Monday, 19 March 2018

Shimonoseki: Karato market, Kameyama Hachimangu Shrine

Since we have one day left on our Setouchi Pass, we decided to make a trip to Shimonoseki, the fugu capital of Japan.

About 45 min from JR Hakata station to JR Shimonoseki station followed by short taxi ride (about 1000 yen) to Karato Market (which is near Kameyama Hachimangu Shrine)

The Setouchi pass can only be used on Shinkansen to Shin-shimonoseki and local line from Shin-shimonoseki to Shimonoseki. We made the mistake of getting off at Kokura and were told that our pass does not cover the local line from Kokura to Shimonoseki. We were too lazy to take a Shinkansen to Shin-shimonoseki and then to Shimonoseki so we just paid 280 yen using our Suica to get to Shimonoseki from Kokura.

Useful website:

There were some pretty cool displays at Shimonoseki station!

Unfortunately, we were told by the taxi-driver that Karato market was closed on the day we visited. JR Mojiko Station which we wanted to visit via ferry is under conservation til 2019 so we just walked around the bay area, bought some souvenirs, had fugu lunch and visited Kameyama Hachimangu Shrine. 

Cute stamp at the Tourist Info Counter

Fugu lunch set: Fugu Sashimi and Fugu Tempura

Fugu Ochazuke

Kameyama Hachimangu Shrine

They even have fugu-shaped prayer cards!

There was an okamezakura in full bloom! 
The weather was way too hot so we decided to go back to Hakata to chill. We will definitely be back to experience the market and drop by at JR Mojiko station.

Okunoshima (Rabbit Island) 大久野島

We decided to go back to Okunoshima again but this time with our bikes. We were there in 2015 and have always wanted to return to cycle around so we stayed one more night in Onomichi in order to visit this island.

Okunoshima is convenient to access from Hiroshima and Onomichi. Take JR train to JR Tadanoumi station (via Mihara station) and catch the ferry to Okunoshima. There is information at Tadanoumi station on how to walk to the port. Basically, you turn right once you exit the station and walk until you see the sign for the port then turn right again. You need to buy a ticket for yourself and your bike from the shop at the port.

Useful website:

This sign says the ferry to Okunoshima is on the right

Ticket and souvenir shop. There seems to be renovations next door for a cafe. Looking forward to it!

The huge ferry (the one behind) can take humans, bicycles and vehicles

Do take note of the train times and ferry times if you want to avoid long waits in between. The trains and ferries are rather infrequent.

It's a rather small island so it's possible to cycle round island in a short amount of time

You can buy packets of rabbit pellets and cute souvenirs from the shop. The pellets cost 100 yen per pack and you can save the empty packets to exchange for some cute bunny postcards. Don't forget to get the commemorative stamp too!

Rabbit feed at 100 yen per packet (photo from 2015)
Exchange the empty paper bags for postcards (one card per bag)

2015 Stamp

2018 Stamp
We packed food for a picnic and cycled around the island. It’s so nice to have a bike as we can cover more distance and see more of the island but at a fraction of the time (and effort).

2015 photo

2015 photo

2015 photo

2015 photo

2015 photo. We brought carrots, parsley and broccoli as we didn't know that they sold food at the ticket shop

2015 photo
Do not throw rabbits?

The last line ='(
This bunny looks like our late Inkie girl...

We felt that it was a lot more crowded (with humans) and fewer rabbits this time and hoped it was due to the hot weather and the bunnies are chilling in their barrows and not because they were culled or upset by the hoards of tourists visiting the island.

A possible side trip along Kure train line is Takehara, an old town, reminiscent of towns in the Edo period. We didn't have time but will definitely want to make a stop at Takehara the next time we visit.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Onomichi: Senkoji Ropeway, Neko No Hosomichi, Sakura Chaya

Since we arrived early in Onomichi, we cycled around and were greeted with a pleasant surprise Kawazuzakura full blooms. I chatted with an old lady who was also admiring the blooms and she was so kind to give me a badge with a pair of cute kitties riding bicycles.

Senkoji Ropeway 千光寺ロープウェイロープウェイ
You can go up the ropeway for a bird’s eye view of the area. The ropeway departs every 15 mins at 00, 15, 30, 45. This will be a great Sakura viewing spot during the Sakura season. There is a restaurant with great view selling simple curry rice lunch sets and parfaits.

Neko No Hosomichi 猫の細道
Right beside the ropeway station at the bottom is the Neko No Hosomichi 猫の細道 a narrow cat alley where you can spot free roaming cats and if you have time, visit the Manekineko (招财猫) museum.

Manekineko Museum

Sakura Chaya さくら茶や
Finish off your tour with a Neko parfait at Sakura Chaya.

Shotengai 商店街 (The Red Bicycles Onomichi)
Take a nostalgic leisurely stroll or ride along the Shotengai 商店街 and you will find The Red Bicycles Onomichi. Chris had deflated our tires a bit for the flight but when we arrived, he could only inflate mine but not his using the small pump he brought (cos he changed to Kojak tires). We were very troubled by this so we just walked into a bike shop and asked for help. We were thinking worse case scenario Chris has to rent a bike. The shop owner Imanashi San helped Chris to pump the tires and even checked that mine were ok. He advised us to ride around for a while to ensure that the tires have no leakage. When we asked how much it costs, he replied, “Air is free!”. We were really touched by his gesture so when we completed the course and returned to Onomichi, we prepared a thank you speech in Japanese and got him a small imabari towel with mikyan mascot as a souvenir. He was very touched too.

The world is a much better place when people help one another and appreciate the help received. We could not have done this trip on our bikes (at least for Chris) if not for him.

Our speech:

We finally did the shimanami kaido!
We were actually very worried about our bike problem but because of your help, we felt relieved and are really thankful. Really thank you very much.

Chris with Imanashi san