Takehara to Onomichi (38 km by bike)
The town of Takehara styles itself as the “Little Kyoto of Aki”, having a well preserved old town, including 120 buildings remaining from the late Edo period (17 to 19th centuries), when the city flourished as a centre of the salt industry. The Special Historical District of old warehouses was selected as one of Japan’s “100 Most Scenic Towns”. After an early breakfast in a charming cafe (egg set for Paul, waffles for Lois, and good siphon coffee), we cycled through the atmospheric old town before the shops opened.
The area is popular with makers of Samurai movies. Takehara is also known for a more infamous reason. An island just off the coast was the site of the Japanese Imperial Army’s poison gas factory during the Sino-Japanese war and WW2. It is now overrun by rabbits which, according to some sources, were used to test the poison gas and then set free at the end of the war.
The ride today was much better. There were sidewalks on most of the route (#185), few hills and the traffic was light, apart from a short stretch on National Highway #2. Most of the time we were by the sea. It was a misty day, but the forecasted rain held off.
Just cycling into Onomichi, we noticed a “brasserie” where the table d’hôte was a multi course meal with a white fish and shrimp option for the main course. Sitting there, sipping our Perrier, we could have been in a cafe in Paris (apart from the bowl of rice which came with the meal!) Supper was cheese and crackers in our room, looking out on the harbour and Mukoujima island. Just close to our hotel is the boutique Hotel Cycle. At $300 a night, it was beyond our budget, but we enjoyed wandering through the complex. There is a valet service for your bicycle and very chic surroundings. The coffee shop and bakery serve espresso and croissants, so that will be our first stop in the morning!