Shimanami kaido

Also known as the suspension bridges cyclist route, is a trajectory of over 70 km that crosses 6 bridges communicating the islands of Shikoku and Honshu.  During our 1 month stay in Japan…it was the best.

So popular among cyclist and tourists that more and more we find each other on the trail.  Not only is the route relatively easy, it has one of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan.  There is a bike lane from Imabari (Ehime prefecture) to Onomichi (Hiroshima prefecture), and as we would hope, being in Japan, its is very well organized with signage and good road conditions.  Along the route there are places to eat, sleep, drink coffee. There are some small markets and even a service area dedicated to cyclists…

The ride is very do-able in one day, even with lots of breaks and a reasonably late morning depature. However, there are still many who chose to do the route in 2 days.  Riding in reverse, Onomochi-Imabari is also an option. We decided to ride Imabari-Onomochi in one day, stay one day in Onomichi to rest and tour, and from there return to Imabari. The different perspective gained from each direction makes it worth a ride that is out-and-back.

Imabari

It did not seemed a city to stay for a while: it has a castle, not half bad, but similar to others in Japan.  The typical dish Yakibuta Tamago Meshi is definitely worth trying. Buy a towel, typical of the area, if you have space in your backpack. The hostel Guest House CYCLONOIE is highly recommended for travelers on a budget, those seeking information about the bike route or hoping to meet others starting or returning from the Shimanani Kaido.  Imabari is also a great spot for connecting to the network of bus routes.

Onomichi

A magical place, something that came out of a Murakami novel, with mysterious alleyways and underground cultural activities; it’s lively city despite of its small population and size.  There are many different options at a variety of prices for an overnight stay.  These are available seaside, or mountainside, where El Senkoji Park, the biggest must-see attraction of the city is found.  The Onomichi-style Ramen is found throughout the city and should not be overlooked.

 We rented bikes from one of the 13 city bike stations for 500 yen per day and a deposit of 1000 yen in case you don’t return the bike to the same station.  The helmet is free.  The bikes available are sufficient to ride the Shimanami kaido, and even the staff will come to bring you another bike if you have a problem along the way. However if you would prefer a higher quality bike, there are Giant stations in both Imabari and Onomochi.

To consider: they say that after 2019 there will be bridge tolls…and the arrival to Onomichi will require a small Ferry ride that costs 150 yen.

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