By far the most scenic way to travel between Shikoku and western Honshu is the Shimanami Kaido, a 60-km (37-mile) expressway built with bicyclists in mind. The route, a series of roads and 10 long bridges, connects Imabari, just north of Matsuyama, with Onomichi, just east of Hiroshima, by way of islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Most of the islands were accessible only by ferry until the expressway was completed in 1999. By the early 2000s, the Shimanami Kaido was already one of western Japan's most popular cycling routes.
A bicycle trip across this road-and-bridge network takes in fishing villages, tangerine orchards, pearl farms, seaweed pastures, and long stretches of sparkling sea. A separate cycling track runs along each bridge, so you don't have to deal with car traffic for most of the 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 that 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. If you decide you've had enough cycling along the way, you can leave your standard rental bike (as opposed to a tandem or an electric-assist bike) at any of 15 stations and complete your journey by ferry or bus. The well-informed staff members at the stations have all the schedules. Your hotel can even send your luggage ahead.