Shimanami Kaido - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist

Shimanami Kaido

Go for a cycling holiday along the beautiful little islands of the Inland Sea.

About the Shimanami Kaido
Shimanami Kaido is a picturesque cycling route where you cycle along bridges across the Seto Inland Sea and visit one idyllic island after another before eventually ending up on the major main island of Shikoku. The route is approx. 70km long and can also be travelled by car.

Japan's most beautiful cycling holiday
Shimanami Kaido starts in the city of Onomichi and ends in the city of Imabari. It is a toll road connecting Japan's main island of Honshu to the smaller island of Shikoku via bridges between six smaller islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The road is also called the Nishiseto Expressway. The route is approx. 70km long and winds its way parallel to the car track, but there are also stretches for bicycles. There is good signage and information on the route. Depending on how fast you cycle, it is a good idea to set aside 8-10 hours. There are lots of beautiful sights on the route and many opportunities to take a rest on one of the small islands. There are also many bicycle stations along the way, so you can drop off the bike and take the bus the last bit if you are unlucky with stiff headwinds. The start of the route, Onomichi, is a quaint port town with a nostalgic atmosphere that is easy to reach by train from Hiroshima. The route ends in Imabari, where it is recommended to book an overnight stay. The town has a population of around 170,000 but does not feel busy as it’s not built up town. In terms of food, the town is most famous for ‘Imabari yakitori’, fried marinated chicken pieces served piping hot!

Other sights along the Shimanami Kaido
If you have time, visit the unique Kosanji Temple, located on Ikuchijima Island, about halfway on the route. The temple was built in the 1930s by a wealthy businessman and is very special. It costs money to get in but is definitely worth the visit. Most memorable is the so-called Thousand Buddha Cave - a long cave that is supposed to represent the Buddhist version of hell, filled with very realistic and eerie characters. The temple also has a hill made of incredible quantities of Italian marble and its own Italian café!

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