Onomichi II: Island Hopping


Embark on your Island Hopping Journey around Onomichi Area!

Did you know that the Japanese archipelago is made up of almost 7000 islands?

Whereas Okinawa and Kyushu maybe some of the more famous destinations for a Japanese island getaway, plan a trip to the Seto Inland Sea to visit beautiful, still-untouched islands!

Onomichi in eastern Hiroshima is just a few easy hours away from Tokyo. Step into the gateway to the Shimanami Sea Route with scenic cycling paths, serene beaches, and striking sunsets~

Follow me on my visit to Onomichi in this four-part series where I will recommend some highlights for exploring the Downtown City, Island Hopping, Local Cuisine, and the Setouchi Seaplanes.





In this blog post, I will share photos and highlights from my journey to Island Hopping in Onomichi!



A City of Islands


Although Onomichi is considered a “city,” it actually consists of many islands!

One of the exceptional attractions in Onomichi is the Shimanami Kaido, or Shimanami Sea Route, that crosses bridges and islands of the Seto Inland Sea to connect Japan’s main island of Honshu to Shikoku. It is the only such land connection that is traversable by cyclists and even pedestrians, making Onomichi very popular for cycling enthusiasts!


尾道の特別なアトラクションの1つは、瀬戸内海の橋と島々を横断して日本の本州である四国を結ぶ「しまなみ海道」です。 サイクリストや歩行者も一緒に通行できる唯一の島と島を結ぶ橋であり、サイクリング愛好家にとって尾道は非常に人気があります!

Wake Up to Beautiful Seafront Views with an Island Stay


I was incredibly grateful to wake up to this view during my stay at SeeSo, a cozy hotel perched on the top of Mukaishima, Onomichi! 


Take in scenic panoramic views and nature right from when you open your eyes in the morning! 


Where to Stay : SeeSo on Mukaishima 
Address: 84-2 Mukaijima-Cho, Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture
住所:〒722-0073 広島県尾道市向島町84−2
Website: www.seeso.jp/

Friendly Morita-san of SeeSo on Mukaishima welcomes guests to his inn!

Hop over to Ikuchijima (生口島)

Take a ferry over to Ikuchijima to visit the colorful Kosanji Temple (耕三寺), one of the main highlights along the Shimanami Sea Route. 


Nostalgic Port Town: many small ferries operate between the Onomichi’s downtown area and its nearby islands.


Cyclists can also bring their bicycles with them on the ferry! 


*Tip: Aside from ferries, fly on the Setouchi Seaplanes for a truly special island hopping experience! 


A Magnificent Celebration of Family at Kosanji Temple


Kosanji Temple was founded in 1936 by the successful industrialist Kozo Kosanji who built it stirred by his devotion to his mother. The temple belongs to the Honganji Sect of the Jodo Shinshu school of Pure Land Buddhism and exhibits French-style welding techniques pioneered in early twentieth-century Japan. 

耕三寺は1936年に成功した実業家によって設立されました。 この寺院は浄土真宗の本願寺に属し、20世紀初頭に日本で開拓されたフランス式の技術で建てられています。

The temple complex took over 30 years to construct!


Moved by his mother’s unconditional love and compassion, Kosanji built the temple to be colorful in every season, creating a vibrant atmosphere for all visitors reminiscent of a mother’s warmth. 


From Spring cherry blossoms to Autumn momoji (maple trees), the Kosanji Temple is worth a visit any time of the year!


If temple fans may sense a feeling of deja vu, it is probably because many of the buildings are modeled after other famous Japanese temples. 
For example, the grand replicas of famous buildings such as Nikko Toshogu’s Yomeimon Gate and Byodo-in’s Phoenix Hall at Kosanji Temple.



The Koyo no Mon gate took 10 years to build and is a reproduction of the Yomei Gate in Nikko.


Walking through the temple grounds, visitors will notice that all the buildings are colorful and sundry, yet complement each other to imprint a distinct architectural style. 


The approximately 50,000 square meter grounds with its seasonal beauty reminds you of a garden out of mythology. The temple is also famous for cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

四季折々の美しさがある約50,000平方メートルの敷地は、訪れた人達に神話のような物語を思い起こさせます。 寺は桜と紅葉でも有名です。

According to historical documentation, Kosanji not only built the temple, but even went so far as to become a priest in order to repay a son’s debt of gratitude to his mother. 


Kosanji Temple also features a large statue of Guanyin – perhaps the most well-known Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion and mercy, a mother-goddess.


Touched by the story of Kosanji, I found myself taking quiet moments to think of my own mother and give gratitude for all the sacrifices she made to raise me. 


View from the teahouse at Kosanji Temple.


Reflecting on the temple’s founding story and the beautifully curated scenery surrounding me, I wrote the haiku:


Red Serenity

A Child’s Loving Devotion

Ruby Shades Aflame

At the time I visited, there was an ongoing haiku contest, to which I submitted the above poem.

No idea if I will win anything, but it was meaningful to create something to capture a personal memory! Perhaps I should try writing more poems for more places that I visit. 🙂

私が入賞するかどうかはわかりませんが、個人的な記憶を残しておくために俳句を読むことは有意義でした!もっと多くの場所を訪れて、もっと俳句を書いてみるべきでしょう。 ^^/

On the top of a hill behind the Kosanji Temple, you will find a large white area called Miraishin no Oka, meaning “Heights of Eternal Hope for the Future.”


Entering the area, the sheer magnitude of open space and grand white marble structures will take your breath away. I felt like I was entering by a magical white wonderland! 

未来心の丘に入ると、広大なオープンスペースにすべて白い大理石で造られたモニュメントがあり、息をのむような感じになります。 私は魔法にかけられた白い不思議の国に入っているように感じました!

Designed and created over a period of 16 years by Itto Kuetani, an environmental sculptor born in Hiroshima Prefecture who is still active in Italy, this marvelous marble garden was opened in October 2000. 

この素晴らしい大理石の庭園は、広島県出身の環境彫刻家で、イタリアで現在も活躍している杭谷 一東(くえたに いっとう)によって16年間にわたって設計および作成され、2000年10月にオープンしました。

Over 3000 tons of marble were used to construct Miraishin no Oka. I could not believe that all of the marble was imported from Carrara in Italy! What an incredible undertaking.

約3000トンの大理石が未来心の丘の建設に使用されました。 すべての大理石がイタリアのカラーラから輸入されたとは信じられませんでした!

Covering over 5,000 square meters of ground, the garden was designed around the theme of “Familial Ties” and symbolizes a peaceful world bright with hope for the future.


White Carrara Marble quarried in the city of Carrara in northern Tuscany is known as a special material of the highest quality popular for use in sculpture and building decor. It is this very marble that Michelangelo and Canova used for their famous sculptures!

Throughout the spacious marble garden, there are a number of abstract statues all made entirely of marble. These monuments of various shapes and sizes all achieve a remarkable harmony with nature by incorporating the surrounding environment as part of its beauty.

トスカーナ州北部のカラーラ市で採石されたホワイトカラーラマーブルは、彫刻や建物の装飾での使用に人気のある最高品質の特殊素材として知られています。 ミケランジェロとカノバが有名な彫刻に使用したのは、まさにこの大理石です!

広々とした大理石の庭には、すべて大理石でできた抽象的な彫像がたくさんあります。 さまざまな形と大きさのこれらの記念碑はすべて、その美しさの一部として周囲の環境を取り入れることで、自然との見事な調和を実現しています。

The pure-whiteness of Miraishin no Oka gives it the sense of a blank slate that sets no limits to the imagination, allowing visitors to reflect and use their own creativity and personality to make out various shapes and stories from their surroundings.


For example, these structures made me think of playing cards, where you can insert your own face into! The porous holes in the statue also allow you glimpses of the sky and trees surrounding the gardens, incorporating the environment into the artwork. This was the trademark of Itto Kuetani’s work as an environmental sculptor.

たとえば、これらの構造により、自分の顔を入れたトランプを思い浮かべました! 彫像の多孔質の穴から、また庭園を取り囲む空と木々が垣間見え、環境をアートワークに取り入れます。 これは、環境彫刻家としての杭谷一東の作品の特徴です。

At the peak of the hill, a grand tower called the Tower of Light stands arrestingly. 


The tower is the tallest point on the grounds, and therefore signifies an accumulation of power at the summit. To me, the structure conjures the image of the tips of two fingers pressed together, such as in the hand gestures used during yoga and medication to direct the flow of energy into our body. 

タワーは、地上で最も高い地点であり、したがって、頂上は自然界のパワーを表しています。 私にとって、この構造は、ヨガや薬物療法で体にエネルギーの流れを向ける際に使用される手の形など、2本の指の先端が一緒に重なったイメージを想い起こさせました。

The Tower of Light reminds me most of “Kali Mudra,” the hand gesture that represents purification and transformation, and directs energy for awakening purification. 


Kali Mudra hand gesture || 「カリムドラ」

Perhaps this symbolism is most appropriate, as visitors feel purified and transformed after their visit.


Overall, the pure white landscape projects durability and solidity, yet elegance in its soft gleam and precious brilliance.


During warm days and under a hot sun, the pretty white marble is very cooling to the touch and relaxes you!


According to our guide, Yoshida-san, the Miraishin no Oka was built as part of a museum with the philosophy to provide everyone, especially the children of Onomichi, a large open space to play freely. Miraishin no Oka does not have any religious function as part of Kosanji, but is rather one of the temple’s artistic properties.

学芸員の吉田さんのガイドによると、未来心の丘は博物館、特に尾道の子供たちに自由に遊べる大きな広場を提供するという哲学のもとに建てられました。 未来心の丘は、耕三寺の一部としての宗教的機能はありませんが、むしろ寺の芸術的特性の1つです。

Today, the area is extremely handicap accessible, where couples, families, and children can all enjoy the freedom of climbing around marble structures. What better way to celebrate family ties and world peace than a trip to the marble garden of Miraishin no Oka?

今日、このエリアはアクセスしやすく、ハンディキャップの人達も多く訪れ、カップル、家族、子供が大理石の構造物の周りを自由に登ることができます。 未来心の丘の大理石の庭園を訪れるというよりも、家族の絆と世界の平和を祈るのに最適な方法ですね!

Kosanji Temple || 耕三寺 

Address: 553-2 Setoda, Setoda-cho, Onomichi City 722-2411
Tel: +81-(0)845-27-0800
Opening Hours:
9:00 a.m.-17:00 p.m.
Website || Facebook 

Unwind at Sunset Beach


End your day with a stroll along with the long sandy retreat of Setoda Sunset Beach.

瀬戸田サンセットビーチの長い砂浜を散歩して一日を締めくくりましょう~~ ♪

Feel relaxed with soft sands under your feet and beautiful clear skies above you!

Enjoy beautiful beach views that stretch out to the vast horizon.

目の前に広がる海は透き通っていてとっても綺麗 ♡

Sunset Beach, as the name implies, is the ideal spot to watch the sunset over the Seto Inland Sea.


Setoda Sunset Beach has been selected as one of Japan’s top 88 bathing beaches!


Various sculptures and other artworks making up the “Island-wide Art Museum” project can be found dotting outdoor locations throughout the island along the water and beaches.


Sit with the jubilant statue of a man with a beer and celebrate the sunset and happiness together! 


The Time is Ripe for Lemons


In Japan, Hiroshima prefecture is the No.1 area for lemon production. The Setoda area including Ikuchijima Island of Onomichi is one of the leading areas for citrus fruit production, producing 35% of the country’s total!


When exploring the island, you will find many lemon and other citrus fruit trees growing.

On sunny slopes and grassy grounds, trees bend under the weight of red-yellow fruit! 



Unlike lemons from other parts of the world, Setoda lemons are famous for their nice fragrance and mild flavor. 


Because lemons are so deeply embedded in the livelihood of Onomichi people, it is unsurprising that many famous local foods feature citrus flavors and lemon products!

Read my next blog post on “Onomichi III: Local Cuisine” for tips on where and what to eat!


Onomichi City Website

〒722-8501 広島県尾道市久保一丁目15-1


Onomichi Tourism Association

事務局:〒722-0036 広島県尾道市東御所町1-20 JB本四高速尾道ビル1F 
Tel: 0848-36-5495
Fax: 0848-22-2201


一般社団法人 しまなみジャパン


住所:広島県尾道市東御所町11-9 JA尾道市駅前ビル1階
Tel: 0848-22-4073


About Rachel

Rachel Leng is COO and Co-Founder of SeiRogai, Inc., a Tokyo-based business consultancy & media production company. Previously, she was Leader of Business Development on the Investment Management team at a Japanese private equity fund, as well as Policy Analyst at a top think tank in Seoul, South Korea.

As an East Asia specialist and former Miss Singapore titleholder, Rachel is passionate about the potential of media to educate and raise awareness about history, culture, art, business, and societal issues to enhance mutual understanding.

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