Shimanami Kaido is the popular name for the bridge/expressway that connects Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture to Mukaijima Island, Innoshima Island, Ikuchi Island, Omishima Island, Hakata Island, Oshima Island and finally Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture. It is roughly 70 kilometers and is a rarity because it can be crossed by car, bicycle, or on foot.
The islands along the way are filled with picturesque towns and villages, as well as temples, museums and abundant natural beauty. Cyclists can choose to complete the course in half a day or take the time to do some sightseeing. Many select the option of staying in one of the guest houses found at either side of the course or on one of the islands through which it passes.
There are bicycle rental shops at each stage of the journey in case you want to take a break for a day or two and enjoy some of the local flavor.
Whatever you decide, a highly recommended spot is the U2 cycling hub in Onomichi City. It is a good place to get your bearings before the start of your journey. Actually, the lead singer and cycling enthusiast, Bono of U2 fame, made the trip incognito some years ago.
If you decide to take the journey, plan on two days to cycle the entire route; this will allow time for exploring the islands as well.
The series of bridges spanning the Seto Ohashi Sea between Onomichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture and Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku Island is known the the Shimanami Bridgeline. Before the bridgeline was made, access to the numberous islands was extrememly limited; however, the bridgeline allows drivers and cyclists to cross with ease and explore the nature beauty and attractions of the area.
The Shimanami Bridgeline is extemely popular with cyclists as well as tourists who want to explore the islands at a leisurely pace. The bridgeline is approximately 70 km in length (approximately 43 miles). Experienced cyclists and those who are in shape and whose mail goal is the cycling aspect of the trip can usually cross the bridgeline in 4-6 hours; less experienced people or those who want to savor the experience and sites on the islands can generally cross in about 10 hours. Many people opt to spend a night on one of the islands in order to enjoy the adventure at their own pace.
Visitors who choose to enjoy the islands at a leisurely pace can visit a multitude of traditional and contemporary museums, Buddhist temples, a citrus fruit park, a number of historically and culturally significant spots, and spots offering beautiful vistas of the islands and the sea. Traditional ryokans, restaurants, and cafes also dot the islands. The islands are known in general for their fresh seafood and citrus fruits.
Visitors may bring their own bicycle or rent one at one of the 14 rent-a-cycle terminals along the way. Rentals start at 1,000 JPY per day for adults, and 500 JPY for children, plus a 1,000 JPY insurance fee. Tandem bicycles and electric bicyles (for those uphill moments!) are also available at slightly higher rates.
For information on renting a bicyle, contact our staff or one of the offices below (Japanese only):
* Onomichi Tourists Association
Rent-a-Cycle Main Office
Closed at year-end and New Year’s
* Imabari Cycling Terminal
The first stop on the the Shimanami Kaido is Mukaijima. The Island can actually be reached by ferry or bicycle and is separated from the mainland by a narrow 200 meter strait.
An independent city until a merger with Onomichi in 2006, Innoshima is a culturally rich island with lots of appeal for tourists. With sandy white beaches, parks, temples, shrines and a plethora of beautiful scenery, the island is not to be missed.
This island stands out in particular for Kosanji Temple which built in homage to some of the well-known temples in Nara. Ikuchi is stocked with interesting things to see and do. There are beaches, campgrounds, and a host of public facilities to make your trip enjoyable.
Another gem along the Shimanami Kaido, this island holds its own when it comes to natural beauty. A major point of interest is Oyamazumi Shrine and its golden statues which set it apart from others around the country.
This island is highly regarded for its park, beaches, and scenic views. There is also a reconstructed castle on the island.
Oshima is just opposite to Imabari City so it is a quick ride over by bicycle. It offers a scenic coastline, beautiful parks and abundant nature.
Imabari is a seaside city steeped with a rich maritime history. Famous for its majestic castle, the city is an attractive place to go sightseeing after crossing the Shimanami Kaido cycling road. Stay on your bike and have a look around this appealing city.
ABOUT THE AREA
Onomichi City is an old port city known for its massive shipyards and factories as well as its extensive temple and shrine network. One of the most popular sightseeing locations is the Temple Walk, called “Koji Meguri” in Japanese, or “Old Temple Loop”, the trek through the low mountains features 25 of Onomichi’s better-known temples connected by a 2km walking path. One of the most famous of the temples is Senkoji Temple; located in Senkoji Park. The park offers great views of the shipyards and the Seto Inland Sea, and has been selected as one of the top 100 places to view cherry blossoms in spring.
Visitors cycling over the Shimanami Bridgeline might enjoy stopping at Setoda Citrus Park on Ikuchijima Island. The park features 600 types of citrus fruit and admission is free-of-charge; The Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art which features work of this famous Japanese painter; and Kosanji Temple, whose beautiful gate is a replica of the Nikko Yomei Mon gate in Nikko, Japan.
Innoshima Flower Center is a large flower garden on Innoshima Island, and the Mukaishima Orchid Center on Mukaishima Island has thousands of plants in over 30 varieties.
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