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 offers various restaurants. If you work up an appetite, visit one of many local food joints. Restaurants such as Jomonmura and Murabi, and izakayas such as Kapate and Fukurou offer a variety of Japanese food and are well known for great atmosphere and friendly staff. Satoyama Italian 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). Here you can see adults, which are over a meter long! It’s also one of the only places in Japan you can see babies in person. The giant salamander also happens to be Ohnan’s mascot. Observation surveys open to the public are held twice a year (July and August), where you can observe them in their natural habitat and actually touch them (something which requires special permission as they are a protected species – find out more here).
Ohnan is also home to homemade soft serve ice cream and chocolate at Café Mui, home roasted coffee and vegan treats at Komejirushi, pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven by a lovely elderly couple at Gohongi Cafe (gorgeous flowers in the back garden in May), and more!
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 leaves in the fall.
Eating out doesn’t interest you? Want to prepare your own meal? Local supermarkets, such as the market located adjacent to Michi no Eki Mizuho as well as 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. If you’re in the mood to go out, most restaurants will stay open later with a reservation. If you are in the mood for karaoke, visit Wako (和香) snack bar/izakaya, 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 a relaxing hot spring to unwind, complete with an outside bath (露天風呂) scented 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 garden. 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 Viewing. In Kaizumi village (川角集落), all of the people who live there are over 65 (average age 80), and they 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!
May 21 – Ji no Hi Festival. During this festival, giant, brightly colored umbrellas, that take several people to control due to the sheer size and weight, are paraded down the narrow street in front of Kamo Shrine. This festival is over 650 years old.
July – Mizuho Summer Festival. Ohnan’s biggest summer festival, complete with local food stalls, fireworks and kagura performances.
July 20 – Kanekobara Mushi Okuri Odori. Every July 20th, members of the Mushi Okuri Preservation Society wear traditional yukata, play the flute and drums, and perform a traditional dance at establishments around town to banish insects from the rice crops. This custom has continued for over 200 years.
August – Yamanba Matsuri. In most of Japan, “yamanba” is an old crone yōkai in Japanese folklore that lures people and devours her victims. However in Ohnan, she is a grandmotherly figure who transforms into a beautiful young woman to work in the rice fields and help people take care of their children.
Late November – INAKA Illumination (2018 Schedule TBA). 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 its 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 a taiko group, take a Pilates or dance class, learn guitar, make soba from scratch. 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. 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 via the expressway 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 expressway bus to Hiroshima Bus Center and Hiroshima Station. You can also take the Ohnan Bus from Mizuho Michi no Eki to Oasa Interchange (Oasa IC), and catch the expressway bus there.
For more information, take a look at Ohnan’s Tourism page (new changes coming soon).