(Image1: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
In the big city, eco-friendly bicycle commuting becomes more and more fashionable. They run through by stylish bicycle along heavy traffic jam. It’s cool! You have enough riding technique, so how about getting away from hustle and bustle of a big city and try the best cycling course in the world.
This planet has the island-studded sea called “Seto Inland Sea” in Japan which is more beautiful than even famous Aegean Sea. Small islands there linked by seven big bridges are the dreamy cycling course I confidently recommend.
(Image2: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
The photo above is a bicycle path of the image 1 which is accessible to walkers as well.
Seven Huge Bridges and Six Small Islands
The Japanese archipelago consists of uncountable islands, small and large. Of those, the largest island is Honshu, the second Hokkaido, the third Kyusyu, and the fourth Shikoku. Honshu and Shikoku are connected by various bridges, and three routes are available to automobiles. The two out of three prohibits using bicycles. Fortunately, however, the last one installs a cycling path along the line of the expressway which connects Onomichi city, Hiroshima prefecture in Honshu to Imabari city, Ehime prefecture in Shikoku through six small islands. The distinction of this route provides us with wonderful sea view, many small islands with greenery, and local cuisine using fresh fish. The expressway and cycling road are affectionately nicknamed “Shimanami-Kaido”, meaning “Road on the Sea through a String of Islands.
(Image3: Approved to publish by the city of Imabari
Let’s Go to the Road!
The entire distance of this world top cycling course reaches about 70-kilometer (approx. 43 miles) and the difference of height in the whole is about less than 100-meter tall (approx. 330 feet).
In the course of 70-kilometer, 15 rental cycle stations are set up and “take it here and leave it there” service is available. Those facilities make bikers more comfortable.
However, preliminary preparation and homework on the route is absolutely essential, considering the long distance. To accomplish the entire route, it takes 10 hours for beginners and 3 hours for even experienced bikers. Please try not to work too hard and make a plan which is suitable for your physical strength.
From a starting point, regardless of Onomich or Imabari, the halfway point is Omishima Island. It is recommendable that you make an overnight stop except when you have sound confidence and much experience of riding a bicycle. In this island, accommodations are easily available. So delicious are local foods in Seto-Inland Sea using fresh seafood served in Japanese-style inns. In addition, food layout is very elegant and beautiful. The price is inexpensive. At restaurants in big cities, you cannot enjoy such banquet at the same price as in this area. This dinner must refresh you both physically and mentally.
(Image4: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
This photo is the cuisine of raw sea bream, familiar with a sushi item, arranged to look lifelike.
It can be eaten dipped in soy source like sushi.
(Image5: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
This photo is the cuisine called “Horaku-Yaki”. A big sea-bream platter and other various seafood are seasoned with salt and baked in an oven. It is eaten dipped in squeeze of lemons or ponzu sauce which is pressed from bitter oranges.
The Seven Bridges and Local Characteristics
Now, I introduce seven big bridges of “Shimanami Kaido”.
At first, the biggest and longest bridge of all is Kurushima-Kaikyo Ohashi Bridge on the south side of Imabari, Shikoku. You already look at this bridge in the opening photo. Look! How beautiful and fantastic the sunrise color above dense sea fog is!
(Image6: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
This bridge connects mainland Shikoku and a small island called “Oshima”.The total length is 4,105-meter (13,476 feet).
The dim shape of an opposite island is named “Oshima” which was the home ground of a kind of privateers in the Middle Age. They had a strong influence on even feudal lords. Today, interestingly, local people there insist most of them are descendants of the brave!
(Image7: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
The view is from Mt. Kirosan in Oshima at 307-meter altitude.
In the area of the Seto Inland Sea, it is famous that annual sunshine in hours has more time than that of other areas in Japan. You are likely to enjoy pleasant cycling.
(Image8: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
Hakata-Oshima Bridge literally connects opposite Hakata Island and Oshima.
The total length is 1,230-meter (4035 feet),
Starting in the morning glow, you can see the same scene as the photo when you reach the bridge.
(Image9: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
Omishima Bridge spans this narrow strait. The right is Hakata Island and the left Omishima. The total length is 328-meter (1,076 feet).
Islands surrounded by the blue sea and covered with green trees are wonderful scenery.
Omishima has a famous Shinto shrine named “Oyamazumi-Jinja” which has long been worshipped as a deity of the sea, mountains, and wars. Samurai warriors dedicated weapons such as armors, helmets, and swords in the middle age. Of those numerous weapons, nine items are designated as national treasures. Therefore, Omisima is also called “National Treasures Island” which has been flourished in a tourist destination. For those who are interested in samurai, the visit to a treasure house of the shrine is recommendable with confidence.
The entrance to Oyamazumi-Jinja
(Image11: Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
This is Tatara Ohashi Bridge connecting Omishima near side and Ikuchijima ahead.
The total length is 1480-meter (4855 feet).
Ikuchi Bashi Bridge connect the opposite side of Ikuchi Jima Island and Innoshima Island.
The total length is 790-meter (2,591 feet)
Innoshima Ohashi Bridge connects the opposite side of Innoshima Island and Mukaijima Island. The total length is 1,270-meter (4166 feet).
Shin-Onomichi Ohashi Bridge to the right do not permit riding bicycle. When you cross this strait, you have to choose to use small bridge to the left or small ferries. (Image: 15)
The total length of a Bicycle-accessible small bridge is 386-meter (1,266 feet)
A small ferry.
The opposite hill partly covered with cherry blossom is Onomichi city, Hiroshima prefecture in Honshu. It is your goal!
The city of Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture has long-history port town.
In old days, sailing ships came to an anchor and waited for leading wind.
(Image: 17 Photo by (c) City of Imabari)
Make Your Dream Come True!
These photos have you, bike lovers, be eager to hit the road.
Once upon a time, about 50 years ago, a local was surprised to see a hanging display on the city hale saying “Make the dream bridges come true”. He thought it was a stupid bluff that petty bureaucrats just talked tall.
However, elaborate plans and enough time enabled this “bluff” to be a true story.
Would you also make a plan to accomplish this cycling course right now when you just want to do so? And then, someday you will run through wonderful nature, riding a bike!
Photo Credit by the City of Imabari and Onomichi Tourist Association.