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Trip report -- part eight (Sunday afternoon 19th August in Onomichi) - The Kilt Nihonside
February 5th, 2008
08:36 pm

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Trip report -- part eight (Sunday afternoon 19th August in Onomichi)
Back from my early-morning voyage across the Pacific, I grabbed a snack lunch at a local cafe near the station and headed back to my hotel room for a quick shower and change of socks and underwear. It was now officially Hot (mid to high 30s C) and despite drinking lots of fluids during my earlier Wanderjahr I was still feeling the effects.

After resting in my room (ah, blessed aircon) I reloaded my water supply and headed back out, moving east along the main road through the lower part of town, alongside the railway tracks from the station. I was headed for the lower cable-car station (or as the Japanese call it, a "ropeway"). On my way I passed another typically countryside Japanese feature, a tiny shrine consisting of a simple niche in the retaining wall of the railway line. Nothing much, except a small weather-worn stone Buddha a few inches high with a ragged silk scarf around his neck and a cup at his feet holding a few wildflowers. I stopped and topped up the water in the cup from my bottle (after taking a swig -- did I mention it was hot?) and I left a 1-yen coin on the shelf. I was going into danger and I felt that being a big spender might bias my chances of surviving the day.

The ropeway station was on the north side of the railway line, accessed via a road tunnel running under the tracks. In a few other locations there are pedestrian stairs coming down from the hillside that also cross the line. These stairs have featured in movies and an anime series, Kamichu! set in Onomichi which I've mentioned before now. The ropeway station building is cheek-by-jowl with yet another small temple complex. Then again almost anywhere in Onomichi is close to a shrine or temple...

I bought a ticket from the ubiquitious dispensing machine (a common feature of most attractions in Japan, I discovered). It cost 280 yen if you're going one-way and planning to walk back down on the Path of Literature, or 440 yen for the return trip. Luckily for my feet, you can also buy a one-way ticket back down when you're at the top...

Like most Japanese attraction tickets the ticket stub has a picture, with some information on the back. Sadly this is in Japanese which I can't read well enough to translate. I was able to figure out the cablecar was originally built in 1957 and it ran for 365 metres up the hill to the top, but that's about it.

So, off we went. I took some pictures of the surrounding rooftops and countryside on the way up, but it was a bit crowded inside the car, being a Sunday with lots of people spending the afternoon enjoying themselves. At the top station we debouched onto an area with carvings and statues, the beginning of the Path. In addition there was a two-storey round tower for sightseeing plus some shops selling souvenirs and ice cream. So I had some ice cream -- vanilla and mandarin. To digress, mandarins (みかん, or mikan) are a major fruit crop in the Onomichi area. Mikan are a sort-of running joke in manga and anime storylines -- mikan boxes are a ubiquitous item, used for storage by poor students living in small apartments, or stray cats will be found in such boxes, magical implements lost in them, the uses for such boxes are endless. Anyway, it was good ice cream, and the scenery was wonderful.

I took lots of pictures around the top of the hill, and from the tower itself too. In the distance I could easily make out the shipbuilding and ship repair yards that are the key industries in this area. Over on the other side of the strait I spotted the Home Center I had visited earlier that morning, situated in a cluster of housing. Around the back of the hilltop was yet another small shrine building, somewhat dilapidated looking with the traditional offerings box sitting on the front step. The sides of the hill had some sharp drop-offs from the rock edges, with pitifully insufficient fencing the only safety feature. This didn't stop some brave (and amazingly pretty!) people from venturing out onto the edge to get their pictures taken by their friends.

 On the cablecar trip back down the hill I got on board early and snagged a seat at the front where I could set up my camera for video. The result is a three-minute .avi movie which hopefully people can download and view if they wish. It is about 20Mb in size.

 More about my Onomichi visit later. I did warn you I'd be going on about this place at some length...

Current Location: Onomichi
Current Mood: Escalated
Current Music: Ropeway to Heaven

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