Enjoy the Inland Sea of Japan: Setonaikai

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Recommended spots > Mihara/Onomichi Area

Mihara/Onomichi Area

1. Onomichi ”φ“Ή
A picturesque port town on a slope overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. Famous for temples, views, films, literature and art.

2. Shimanami Kaido@‚΅‚ά‚Θ‚έŠC“Ή: general
A series of seven bridges that start in Onomichi and lead all the way across six islands to Imabari in Shikoku. It is possible to cycle along the whole route.

3. Shimanami Kaido: Setoda £ŒΛ“c and Omishima ‘εŽO“‡ one-day course
Setoda (on Ikuchijima Island) and Omishima Island are located in the middle of Shimanami Kaido and offer the most in terms of sights, landscapes and facilities. Visiting both islands make for a nice day of cycling.

4. Yuge Island@‹|ν
Off the Shimanami Kaido, beaches, pine trees and onsen offer everything for a leisurely day.

5. Mitarai ŒδŽθτ@(Osakishimojima Island@‘εθ‰Ί“‡)
An Edo-period port town right out of the history book. The town was thriving as a trade and entertainment port for ships until the 1940fs; nowadays it is as quiet as you could wish for!

6. Osakikamijima ‘εθγ“‡ and Takehara ’|Œ΄

by local JR Sanyo line:
From Fukuyama 20min. (in the direction of Mihara, Hiroshima)
From Mihara 10 min. (in the direction of Okayama)
Shin-Onomichi station, were the Kodama-Shinkansen stops, is very inconvenient. Changing from Shinkansen to a local train at Fukuyama or Mihara and getting off at Onomichi station is easier and cheaper.

In Onomichi: The Retro Bus departing from in front of the station every 30 min. is convenient for sightseeing, for example to reach the foot of Senko-ji Ropeway (Nagaeguchi busstop) or Jodo-ji Tenple.

Information: pick up a basic pamphlet with a map including English place names at the station. For more details, tourist information offices are located in the large modern shell-shaped hall to the right of the station and in the shopping arcade.

Onomichi has a lot of character and personality that a lot of other towns on the coastal Inland Sea belt lack. It is famous for its picturesque hillside location with winding alleys and stairways, spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea, many beautiful temples and a rich heritage of literature, art and films. The most spectacular of it's temples is undoubtedly Senko-ji Senko-ji, on top of the hill just behind the station. There is a quaint little park on the top of the hill with an art museum partly designed by Tadao Ando. The park has plenty spots to have a coffee, lick at an ice-cream of any flavour or just sit and admire the view. It is particularly pretty in spring when the entire park is brought to life by the flowering of the Sakura (cherry blossom) trees and the throng of tourists which flock from all over to partake in 'hanami' each year.

Half-day course: If you have little time to spare, concentrate on Senko-ji and its surroundings. From the station, turn left, cross the railway and choose any of the paths leading up between the houses along the steep slope. The map and signs along the way will help you not to get too lost - but then again, getting lost is the best part of visiting Onomichi, as you will discover small gardens, galleries, cafes and mini-museums along your way. You can also take a bus and then the ropeway to reach the top of Senko-ji Park.

On top of Senko-ji Park, don't miss climbing to the viewing platform! Then head down along the Path of Literature (Bungaku no komichi Bungaku no komichi). It features 24 stones, carved with memorable quotes from Japanese authors somehow linked to Onomichi; alas, they're all in Japanese, but it's a pleasant stroll just the same. You will soon reach Senko-ji Temple, the largest temple on the hill, spectacularly located between large rocks. Continue to the bottom of the hill, where the path merges with the well-signposted Historical Temple Walk (Kodera-meguri Kodera-meguri), which connects 25 of Onomichi's better-known temples in a 2-kilometer east-west walk. Senko-ji is #7, heading west will take you back to the train station while at the eastern end (#23) is Jodo-ji (Jodo-ji). Alternatively you can walk back to the station through the 'hondori' or covered shopping district which is still very much alive and has some interesting retro style shops, for example a former public bath turned cafe.

Whole day course: take the Retro Bus to Jodo-ji and walk your way back along Historical Temple Walk, up to Senko-ji Park and back to the station, enjoying the view of the sea and the leisurely atmosphere of the old town.

Eat and rest: Onomichi is awash with coffee shops, one of the most popular being Commons (http://www.common.jp/index2.html) at the foot of the ropeway, famous for its waffles. However, there are not many restaurants along the hillside, so to eat something substantial, you will have to leave the temple loop walk and look around the shopping arcade or along the road parallel to the sea.

Onomichi Ramen is a well known and popular soup based noodles dish. The soup is made from a soysauce and slightly fishy base with pork, spring onions and bamboo shoots. Popular shops are Shukaen Shukaen south of the ropeway station on the wide street leading towards the sea, which always has a long queue outside, and Tsutafuji Tsutafuji- just round the corner from Shukaen. You can also enjoy Italian food in a pizzeria just opposite Tsutafuji.

The Green Hill Hotel
occupies the best location, opposite the station on the sea front. The first floor of the Hotel serves as Port Terminal, from a cafe terrace on the second floor you can watch the ships come and go.

English tourist information:

Shimanami Kaido
By bus: from Fukuyama by Shimanami Liner
By boat: there are frequent high-speed boats from Mihara to Setoda and less frequent from Mihara to Omishima and from Onomichi to Setoda or Innoshima.
By bicycle: Shimanami Kaido is a popular cycling course. See below for details.

The Shimanami Kaido is a series of 7 bridges that start in Onomichi and lead all the way across 6 islands to Imabari in Shikoku. An increasingly popular way to take in the views at a slow pace and not behind the window of a car is by bicycle. The Onomichi Shimanami Council has set up a very reasonable bicycle rental service, whereby you can rent or return bicycles at any one of the 'stations' on the islands, in Onomichi or Imabari.

Prices: adults: 500yen per day; children: 300yen per day; electrically assisted bicycle: 800yen per day. Each bicycle requires a 1000yen deposit that will be lost if you return the bicycle at a different station and a passport or drivers licence for ID.
Rent a cycle at the Municipal Parking Garage behind the Green Hill Hotel in Onomichi, 5min. walk from the station along the coast. Then take the ferry opposite from the station crossing the Onomichi channel to Mukaijima constantly. There you can start cycling along the designated course.

Each island has a unique atmosphere and the cycle course follows smaller roads or a separate route to the cars, so for the most part you can cycle in peace and tranquillity admiring the views. The views along the way are breathtaking and if you go at the right time of year, spring is by far the best, you can see lots of ripe mikans (oranges) or lemons and many other types of flowers which line the route along the way.

The total distance from Onomichi to Imabari is
Town @ Distance(km)
Onomichi Mukaishima Ferry
(frequent crossings)
Mukaishima Innoshima 8.1
Innoshima Ikuchijima(Setoda) 12.9
Ikuchijima(Setoda) Omishima 19.2
Omishima Hakata 9.6
Hakata Oshima 5.9
Oshima Imabari IC 11.5
Imabari IC Imabari city 40
@ Total to Imabari IC 67.2km to city =107.2k

Depending on your fitness and luggage the one way trip across the bridges is feasible in one day, but you have more time to enjoy the islands if you stay for a night. Alternatively you can combine bike, bus and boat to enjoy parts of the cycling course.

Another possibility to enjoy this area is by sea-kayak, which allows you to see the bridges from water level. It is also possible to combine kayak and cycling. Currents in this area, for example under the last bridge to Shikoku, are up to 6 knots strong, so it is advisable to start with a guided tour.

General information in English can be found on the HP of Systematized Goodwill Guide Club:
All you need to know about the Shimanami Kaido including access, rental cycles, accommodation, - unfortunately in Japanese:

Kayak: SETOUCHI Seakayak Adventures Murakami Suigun (Contact: Mr. Murakami)
Tel: 090-8718-4141
e-mail:m-yasu@qd5.so-net.ne.jp (Engl. mail ok)

For bus times of Shimanami Liner, which connects all the islands:
http://www.urban.ne.jp/home/chubus/shima2.htm (Jap.)

For boat times, the Minato Navi page has a little English. Click "operation schedule by line", and you can find the necessary boat connections and a map:


The best choice is to stay on one of the middle islands, either Setoda (Ikuchijima) or Omishima.

Omishima: there are two big and modern campsites with showers, tent-hire, restaurants and barbeque rentals. The first is just below the Tatara bridge to Setoda, called the Toitakaigan Campsite, and the other is the Mori Campsite not quite as big but still very well equipped.
http://itp.ne.jp/contents/kankonavi/ehime/camp/ehi_cam03.html (Jap.)

Furusato Ikoi no Ie Furusato Ikoi no Ie offers the unique experience of staying in an old wooden school building right on the coast, 20 min. by bus or 30 by bike from Oyamazumi-jinja Shrine. Omishima Furusato Ikoi no Ie 5208-1 Munakata, Omishima-cho, Imabari. Phone: 0897-83-1111 (Jap.)

Setoda: there are youth hostels and a few ryokan; check below for the youth hostel:

There is a campsite at Sunset Beach and a KOA log-house camping on the southern coast

Shimanami Kaido
By boat: Mihara Port: 5 min. walk South of Mihara Station: Cross the traffic-light, follow the board-walk sideway and then the underground passage.

Onomichi Port:
opposite the station on the ground floor of the Green Hill Hotel.
High-speed boat Mihara-Setoda (boats almost every 30 minutes, 30 min. ride); Mihara-Omishima (Iguchi Port) (6 boats per day, 40 min.), Onomichi - Setoda (9 boats per day, 40 min.). As there are fewer boats to Omishima, you will be more flexible if you start from there and cycle to Setoda.

Boat Schedule:
http://www2.uminet.jp/mihara/index.php (Mainly Jap.)

Rental Cycle:
Omishima: at the foot of Tatara-Ohashi Bridge (to Setoda) or next to Oyamazumi-jinja Shrine. Setoda: At the tourist information office at the Belcante Hall and at Sunset Beach.

The main attraction of Omishima island is Oyamazumi-jinja Oyamazumi-jinja, a very big and impressive shrine. The museum next to the shrine houses 80% of Japan's samurai swords and artifacts, definitely worth a visit. From Omishima Iguchi Port, take a local bus (to Miyaura-ko Port Miyaura-ko, 8 buses per day, 6 min.) or taxi to Oyamazumi-jinja. Leaving the shrine, to the left, you will find restaurants and souvenir shops; to the right, there is the cycle station where you can rent your bike for the day. Buy something for a picnic, as there are few shops until you reach Setoda. Follow the cycle road over the hill through mandarin groves almost back to Iguchi Port and along the coast to the second cycle station at the foot of Tatara-ohashi bridge Tatara-Ohashi. On the way, you will see Tatara-onsen Tatara-onsen on the right side, a pleasant little hot spring were you can relax for \300.

After a steep climb to the bridge, you will have a spectacular view of the sea and surrounding islands. Throw the fee for the bridge (\100) in the box at the entrance. From the bridge, a pleasant ride below palm-trees along the sea-side will take you first to Sunset-Beach (beach, restaurant, campsite, sports facilities), then past Setoda Youth Hostel into Setoda.

On the way, you can enjoy some artwork, like a structure with white wings standing in the sea. In Setoda, hand back the cycles at the tourist information.

If you like special but a bit strange places, don't miss Kosan-ji Kosan-ji Temple.

Kosan-ji Inside the spacious temple grounds, you can climb up to the hill covered in white Italian marble or dive into the depth of the Buddhist hell cave.

There is also an art museum with pictures of Hirayama Ikuo, a Japanese-style painter born on the island. A 15 min. stroll along Shiomachi shopping street will take you to Setoda Port.

Yuge Island
You can only get to Yuge by boat, there are no bridges to the island.
The main ferry port to the island is from Innoshima, for ferry times please go to:
High-speed boats run from Onomichi 6 times per day.

Yuge is a small island to the side of Shimanami Kaido. There are 2 ports, Yuge PortYuge Port and Kamiyuge Port Kamiyuge Port. Kamiyuge Port still has alleys steeped in history. Also this area has some old-style streets. There is a sea-water onsen, Shionoyu Shionoyuwhich is based on the Thalassic therapy with the sea water in this area.

Many of the baths soothe the body by using different types of salt. Salt used to be produced on this island. Yuge is still very much untouched and there's a definite feel of the 'old Japan' here. Bicycle rental is possible at the tourist information in the Log House at the harbour. Yuge has one of the best beaches in the area, Matsubara kaisuiyokujoMatsubara kaisuiyokujo, lined with pine trees under which it is possible to camp.

Public Lodge Yuge Public Lodge Yuge right above the beach, also has an onsen and offers fresh seafood.
http://www12.ocn.ne.jp/%7Elodge1/ (Jap.)

Toyoshima Community Center Toyoshima Community Center is a cheap, unique public lodging facility located on a small, almost uninhabited island south of Yuge.

The islands' main webpage is only in Japanese:

Unfortunately, boat connections to Mitarai and Ocho, the nearest port, have been reduced rapidly, especially since the island has been connected to Honshu by the Akinada Tobishima Kaido, a set of four bridges.

Access from Mihara: JR Kure Line to Takehara High-speed boat Takehara Port -Ocho (40min., 6 boats per day, about 1200\) http://www.boyo.co.jp/sanyo/

Access from Hiroshima: by bus from Hiroshima Bus Center or Hiroshima Station (2h20min., 4 buses per day, about 2000\) http://www.h-buscenter.com/kamagari.html

Mitarai used to be the main port providing daily necessaries and a little food to the returning northerly trade ships, but it also became a transit trade port which bought products from other provinces such as rice from the ships and resold them to other places. Mitarai, which has been designated as a historic conservation district of national importance , was built in the Edo period and flourished as an ocean and domestic port. This port used to be a relay point for carrying rice, herring and seaweed grown along the Japan Sea coast to Osaka and Kyoto, and especially the "Mitarai price" of rice is famous for having adjusted its supply and demand at this port with an eye to the average price of the rice in Osaka.

Another interesting point is that the port was often used as a resting point by feudal samurai lords, on their way to and from Edo, the old capital. This, along with the visits of Dutch traders and merchants, created a vibrant atmosphere, bringing together wealth and culture. Even after ships didn't rely on wind and tides any more, they would stop by in Mitarai to enjoy the entertainment quarters. Only after 1945 has the place declined in importance and become the quiet spot visitors enjoy. These days, 50% of the island's population is over 65 years old.

The building of the information center, Shiomachikan Shiomachikan was rented by a generous local landowner and the residents fixed the interior and the facilities by themselves. There are volunteer tour guides here. (Tel: 08466-7-2278)

discover the old port town with the stone steps leading into the water, climb History Hill to enjoy the view and see the graveyard of the courtesans who used to work in the town, sit at the harbour and look at the waves, cycle round the island or across some small bridges to the neigbouring island. If you understand Japanese, a tour with the volunteer guides adds a whole new dimension to the place. Some of the buildings are open to the public, for example Otome-za Otome-za, a former cinema, and Wakaebisu-ya Wakaebisu-ya , a former brothel.
There are very few restaurants in Mitarai, and these few often close on Sundays, so you might want to buy a picnic.

Furusato Gakuen Furusato Gakuen is a nice old school building were you can stay and cook for yourself for a very reasonable price of 1500\.

Sea Station Yutakamachi (Umi no eki Yutakamachi, Umi no eki Yutakamachi,@Umi no eki Yutakamachi, Tel. 08466-7-2250 (Jap.)) is a little hotel close to the ferry Port of Ocho (with a short o, not to confuse with Ocho with a long o!) with an adjacent pleasure boat harbour for visiting boats, a small convenience store and a cafe with bakery.

the same boat that goes to Mitarai and Ocho stops at four harbours on Osakikamijima on the way, the most important being Tenman Tenman in Kinoe Village Kinoe and Nakaura Nakaura.

The main attraction on Osakikamijima is the hot spring at the Seifukan Hotel Seifukan, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the islands while soaking in an outdoor bath. Below the hotel, there is also a small beach. The hotel is about 30 minutes walk from both ports; if you stay overnight or travel in a group, there is a pick-up service.

Hiking: If you arrive at Tenman, you will soon notice a very colourful Chinese style building on the way to Seifukan. This is the local community hall. An elevator leads to the graveyard on the second floor; from there you can start to hike up Mt. Kamizaki Mt. Kamizaki, which offers a good view from its 452m hight.
From here, you can also take a boat to Takehara Takehara on the mainland, another charming town with a well preserved townscape. From there, it is 20 min. by JR Kure line to Mihara or 30 min. by shuttle bus to Hiroshima Airport.

Seifukan; Bath only 1000 \, Overnight stay including meals from about 15.000\.
http://www.hotel-seifukan.co.jp/top.html (Jap.)

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