Town of Cats: 4 Must See Sightseeing Destinations in Onomichi, Hiroshima
What Kind of Town Is Onomichi?
Onomichi is a port city located in Hiroshima Prefecture, and it consists of Onomichi City and four islands of Mukaishima, Innoshima, Ikuchijima & Momojima. The city is facing Seto Inland Sea and its beautiful townscape has been cherished by many literary giants of Japan. Famous writers apparently used this town for a rest stop on their way to Kyushu, including Shiki Masaoka, Basho Matsuo, Naoya Shiga, Fumiko Hayashi and Kenkichi Nakamura. And they fell in love with its beauty and returned to the town many times.
In 1999 Shimanami Kaido road was established, connecting the city to Imabari City in Shikoku Region by bridges. Nowadays many people visit the bridges for cycling as they are comfortably set up for crossing on foot or bicycle.
The city had been famous as a shooting location for films and in addition, an anime took it up as the stage. The place is ever more thriving with recent arrivals of many anime fans these days.
Because the place is facing the Seto Inland Sea, lemon and other citrus fruits from the region are absolutely delicious, not to mention fresh seafood.
Speaking of Hiroshima, the Okonomiyaki pancake comes to our minds, and of course you can eat it in Onomichi, too.
And we cannot forget about Onomichi ramen noodle. This ramen uses soup made with sardines caught in Seto Inland Sea and chicken bones and the flavor is soy sauce based. Once you eat it, it is practically addictive.
Well then, let me start here with my introduction of recommended sightseeing spots in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture.
1. Senkojiyama Mountain
You can climb this mountain on foot, but this time I am taking you by ropeway.
One way ride is about 3 minutes. Perhaps in the middle of the ride, a panoramic view starts spreading gradually, and it is fabulous. The front window affords view of a temple, and you can enjoy great landscape from both the front and back windows. When the weather is cooperative, you can capture views of islands in the Seto Inland Sea, too.
When you arrive at the mountain top, a cute stationmaster of Senkoji Ropeway Station welcomes you. Don’t miss the detail that the station master changes uniforms from season to season.
Onomichi has many cats and there is even a street called “Neko no Hosomichi*（Alley of Cats）”. You will find many cats basking in the sun and apparently having a great time at sightseeing destinations. The town even has “Manekineko Art Museum” of cats, and I recommend it for cat lovers, too. It is an irresistible town for cat lovers.
*”Neko no Hosomichi” is imitating the title of “Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to Interior)”, the major haiku art masterpiece published by Basho Matsuo in the 18 century.
The ropeway is operating at a pace of every 15 minutes, but because it is such a popular spot that it gets crowded depending on the time of the day.
Business Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:15 PM
1. 15 minute walk from Onomichi Station
2. Ride the “Higashi Iki (To the East)” bus for 5 minutes from JR Onomichi Station, get off at “Nagaeguchi” stop and the ropeway is right at the stop.
3. From JR Shin-onomichi Station, take the bus to “JR Onomichi Station via Nagae” for about 10 minutes. Get off at “Nagaeguchi” stop.
Website: Senkojiyama Ropeway
Hiroshima Cat Street View: A Cat’s-eye View of Onomichi
2. Shimanami Kaido Road
This bridge is famous and many tourists visit it as a cycling course. Visitors can enjoy different characteristics of each island destination, as bridges connect from island to island.
How to Cross the Bridges
By Onomichi Bus: Direct buses are available to islands of Innoshima and Ikuchijima from Onomich Station.
By Cycling: It is about 30 kilometers from Onomichi to the farthest island of Ikuchijima, requiring 5 to 6 hours including rest stops. Rental bicycle is 500 yen per day (motor-assisted bicycle is 800 yen for 4 hours).
By Scooters: Mopeds can travel on bicycle lanes. Rental is from 3500 yen per 8 hours (rental helmets and gloves are also available).
By Ferry: This is the way to go to islands without crossing the bridges. Ferry takes time, but it might be better for going around the islands at a leisurely pace, forgetting the busy daily life.
Ferries depart from ports within walking distance of Mihara Station and Sunami Station. You can transport a bicycle aboard, and it is convenient if you are planning to move around by bicycle on islands only.
Example: If you are planning to go to Ikuchijima, you can get to Innoshima by boat or bus from Onomichi, and cross a bridge on bicycle from Innoshima. If you are not confident about your stamina, this method allows you to enjoy casual cycling.
In addition, you can drop off your bicycle at any rental cycle terminal in many locations, thus one potential way is switching from bike to bus on your return trip.
From this point, I will introduce tourist destinations on Ikuchijima, which is the third island across bridges from Onomichi. Ikuchijima is credited for its highest lemon production in Japan and it is also known as an island of art, making the entire island as one museum.
3. Kosanji Temple
Kosanji temple was constructed by Kozo Kosanji (aka Kozo Kaneda; 1891-1970) from 1935 till his death in order to express his gratitude for his mother. For this reason it is known as Mother’s Temple.
When you go through the gate, a five-story pagoda rises up in the front. You can see the main building modeled after Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in temple (in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture), Koyomon gate modeled after Nikko Toshogu shrine (Tochigi Prefecture), and a statue of Guze Kannon as tall as 10 meters high. The premises are large and it takes about 1 hour to go around all the buildings.
4. Miraishin no Oka (The Hill of Hope)
When you have finished going through Kosanji temple, a pure white marble garden opens up in front of you against the blue sky. It is a strange feeling we get, coming from the vermillion world of the temple, all of a sudden to a white world.
This Miraishin no Oka was created by sculptor Itto Kuetani. In the vast land of approximately 5,000 square meters, various marble art work scatter here and there.
From here you can overlook Seto Inland Sea where cherry blossoms profusely bloom in spring and autumn foliage covers the land in the fall. How about visiting this place from season to season to view its different faces?
There is a café and by all means please enjoy the view there!
<Kosanji Temple & Miraishin no Oka>
Access：About 1 hour and 15 minutes from JR Onomichi Station by ferry, or 1 hour by bus.
Website: Kosanji Temple & The Hill of Hope
Access to Onomichi
Highway Express Bus: The buses operate from the main big cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka.
Bullet-train / Train: Get on the Bullet-train from the Tokyo or the Osaka stations and get off at the Shinonomichi station. Between Shinonomichi and Onomichi stations, a bus operates. (It operates every 10-30 minutes. It takes 15 minutes.)
Get off the local train on the JR Sanyo-line at the Onomichi station.
Airplane: You can fly from Sapporo, Sendai and Tokyo (Haneda) Airports to the Hiroshima Airport. (There are international airlines between Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Hiroshima.)
From Hiroshima Airport, you can take the Airport-bus (the Onomichi-Hiroshima Airport-line) directly to Onomichi. (They have 2 services per day. It takes about 50 minutes.)