Shobara / HiroshimaFind Peace in the Halcyon Hills and Valleys of Rural Hiroshima


The Shobara region spreads across hill and dale in the northeastern corner of the mountainous prefecture of Hiroshima. Located roughly 1.5 hours from Hiroshima Station, and just over an hour from Hiroshima Airport by car, this rural area is a world away from the frenetic hustle and bustle of the cities that make up the main tourist track across the Japanese archipelago.

To reach Shobara, you’ll wind along roads that whisk you away from the neon lights of modern Japan to an older, agrarian age. Out the windows, satoyama—small settlements in valleys where the lower hillsides are cultivated—interrupt forests thick with evergreens, deciduous trees, and bamboo. As you reach Shobara, terraced fields of rice and buckwheat dominate a landscape dotted with stately farmhouses.

Drift Across the Calm Waters of Taishaku Gorge’s Lake Shinryu

Red bridges, thickly forested hills, and steep cliffs provide a stunning backdrop for a cruise around Lake Shinryu.

Beyond the satoyama settlements, the Chugoku Mountains of Hiroshima are dense with vegetation. Carved out from the green hills, Taishaku Gorge—part of Hiba-Dogo-Taishaku Quasi-National Park—impresses, with towering cliffs of gray rock that peek through thick foliage.

Marvel at Shobara’s wilderness from the comfort of a tatami-floored sightseeing boat.

Approximately 40 minutes from the Shobara City metropolitan area, Lake Shinryu, a serpentine manmade lake, offers incredible views of cliffs, vermillion bridges, and hills from the water. Board a boat with tatami seating and cruise the lake, as great cormorants and other waterfowl fly low over the water beside you. Fall in particular offers stunning sights as foliage burns red, orange, and yellow against the gray cliffs.

Explore the Wilderness of Taishaku Gorge On Land

Rock formations, verdant vegetation, and rushing waters are yours to discover in Taishaku Gorge.

Head deeper into the gorge, either on foot or by bicycle, to Onbashi Bridge, one of the three largest natural bridges in the world, and a nationally designated Natural Monument. Follow the river as it gurgles and splashes over a bed of pebbles, and stop to admire Haku-un Cave, a limestone cavern which extends 200 meters into the rock of the gorge.

Onbashi Bridge stuns, regardless of angle.

Not far from the cave’s entrance, you’ll come across the imposing Onbashi Bridge. At 90 meters across, 18 meters wide, 24 meters thick, and 40 meters high, it looms large over its surroundings, and frames the vibrant river valley in light gray limestone.

Spend the Night in a 250-year-old Kominka Farmhouse

Your abode for the night is a kominka farmhouse, lovingly restored and updated.

The farmhouses of Shobara range from new to venerable and are topped with shining kawara roof tiles, or else sheet-metal-covered thatch. Head into the countryside to spend the night under one such roof at Chojaya, a renovated 250-year-old farmhouse located deep in a Shobara satoyama.

Chojaya is a delightful combination of preserved farmhouse and modern comfort.

A packed-earth entranceway welcomes you, while to your left, the cattle shed—once home to the family’s treasured draft cattle—is hung with photographs from years past. Drink in the history of the house, from its thick beams, and lacquered sliding doors to the bird carved into a plaster wall by a long-ago householder.

A long soak in the ample tub is the perfect way to cap off a day of exploring the Shobara countryside.

In perfect harmony with the preserved portions of the residence, contemporary comforts—including an IH cooktop-equipped kitchen—abound for your relaxation and convenience.

A stay at Chojaya envelopes you in the pastoral beauty of rural Hiroshima.

From the engawa corridor, sit back and admire the view of terraced rice paddies and fields of buckwheat. The road that stands between you and the fields is a prime cycling route, and electric-assist bicycles can be rented to explore the area on your own or as part of a guided tour.

Savor Local Cuisine Prepared Before Your Eyes

Relish local specialties prepared by a chef specializing in all things edible in Shobara.

Chojaya, one of several Setouchi Cominca Stays properties, comes with a Shobara Gastronomy dinner option, where a trained chef prepares a meal of local specialties on-site. The Shobara area is rich with variety, and meals include a range of seasonal ingredients. For example, an autumn meal might include wild boar, trout, buckwheat soba-dofu, squash, and a peach-based dessert.

The Shobara Gastronomy plan will tickle your taste buds with delicacies like buckwheat soba-dofu garnished with local greens and citrus.

Meals are served stylishly for a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Watching the chef at work and inquiring about various ingredients locals have enjoyed for centuries adds a special touch to the already incredible experience.

Enjoy Colorful Local Culture and a Trip Back in Time

Bihoku Hillside National Park introduces Japanese craftwork and art forms from days gone by in a recreated village.

Kagura, an ancient form of Shinto theater, is a whirlwind of music, dance, and fanciful costumes. With minimal dialogue and simple story lines, the performances are easy to follow and are incredible entertainment, regardless of your Japanese ability.

Peek into the past while padding through the tatami rooms of recreated village buildings.

Bihoku Hillside National Park, approximately five minutes from the city center of Shobara, provides the perfect place to enjoy kagura. In addition to weekend performances in the kagura theater, the park is home to a recreated traditional village, with grass-thatched roofs, traditional gardens, cultural activities and workshops, alongside child-friendly playground equipment and fields of seasonal flowers.

At the kagura theater, straw dragons frame the stage, as actors twirl and swordfight, costumes and masks changing as if by magic as the story unfolds.

Time permitting, kagura performers are happy to share their art with visitors.

Should your timing be good, you may have a chance to chat with performers after a show— and perhaps even touch or try on their costumes.

Access information

Getting to Shobara, Hiroshima Prefecture:

Though Shobara can be reached by train or bus from the Hiroshima Station area, traveling by car is the easiest way to explore the region. If traveling from the city of Hiroshima, the Shobara City metropolitan area is five minutes from the Shobara Interchange on the Chugoku Expressway. The trip takes around an hour and a half. If traveling from Hiroshima Airport, take Prefectural Route 49, Fruit Road, Japan National Route 184 and Prefectural Route 61 to reach the city of Shobara. The trip takes approximately one hour.

Article provided by: JTB Communication Design, Inc.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stay Japan“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stay Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


Search by Photo