Lush and beautiful, Ohnan town is tucked into mountains among rice fields and friendly neighbors. Nature is in your backyard. Glorious scenery awaits you while impromptu bike rides and hiking adventures are the norm.
Ohnan offer various restaurants. If you work up an appetite, visit one of many local restaurants. Restaurants such Kapate and Manisuke offer a variety of Japanese food and is well known for great atmosphere and friendly staff. Ajikura brings Italian flare to the town, allowing you to experience the tastes of Ohnan with its farm-to-plate philosophy. Make a reservation and prepare to be delighted. I dare you. (Reservations can be made directly via Ajikura’s website, or by contacting the Ohnan Tourism Association.)
A must-see is the Giant Salamander Museum! They are called オオサンショウウオ (pronounced oohsansho-uo), but the local dialect here is hanzake (ハンザケ). There you can see adults, which are over a meter long! It’s also one of the only places in Japan you can see the babies in person. The giant salamander also happens to be Ohnan’s mascot.
If you’re up for a hike, Dangyokei Gorge is a lot of fun. You can scramble over the boulders and bring your lunch for a picnic in the rest house. The gorge itself supposedly 60-80 meters deep, and there are tours if you want to hear about the history. Really beautiful in the fall.
Eating out does not interest you? You want to prepare your own meal? Local supermarkets, such as Mizuho Michi no Eki and Fureai Ichigi Komoi no Sato, offer numerous locally grown fruits, vegetables and fresh meats. But if you change your mind, they offer a variety of fresh prepared meals to go.
Restaurants and Nightlife
Nightlife slows down in Ohnan. But if you want to go out, most restaurants will stay open late with a reservation. If you are in the mood for karaoke, visit Waka (和香) snack bar or With next to Creek yakiniku restaurant in Yakami, or drive 20 minutes away to Kawamoto. Two karaoke bars are within a 5 minute walking distance.
Kiri no Yu (also known as Iwami Onsen – map link) is available to unwind, complete with an outside bath (露天風呂) with herbs such as rosemary, lavender and medicinal plants. There is also a small walking path around a lake just outside the onsen, which makes for a nice stroll in the spring. Just a five-minute walk away is Koboku no Mori Garden, great for a meditative stroll through the herb and rose gardens. Stop by the greenhouse to check out the herbs for sale and maybe start your own garden.
Koboku no Mori Garden
During winter enjoy skiing at Mizuho Highland. It is much bigger than other ski resorts in the area, and offers slopes for all skill levels. Ski passes are reasonable and during the week they offer discounts. Clothes and equipment are also available for rental. If you’re an advanced skiier/snowboarder, Highland also has secret slopes! (contact Ohnan Tourism Association for info.)
Festivals and Town Events
Festivals occur throughout the year. Here are some highlights.
March/April – Peach Blossom Festival. The festival is in a village called Kaizumi (川角). All of the people who live there are over 65 (average age 80), and have spent over 10 years growing a beautiful forest of peach blossom trees. The colors are so striking, and the locals are super happy to meet new people!
April/May – Ji no Hi Festival. During this festival, giant, brightly colored umbrellas that take several people to control are paraded down to Kamo Shrine.
July – Mizuho Summer Festival. Ohnan’s biggest summer festival, complete with local food stalls, fireworks and kagura performances.
July – Kanekobara Mushi Okuri. Every July 20th, members of the Mushi Okuri Preservation Society wear yukata, play the flute and drums, and perform a traditional dance at establishments around town to banish insects from the rice crops.
August – Yamanba Matsuri. In most of Japan, “yamanba” is an old crone who eats people. In Ohnan, she is a grandmotherly figure that transforms into a beautiful young woman and works in the rice fields and helps people take care of their children.
November – INAKA Illumination. Annual illumination event with over 35,000 hand-arranged LED lights. Uzui Station (famous in Japan – map link) has 116 steps and stands 20 meters (65 feet) above the ground, giving you a spectacular view of the thousands of LED lights wound into 5,000 gold shining stalks of rice. Really quaint and warm feeling. Very different feel from city illumination events.
December – Countdown at Mizuho Highland. When the weather is good, Mizuho Highland holds an annual countdown event on December 31st to ring in the new year, providing food, music, and night skiing and snowboarding.
Japanese Cultural Activities JETs Have Participated In
Though small, Ohnan’s townspeople are warm and always waiting to welcome anyone! It offers many activities ranging from festivals, sports, and clubs. Join taiko, take a Pilates or dance class, learn guitar. Once you take a look around, there are a host of activities to keep you busy. Community center message boards are a good place to start.
Things JETs Do in Their Spare Time
Many people gather on weekdays to play soccer, volleyball and basketball at local community centers. Clubs such as taiko and tea ceremony are available as well. There are also seasonal activities, such as cherry and peach blossom viewing in the spring, lavender and sakuranbo (Japanese cherry) picking in the summer, and skiing at Mizuho Highland in the winter. For a comprehensive rundown of the ski resort in English, go to snowjapan.com. I am sure there other options just ask around.
Reach beyond Ohnan boundaries and explore Hiroshima for city shopping, foreign groceries amongst other things. Ohnan is about 45 minutes by car from central Hiroshima.
For those without a car, the town bus (Ohnan Bus) takes you from the main town hall in Yakami to Mizuho Interchange (Mizuho IC). From there, you can catch the highway bus to Hiroshima Bus Center and Hiroshima Station.
For more information, take a look at Ohnan’s Tourism page (new changes coming soon).