Wander the picturesque alleys of a historic port town built on a hill, known for its temples, and island hop by bike or boat
Onomichi is known as the “Town of Hills and Cats” and has prospered as a center of trade since the early 12th century. At the height of its prosperity, numerous temples were constructed, and large sums were invested in the development of the town. Many of the temples can still be seen today. Explore the narrow alleys and steep staircases that snake between homes and historic buildings, walk a hilly path dotted with temples and set sail from the port for islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
- The pleasant Onomichi Temple Walk—a scenic route that weaves through the town taking in 25 of its most important temples
- Senkoji Park for vistas of the Onomichi Channel and an Ando Tadao designed museum
- The two- and three-story pagodas at Senkoji and Jodoji temples
- Cycling the Shimanami Kaido
How to Get There
From Tokyo, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka Stations, take the JR Tokaido Sanyo shinkansen to Fukuyama Station. Change to the JR Sanyo Line towards Itozaki/Mihara to Onomichi Station.
From Hiroshima , take the JR Tokaido Sanyo shinkansen train to Mihara Station. Change to the JR San-yo Line to Onomichi Station.
Be aware that Nozomi trains don't stop at Mihara.
You can also take the bullet train to Shin-Onomichi Station and then take a local bus to Onomichi. Buses depart every 10-30 minutes, and the ride is 15 minutes to town.
Onomichi is home to an array of cultural properties including two National Treasures
The city's port opened in 1168 and served as a rice shipment center and trade hub
Senkoji Temple was founded in the 9th century
Onomichi is at the start of the 70-kilometer Shimanami Kaido cycling route
Walking the temple trail
The Temple Walk begins 200-meters east of Onomichi Station, passes a total of 25 temples and ends roughly 2.5 kilometers away. If you only want to walk the trail one way, take a taxi from the station and begin your journey at the opposite end. The walk itself can be completed in a little over an hour, but it is worth setting aside at least a half day so you can stop off along the way and explore some of the stone staircases and back alleys that lead off the walking route.
Among the various temples, several have been designated National Treasures and Culturally Important Properties. Jodoji, towards the far end of the walk, is said to have been founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622), one of the pioneers of Buddhism in Japan. The grounds feature a two-storied pagoda with gracefully sloping roofs. Both the pagoda and the main shrine building are designated National Treasures.
Things to see and do
Take some time to stray off the walking route and visit Senkoji Park at the top of a hill. There is an observatory with views out across the town and the Onomichi Channel as well as an art museum designed by world-famous architect Ando Tadao. If your legs are tired, there is a ropeway for your convenience. While in the vicinity of the park, pay a visit to Senkoji Temple for its impressive three-storied pagoda and the Amida Triad stone carvings in the grounds.
Other worthwhile attractions include the Hirayama Ikuo Museum , a museum dedicated to the work of the traditional nihonga-style painter, and the Onomichi Motion Picture Museum, a small but interesting museum for fans of Japanese cinema. If you happen to be in the area on August 18 of an even-numbered year, you should head to Jodoji Temple for a performance of the Yoshiwa Taiko Dance. It is a colorful dance unique to Onomichi that has been awarded cultural heritage status.
Onomichi looks out across multiple islands in the Seto Inland Sea and marks the start of the Shimanami Kaido cycling route—a 70-kilometer route crossing bridges, traversing islands and terminating in Shikoku at Imabari, Ehime Prefecture . Bicycles are available to rent near Onomichi Station and can be dropped off at a number of rental outlets and drop-off points along the route. If cycling isn't for you, ferries operate from Onomichi Port serving several of the Seto Inland Sea islands .