Ever been to Onan?

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like it's going to rain later today and into the morning tomorrow. But the good news is that tomorrow will clear up later. Both days will see highs in the mid-teens. It'll be sunny and warm for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then it'll probably start raining on Friday and into Saturday. Highs will get up to around 20C from Wednesday on.

Even though it's just over an hour’s drive north of Hiroshima city, you can’t get much more off the beaten track than Onan [邑南]. Nestled among the Chugoku Mountains in Shimane, Japan’s least visited prefecture, it is an excellent place to escape the crowds and get a real taste of rural Japan.

Onan unkai sea of clouds

Although the group of farming communities linked by narrow valleys that make up Onan all have their own long histories, the administrative district itself was created in 2004 from a merger of Iwami, Mizuho and Hasumi. Dotted with medieval hilltop castle sites and ancient shrines, an exploration of Onan, along its rivers, among its rice terraces and into its gorges, conjures images of the Japan of old.

The town is also looking to the future. While much of rural Japan is threatened by a shrinking and aging population, Onan is bucking the national trend. “We make raising children easier!” proclaims the town’s mascot, ‘Onan Sho’, modeled on the giant Ōsanshōuo giant salamander that inhabits local rivers. It may not exactly trip off the tongue, but the waiving of school fees and other incentives are attracting young families and the under 18 population is on the rise. Further, by boosting its reputation for premium organic produce and gourmet cuisine, the town hopes to provide reasons for this new generation to stick around. Onan is also proving to be an attractive destination for “I-turn” entrepreneurs who are trading city life for the simple pleasures of the countryside. There is in Onan, a vitality and optimism, rare in many of Japan’s picturesque, but dwindling rural communities.

Many of Onan’s visitor facilities, such as Koboku-no-mori Herb Garden, eateries and onsen hot springs, are concentrated on the rim of the O-hochi Basin. It is from here that you may see the unkai sea of clouds early on spring and autumn mornings, if conditions are right.

Koboku-no-mori Herb Garden
Spring is the time to catch the expansive and fragrant herb gardens in bloom. Koboku-no-mori is also a great example of Onan’s commitment to organic farming. Reasonably priced Japanese and Western food is available at the Kamuri restaurant overlooking the garden from mid-March.

koboku-no-mori

 

Kiri-no-yu Onsen
Very pleasant public onsen hot spring with indoor and outdoor baths, including baths infused with herbs from the garden just below. There is also an informal canteen-style restaurant attached where you can sample Iwami wagyu beef among other Japanese fare.

kiri-no-yu

 

Satoyama Italian AJIKURA
Onan’s pride and joy. Locally-sourced vegetables and wagyu beef prepared Italian-style and served in rustic-chic surroundings, Ajikura is the embodiment of Ohnan’s farm-to-plate rural revitalization project. Make a reservation to avoid disappointment.

ajikura

 
I'd love to live here! I wonder if there are any jobs for English teachers...

Have a great day!


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