My Shimanami Kaido cycling adventure in Onomichi was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I am not in any way an athletic person, and this 70km cycle was difficult but definitely manageable for me and my health. I was living in Osaka at the time, so Hiroshima was an important bucket list destination for me (as an American living in Japan, it was important to pay respect), and coupling it with the islands and mountains of Onomichi was magical and humbling. This trip was not perfect, mostly due to the arrival of a typhoon, so my plans were cut short and I ended up rushing to catch an earlier bus back to Osaka as to not get caught in the storm. I recommend this trip to anyone who likes nature, physical challenges, Japanese culture & history, good food, and amazing views. I also recommend this trip for second-time visitors to Japan or long term visitors. If you’ve already seen the main points in Japan (Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto), then this will give you a more in-depth view of lesser-known Japanese beauty.
Quick points to know before traveling to Japan:
- Cash is a MUST in Japan. Your foreign card will not be accepted in many places, especially on this itinerary in the countryside. You can get Yen from most ATMs in Lawsons, Family Mart, or 7/11, but plan accordingly because there will be fees each time.
- Especially on this itinerary, English language will be minimal. Directions may sometimes be in English but have your translator handy.
- Please do basic research on Japanese culture before traveling! Be quiet and respectful while on public transport, visiting temples & shrines, visiting museums, and in hostels/hotels.
- Japan can be tricky for vegetarians and vegans. With research ahead of time you will be fine but look ahead to find the best options for dietary restrictions.
- A Suica/PASMO card is a must for train travel in Japan. Getting individual tickets is a nightmare. Grab your pass from a major station then refill it at any station throughout your trip.
- Japan is safe and welcoming for solo female travelers. Never in my entire year in Japan did I ever feel uncomfortable, but still use common sense when traveling in new areas.
I stayed at The Evergreen Hostel in Hiroshima for ¥1600 (~$16USD) a night. Really great location close to the train station.
I traveled by night bus from Osaka Umeda to Hiroshima (¥6700 one way), arriving in the city of Hiroshima at 6 am. I used this option because it was inexpensive and I was on a budget, but you could definitely use Shinkansen (bullet train) if you have the extra money.
My main bucket list food item was okonomiyaki because I wanted to put to rest the Kansai vs Hiroshima okonomiyaki battle (Osaka won..if you were wondering).
PLACES TO VISIT:
- I had a more extensive list of things to do in Hiroshima, but the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum ended up being pretty much my entire day. Such a powerful, sobering, and informative experience. If I could only choose one thing to do in all of Hiroshima- this is it.
- I visited Hiroshima Castle.
- I also visited the Atomic Bomb Dome.
- Finally, I found a cool observation deck and restaurant right across the street from the dome. It had beautiful views of the city and mountains, so I sat and reflected there for a while.