Onomichi is a picturesque coastal town located in the Hiroshima prefecture of Japan. With its stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea, charming shopping streets, and rich cultural heritage, Onomichi is a must-visit destination for any traveler to Japan.
In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best things to do in Onomichi, from iconic landmarks to hidden gems that are sure to make your trip unforgettable.
Key Take Aways:
- Wear comfortable shoes: Onomichi’s streets are steep and hilly
- Try the local ramen: Onomichi is famous for its ramen, so be sure to try a bowl or two during your stay.
- Take a bike ride: Rent a bicycle and cycle along the Shimanami Kaido route, which offers stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea.
- Visit Senkoji Temple: Catch the ropeway or hike up to Senkoji Temple and enjoy the stunning views.
- Don’t miss Cat Alley: A charming hillside alleyway filled with quirky cat-themed art.
- Take a walk along the waterfront: Onomichi’s waterfront offers a stunning backdrop for a leisurely stroll.
History Of Onomichi
The town has a rich history that dates back to the Edo period when it served as an important transportation hub for goods being transported between Osaka and Kyushu. During this time, Onomichi was a bustling port town with a thriving economy.
In the early 20th century, the town became an important center for shipbuilding and was a major contributor to Japan’s industrial growth.
However, during World War II, Onomichi suffered extensive damage due to air raids by the Allies. After the war, the town was rebuilt and revitalized, becoming a popular destination for tourists who were drawn to its scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage.
Today, Onomichi is known for its picturesque views of the Seto Inland Sea, charming shopping streets, and historic landmarks. Despite its growth and modernization, the town has managed to preserve its unique character and maintain its ties to its rich past.
This charming town is famous for its historic temples, beautiful gardens, and stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea. In this guide, we’ll take you on a tour of the 5 must-see attractions in Onomichi.
Senkoji Temple is one of the most famous temples in Onomichi, known for its stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea. The temple is located on a hill overlooking the town, and visitors can reach it by taking a cable car or hiking up the mountain.
The temple grounds feature beautiful gardens, a pagoda, and a main hall, which houses a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. From the temple’s observation deck, visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Onomichi and the surrounding islands.
Onomichi City Museum of Art
The Onomichi City Museum of Art is a must-visit attraction for art lovers. The museum is located in a historic building that was once a bank and features a collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by local artists.
The museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, sculptures, and installations, and there are also rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The museum is a great place to learn more about the city’s artistic heritage and to see some of the most innovative contemporary art from Japan and around the world.
Cycle the Shimanami Kaido
The Shimanami Kaido is a world-famous 70-kilometer-long cycling route that connects Honshu and Shikoku islands, passing through several small islands along the way. The road is famous for its beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea and has been named one of the best day cycling routes in the world.
You can rent some wheels in Onomichi and island hop your way to Imabari, enjoying the stunning scenery and stopping at small towns and islands along the way.
The cycle ride is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the region and get some exercise at the same time.
Onomichi Undercover Street
The Onomichi Undercover Street is a covered shopping street that starts next to the station and runs parallel to the waterfront for about 2 kms. The street features a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as a small-town atmosphere that is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
You can browse for souvenirs, and sample local snacks but the most interesting parts are the narrow sidestreets that lead off and contain some great little bars and restaurants.
Onomichi Tenneiji is a temple complex on the Onomichi hillside near cat alley and just below Senkoji. It is a stunning example of traditional Japanese architecture and the complex includes a five-story pagoda, the main hall, and several other buildings.
The view from just behind the pagoda is one of Onomichi’s iconic views and a great photo spot.
Try the Local Cuisine
Onomichi is known for its delicious cuisine, including its famous Onomichi ramen, a pork-based soup with curly noodles and local vegetables (see more below in this). Visitors can also try other local specialties, such as fried oysters, kaki-no-dote, and chuka-soba.
There are many restaurants and food stalls in the town that offer these delicious dishes plus a few more cosmopolitan menus such as the Onomichi U2 waterside restaurant.
Onomichi Temple Work
The Onomichi Temple Walk is a must-do for any traveler looking to explore the spiritual side of Japan. This ancient pilgrimage route is a network of 25 temples, some more spectacular than others.
Along the way, you can take in stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea, explore the quaint streets and hillsides of Onomichi, and even spot some local cats!
The route is also home to some of Japan’s most iconic shrines, like the Senkoji Temple, which is said to have been founded by Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.
Grab your route map from the tourist information center right next to the train station
Mukaijima Island is a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea, just a short ferry ride from Onomichi. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and stunning views of the surrounding islands. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and hiking on the island, as well as trying the local seafood at one of the island’s many restaurants. Mukaijima Island is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet in a beautiful natural setting.
Kosan-ji Temple is a stunning temple complex located on a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. The temple was built in the 1930s by a wealthy businessman and features buildings that are designed in a variety of architectural styles, including Japanese, Chinese, and European. Visitors can explore the temple’s gardens, which are filled with sculptures, fountains, and ponds, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding sea and islands.
Onomichi U2 is a unique shopping and dining complex that is located in a former warehouse. We go here for a great lunch (all-you-can-eat wood-fired pizza anyone?) every time we visit Onomichi along with an early morning espresso coffee hit on the outside seats next to the sea.
The complex features a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as a museum that showcases the history of the building and the city.
Overall Onomichi U2 is a great place to shop for souvenirs, enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee, rent a fancy road bike at the giant store or simply relax and take in the industrial-chic atmosphere of the complex.
Senkoji Temple Mountain Ropeway
The Senkoji Temple Mountain Ropeway is a cable car that takes visitors up to the top of Senkoji Temple mountain. The cable car ride is a scenic journey that offers stunning views of the town and the Seto Inland Sea.
At the top of the mountain, visitors can explore the Senkoji Temple complex, which features a variety of buildings and beautiful gardens. The mountain top also offers stunning panoramic views of the town and the surrounding natural beauty.
Cat Alley (Neko no Hosomichi)
Cat Alley, or Neko no Hosomichi, is a narrow set of alleyways hidden halfway up the hillside. It’s famous not so much for its large population of cats but more for its mini cat shrine and quirky titbits scattered around.
The alley is home to a few cats that we managed to spot. you can take a stroll through the alley and enjoy the charming atmosphere, as well as the company of the friendly feline residents.
The highlight for us was a charming little cafe there with an unforgettable view.
Onomichi is known for its delicious ramen noodles, which are made using a unique blend of pork and chicken broth. Visitors can sample Onomichi ramen at a variety of local restaurants, including Ramen Yamaneko and Onomichi Ramen Nakamura. The noodles are typically served with sliced pork, green onions, and other toppings, and are a must-try dish for any foodie visiting the town.
Onomichi Motion Picture Museum
The Onomichi Motion Picture Museum is a unique and fascinating museum that celebrates the history of Japanese cinema. The museum is located in a former movie theater and features exhibits on the history of Japanese film, including posters, props, and costumes from some of the most iconic films in Japanese cinema.
The museum also has a screening room where visitors can watch classic Japanese films and learn more about the history of the industry. The museum is a must-visit attraction for film lovers and anyone interested in the cultural heritage of Japan.
The Onomichi Waterfront is a scenic area that is located along the town’s port. The waterfront features a number of attractions, including a park, a marina, and a variety of shops and restaurants. Visitors can take a stroll along the waterfront and enjoy stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea, as well as the colorful boats and ships that are docked in the port.
Saikoku-ji Temple is a small temple that is located on a hill overlooking Onomichi. The temple is known for its beautiful gardens, which feature a variety of plants and trees, as well as a pond that is home to a number of koi fish. The temple’s main hall houses a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, and visitors can also explore the temple’s pagoda and other buildings. Saikoku-ji Temple is a great place to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of a traditional Japanese temple.
Tomonoura is a historic port town that is located just a short drive from Onomichi. The town is known for its beautifully preserved Edo-period buildings, including traditional houses, temples, and shrines.
Explore the town’s narrow streets and alleyways, enjoy fresh seafood at one of the town’s many restaurants, and take in the stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea. Tomonoura is a hidden gem that is well worth a visit.
Tsutsuji-so Garden is a beautiful Japanese garden that is located in the hills above Onomichi. The garden features a variety of plants and trees, including azaleas, camellias, and cherry blossoms, and offers stunning views of the town and the Seto Inland Sea.
Walk the garden’s winding paths, then relax on one of its many benches, and take in the peaceful atmosphere of this beautiful natural oasis.
Ushitora Shrine is a historic shrine that is located on a hill overlooking Onomichi. The shrine is known for its stunning views of the town and the Seto Inland Sea, as well as its beautiful torii gate, which is one of the largest in Japan. Visitors can climb the shrine’s stone steps and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this historic site, as well as the stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty.
How to Get to Onomichi
Onomichi is easily accessible from other parts of Japan by a variety of transportation methods. Here are some options:
- By train: The JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line connects Onomichi to major cities like Osaka, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka. From Tokyo, take the Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Osaka, then transfer to the Sanyo Shinkansen Line to Onomichi.
- By plane: Hiroshima Airport is the nearest airport to Onomichi, with daily flights from major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Sapporo. From the airport, take a limousine bus to Hiroshima Station, then transfer to the JR Sanyo Line to Onomichi.
- By bus: Buses from major cities like Osaka, Kobe, and Hiroshima also run to Onomichi. Willer Express and Hiroshima Bus are two major companies that offer services to the town.
- By car: Onomichi is located about 70 kilometers east of Hiroshima and can be accessed via the Sanyo Expressway or the Shimanami Kaido Expressway, which is a scenic route that crosses over the Seto Inland Sea.
Once you arrive in Onomichi, the town is easily explored on foot or by bicycle. Many of the major attractions are within walking distance of each other, and there are numerous rental shops that offer bicycles for rent.
The Sum Up
Onomichi is a charming town that is full of surprises, with something for everyone to enjoy. From Senkoji Temple to the Onomichi Motion Picture Museum, from cycling the Shimanami Kaido to trying the local cuisine, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this beautiful coastal town.
So if you’re planning a trip to Japan, be sure to include Onomichi on your itinerary. This picturesque town is a hidden gem that is waiting to be discovered. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, Onomichi is the perfect destination for travelers who are looking for an authentic Japanese experience.