Written/Photos by Kit Chan
Translated by Derek Leung
This is entirely the paradise bicycle travelers have long been awaiting: on a long and tiring cycling trail sits an unexpected huge warm space, where you can find a hotel, a restaurant, a bakery, a cafe, a bar and a bike supply store for replenishment or relaxation.
What's more is that cycling-friendly facilities are ubiquitous: lots are available for casual bike parking, ramps are more than enough so that holding bikes to walk will no longer cause troubles, clean and spacious shower booths are set up wholeheartedly to refresh riders before their coming expeditions.
Such a space is not a fantasy, instead, a dream-come-true in the summer of 2014.
This is Onomichi U2, Japan's first mixed-used space of creativity custom-designed for cyclists in Onomichi, Hiroshima. Its distinctive positioning in "Cycle, Travel and Good things" caters to the needs of bicycle travelers.
Previously a wharf vacant for years, Onomichi U2 now has a new identity.
Onomichi used to be a very popular harbour and the 2,000-sqm Onomichi U2 a former wharf without serving any more warehousing purpose currently. After renovation, the building remains largely rough and the exterior marked with "Prefecture-Run No. 2" even tells the entire story of the site.
Rich in the industrial tone, Hotel Cycle shows a flair of roughness and elegance.
The presence of this cycling space is inspired by the location of Onomichi in proximity to Seto Inland Sea which marks the starting point of Shimanami Kaido, a well-received 70-km cycling track going through six islands and seven bridges in Japan.
Epitomizing the seaside town, Onomichi U2 is rejuvenated by the design team from a warehouse abandoned for years to a multi-purpose complex comprising a hotel, a restaurant, a bike shop and a gift shop, turning the small waterfront town into a welcoming scenic spot.
This is the first time a place in Japan is custom-made for cyclists' short breaks and accommodation.
Among the design highlights is nothing but Hotel Cycle, a boutique hotel specifically designed for cyclists and allowing simultaneous bike check-in at a designated landing zone, or, for even better security, bike placement at the hooks made of bicycle handlebars fixed inside the hotel rooms.
The hooks made of bicycle handlebars and fixed in the hotel rooms resemble the smiles of human beings.
The hotel room is not only simple in terms of design, but, most importantly, fit for hanging a bike.
A one-stop service-providing complex housing a hotel, a coffee shop and a bakery.
Bike parking lots can be found in both indoors and outdoors.
Special mentions go to the provision of repair service or purchase of parts and components by the well-known cycle brand Giant, together with the bike rental for any improvised cycling enjoyment.
Never will you find bike rides inconvenient nor unwelcoming here. Cycling in this neighbourhood is no different from travelling on foot.
The design team reiterated that "Cycle" here refers to many more beyond bicycling, which include "the flow of time" as well as liberal and timeless repetition. The beauty of Nature is awaiting you to take a ride to embrace. What a wonderful cycling journey!
Address: 5-11, Nishiosho-cho, Onomichi, Hiroshima