ONOMICHI U2: Hiroshima's Stylish Cyclist Haven | CoolJapan

Japan is not short of beautiful cycling routes. The first one that caught my eye was the Shimanami Kaido in western Japan because of its unobstructed view of the Seto Inland Sea. There are lots of yummy local food along the way, and it's a cycling course easy enough even for casual cyclists like myself. If you prefer taking it slow, or if you’re someone who cycles only occasionally, staying a night on one of the islands along the Shimanami Kaido route could be an option to consider.




ONOMICHI U2, located at the Onomichi end of the route, is a facility that houses a hotel, restaurant, cafe, bakery, lifestyle shop and bicycle store all in one place. Refurbished from what was previously a warehouse, the facility aims to contribute to the vibrancy of the city and to become a place for people in Onomichi to gather, relax and enjoy themselves — locals and travellers alike. Read on to know what awaits when you visit ONOMICHI U2.


ONOMICHI U2

ONOMICHI U2, refurbished from what is said to be the second oldest building in the area. Photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of ONOMICHI U2.

HOTEL CYCLE


HOTEL CYCLE caters well to the needs of the cycling crowd, with many furnishings designed to make their stay as comfortable as possible. Corridors are wide enough for two cyclists to push their bicycles past each other, there are tyre pumps readily available and so on. Bicycle racks are also available in some of the rooms, so cyclists who prefer to keep their personal bicycles inside their rooms can do so.


HOTEL CYCLESpecial racks fitted within some of the rooms so your bicycles can always be near you. Photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of ONOMICHI U2.


Another special touch to the hotel is how they try to incorporate elements of the region into the facility. One example is how their pyjamas are made of denim from Hiroshima's Bingo region. These comfortable pyjamas come in two different sizes, and if you like them enough, you can purchase a set to bring home from the Shima Shop.


While at the shop, look out for pouches and totes made out of Bingo kasuri, a special woven cotton fabric manufactured in Fukuyama, Hiroshima. At its peak, Bingo kasuri accounted for the large majority of all kasuri produced nationwide but has since become a dying trade with just two places manufacturing it now.


Items made of Bingo kasuri.

COG BAR


Before actually going to the COG BAR, I’d thought its name was a play on "cognac", but I was wrong. COG is actually from the Japanese word for peddling, "kogu", a name chosen to tie in with the cycling theme of the facility. They have this bicycle saddle as one of the seats at the counter, and guess what? The neon light lights up when you pedal on this seat! 


Definitely a one-of-a-kind counter seat experience!

Butti Bakery


Butti Bakery(Left) Fresh loaves daily at the Butti Bakery. Photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of ONOMICHI U2. (Right) Pick up tiny bottles of homeishu or some locally produced snacks as yummy souvenirs.


Wondering if there's also a meaning behind the name Butti? Because there is. Butti is from the word "bucchi" from the Hiroshima dialect, which means totemo in standard Japanese, or very in English. By providing freshly baked bread and pastries made from local ingredients daily, along with a range of carefully selected food and souvenirs by local producers, Butti Bakery hopes to provide a very delicious, very healthy, and very enjoyable experience to all their customers.


ONOMICHI U2 Just five steps away from the sea, with an unrivalled view of the sunset.


The wide range of products and services gathered all in one place makes it extremely easy to spend a quiet afternoon at this landmark — sipping coffee provided by local roasters at Yard Cafe, or watching cyclists come back after completing the Shimanami Kaido route. Their emphasis on using materials and products sourced from the region means more discoveries and opportunities at understanding the culture and history of this part of Japan.


On the way out of the facility on my final day, I came across an elderly man peacefully dozed off on one of the sofas with a book in his hand. It brought a smile to my face, and I thanked ONOMICHI U2 silently in my heart, for giving me a glimpse of life at Onomichi.


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