Cherry Blossoms and Rock Formations in Onomichi, Western Japan
・Senkōji Park: A gorgeous view of Onomichi adorned with cherry trees.
・Descendants of all Japan’s “Three Great Cherry Trees” in one location.
・The many beautiful rock formations of Mt. Senkōji.
Draped in Cherry Trees
Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture is a mountainside town full of history and culture. Senkōji Park lies near the top of the mountain, 144 meters above sea level, and has an excellent view looking down over Onomichi Channel that separates the mainland from a nearby island. The cherry trees that bloom around the Onomichi City Museum of Art, located inside the park, are said to be the best in town, and the site has been picked as one of the Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots in all Japan. The sea, mountains, sky, streets, and trees in bloom come together to create a wonderful panorama.
The park has nearly 1,500 cherry trees, and famously features descendants of all Japan’s “three great sakura”: Miharu Takizakura in Fukushima Prefecture, Yamataka Jindaizakura in Yamanashi Prefecture, and Neodani Usuzumizakura in Gifu Prefecture. With so many varieties of cherry trees to see in the park, including trees with yellow flowers, it is no wonder people flock here in the springtime.
Address: 19 Nishitsuchidōchō, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Parking fee: ¥600 per day (8:30 am to 5:30 pm)
Impressive Rock Formations
The temple of Senkōji, founded in 806, is known for the large rock formations located nearby. Here visitors will find the kagami-iwa or “mirror rock,” meoto-iwa rocks said to resemble a married couple, and the tama no iwa with circular boulder on the top. The meoto-iwa are carved with images of Japanese long-nosed goblins known as karasu-tengu. The mountain’s “mirror rock” was only actually discovered in 2000, despite legends of its existence, having been obscured by trees for the previous 1,200 years.
Address: 15-1 Higashitsuchidōchō, Onomichi
Cats and Winding Streets
Onomichi is a mountainside town known both for its many winding streets and for being full of cats. This makes it a great place for a stroll. As the hilly roads are so steep, there are lots of stone staircases to climb, so when heading up Mount Senkōji, you may want to take the ropeway to the top and wander back down on foot. The picturesque, winding roads of the town are often used as shooting locations for films. Seeing the town’s cats all napping on your walk down only adds to the general charm.
Closer down toward the channel, you’ll find Onomichi U2, a facility catering to the needs of the many cyclists that come to town before taking a trip down the Shimanami Kaidō seaside route. It was opened in 2014 from a restored shipping warehouse. Inside you’ll find a hotel, restaurants, shops, and more, making it a great place to take a break after a stroll down Mt. Senkōji.
Mt. Senkōji Ropeway
Tickets: ¥320 for adults, ¥160 for children one-way; ¥500 for adults, ¥250 for children return ticket
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:15 pm (runs every 15 minutes)
Address: 5-11 Nishigoshochō, Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Access: 5-minute walk from JR Onomichi Station
(Originally published in Japanese on March 31, 2018. Written by Kuroiwa Masakazu. Banner photo: Shin-Onomichi Bridge, the beginning of the Shimanami Kaidō seaside route.)