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top things to do in Onomichi, Japan

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Onomichi is a quaint port town in Hiroshima Prefecture known for its temples, cats, and cycling. The city consists of the slopey mainland and some of the neighbouring islands in the Seto Inland Sea connected by Shimanami Kaido, one of world’s best bike routes.

I discovered Onomichi while researching for my 7-week solo trip to Japan. I knew I wanted to visit Onomichi as soon as I learned about the city. Not only am I drawn to all the historical temples and sites, but I am also interested in cycling through one of the most popular bikeways called Shimanami Kaido.

You may not have heard of Onomichi as it is not as well known as Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima. But it is the precise reason why you should get off the beaten path in Japan and travel to Onomichi. The city has so much to offer, and I will show you exactly what you can do in 2 days.

Quick travel tips for visiting Onomichi Japan

Before you visit Onomichi, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for travelling to Onomichi:

  • Onomichi is a small town; walking is a great way to see the city
  • the most convenient and affordable bicycle rental is the one by the harbour called Ekimae-kowan Car Park
  • ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation including bus, train and etc. It is useful to have especially if you are taking day trips to Okayama, Naoshima, Teshima or destinations.
  • it is possible to see all the Onomichi attractions in one day
  • Depends how much of Shimanami Kaido you want to bike, set aside a day to a few days to your itinerary.
  • if you are only visiting Onomichi as a day trip, there are plenty of coin lockers. There are coin lockers at Onomichi Station (before you exit), the Onomichi tourist information desk just at the south exit for ¥500, across the street from the south exit for ¥300 and at the bike rental for ¥500.
  • Lawson – a Japanese convenience store where you can pick up food and get money from the ATM. There is one just south of Onomichi Station.

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Onomichi Station
Onomichi Station

How to get to Onomichi

Onomichi is a small town 40km east of Hiroshima in Hiroshima Prefecture. The closest airport is Hiroshima Airport. Many domestic and international flights arrive at Hiroshima Airport.

From Hiroshima Airport to Onomichi

  • Hiroshima Airport Limousine Bus 

Whether you are travelling from either east or west of Onomichi, you can arrive directly into Onomichi Station. Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares. Here are a few sample routes:

From Osaka to Onomichi

  • JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen
    • Shin-Osaka Station to Mihara Station
    • Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
    • Cost: from ¥8,820 (covered by Japan Rail Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
  • San-yo Line
    • Mihara Station to Onomichi Station
    • Time: 12+ minutes
    • Cost: from ¥240 (covered by Japan Rail Pass)

From Hiroshima to Onomichi

  • JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen and Mihara Line 
    • Hiroshima Station to Mihara Station (JR Tokaido-Sanyo)
    • Mihara Station to Onomichi Station (Mihara Line)
    • Time: 66+ minutes
    • Cost: from ¥3,740 (covered by Japan Rail Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
  • San-yo Line
    • Hiroshima Station to Onomichi Station (change train at Itozaki Station)
    • Time: 90+ minutes
    • Cost: from ¥1,490 (covered by Japan Rail Pass)
Onomichi U2 Hotel has a general store, bakery, restaurant and bike shop
Onomichi U2 Hotel has a general store, bakery, restaurant and bike shop

Where to stay in Onomichi

There are a few budget accommodations in Onomichi, but they are quite limited. However, there are more choices if you don’t mind paying a bit more for mid-range hotels. And if you are a cyclist, try the Onomichi U2 hotel which is designed for cyclists.

  • Guesthouse Anago ($) – just off the hondori (main shopping street), you can get a bunk bed in a renovated guesthouse. The building was formerly a fabric store.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Sima Inn ($$) – sleep on tatami mats in a traditional Japanese room in the renovated space.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Green Hill Hotel Onomichi ($$) – get a comfortable single bedroom close to Onomichi Station. Try to get one of the rooms facing the harbour.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Onomichi U2 Hotel / Hotel Cycle ($$) – located right by the harbour, the modern contemporary hotel is set in a refurbished warehouse space that is tailored for visitors who wants to explore Onomichi by bike. You can rent a bike at the Giant bike store, which is in the hotel, and bring your bike all the way to your hotel room. Also, the hotel has a restaurant, a cafe and a bar on the premise. The food is excellent in the hotel restaurant. Worth staying as it is Japan’s first hotel designed for cyclists.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

Airbnb accommodation

  • Cost: up to ¥4,000 per day
  • While staying long-term is not necessary to see Onomichi, it is an excellent place to stay because of its close vicinity to many other towns.
  • I stayed at an Airbnb apartment near the ropeway. The brand new apartment has a full bathroom, kitchenette and washing machine. Even though space is small, it has everything you need for a comfortable stay.
  • There are few Airbnb options in Onomichi. If you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.

Related Post – Everything you need to know before booking Airbnb

Things to do in Onomichi Japan

Even though Onomichi is quite small, the city has a lot of attractions and many unique things to do. Onomichi is famous for its temples along the Temple Walk and a fantastic view of the town from Senko-ji Park.

All the top things to do in Onomichi are pinned in the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.

1 & 2. Onomichi Temple Walk and Tennei-ji Temple

The famous Onomichi Temple Walk connects 25 Buddhist temples along the hillside town. As you walk through the 2.5km narrow marked path, you can see the old residential neighbourhood and historical temples and shrines. The city was once a shipping hub, and many temples were built to commemorate the wealthy merchants during the Edo Period. Today, some of these temples are designated as national historic landmarks.

Along the path, you see some of the more famous temples like Tennei-ji Temple. The three-tiered pagoda is a prominent landmark for the city. It was initially a five-tiered pagoda.

Temple Walk starts from the bridge just north off of the hondori (covered main street), only a few minutes east of Onomichi Station. 

3. Neko no Hosomichi (Cat Alley)

Random cats roam the Cat Alley, hence the name. They are quite “friendly.” I saw a girl with a cat on her lap while I walked through the alley. It looked like the cat jumped on her lap and she wasn’t able to move. Then minutes later, a tiny little kitten tried to jump on me. Of course, I freaked out and ran. I’m more of a dog person. Ha! Look out for fukuishineko, lucky stone cats, around the cat alley as well.

4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 Senko-ji Park

One of the best ways to see Onomichi is by visiting Senko-ji Park. You can either walk up Temple Walk or take the Senko-ji Mountain Ropeway (¥320 one way or ¥500 round trip, every 15 minutes). There are temples and shrines at the top and also an Observatory platform where you can see Onomichi from above. The park is especially pretty during the cherry blossom season (late March to early April) when 1500+ trees are in full bloom. It is one of the best places in Japan to see cherry blossoms.

While you are roaming through the park, visit Senko-ji Temple, which is perched near the top of the hill. Many different rock formations are surrounding the red temple. The most notable rock, the “Jewel Rock,” a sphere rock on top of another giant rock, is said to illuminate the Seto Inland Sea. While you are there, take in the unobstructed view of Onomichi.

Follow the signs and find The Path of Literature. Onomichi is known for its literary roots, and the charming city inspired many well-known poets and writers. The path has 25 stone monuments with some portion of famous authors’ work inscribed into the stones. Follow the signs, and they will lead you to the trail, which zigzags at the top of Senko-ji Park.

Even though there is the ropeway, I would suggest walking up to Senko-ji Park instead. The walk is not strenuous and is rather quick. Plus there are things to see along the way.

9 & 10. Jodo-ji Mountain

At the west end of Temple Walk, you will find Jodo-ji Temple, the temple of Shingon Buddhism. After visiting the temple, follow the path behind the Jodo-ji and hike up Jodoji Mountain. It will take about 45 minutes or so. But the hike is worth it! You can see Onomichi from another angle.

11. Onomichi City Museum of Art

From Senko-ji Park, follow the signs and path, and it will lead you to the Onomichi City Museum of Art. Designed by a famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, the museum has displays of artwork by local and western artists. Different exhibitions have different admission prices. Check their website before visiting.

12. Onomichi Cinema Museum

In the renovated warehouse space, the museum displays anything that has to do with movies and Onomichi. Also known as “City of Film,” Onomichi’s unique qualities have influenced many movie production companies to film their movies in the city. Some of the famous movies include “Tokyo Monogatari” directed by Yasujiro Ozu, and “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” an animated film based on the novel.

13. Eat a bowl of Onomichi Ramen

Onomichi is famous for its ramen! The soy sauce-flavoured soup, stock made from chicken and fish, and is served with firm, flat noodles with pork back fat. And it comes with bamboo shoots and charsiu (pork) as well.

14. Try other local cuisines in Onomichi

The warm climate in the Seto Inland Sea region has the perfect weather to grow citrus fruits. You will find the lemon flavour in a lot of food. And because Onomichi is the city that connects all the towns and islands in the Seto Inland Sea, the local culinary scene is heavily influenced by the food grown in the Setouchi area.

Try some of these local specialties:

  • Hassaku daifuku – a Japanese rice cake with fleshy orange inside, originated from Innoshima Island, along Shimanami Kaido.
  • Onomichi custard pudding – a creamy custard pudding in a vintage glass bottle. It comes with lemon syrup in a little plastic fish bottle.
  • Ice monaka – the yummy ice-cream between two wafers is best after a long bike ride.
  • Setouchi lemon – 60% of Japan’s lemons are grown in this region. So expect to find all types of lemon flavour desserts.

Where to eat in Onomichi

Eating in Onomichi is very affordable!  If you are dining alone in one of the restaurants in Onomichi, you can get an excellent meal for less than ¥1000. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ramen Shukaen ($) – a popular restaurant for Onomichi ramen. They only serve a few things, and the menu is right at the cash register/kitchen counter. You order at the counter, pay and they will bring your food to you. Can’t go wrong with a bowl of Onomichi ramen for just ¥600! Go early or late to avoid queues.
  • Ramen Miyachi ($) – a little unassuming ramen restaurant that also serves delicious Onomichi ramen.
  • Karasawa Ice Cream ($)  – a cute little dessert store that sells ice monaka, coffee and other desserts. Even though the menu is in Japanese, the simple menu is quite easy to understand.
  • Yamaneko Mill ($) – a quaint coffee house that serves delicious caffeinated beverages. And they make a pudding that is famous in Onomichi. The pudding comes in a cute, vintage glass jar that is great for a souvenir as well.
  • Antenna Coffee House ($) – an excellent spot for a break while walking through the Temple Walk.
  • Panya Koro ($)  – a small Japanese bakery that has the prettiest and tastiest baked goods. I had a matcha flavoured bagel, and it was the best bagel I ever had!
  • Onomichi Fukuya ($)  – the basement level of the department store sells prepared meals.
  • Onomichi U2 restaurant ($$)  – get a pizza or pasta set lunch for ¥1,500, or grill set lunch from ¥1,800. A set meal comes with a salad, bread, and drink. Not a bad price for all the food you get and you can enjoy the beautiful ambiance of the restaurant and hotel.
  • Komedoko Shokudo ($$) – just behind and above Yameneko Mill, the cozy little restaurant serves modern Japanese cuisine.

 

Related Post – How to spend 4 weeks in Japan: from Tokyo to Hiroshima

Onomichi day trips

Biking on Shimanami Kaido: Innoshimao Bridge
Biking on Shimanami Kaido: Innoshimao Bridge

Shimanami Kaido

Most people visit Onomichi because they want to cycle through Shimanami Kaido bikeway, one of the best cycle routes in Japan. The entire cycle route is about 60km and connects six islands in the Seto Inland Sea and takes you from Onomichi to Imabari.

As one of the most famous cycle routes in Japan, the entire cycle route will take about eight to ten hours to complete. Finding the path is super easy. All you have to do is follow the blue line, and it will take you from Onomichi to Imabari.

There are various ways to experience Shimanami Kaido. As a day trip, you can do a combination of bike and ferry. If you want to stay overnight, you can bike all the way to Imabari, stay overnight, and bike back to Onomichi the next day.

My advice is to see Shimanami Kaido in one day where you cycle halfway and cycle back to Onomichi.

The day trip consists of a 2.5-hour cycle (30km) there, and another 2.5-hour cycle on the way back. It costs ¥110 for the ferry between Onomichi to Mukaishima, and there is no toll crossing for bridges if you are on a bicycle. The journey takes you to Ikuchijima where you can see Kosanji Temple and Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art.

There is a bike rental at Ekimae-kowan Car Park in Onomichi. You can rent a bike for ¥1000 a day (and ¥1000 deposit which you will get back when you return it to the same terminal). Or you can return the bike at one of the terminals on the island and take the ferry back to Onomichi. You can reserve a regular bike here.

There is so much to see along Shimanami Kaido. Check out the Shimanami Kaido cycling map and learn about the area and plan your cycle trip.

Initially, I felt intimidated by the idea of cycling through Shimanami Kaido. I felt that mostly because I was nervous about finding my way or not able to navigate the route. But my nervousness quickly disappeared at the beginning of my journey. All I had to do was follow the blue line on the ground and English signs all around. It is almost impossible to lose the path!

I always try to find the most budget-friendly way to see a new place. Not only is cycling on Shimanami Kaido is a fun way to visit the islands and also the most economical way. Meanwhile, a lot of activities in Onomichi is free. So if you are on a tight budget, Onomichi is an excellent place for budget travellers in Japan.

Shimanami Kaido 1 day itinerary

  • Walk towards the harbour, pick up any last-minute items at Lawson. You might want to bring some sandwiches, onigiri, water and other snacks.
  • Cross the street and rent a bike from the bike rental booth at Ekimae-kowan Car Park
  • Once you have your bike, walk over to Onomichi Port and take the ferry over to Mukaishima. Find the blue line and start your cycling journey!
  • Some parts of the path are quite scenic. And there are spots along the way where you can rest. Might be good places to have a snack or lunch.
  • Before you reach Ikuchijima, you will pass Innoshima Bridge, Ikuchi Bridge. The path is not difficult. However, there is a bit of uphill climb before you cross the bridge.
  • After about 30km of cycling, you will reach Kosanji Temple. Park your bike just outside of the temple. Make sure you see all the colourful Buddhist temples, the lower-level caves and the abstract marble statues called Miraishin no Oka.
  • Walk over Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art and see Ikuo Hirayama’s paintings.
  • On your way back to Onomichi, pick up some citrus flavour gelato at Dolce Ice Cream.
  • Cycle all the way back to Mukaishima where you take the ferry back to Onomichi.
  • Return your bike at the rental and collect your ¥1000 deposit back.

Okunoshima Island

Also known as Rabbit Island, hundreds of rabbits roam freely around the small island. It is said that the island used to have a military lab where they make and test poisonous gas and maybe the rabbits were abandoned and left there. You can buy some rabbit food on the mainland before you get on the ferry. Please remember to be gentle with these little fuzzy creatures.

While you are on the island, explore some of the hiking trails and learn about the history of the island at the Poison Gas Museum.

From Onomichi Station, take the JR San-yo Line to Mihara Station (13 minutes, ¥240). From Mihara Station, take the bus to Tadanoumi Port. Then catch a ferry to Okunoshima Island. The ferry takes about 15 minutes and costs ¥360, and it leaves every half hour from 7:45 to 19:30. Check the ferry schedule here.

Tomonoura

As a quaint port town just south of Fukuyama, Tomonoura is the perfect place for a day trip. Tour the picturesque old town center where shops in the old wood houses sell homeishu (medicinal liquor) and see the boats docked at the pier. Do not miss the Joyato Lighthouse, Ioji Temple and make sure to visit Fukuzenji Temple for its fabulous views of the islands nearby.

From Onomichi Station, take the JR San-yo Line to Fukuyama Station (20 minutes, ¥410). Then take a bus bound for Tomo Port (38 minutes, ¥550).

 

So, are you ready to get off the beaten track itinerary in Japan and explore Onomichi? I thoroughly enjoyed Onomichi! And I hope you will too and find my Onomichi Japan guide useful for planning your trip to Japan!

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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