After doing some sightseeing in Hiroshima and paying a visit to the Rabbit Island, my friends and I moved on to the main part of our trip: Riding across 5 tiny islands to get to Shikoku.
If you haven’t read my previous posts about Hiroshima, links are below;
The Shimanami Kaido is considered to be one of the best “short” bike tours in the world, and by trying it myself I could see how it got this reputation.
Although I travel around on bicycle pretty regularly, to the supermarket or my nearby friends’ houses, this was my first time making a long trip like this. Everyone in my group was in a similar situation, so we took quite a leisurely pace for the journey. I think more advanced riders might be able to do the trip in one day, but we split the trip into two days so we could rest in the middle.
My route map
Omnomichi station –> Mukaishima –> Innoshima –> Ikuchi bridge –> Omishima –> Oshima –>Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge –>Imabari station
We started the trip at Onomichi station, in Hiroshima prefecture.
We didn’t use the Shinkansen as it is quite expensive, so it took us 1.5 hours to get there from Hiroshima station, but for JR pass holders it can be accessed in under 1 hour using a combination of Shinkansen and local trains.
Onomichi was a calm port town. We didn’t have much time to explore but it would be interesting to spend a morning or afternoon there!
We went straight to rent our bicycles. There were many types available, from the shopping bike (mamachari) with 3 gears and a basket on the front, to the road bikes for the fast-paced cyclist.
It cost 1,000 yen per bike per day, plus a 1,000 fee to drop off the bike at a different location to pickup (as we were only riding one way). More information about bicycle rental can be found on the Shimanami tourist information website.
After choosing and paying for our bicycles, it was time to head off!
First we took a short ferry ride to Mukaishima, the first island.
The laws in Japan don’t have restrictions on whether or not adults should wear helmets, but I wore one just in case. It also helped keep my hat on, which offered some much-needed protection from the sun.
The cycling route is quite clearly signed, with blue lines on the road to follow.A lot of the route involves riding alongside the coast, which has beautiful views.
After around 30-40 minutes of riding, we started to ascend the hill leading to the first bridge.
The ascent before each bridge was the hardest part of the journey, but we were rewarded each time with a smooth descent. For the first bridge, we got to ride a separate road under the cars, which means we got some nice shade too.
After crossing the bridge, we got to the second island, Innoshima. Each bridge has some information written on it in Japanese about tolls, but it is free for pedestrians and cyclists.
Part of the trip was along the coast, and another part wound through the town.
With the exception of the roads leading up to the bridges, the path in general was quite flat and an easy cycle
There are signs that point to where each bridge is. Follow the bicycle picture!
The second bridge was as tiring as the first. Even though it’s not that steep, it was tough on our legs.
Depending on your leg strength, you might prefer to get off your bike and walk.
There was a much needed rest spot with shade near the top.
Almost at the top, we could see beautiful views of the bridge, houses and the ocean.
Finally we reached the bridge!
The path across the bridges were generally very smooth and easy to ride. This time we rode in a bicycle path next to the cars.
There were guide maps scattered around the islands.
From Ikuchi bridge, which we just left, to Tatara bridge was 13km away. Time to work out those legs!!
I wanted to go to the beach but we didn’t have any swimsuits or towels. Luckily we could stop at a gelato shop on the way to the next bridge.
As a group, we tended to ride at different speeds. So we needed to take breaks every now and then to regroup.
Then it was time for the ascent to the next bridge.
Getting higher up the slope, we could see better views.
We finally made it to the bridge!
Riding in a separate bike lane meant we could stop for photos.
This bridge also marked the end of Hiroshima prefecture and the start of Ehime prefecture!
We arrived at the fourth island, Omishima, which is where we would be staying the night.
Although we planned to explore the area in the evening, we were so tired from the ride that all we had energy to do was grab some dinner from the nearest conbini and sleep until morning.
We woke up bright and early to head off by 9am.
Going up yet another slope
Out of the five islands, Oshima was the biggest and most of the path was inland.
I also saw an actual scarecrow for the first time in my life! I’ve always lived close to a big city so I never saw one in person before.
We finally got to the end of Oshima island to reach the last bridge.
It was the longest bridge so far, but it had the best views!
I wanted to visit this secluded beach! The water was so clear and beautiful.
Finally, we arrived at the main Shikoku island.
The quiet town Imabari was home to more people with rice fields. I was excited to see this as we don’t see much in Tokyo where I live.
Finally, we arrived at Imabari station where we dropped off our bikes.
Unfortunately we had to head straight back to Hiroshima to catch a night bus home. Otherwise I would’ve liked to stay in Imabari for longer and visit the beaches in the area. If we had another day, I would’ve liked to visit Matsuyama (around an hour away) or Dogo Onsen (1.5 hours by train).
I hope you enjoy reading my blog. Goodbye!
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