Onomichi Walking Tour
Posted by Heliocentrism on October 9, 2016
Saturday, September 10th, 2016
Saturday, September 10th, 2016
I planned this trip. I was lucky enough to find the most wonderful tourist guide online in pdf form. It highlighted things to see in Onomichi. It was written by a person who understood what would draw non-Buddhist, non-Shintoist tourists to temples and shrines.
When you read about shrines and temples in most tourism brochures, they explain that such and such temple is famous because Monk XYZ lived there hundreds of years ago. They will talk about this or that god that is enshrined in whatever shrine. Honestly, I don’t care.
This Onomichi tourist guide talked about what you can do or get at the shrines and temples in town. “Rotate the huge stone and make a wish. Your dreams will come true.” “Pat the boar statue on the nose for happiness.” “Wash your hands at the temple’s turtle faucet and ask for a long life.” Now the temples and shrines are interactive. There is something for me to do.
I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe in wish granting deities. But, I love a good tourist trap. I love hokey and kitschy tourist sights. I’m the type of traveler who will go to Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone, stick a prayer in the Wailing Wall, or do whatever silly things tourists go to a place to do.
Shrines are boring! Temples are boring! But if there is a wish granting stone cow at some shrine, I’ll respectfully throw some coins in the coin box, clap and bow, and rub that stone cow’s nose. Because I find that sort of thing entertaining.
First we saw the statue of Fukimo Hayashi. She’s a writer who used to live in Onomichi. She wrote for a TV show that was set in this town. I had never heard of her before and will rarely think of her from now on, but it was a famous statue that was easy to get to. So Mark and I posed in a few photos with it.
Next we walked down the shopping arcade looking for stone cats. There are 888 cats throughout the town of Onomichi. I think Mark and I found about 10 of them. Most of the stone cats were up in the hills where the majority of the temples and shrines were.
I read online that there was an Australian meat pie shop in the shopping district of Onomichi called The Flying Pieman. We walked up and down the street where google maps said it was, but found nothing. Mark popped into a shop nearby and asked about The Flying Pieman. “Oh, unfortunately there was a fire a few months ago.” “No meat pies for us then?”
We had breakfast at some random café instead. I had bacon and cheese pancakes and Mark had apple pancakes. It was a quaint shop that played hula music one minute and merengue the next.
Next we visited our first temple of the day, Kaifukuji Temple. There were three Robin Hood type thieves living in Onomichi during the Edo period. They would steal money from rich people and give it to the poor. Eventually they were caught and beheaded. Their heads were enshrined in Kaifukuji Temple. I don’t know what happened to the heads, but legend has it that above the neck illnesses can be cured at Kaifukuji.
For what it’s worth, since my visit to this temple, I’ve had zero brain tumors, tooth aches, or eye infections. Of course, I’ve never had any of those things, but now I can continue being free from any of those ailments.
Next we went to Kumano Shrine. There was not much information about this tiny shrine other than it is famous because a god lives there. We searched and searched for the shrine and could not find it. Well, actually we did find it, many times. We just didn’t know that we did. The picture of Kumano Shrine in the brochure is in fact not Kumano Shrine or maybe it’s from some angle we didn’t see. I held up my paper with the photo of the shrine and compared it to what I would later find out was Kumano Shrine. “That’s not it.” We had stood in a place where a god lived and didn’t notice.
Then we went to Soraiken Garden. This garden was so small, it only had one person working there. When we got there that person was not in the ticket booth. Mark was going to leave the entrance fee on the counter of the ticket booth but thought better of it. “I’ll just give the money to someone inside. There has to be someone working here.”
We walked around the small, but beautiful garden taking pictures. Then we found a caretaker. Mark handed her 200 yen. She took the money, smiled, and went to the ticket booth. She came back with our tickets and brochures just in time to wave goodbye to us as we left.
Jodoji Temple was next on our tour. There we had to find the huge round rock and rotate it for our wish to be granted. Mark tried it first. He placed his coins in the coin box, clapped and bowed to wake up the god, then wrapped his arms about the big rock. He grunted as he moved the big rock once around. Then he clapped again and bowed.
Then it was my turn. I tried to do the exact same thing, but the rock refused to move. I pushed and twisted the thing, but there was no movement. Then I asked Mark to move it for me, so I could get my wish.
Right across the street was Kairyuji Temple. There we could improve our skills. The brochure didn’t exactly say what skills would be improved, but I think it was puppetry performance skills. I don’t ever do puppet shows, but I was game. All I had to do was touch a mound of dirt that contained the ancient books of Buddhism.
Mark and I search the whole temple grounds for this mound of dirt. Mark even walked to the very top of the mountain that the temple sits on. We never found it. Our puppetry skills are still terrible because of it.
I wanted to visit the Museum of the University of Onomichi City. But even though it’s only supposed to be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, there was no one there. It was unlocked when I walked in. I could hear people walking around inside. I took off my shoes and went into one of the rooms. There were paintings wrapped up, on the floor, and leaning on the walls. “Maybe they’re still setting up,” I thought to myself. I quietly backed out of the room, quickly put my shoes back on, and left. No one knew that I was ever there.
Mark and I walked along the street closest to the water to look for the boar statue. Patting his nose brings happiness. We had no trouble finding him and got the deed done.
Then we went to take a photo with the Crane and Phone Booth. Onomichi is a shipping town. They have a lot of cranes in their many ports. So I guess they made this special phone booth to commemorate this.
Then we went to Tenneiji Temple. It’s hard finding temples in Onomichi. There are just so many temples and so few signs in English. There are maps placed throughout the city, but sometimes that means 5 minutes of step climbing only to find out that the temple you want is several sets of steps below you. It’s quite a work out!
At Tenneiji we found a wooden monk who would stop our pains. If you have a headache, rub his head. If your big toe on your right foot hurts, rub his big toe on his right foot. If your left big toe hurts, then you’re out of luck. His left foot is tucked under him, so essentially he doesn’t have a left foot.
Mark and I rubbed this little guy all over, after tossing coins in the coin box and bowing and clapping. We didn’t have any current pain, but we were hoping that it would work on future pains.
Next we went to Ushitora Shrine. There we cleansed ourselves at the turtle faucet and asked for long lives. Mark asked me as we were walking away from Ushitora, “Does this mean that now we will have long lives free of pain?” “Yes,” I replied. “That’s exactly what that means.”
We walked to Senkoji Ropeway. I wouldn’t recommend taking the ropeway if you’re claustrophobic. Even though the timetable clearly says that the gondola leaves at quarter after, half past, quarter to, and on the hour, it really only leaves once the gondola is jam-packed with people. Don’t get any ideas about taking photos from the gondola either. Even if you’re lucky enough to be by a window, you will not have the space to take any photos other than by sticking your hand out the window. That’s risky; don’t do it!
We wanted to ride the ropeway because it was there to be ridden. We had a 3 minute wait until the top of the hour when the thing was supposed to leave. That time came and went. We just stood there as more people were ushered into the gondola. Just when we thought that they couldn’t possibly put more people on, they put 2 more people on and let us go.
The ride to the top took at good 3 minutes. It took longer to get out the gondola once we reached the top than the ride itself. Since Mark and I were the first people on, we were the last people off. The whole thing would have been faster if we had walked.
Once off the overcrowded gondola, we saw the view of Onomichi from the observatory. Then we went to the little restaurant in the observatory and had ice cream with corn flakes on the bottom. “Well,” I said as I dug into my cup, “most cereals are essentially dessert.”
We walked about Senkoji Park. We looked at “Romantic Place” and “Lover’s Sanctuary” before making our way down to Senkoji Temple byway of the “Literature Path”.
We tried to see the cuddling rocks, which would have given Mark and me a happy marriage. But, we had come too late. I’m not sure why, but the gate at the path to the rocks gets locked at 17:00. Maybe it’s to give the rocks private cuddling time.
At Senkoji Temple we pulled on the big rosary for one full rotation. Since we were a couple, Mark pulled it half the way and I pulled the rest. It turns all our desires into loud noises so that we could be happy. I think that after doing this we would no longer have any desires.
But we still needed at least one more desire. At the next temple, we would get a wish granted for patting a stone cow. We walked down the mountain Senkoji was on and then up a long set of steps to get to Misode Tenmangu Shrine.
There is a Japanese movie with a Freaky Friday theme. The two protagonists walk down these very same steps as they leave Misode Tenmangu. They both trip and tumble to the bottom. When they get up, they realize that they have switched bodies.
We climb to the top of yet another never-ending set of steps. Once again we dropped some coins, clapped, and bowed before patting the cow for a wish. I should have wished for an elevator, but I didn’t think of it then.
After our tour we went back to the shopping arcade. Almost every shop was closed or closing. We were feeling down. We really wanted to try the famous Onomichi ramen. According to one article I read, “It’s just like regular ramen, but with a very subtle fishy taste.”
We found a Chinese restaurant. It was the only thing in the arcade that was open. We went in and ordered the Onomichi ramen set. It was really good. I highly recommend it. Would I have noticed that this ramen was different from other ramen around Japan? No. The fishy taste was too subtle.
One thing I recommend to get before visiting Onomichi; a small sketch book. Each temple and shine had its own stamp. You can collect them if you have a book in which to stamp. A sketch book is great because it has thick pages so the ink won’t bleed through.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
- Coordinates 34°24’32.8″N 133°12’17.7″E
- 15-1, Kubo 1-chome, Onomichi-shi, 722-8501
- Look out for the many stone cats in the city. There are 888 in total.
Shimanami Bicycle Rental
- Coordinates 34°24’09.5″N 133°11’28.8″E
- Japan, 〒722-0037 広島県尾道市西御所町５－１１
- Japan, 〒722-0037 Hiroshima-ken, Onomichi-shi, Nishigoshochō, 5
e-mail: (to send the rental request forms)
There is a 1,000 yen deposit for all bikes.
- Electric Bikes – 4 hours for 800 yen
- Tandem bicycle – 500 yen per day
- Regular adult bike – 500 yen per day
- Regular kid’s bike – 300 yen per day
- 7:00 to 18:00
- Don’t rent a bike if you’re spending the day in Onomichi. The bikes are best used to visit the other islands.
- Coordinates 34°24’26.1″N 133°11’51.9″E
- 14-1 Nishitsuchidōchō, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima-ken 722-0032, Japan
- +81 848-23-2914
- Open 24 Hours
- The is where you can be cured of any illness and affects anything above the head.
- Coordinates 34°24’41.2″N 133°12’14.1″E
- 1 Chome-3-33 Kubo, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 722-0045, Japan
- This place is really hard to find. So hard, in fact, that Mark and I didn’t realize we found it.
- Coordinates 34°24’43.2″N 133°12’24.2″E
- 2 Chome-6-6 Kubo, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 722-0045
- 100 yen
- Open only on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
- [April to October] 10:00 to 17:00
- [November to March] 10:00 to 16:00
- This is a small garden.
- Coordinates 34°24’43.0″N 133°12’36.5″E
- 20-28 Higashikubocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 722-0043
- +81 848-37-2361
- Rotated the round stone and your wish will come true.
- Coordinates 34°24’43.6″N 133°12’42.7″E
- 22-8 Higashikubochō, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima-ken 722-0043, Japan
- +81 848-37-6251
- Touch the mound of dirt that contains the ancient books of Buddhism and you performance skills will improve.
- Good luck finding that mound of dirt!
Museum of Onomichi City University
(Onomichi-shi Ritsudaigaku Bijutsukan)
- Coordinates 34°24’41.5″N 133°12’32.6″E
- 3-4-11 Kubo, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 722-0045, Japan
- Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Holidays
- 10:00 – 18:00
- Coordinates 34°24’35.1″N 133°12’02.5″E
- 17-29 Higashitsuchidōchō, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima-ken 722-0033, Japan
- +81 848-22-2078
- open 24 hours
- Rubbing part of the body of the Binzuru statue will stop pain in the corresponding part of your body.
- Tenneiji Temple is famous for its three-storied pagoda, Kaiunto.
- Take the path next to the temple and go up the stairs.
- Coordinates 34°24’38.6″N 133°12’02.4″E
- 1 Chome-3-5 Nagae, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima-ken 722-0046, Japan
- +81 848-37-3320
- The turtle faucet is always available.
- Wish for a long life here at the turtle shape faucet.
- Ushitora Shrine is the oldest shrine in Onomichi-shi.
- Coordinates 34°24’38.4″N 133°12’05.4″E
- 〒722-0046 広島県尾道市長江１丁目３－３
- +81 848-22-4900
- (one way) adult 320 yen, 160 yen Children
- (roundtrip) adult 500 yen, 250 yen Children
- Don’t wait in a long line for this.
- You will only be able to take photos from the gondola if you manage to get yourself near a window. They tend to pack lots of people inside.
- Coordinates 34°24’40.3″N 133°11’50.5″E
- Japan, 〒722-0032 Hiroshima Prefecture, Onomichi, 西土堂町19−1
- Around 17:00 part of the park closes.
- You can take the Senkoji Ropeway to the top or walk.
- Coordinates 34°24’37.7″N 133°11’55.4″E
- 15-1 Higashitsuchidocho, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 722-0033, Japan
- Part of the temple closes at 17:00. Like:
- The huge rosary
- The coddling rocks.
- Look for Senkoji Kannon Do Hall. If you rotate the big rosary there, your worldly desire will be transformed into a loud noise and then you can be happy.
- Look for MeotoIwa, the cuddling rocks, for a happy marriage.
Misode Tenman-gu Shrine
- Coordinates 34°24’48.2″N 133°12’07.8″E
- 1 Chome-11-16 Nagae, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 722-0046, Japan
- Pat the stone cow and your dreams will come true.
This entry was posted on October 9, 2016 at 12:00 am and is filed under Hiroshima 県, Honshū, Japan, Onomichi 市. Tagged: Australian meat pies in Japan, Biking in Onomichi, Jodoji, Jodoji Temple, Kaifukuji, Kaifukuji Temple, Kairyuiji, Kaiunto, Kumano Shrine, Misode Tenman-gu Shrine, Museum of Onomichi City University, Onomichi walking tour, Senkoji Park, Senkoji Ropeway, Senkoji Temple, Shimanami Bicycle Rental, Soraiken Garden, stone cow, Tenneiji Temple, The Flying Pieman, Travel in Japan, Ushitora Shrine, wish granting shrines, wish granting temples. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.