tenneiji temple is such a strange space. Here, you will see footprints of cats, several “fukuishi-neko” (a round stone with the drawing of a cat) on the roadside, and the Manekineko Museum that features a collection of about 3,000 manekineko (beckoning cat). There are also many real cats roaming on this road, so if you love cats, then this is definitely a place you should visit.
5. Enjoy Onomichi’s local cuisine
Since you have come all the way to Onomichi, you probably want to taste the delicious dishes that town has to offer, right? There are many tasty treats in Onomichi, including dishes that make full use of seafood from Seto Inland Sea, and sweets that incorporate lemon, Hassaku orange and other citrus fruits that are the specialty of Seto Inland Sea. However, the most famous dish of this town is Onomichi ramen, which is characterized by its chicken soup with a hint of broth made from small fishes caught from the sea, and the chewy flat noodles inside. This ramen is so simple as it usually just has menma (bamboo shoots), roast pork and green onions for seasoning. It may look light, but it actually has a robust taste because the soup is boiled with ground back fat of pork in it. You have to try this ramen.
※Photo shows Onomichi ramen
Onomichi is a truly appealing town that is filled with picturesque views and history. Aside from those highlighted in this article, though, there are still many must-see spots in this town. So, go ahead and visit Onomichi.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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