I could not be more thrilled to have Nana from Oh My Tokyo sharing photos with us. Nana is originally from Oslo, and lives in Tokyo. Her blog is full of absolutely gorgeous pictures of Japan, (you won’t stop scrolling) and her instagram feed is much the same.
Here are some photos from Nana’s trip to Onomichi.
It was an early Saturday morning in March when I arrived in Onomichi, a coastal town in Hiroshima prefecture. Three and a half hours earlier I had set out from Miyajima station, slowly making my way up the coastline by local train as the sun rose over the Seto Inland Sea. I had been travelling by train for a few days now, using the JR Seishun 18 ticket which, despite what the name might imply in Japanese, is not limited to 18 years olds, but instead offers any and all unlimited travel by local and express train for five days. The past two days I had crossed the country, going through Okayama, Hiroshima city and Miyajima (home of the floating red gates).
Stopping by the town had been a suggestion by from a regular customer at the cafe where I work in Tokyo. I had never heard of Onomichi before, but seeing as it was my first time traveling so far from Tokyo, I was open to any and all suggestions. The main point of my trip was, after all, to see the sides of Japan you wouldn’t experience in the capitol.
Arriving in Onomichi, the ocean greeted me the moment I stepped out of the station, and almost instantly I was overcome by a sense of I never want to leave this place.
The sleepy town was late to wake up on weekends. I had arrived just before 9 AM, and as it seemed nothing would open until 11, I took to explore by rickety old bicycle I had rented. Onomichi is in fact a hub for bicycling enthusiast. The city is the starting point for a cycling path that round across four islands in the Seto Inland Sea, before ending on the northern shores of Shikoku. Still, that hardly seemed to have drawn a large crowd to the drowsy town that Saturday.
As I biked through the narrow streets, and wandered up the hillside neighbourhoods, it was easy to understand why Onomichi had often been used as a location in old movies. (I don’t know if you’re familiar with the film Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu – it’s a fairly old movie, and even my Japanese friends are more familiar with it’s remake version – but part of it is set in Onomichi.) In fact, I realised this early on during my train trip through Western Japan – that most cities outside of Tokyo are anything but the hypermodern image you might have of skyscrapers and large apartment blocks. The small coastal towns I passed travelling on the JR Kure line were all worn down wooden structures and tiled roofs.
Onomichi seemed to be the essence of all these little towns, every bit the romantic image I had conjured up during the hours spent staring out the train window. Standing on one of the hills in the afternoon sun, three early-blooming sakura trees shook gently in the breeze; overlooking the sea, the rooftops and the temples painting the picture of a quintessential Japanese town.
words and photos by Nana