The few but increasingly growing tourists who travel to Japan first of course visit the major cultural centers or high-tech cities such as Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. But if you have a little more time for your trip to Nippon, you have the opportunity to get to know many other sites in the country. Often the smaller villages are hidden and undervalued delicacies. For example, the fishing town of Onomichi (Japanese: 尾 道 市, -shi) on the southwest coast of Honshū Island.
If you take a closer look, there is a biker paradise that has been used almost exclusively by Japanese traveling in their own country. Onomichi is the starting point (or destination) of one of the largest overseas cycling routes in the world. The Shimanami Kaido (Japanese: しまなみ海道) is a 60 kilometer long highway that connects Japan’s main island Honshū with the southern island of Shikoku through a bridge complex spanning nine islands. The cycle lanes are generously and architecturally highly creative integrated into the bridge and road courses and often lead below or above the automobile lane.
A very cool experience and one of the best routes you can do as a biker on a paved road. The view from the eternal bridges over the water is just great. In Onomichi, the neighboring towns and on the islands are a lot of bike rentals available, which of course also offer all variations of e-bikes. We are in Japan after all! Nearby is also the Sanyo Shinkanzen line for high-speed trains with its own station in Onomichi.
In the port city was also the movie drama “Tokyo Story” (東京 物語 Tōkyō Monogatari) by director Yasujirō Ozu from 1953 filmed. A true classic and cult film with Chishu Ryu and Chieko Higashiyama for all fans of Far Eastern cinema. A trailer for the strip can be found here: Tokyo Story – Official Trailer.
Another feature of Onomichi is the incredible number of temples and the same number of free-range cats that are provided by local residents. A nickname is therefore also “City of Cats”. On one day you can perfectly walk down the individual shrine stations and also see the Buddhist parks and the site on the summit. There is also a cable car for the less active.
The city is located in Hiroshima Prefecture, has about 135,000 inhabitants and a busy loading port. Due to the steep slope on which Onomichi was built to the Seto Inland Sea, from the Observatory Center you have a broad view of the surrounding area and the bridge to the first island Mukoujima. The other islands are Innoshima, Ikuchi, Omishima, Hakata, Ōshima, Ma, Mushi and Michika. So a total of nine possible stops on the bridge tour with lots of sights, pirate museums and castle ruins, but also shops, restaurants and accommodation. On the route are also frequently busses running. Or you just rent a car.
But now to the title of the article, to “Anago No Nedoko”. The name of the guesthouse actually comes from an eel. And the guesthouse is no ordinary. The non-profit organization “Onomichi Abandoned House Reclamation Project” is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of ancient buildings in the town and in the region. The artists’ group AIR Onomichi (Artist in Residence) has launched the project and since 2007 has been inviting artists to the city to work together on historic and empty buildings and to preserve them from decay through creative restoration. Co-organizer Komyouji Kaikan offers in his gallery information about the projects and the local art.
On a map you will find some more restored buildings in the city and in the surrounding area. The “Anago No Nedoko” is a Kyoto longhouse that was renovated in 2012 in the old style and converted into a hostel with a restaurant and cafe. The stay is an interesting experience and really recommendable. The architecture and layouts have been modernized on the one hand, but also kept up to the ancient times. It also does not feel like you’re in a hostel, but really at someone’s home in a big flat. An apartment that is very Japanese, with all the gimmicks, everything in Ryokan style and with a Hot Pot Table of course. Fujii Mototsugu of the guesthouse regularly prepares traditional local dishes for his guests and brings them on a table to eat together and to have interesting international converstations. In an interview he tells us about the project, the city and his antique book shop.
Fujii works in the guesthouse, but also runs the second-hand bookstore Second Books Shops 20dB. He is generally concerned with the preservation of history and the past, but the small shop is his passion project. Fujii has a lot of insider tips for travelers and has also made a special map of Onomichi where you can find EVERYTHING. You just cannot read everything quite well and through all the little alleyways everything is confusing and you will get lost after ten meters anyway. The town is not that big, but you should turn to the advice of Fujii, if you really want to find something. We went to the best fishing pubs, ate the most delicious Ramen and drank the finest Sake. The small shops are basically all cute, have great food and a cozy fishing village audience in a quaint harbor atmosphere. Definitely recommendable is the Bar Roost of Osame Ishikawa. The owner speaks English and is a lover of jazz, soul and funk, so good music is taken care of.
Finally we shot a walking video of the “Anago No Nedoko Guesthouse” with Fujii:
Anago No Nedoko Guesthouse
Google Maps: Location
Adress: 722-0035 廣島縣, 尾道市, Tsuchido 2-4-9, 日本 – 絕佳位置－顯示地圖
Phone: +81 848-38-1005
Second Books Shops 20dB
Google Maps: Location
Adress: 722-0045 Hiroshima-ken, Onomichi-shi, Kubo, 2 Chome−3−3 弐拾ｄＢ
Phone: +81 80-3875-0384
Google Maps: Location
Adress: Kubo Onomichi Hiroshima, 広島県 尾道市 久保 2-14-13
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roost/151160304978320
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/osamu.ishikawa.92
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