The Shimanami Kaido, which connects the islands between Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture and Onomichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture with seven bridges, is called a mecca for cyclists and is the only cycling road in Japan, where you can cross a strait by bicycle.
There are diverse courses, and it is refreshing to go cycling while looking at the panorama of the sea and islands with a comfortable sea breeze in Setouchi. On the bridges, you can enjoy your ride as if you were running on the sea, and you can be in close contact with nature.
The Shimanami Kaido has a lot of picturesque viewing spots.
Sunrise Itoyama at the foot of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge is the starting point of cycling in Ehime, and the monument of SHIMANAMI, made of Hime hinoki cypress from Ehime, is eye-catching. Moreover, there is a monument dedicated to cyclists at Roadside Station Tatara Shimanami Park in Omishima Island, which is also a popular photo spot.
The major attraction of the Shimanami Kaido is the approximately four-kilometer-long Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge. It is the world’s first triple suspension bridge and is reached from Sunrise Itoyama by circling the spiral bridge bicycle/pedestrian path. It is about 65 meters from the sea level to the highest point, and it is something very special to take a bike ride with a superb view of the Seto Inland Sea from the bridge.
Furthermore, Kirosan Observatory Park in Oshima Island is also a must-see viewing spot. As there are many steep slopes, if you are not confident in your physical strength, it is recommended to ride an E-BIKE (sport utility electric bike). Once you go up there, you will be filled with a feeling of accomplishment, and you can see fantastic scenery with a 360-degree panorama and the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge. You can also appreciate popular local take-out food along with the superb view, which is one way of enjoying outdoor activities. For example, you can buy an original hamburger made with homemade natural yeast at Paysan, a popular bakery, which is open three days a week on the same island, and it is delightful to eat it at the observatory.
In Ehime, you have access to a rental bicycle as well as a shower and restrooms in different places, and many new facilities have been introduced.
The i.i.imabari! Cycle Station, opened in July 2020, provides about 100 rental bicycles, including hybrid bikes. It provides cycling and tourism information, and is also equipped with a wooden deck space, which is perfect for a break.
WAKKA in Omishima Island also opened in March 2020. It is a comprehensive cycling facility with rental bicycles, accommodation, a cafe and changing rooms, and you can use some tools for free of charge at the bicycle repair space.
WAKKA also offers a variety of tours and activities, and between your rides, you can take a short trip to Okunoshima Island in Hiroshima, known as the rabbit island. There are many rabbits living on the small island of about four kilometers in circumference, where you can see their adorable features.
Shimanami Kaido has a lot to offer, and Oyamazumi Shrine in Omishima Island is one of the famous sightseeing spots. It is the oldest shrine in Ehime, which enshrines the deities of the sea, mountains, and war, and there stands a sacred tree that is about 2,600 years old in the grounds.
In addition, the local delicacy you cannot miss in Imabari City is Imabari roast pork and egg rice bowl. Rice is topped with roast pork and half-cooked fried eggs, and the sweet and salty sauce stimulates your appetite. As you can eat it at different restaurants in the city, including Shigematsu Hanten, which regulars frequent, it is ideal to increase your stamina for cycling.