Onomichi's 25 Stop Temple Trail.

Angelica Sutton's picture
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Onomichi is a small, rugged, coastal town located on the cusp of Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures in Western Japan. Known for it's small 32 stop temple trail and for it's association with some of Japan's most famous writers and poets, Onomichi is more enchanting than it is beautiful and is a worthy pit stop for anybody travelling the JR Sanyo Line from Himeji to Shin-Yamaguchi.

Formally a bustling port town with a very colourful nightlife, many of Onomichi's temples were built through donations from wealthy merchants who regularly visited the town on business during Japan's Edo period(from 1603 to 1868). Now a fishing town with a steady tourist trade, Onomichi's temples don't offer the grandeur or the history that you might find at temples in more celebrated locations such as Kyoto, Nara or along the highly -famed Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage route ;what they do offer however, is the the chance to enjoy traditional, Shinto architecture against a back drop of authentic, everyday, Japanese fishing town life.

Nearly all of Onomichi's temples are tucked away within the numerous hills that surround the town, and to reach the temples, one must navigate oneself through an array of steep, windy streets lined with tea houses, traditional Japanese houses and people just going about their everyday business. During my successful attempt to complete the trail back in September of 2011, I encountered several fisherman heading down to the port; a couple of local artists quietly sketching out their own individual perspectives of two of the towns temples, and the local postman making his daily round up through the towns rugged, hilly streets. And it was these glimpses and tastes of everyday life that made the trail so memorable and interesting. It really is easy to see why so many of Japan's famous writers and poets used to pay regular visits to the the town in order to seek inspiration.

While the temple trail is Onomichi's main draw, there is more to the town than just temples; the town also boasts a hill top castle with magnificent sea views and also acts as a gateway to the Seto Inland Sea Islands of Innoshima and Mukaishima. While the the temple trail should only take about half a day to complete, Onnomichi itself can easily be used to fill a full day's, or even a full weekend's itinerary.