One of Japan’s newest design destinations is the charming coastal town of Onomichi, home to various innovative projects including Onomichi U2, Hotel Cycle, Minato no Yado, and the Onomichi Denim Project.

Until recently, Onomichi, which is located less than an hour from Hiroshima by train (and under 2 hours from Kyoto and Osaka), was best known as the starting point for the island-hopping Shimanami Kaido cycling route across the Seto Inland Sea.

 Onomichi U2, Hotel Cycle, Onomichi, Japan
Onomichi U2, Hotel Cycle, Onomichi (photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of DISCOVERLINK Setouchi CC BY)

Along with its cycling opportunities, Onomichi is also home to an impressively-high concentration of Buddhist temples, charming maze-like back streets, and a relaxed old-fashioned atmosphere.

Now, thanks in large part to the 2014 opening of Onomichi U2 – a project by Onomichi-based DISCOVERLINK Setouchi and Hiroshima-based Suppose Design Office – the once-sleepy town is starting to attract design and architecture lovers from around the world.

Onomichi U2 and Hotel Cycle

Located on the Onomichi waterfront, about a 5-minute walk from Onomichi Station, Onomichi U2 is a renovated warehouse that is home to the cyclist-friendly Hotel Cycle, as well as a bakery, cafe, restaurant, bar, bicycle shop, and boutique.

An aerial view of the renovated warehouse, Onomichi U2, Onomichi, Japan
Aerial view of Onomichi U2 (photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of DISCOVERLINK Setouchi CC BY)

At the heart of Onomichi U2 is the 28-room Hotel Cycle.

Along with perks like cycle-through check-in, Hotel Cycle offers simple but stylish rooms featuring an attractive mix of modern design and local touches (including soft denim pajamas).

The Hotel Cycle guest room, Onomichi U2, Onomichi, Japan
(photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of DISCOVERLINK Setouchi CC BY)

While the town of Onomichi is worthy of exploration, you may be tempted to grab a book or design magazine and spend the afternoon over coffee or drinks in the beautiful Onomichi U2 itself.

The shop and restaurant at Onomichi U2, Onomichi, Japan
The shop and restaurant at Onomichi U2, Onomichi (photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of DISCOVERLINK Setouchi CC BY)

The on-site Butti (pronounced boo-chee) Bakery offers fresh bread and pastries based on local ingredients.

Pick up a treat and head over to the Yard Cafe – where you can linger over an espresso while looking out onto the waterfront – or make your way to the Kog Bar, which offers an extremely generous happy hour.

The Kog Bar at Onomichi U2, Onomichi, Japan
The Kog Bar at Onomichi U2, Onomichi (photo by Tetsuya Ito, courtesy of DISCOVERLINK Setouchi CC BY)

One of the surprise highlights of Onomichi U2 is the U2 Shima Shop, where you can find an eclectic variety of local products and select items, ranging from gourmet food and drink to denim and other fashion goods.

Local products sold at the Shima Shop at Onomichi U2, Onomichi, Japan
Local products sold at the Shima Shop at Onomichi U2, Onomichi

For those planning to cycle the Shimanami Kaido, there is also a GIANT bicycle shop on site, where you can rent (and buy) high-quality road bikes.

Onomichi is one of Japan's newest design destinations, thanks to the innovative Onomichi U2 warehouse, Hotel Cycle, the luxurious Minato no Yado and more.