Onomichi


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February 8th 2016
Published: March 8th 2016
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BreakfastBreakfastBreakfast

Little Mermaid
First things first, breakfast. We headed to Little Mermaid, which is located next to the south exit of Hiroshima station. I had seen the Little Mermaid chain in different place s I have visited in Japan, but had never been in before. This place had a bigger seating area, than Hearth Brown, but the bakery section seemed more cramped. We went for four things again today. We each choose a sweet and a savoury item, as it had worked out well yesterday. We went for a small baguette filled with potato and bacon, think posh chip butty, which was nice as the bread was crunchy but not hard. We also had a bread cup kind of thing filled with chicken and broccoli, a jam and cream bun, and a layered pastry block filled with red bean. Everything was scrummy, and, of course, we washed it down with strong coffee.

We took the train to Onomichi, the journey was about 1 hour 50 minutes. I thought that the train would be nice and warm, like the one yesterday was, however this one was freezing, the driver never turned the heating on, so I was too cold to nap, I just watched the scenery pass by. This part of Japan reminds me of Korea a lot. We had to change trains and I was freezing waiting on the platform, but due to Japan's amazing efficiency, we didn't have to wait very long for the next train. We were only on the second train for about ten minutes as Onomichi was only one stop away. We emerged from Onomichi Station and headed off to the left. It was a short walk to the start of the route around the temples. We weren't going to follow the walking path in its entirety, but it was nice to use it to make sure we were heading in the right direction.

The first temple we came to was Jikoji Temple, we took a quick look around the temple's grounds. There were a few other tourists there. From there we continued along the path to Komyoji Temple. This one was similar to the first, but smaller. The street next to the temple had some lovely ornate looking trees. All the temples here a pretty small and it doesn't take too long to walk around them. The streets between the temples are filled with houses and cutesy cafes. Although not too many of the cafes looked open, but that could be because it was a cold Monday in February. The streets are all quite steep and narrow, no room for cars to use them. Onomichi's old town is also well-known for its cats. We saw quite a few wandering the streets. Hodoji Temple was next, I think this one was my favorite, but I don't really know why. Maybe because it was kind of on the edge, so we got a nice view out of the river. Also the grounds were fairly large with a big bell. A very pretty place.

We wandered the streets a little more, as there was a specific temple with a pagoda that my friend really wanted to see. We came across a nursery school, where the children were playing in the yard. What a lovely place to grow up! We reached the three story pagoda of Tenneiji Temple. We took a look around it. It was pretty and peaceful, as was the temple. I was really enjoying having these sites to ourselves today. We then went down to the temple and had a look around the grounds and buildings. One was filled with Buddha statues. We came across a small park, which had quite a few cats in it. My friend is allergic to cats so she stayed away but I went over to take some pictures. The whole of the old town is known for cats and there were about four or five here. I think that they congregate here because a man brings food to feed them. I realised that it was one of the places the woman in our hostel had shown us on her phone as she had been a couple of weeks before. There was also a lovely view from the park, just as good as the top, if you didn't want to walk all the way up. There were also some giant oranges growing on the trees. I was impressed with their size. We kept going uphill and soon came to Senkoji Temple. This place was busy compared to the other temples we had visited. We queued up to ring the bell for good luck and then took a look around the grounds. The temple was very pretty. It is painted bright red, the others we had visited weren't. I think this is because different temples belong to different Buddhist sects and the Shingon that Senkoji Temple belongs to, decorate their temples like this.

From Senkoji temple we walked up to the observation deck. We got some glorious views over the city, the Onomichi Channel, and Mukaishima Island. There was a cafe in the building housing the observation deck, so we headed there to buy an orange flavoured ice cream, a local specialty. If you got the regular ice cream you couldn't eat it in the shop, you have to pay for one of the fancy sundaes instead. We took a little look in the gift shop near the observation platform. I bought some postcards from there, as this was the first place I had seen any. Across from the park, there was the Onomichi City Museum of Art. I really couldn't be bothered to go inside, but my friend convinced me to go in for a look. The words, it's free and probably well heated did the trick. Anyway, I enjoyed the museum a lot more than i had expected. First off we looked at some artwork by students from the local university. It was really good, I wish I could have bought some of it. I really liked it as it was contemporary. Then we headed upstairs to look at the rest of the artwork. As we wandered through the museum, we came to an area with huge windows that looked down on to the Onomichi Channel.

We were starving by this point, so we headed back down the hill to get some lunch. I thought the walk down would take a while, but it was so quick, less than ten minutes. We headed through the town to near the harbour where the restaurant that we had already chosen to eat lunch in was located. Onomichi's specialty is ramen. Onomichi has many, many ramen stores, and we had asked at our hostel if they could recommend one. The receptionist had told us to go to Tsutafuji as the ramen is good and not as greasy as in some of the other restaurants. She had said to ignore how the restaurant looked. We got there towards the end of lunchtime and there was still a small queue of people lined up outside. Luckily, ramen is a quick meal to eat, so we didn't have to wait too long to get inside. There was a sign by the door saying that the owner has a bad back, so that they are closing around teatime, so earlier than the time they normally close. We ventured inside the restaurant is tiny. Just the kitchen surrounded by counter with stools. I think there was enough seating for maybe ten or twelve people altogether. This place is old and tired looking, a bit grimy, but don't let that put you off. We sat down and ordered a big bowl of noodles each. Everything was in Japanese, so my friend did all the ordering. The woman working there explained that there would be a bit of a wait as the chef had to make seven sets of ramen for take-out as he had forgotten about the order. I watched enviously at the people next to me slurping away on their noodles. I also enjoyed watching the chef working away making his dishes. The woman in the cider shop (that we met later in the day) had said she found the bloke to be a bit grumpy, but I just thought he was absorbed with his craft. He is there to make ramen not pass pleasantries. The noodles here are in a soy based sauce with fish paste. You can see some fat floating on the surface, but not too much. There was also spring onions and pork. I got stuck in, the ramen were hot and I totally burnt my mouth, but I couldn't get enough of the stuff. The noodles were bloody delicious. The broth was really nice. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. I can't remember how much it was maybe 600-700 yen.

After lunch we walked along the front and took the ferry across the river to Mukoujima Island. The ferry runs back and forth all day and it costs 100 yen to make the crossing. I would have the correct change handy as the conductor refused, in a nice way, my friend's 1,000 yen bill. The island is big, there is touristy stuff on the other side of the island, I think and there is a bus service, but I don't think it runs too often. We took a little walk around, we climbed up the paths and were rewarded with some lovely views of Onomichi. We also found some giant oranges growing on the trees. The island is quite hilly and we walked down one of the hills and came to a main road. We were both feeling thirsty, we thought that we might have come across a coffee shop on our walk, but there were only houses. We came across a little bakery. We went in to see if they did coffee, but they didn't. My friend got talking to the staff there and she asked which pastries are the best/most popular. We got one of their original pastries and also one of their most popular items. We were too full to eat them, so we kept them for breakfast the next day. My friend had asked them about coffee shops and they told us that there was an local lemonade factory that had a seating area, just down the road. The lemonade place was really cool, it was an independent place, that make its own lemonade, coffee milk, cream soda, and something else that I have forgotten. Since it was a bit chilly out, the old lady invited us to sit in the office where it was warmer to drink out drinks. The couple that owned the place were really sweet. The business had been running for 85 years and they were the third generation of the family. I love finding out these stories.

In a complete contrast to the cider (lemonade) place, we headed to Diaso for a look around. I love comparing different Diasos, sad I know. I bought a couple of things. Then we headed to the supermarket opposite to have a look around. I love going to supermarkets in different countries and seeing what they have on offer. There was a spot of excitement, too, as the police had turned up to sort out some dispute that was happening in the cafe area. The cafe looked like it was a proper hobo hang out. It was full of poor looking old people. We took the ferry back to the mainland. We just made it as it was about to set sail. We have had great timing on this trip so far. Back in Onomichi, we went in search of a cafe. We found a small place near the harbour, I think its name was something to do with sunset. It was more of a doughnut shop, than a proper cafe, as it didn't really have any seats. All the doughnuts were heart shaped, they looked adorable! We had to sample one. There were loads of different ones, I really wished that I had been hungrier, so that I could have tried more. We decided to shared one that was topped with salted caramel. It was bloody delicious. There were a couple of chairs, so we sat on those to drink our coffees and watch the world go by. I would love to go back to the doughnut shop one day, it was just so cute and the woman running it was really nice. We took a quick walk through Ichibangai Shōtengai, which is a market area. We got there a bit too late as most of the shops were shut. We had wanted to visit the old bathhouse, which has now been converted into a souvenir shop, but it was closed.

We left Onomichi and took the train back to Hiroshima. Since we had already chosen the restaurant that we wanted to eat dinner at, we stayed on the train an extra couple of stations and got off at Yokogawa Station. Lopez okonomiyaki was about a five minute walk away tucked away down a side street. When I had been doing a little research on this trip at home, I had been looking at okonomiyaki restaurants as it it one of the representative dishes of Hiroshima, and I stumbled across this place. The name totally stood out from all the others, so I read the reviews, which were all excellent and mentioned it my friend, who was also excited to try it. This okonomiyaki place is run by a Mexican gentleman and has Mexican-Japanese style fusion okonomiyaki.

When we walked in the place was pretty busy, we were lucky to get a couple of seats together around the giant grill. There was also a film crew in filming, I have no idea what show they were recording for, but this place was popular. We were lucky to arrive when we did, as soon there was a big queue of people waiting to get a seat. It may be a Monday night, but this place was heaving. I got the feeling that it would be like this everyday. We looked over the menu and decided what to order. We were hungry, but not starving, so we decided to split a couple of things. We ordered chicken fajitas and a mixed soba okonomiyaki adding cheese and jalapenos. We also ordered a couple of iced teas to wash it all down with.

The chicken fajitas came out first, I can't remember if they were cooked on the grill in front of us or not, but we did watch a lot of teppenyaki being cooked in front of us. The fajitas were good and came with tortillas that we were able to warm on the grill in front of us, how good was that! It was also served with some salsa, which I resumed was homemade, as it didn't look like the stuff out of a jar. They were delicious and whet our appetite for the okonomiyaki, which looked huge! I was eyeing up the woman next to me's meal. Her okonomiyaki was on a plate and it took over the whole plate. I am glad that we decided to split one between us. It was great to watch the staff working, it looked like there is a real art to making okonomiyaki right. Ours came and we devoured it, it was amazing, one of the best I have had, not that I have had too many, but I have been to a few different places. The cheese and jalapenos were great on the okonomiyaki and really added to it. The jalapenos gave it a little kick, but as they were diced not too spicy. And, well, cheese benefits every dish in my opinion. Just like dalkgalbi always tastes better with cheese, it made the okonomiyaki taste really good. I also loved the runny egg, which one of my purist friends balked at when they saw the photo of it. Lopez was the perfect last meal for our trip in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is obsessed with their baseball team the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. You can see signs of them all over the city. My friend's nephew really likes them so we went to a store near the station that sold a lot of merchandise. I was even tempted to buy the baby pink baseball jersey and I hate baseball. We couldn't find what we needed so we headed to one of the two (?) special Carp Lawson stores. Lawson is a chain of Japanese convenience stores, which have a blue logo. However two stores, I think it is two, in Hiroshima are special Carp stores and there signage is in red to fit in with the team colours. People probably thought we were mad taking photos of a convenience store, but I could happily photograph Japanese convenience stores as I love them so much. This store is near to the team's stadium, so had a selection of team merchandise inside.


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