Setouchi Shimanami Kaido Cycling Road
There is a really spectacular cycling road connection the islands of Honshu and Shikoku in Japan. It is possible to rent a bike in either Onomichi (Honshu) or Imabara (Shikoku) and leave it in the other town. The distance between these towns are 80 kilometer (it is 70 km if you can rent or leave the bike at the bridge outside Imabara). In my case I left the bike in Imabara city near the railway station. There are seven bridges and six islands to pass on this wonderful journey across the Japanese Inland Sea.
If you are fit it´s possible to do the journey in eight to ten hours but take care the rented bikes can demand more work than you think. Since I am interested in photography and would like to spend some time on these islands I decided to split the journey in two days. I rented the bike in Onomichi. It is necessary to book a bike at least one week before going to Onomichi.
If you are travelling around Japan and have some luggage to store you can send your luggage to the next destination even during weekends. This service of forwarding luggage is cheap and common practice in Japan. The shop at Onomichi railway station sent my luggage to a goods Receipt in Imabara located next to Imabara Railway station. I did this at 08:00 in Saturday morning and needed to pick up my luggage in Imabara before 17:00 in Sunday afternoon. I paid 500 Yen per day for the bike and 1000 Yen in deposit, two days cycling costs 1500 Yen.
All the pictures of Onomichi are taken from Onomichi view hotel Seizan which is a very steep walk from Onomichi railway station. But if you have planned the travelling in Japan well and carry a small luggage about 10 to 12 kg it´s doable. However with a big luggage take a cab to the hotel. Onomichi view hotel Seizan
The Setouchi Shimanami Kaido biking tour starts with a ferry ride which costs about 100 Yen. This ferry ride will save a long detour to the bridge west of Onomichi city to Shin-Onimichi Bridge. Please note The Shin-Onomichi Bridge does not have bicycle and pedestrian lanes you will be forced to continue west to Onomichi Bridge which has very narrow walkway. Take the ferry ride to Mukaishima Island!
The first part of the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido biking tour will pass through small villages with mechanical workshops and shipyards. This is still a way of life in Japan a small work shop and a small shipyard provides work for the local community!
Innoshima Bridge is the third longest bridge with 1270 meters length. It is the first bridge on the journey to Imabara on Shikoku Island. It will be about 10 to 12 km from Onomichi city.
One might expect a flat journey on all the islands but that is far from the case. Uphill to the bridges can be steep and quite demanding work. However this is only for two to three km on the over side of the bridge it will be downhill instead. I had three bicycle gears on my bike I found out that gear one was to demanding and gear two too light in the uphill cycling.
Innoshima Bridge looks great but the view from the bridge is far from great. You will be cycling in a steel cage in the middle of the bridge.
The most beautiful part of the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido biking tour is on the Ikuchjima Island! This is particularly nice in the late afternoon sun along Sunset Beach after Setoda and towards Tatara Bridge.
The Kanayama port area is typical with small work shop and shipyard. There are actually three different areas work shop and ship yard on three different Islands in the same picture.
If you rent a bike in Onomichi or Imabara this is what you get. My bike had three bicycle gears and bicycle basket in front. If you have something heavy in the basket the bike will be wobbly. I had my photo bag second day and the first day the bag was on my back. I had light rain in the morning of the first day and cloudy weather the rest of the day. The second day was sunny after a surprisingly cold and foggy morning. There are fifth teen different places to rent a bike from Onomichi to Imabara. One can always leave the bike at one of these places and take public transport the rest of the way if you have had enough of cycling.
There is no need to lug around a lot of liquid during your Setouchi Shimanami Kaido biking tour, it´s far better to lug around small Yen coins in 100, 50 and 10 values. There are vending machines almost everywhere. However they were far fewer on Oshima Island! You well even get a well-chilled soft drink!
Tatara Bridge is the second longest bridge on the cycle journey to Shikoku. This is in the middle of a very nice part of the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido biking tour. I do recommend preparing for lodging some there in this area if you would like to split up the journey in two parts. Just after the bridge turn right cycle a couple of kilometers into a small village. In the village is Fujimjen Ryakon. Camping is possible a few km before the village.
There is a fantastic ryakon on Omishima Island 40 kilometers from Onomichi. I decided to spend a night at Fujimijen ryakon. This ryakon has sea food as a specialty and there is really everything you can find in the sea on the table. Prepare yourself for a spectacular sea food dinner. http://travel.rakuten.com/hotel/Japan-Ehime_Prefecture-Imabari-Fujimien/30677/?search_type=area&id_dest=9530&destEnFullName=Japan-Ehime%20Prefecture-Imabari&searchKey=Imabari,%20EhimePrefecture,%20Japan&adults=2
After a very cold and foggy morning the weather becomes hot and sunny. I did this journey in the middle of May the cold and foggy morning was a great surprise. If you have sunny weather on the journey take care and protect you with sun blocker. The sun does really burn on the Inland Sea Islands.
During the morning there are enormous tidal currents in the Japanese Inland Sea. This looks more like a rushing river than a sea.
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