Shimanami Kaido (Shimanami Kaido)
Shimanami Kaido (Shimanami Kaido) Review
By far the most scenic way to travel between Shikoku and western Honshu is the Shimanami Sea Road. This series of 10 long bridges connects Imabari (just north of Matsuyama) with Onomichi (just east of Hiroshima) by way of a series of islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Most of the islands on the Shimanami route were accessible only by ferry until the bridges were completed in 1999, and despite the new infrastructure they still run on island time. A trip over the bridges lets you take in fishing villages, tangerine orchards, pearl farms, seaweed pastures, and stretches of sparkling sea. It's the only bridge between Shikoku and Honshu on which you can cycle, and it has quickly become one of the most popular cycling routes in western Japan.
The bridges were built with cyclists in mind: a separate cycling track runs along each bridge, so you won't deal with car traffic for almost the entire ride. Cycling paths are clearly marked on the islands, and maps are readily available. The cycling isn't strenuous, so don't get discouraged by the first big corkscrew pathway up from Imabari to the Kurushima Ohashi Bridge. After that it's clear sailing. Biking to Onomichi takes about six hours, but you can leave the bikes at any of the rental stations along the way and take a ferry or bus the rest of the way. The staff at the rental stations have all the schedules and are helpful. Your hotel can even send your luggage ahead.