Be transported back in time to this untouched “Kyoto” of the south. A place not yet spoiled by industry or trampled by tourists.
With each step, a new discovery as you make your way through this vast maze of shrines, sloping hills, and coastal areas.
Onomichi City is like a maze characterized by hills, long staircases, and shrines. Bring a map or just get lost and wander around this magical place. Stop in a random café to take a break or go back to ask the cat you saw two turns back for directions. If you feel totally lost, just head down towards the ocean and everything will work out fine!
This picturesque town where daily life carries on has appeared frequently in movies and on television and is renowned for conveying the “real Japan”.
Onomichi is not like other major tourist hubs in Japan, life is simple here in Onomichi, and therein lies its charm. From morning to night, you will see ships on the bay and groups of students pedaling by on their way to school. At lunch time, you’ll see people hurry to line up at the local ramen shop. When there are religious events, you might see families converging on the shires and temples in the area. There is a certain small town sensibility that exists here, that is Onomichi.
In fact, Onomichi is famous as the location for <Tokyo Story>, a very highly regarded film which tops the BFI’s Director’s Top 100 films list. In addition, Onomichi is also a “literary city”, with famous Japanese novelists such as Naoya Shiga and Fumiko Hayashi living and working here.
The passing seasons of Onomichi in pictures.
The appearance and character of Onomichi changes dramatically with the seasons. In spring, the atmosphere is unusually lively and people are out drinking and socializing under the blooming cherry blossom trees of the many temples. Summer brings the long awaited summer festival. Fireworks fill the skies, glistening on the ocean like fire and illuminating the town below, the perfect summer getaway. In fall, the town is transformed into a collage of deep reds, burnt oranges, and crisp yellows that bleed into each other to create a breathtakingly colorful “Kyoto of the South”. Finally, in winter the custom of praying for good fortune for the New Year can be seen playing out as droves of families dress in hakama and kimono, for him and her respectively and head towards the shrines and temples in the area. So, no matter when you visit, you can get a glimpse of real Japan.
Must See Spots in the Area.
In addition to Onomichi City and Shimanami Kaido, Hiroshima is also home to two famous Japanese Unesco World Heritage Sites. There is the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine and its famous “Torii” gate that seems to float upon the shore of Miyajima Island at high tide.
The other is the Atomic Bomb Dome, which has the unique distinction of being the only of its kind in the world as no other country has ever been bombed in an active arena of war. It stands today, just as it did on August 6th, 1945. The site has been preserved as a reminder to the world of the destructive power of nuclear weapons and is a call for peace.
Itsukushima Shrine (A World Heritage Site)
Itsukushima is an island in the western part of the Inland Sea of Japan, located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay. It is popularly known as Miyajima , which in Japanese means the Shrine Island. Itsukushima is part of the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. Itsukushima is famous for the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to records, the shrine was established in 6th century. The island of Itsukushima, including the waters around it, are within Setonaikai National Park. This sea is affected by strong tides. At low tide, the bottom of the sea is exposed past the island’s torii gate. At high tide, the sea covers all the previously exposed seabed mud and fills areas underneath the shrine boardwalk.
Atomic Bomb Dome
At 8:15 in the morning on August 6th, 1945 an atomic bomb was dropped for the first time in the history of mankind. The blast site was directly over the dome, but amazingly it was not completely destroyed and still stands in its current form.
Though the dome is a constant reminder of the atrocities and tragedy suffered during the war, the people of the city came together to have the dome registered as a world heritage site in 1996 as an appeal for world peace and reminder of the destructive power of nuclear weapons.
For those looking to learn more about the bombing, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum tells the brutally honest story of what happened that day in 1945.
Takehara city = city of roof
Takehara has a 350-year history, spanning a period when merchants were the leading producers of salt and sake in Japan. Today you can see their old homes as well as the many public buildings erected with the town’s wealth, including old shrines and temples. Take a relaxing stroll through Takehara and enjoy a walk through time.
Okunoshima = Rabbit Island
Okunoshima lies in the Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a small island and can be accessed by ferry from Tadanoumi or Omishima. There are campsites, trails, and historically important areas on the island.
As a result of the many wild rabbits that inhabit the island, it referred to as Usagi Shima or “Rabbit Island”. Don’t worry though, they are rather tame and used to interacting with people.
Okunoshima also played a key role during World War II as the site of a poison gas factory (3rd photo) for much of the chemical warfare that was carried out in China.
Kure city= The City of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force
Since the 19th century, Kure has been home to naval bases that were strategically important during the Second World War. One of the largest battleships ever built, the Yamato was built in Kure and it’s still possible to see Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force battleships and submarines here in Kure. If you have ever seen the WW2 themed anime called, In this Corner of the World (98% on Rotten Tomatoes), it was set in Kure.
There is also an extremely prosperous and active shipbuilding industry here that produces non-military vessels.
Last, be sure to check out the Yamato Battleship Museum when you visit!