When I first arrived to live and work in Japan I was placed in a small city called Onomichi (尾道). At the time there wasn't much information available online, but once I arrived I was pleasantly surprised. The city is located on the mainland of Honshu and extends onto the small islands towards Shikoku. Now, when I say city, that's the designated term for Onomichi, however, I often affectionally refer to it as a town due to the size and nature of the area.
The area of Onomichi you're most likely to visit is going to be the area surrounding JR Onomichi station, which is down by the ocean. The town can be rather quiet during the week, but really comes alive on weekends when domestic tourists visit on day trips.
It's definitely possible to see a fair chunk of this town in one day, however I do recommend spending two days if possible and really exploring the laneways, cafes, quaint little stores, and of course trying the local beer and relaxing by the waterfront. Keep in mind that you'll need to allow more time (1-3 days) if you plan to complete the Shimanami Kaido cycling route!
Feel free to pick and choose some suggested things to do from my curated list below to create your ultimate Onomichi itinerary.
Senkoji Temple (千光寺) and Ropeway
This temple is perhaps the most famous in Onomichi, and can't be missed on a trip to Onomichi. It's been perched in the same place on top of a mountain since the year 806. The temple grounds offer a peaceful environment for visitors to pray, buy fortunes, and admire the view.
I don't mind the walk up the mountain if the weather's good, however if its a hot or rainy day I prefer to take the ropeway up to the top. There are some great things to see on this walk, depending on which route you take, so I do recommend at least walking one way if you're able.
Feel free to wander off the main path onto the smaller more narrow paths. This whole area is off limits to cars as they simply wouldn't fit on the tiny pathways! You can find some extremely old houses, small parks, schools, cafes, sleepy cats... it all just depends on which path you choose to wander.
The temple and surrounding park offer great views of Onomichi, but if that's not enough for you, I recommend visiting the Senkoji Park Observatory. It recently underwent renovations and now has a much more spacious and modern design. It offers wonderful views out over the ocean and surrounding islands. It‘s conveniently located close to the ropeway at the top of the mountain.
Onomichi is a town filled with temples and shrines, so if that sounds appealing I also recommend visiting Saikokuji Temple and Jodoji Temple - two other main temples in the area. If you're a real history and temple buff, the city actually promotes a temple walk that winds for 2.5km around the city, visiting 25 temples along the way. You can pick up a map at the tourist information centre at Onomichi station.
Click on the images to expand.
Address in English: 15-1 Higashitsuchidocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0033
Name in Japanese: 千光寺
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0033 広島県尾道市東土堂町１５−1
Onomichi City Museum of Art
The Onomichi City Museum of Art is located in Senkoji Park. It originally opened in 1980, but underwent reconstruction in the early 2000's. The museum you see today is the work of the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and was unveiled in 2003. In addition to admiring the art and world class architecture, you can also enjoy a view out over the Seto Inland Sea from this museum, thanks to the large floor to ceiling windows.
The museum was all over the internet a few years ago when photos went viral on Twitter showing cats trying to enter the museum. The press soon caught on, and the story made it's way around the world. You can read more about the cats in this Asahi Shinbun article, and see pictures of the two menaces on Bored Panda.
The official museum homepage can be found here: https://www.onomichi-museum.jp/ (Japanese only.) The English section of this website has not recently been updated and contains incorrect information, so I've not bothered to link it here. I suggest using Chrome Translate on the official page for the most up to date information.
At the time of my visit there was a wonderful Tom & Jerry exhibition taking place (which I thoroughly enjoyed!), and at the time of writing there was a Pingu exhibition being advertised. If you've ever visited this museum, let me know what exhibition you saw by leaving a comment below.
Address in English: 17-19 Nishitsuchidocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0032
Name in Japanese: 尾道市立美術館
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0032 広島県尾道市西土堂町１７−19
Food and Drink
At first glance, it may seem difficult to find somewhere to eat in Onomichi, but you just gotta know where to look! The area between the arcade and the road by the ocean has some cafes, restaurants and take-out options scattered around, so I suggest wandering around and having a look at what's open.
The most famous dish in Onomichi is perhaps Onomichi Ramen, which you can find in abundance close to Onomichi station. Due to its location on the ocean you can also get some great seafood, and of course some great Hiroshimayaki!
In the list below you can find some of my favourite places to eat in Onomichi. I've visited all of these places at least once, and loved them each time. Please feel free to check out Trip Advisor for more Onomichi food recommendations.
Name: Onomichi Sakurachaya Ekimae / 尾道さくら茶屋 尾道駅前店
Serves: Japanese desserts
Address in English: 3-3 Higashigoshocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0036
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0036 広島県尾道市東御所町３−3
Name: Akatora / あかとら
Serves: Michelin starred Japanese lunch sets
Address in English: 2 Chome-4-43 Tsuchido, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0035
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0035 広島県尾道市土堂２丁目4-43
Name: Mamakariya II / ままかり家Ⅱ
Serves: Onomichi Ramen and Hiroshimayaki (my favourite Hiroshimayaki place in Onomichi)
Address in English: 2 Chome-9 Tsuchido, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0035
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0035 広島県尾道市土堂２丁目９
Name: Yamaneko Cafe / やまねこカフェ
Serves: Great lunch sets, good coffee and cute parfaits. Open for dinner with a varied menu. Vegan options available. My favourite place for lunch in Onomichi!
Address in English: 2 Chome-9-33 Tsuchido, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0035
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0035 広島県尾道市土堂２丁目９−33
Name: Beer Bar Clue / ビールバー クルー
Serves: Local and international craft beer
Address in English: 2 Chome-6-7 Tsuchido, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0035
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0035 広島県尾道市土堂２丁目６−7
Name: パン屋 航路 / Panya Koro
Serves: Freshly baked bread and pastries
Address in English: 1 Chome-3-31 Tsuchido, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0035
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0035 広島県尾道市土堂１丁目３−31
Tiny bread shop in the arcade. Offers take out only.
Name: Yasuhiro / 保広
Address in English: 1 Chome-10-12 Tsuchido, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-0035
Address in Japanese: 〒722-0035 広島県尾道市土堂１丁目１０−12
Chill Out By the Boardwalk With a Drink
Once exiting Onomichi station you'll be able to see the ocean directly across the road. There's a boardwalk and large deck in this part of the town with some tables and chairs where you can sit with a drink or a snack and enjoy the view.
Each time I visit Onomichi I like to buy a drink and a snack from the convenience store at the station and enjoy it by the water. The station convenience store offers the usual items, plus some local specialties like locally brewed beer and snacks made with citrus grown in the area. I often chilled out by the water here with my friends and coworkers after work or on the weekends when I lived in Onomichi, so it brings back fond memories.
If you walk left along the water the boardwalk will take you past the boats of local fishermen, all the way up to the Onomichi City Hall. You can actually access the rooftop of the city hall for a nice view out over the water if you so wish.
If you follow the boardwalk to the right, you can walk along the water to a warehouse called U2. U2 has a few different stores inside such as a bakery, cafe, Giant bike store, gift shop and a few others. Fun fact: When I lived in Onomichi U2 was an empty warehouse. I was glad to see it transformed into something that locals and visitors could both enjoy.
Its common to see large boats and ships moored around this area, as Onomichi has a thriving ship repair industry.
Onomichi Shotengai and Onomichi Alleyways
Onomichi shotengai is an undercover arcade that runs parallel to the ocean. The shotengai is fairly quiet on weekdays, but comes alive on weekends. The arcade and surrounding area (particularly the area between the arcade and the ocean) is where most of the restaurants and cafes are located. I suggest wandering around this area and walking into any store that appeals to you. You can find all kinds of things by roaming the area - second hand kimono, locally made cakes using lemons from the area, bakeries, handmade goods, heart-shaped donuts, Japanese pottery and kitchenwares, and so on.
You'll probably run into a few cats along the way. Onomichi is well known for the cats that roam the city, especially up toward the mountain area.
The Shimanami Kaido is a famous sea road that stretches for about 70km from Onomichi in Hiroshima to Imabari in Ehime prefecture. The route is popular with cyclists around the world with good reason. The route takes you over the Seto Inland Sea and across six islands with some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Japan. Bikes can be hired from Onomichi or Imabari from specially marked stands.
I recommend doing the trip over two days, so you can stop and enjoy the sights along the way, with Onomichi being either your start or end point. If you're short on time but still wanna give it a go, feel free to ride as far as time allows and catch a ferry the rest of the way to Onomichi or Imabari. If you're worried about attempting this alone, Viator usually has some private cycling tours on offer.
Personally, I rode the Shimanami Kaido twice at a leisurely and very relaxed pace with family from back home, but we only reached somewhere around the one third to half way point before catching the ferry back to Onomichi. On my third attempt I booked a ryokan well in advance and rode the route over two days. It gave me some time to stop and admire the scenery and enjoy the beaches, instead of zooming from point A to point B as many people do.
Sights of the Shimanami Kaido
Kosanji Temple & Miraishin no Oka on the Shimanami Kaido Cycling Route
I highly recommend stopping by Kosanji Temple (耕三寺) on Ikuchijima island along the way. Be sure to check out the interesting cave and Miraishin no Oka which is an art work made out of Italian marble. It really is a worthwhile stop! You can thank me later :)
Address in English: 553-2 Setodacho Setoda, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-2411
Name in Japanese: 潮聲山 耕三寺／耕三寺博物館
Address in Japanese: 〒722-2411 広島県尾道市瀬戸田町瀬戸田553-2
Dolce Ice-Cream on the Shimanami Cycling Route
One last recommendation along the Shimanami Kaido is Dolce Ice-cream on Setoda island. If you're taking the regular Shimanami Kaido cycling route (blue line), you'll easily be able to spot the store as you ride along the coast.
The store offers traditional ice-cream flavours, as well as specialty flavours made from locally grown ingredients such as fig and various types of citrus. The store is well-known in this area and definitely worth a stop.
Address in English: 20-8 Setodachohayashi, Onomichi, Hiroshima 722-2416
Name in Japanese: ドルチェ 瀬戸田本店
Address in Japanese: 〒722-2416 広島県尾道市瀬戸田町林20-8
Where I Stayed
During my most recent trip to Onomichi I stayed at Onomichi Royal Hotel, in a room overlooking the ocean.
The hotel is an unfussy business-style hotel with clean rooms. I would stay in this hotel again due to its good location, and wonderful view. Be sure to request an ocean view room at the time of booking if you want a similar view to what you see on the left.
If this hotel isn't a good match for you, I recommend staying somewhere within walking distance to JR Onomichi station.
I hope you found this Onomichi one day trip itinerary useful for planning your visit. Obviously if you want to attempt or complete the Shimanami Kaido Cycling Route you'll need to allocate more than one day for this itinerary, however, the cycling route may be a good way in to or out of Onomichi depending on your travel plans.
If you're looking for a few other activities to fill up your time in Onomichi I recommend checking out this page on Trip Advisor. As well as listing the top attractions, you can also find guided tours of the area.
I've heard from friends that Onomichi was featured in a video game called Yakuza 6: The Song of Life on PS4. I've never played it myself, but if you have, let me know if you spotted anything familiar! I'd love to know how it compares.
One last thing! I strongly suggest travelling into JR Onomichi station on the Sanyo line, instead of coming in on the shinkansen into Shin-Onomichi station. Shin-Onomichi is well out of the main city area and is approximately a 15min taxi ride to the area I've covered today. If you're coming from Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto by shinkansen the best option is to change at Fukuyama station from the shinkansen to the local Sanyo line. If you're unsure, speak to the staff at the ticket counter for advice.
If you’re planning to spend a little more time in Hiroshima, I recommend visiting the island of Miyajima. Click here to read my Perfect One Day Trip Itinerary for Miyajima.
Recommendations for booking accommodation, day trip tours and related travel needs. Accommodation: Agoda.com, Booking.com, HostelWorld.com Short tours, activities and day trips: GetYourGuide.com, Viator.com Reviews (restaurants, accommodation, local attractions etc.): TripAdvisor.com Travel Insurance: VisitorsCoverage.com Learn the lingo: italki.com Cheap travel essentials: Daiso, Amazon.com