Shimanami Kaido Guide
Shimanami Kaido Map
Formally known as the Nishiseto Expressway, the Shimanami Kaido is a popular expressway in Japan which is usually frequented by cyclists all over the world. One of the main reasons why it is so popular is the fact that it is home to incredible and scenic views which are unforgettable for anyone who takes the trail.
One fact is that it is a 60 km long highway which connects the city of Onomichi city of the Honshu Island in the Hiroshima prefecture with the Imabari city in the Shikoku Island of the Ehime prefecture. It basically passes through a total of nine islands each of which has special tourist destinations to offer. It is not only consisted of a single highway but a system of bridges known to be the longest in the world.
This particular highway does not have a specific location due to the fact that each section of the highway belongs to a particular city or prefecture. The only determinable fact about it is that it connects the Hiroshima and the Ehime prefecture to each other via the Seto Inland Sea.
It is one of the longest bridges or highways in the world where the number of pedestrians and bikers are significant in number. However, this is not a surprising fact about Shimanami Kaido because local authorities work hard to strengthen the tourism in the area through the use of the highway. Seeing such a high number of cyclists and pedestrians prove that the ongoing promotion of tourism is slowly leading towards success.
Access to Shimanami Kaido
There are a variety of ways to access the highway because there are a number of entry points available. However, the main (and most popular) points of entry would be the Onomichi and the Imabari terminals. These are the entry points to the Shimanami Kaido that will provide the longest cycling route because both are located at the endpoints of the highway. These points of entry are most popular for cyclists.
For those who wish to access the highway via ferry, there are different ports which provide entry. Among these would be the Onomichi Ekimae, Shige Higashi port, Sawa port, and Setoda port of the first ferry line. Another would be the Habu port, Tomoura port, and the Kinoura port of the second ferry line. These ports provide access from different islands going to the highway and vice versa.
Shimanami Kaido Accommodation
A full day visit may not be enough to fully enjoy all the islands that are connected via the Shimanami Kaida. This is why finding a hotel, hostel, or any form of lodging is a must. A place known as CYCLO NO IE in Ehime is a bicycle-themed guest house which is perfect for cyclists looking for a place to stay overnight. There is a bike storage room where it is safe to place a bicycle overnight. There is also a common room which is a good place to meet new friends.
For those looking for traditional inns, the Setoda Private Hostel is a great place to stay. It is recorded in the Lonely Planet guidebook because it is right next to the beach and guests have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful sunsets in the area. This is located in Onomichi.
Shimanami Kaido Bike Rental
There are a number of do’s and don’ts when taking a tour of the bike trails of Shimanami Kaido. There are ferry stations that do not allow entry of bicycles, while there are stations that allow them. There are lines that do not allow carrying one’s own bicycle while there are other stations that do. It will be hard to keep track of all of the rules, on top of the fact that it is quite difficult to travel on a bicycle from places significantly far from the bike trail.
This is the reason why there are a number of people who prefer bike rentals. There are two different rental systems available within the Shimanami Kaido one is the regular rental system and the other is the Giant rental system.
For individuals who wish to go to Shimanami Kaido primarily for the tour, then the regular rental system is the best option. The overall bike rental is cheaper and there are a number of terminals where the individual can leave their bikes while touring the islands. Usually, a day’s worth of rental costs 1,000 yen while a 1,000 yen deposit will be required (and reimbursed when the bike is returned). Bikes offered for this rental system are typical bicycles but there are also tandem bikes and electric bikes.
For cyclic enthusiasts who traveled to Shimanami Kaido for the athletic thrill, the Giant rental system is the best option. There are only two terminals available which means that the individual renting the bicycle is expected to finish the entire trail. The best part about this is that they offer very high-quality bikes, which explains why daily rentals can go as high as 10,000 yen.
Tourist attractions per station
This particular city is located in the Ehime prefecture and is one of the endpoints of the Shimanami Kaido bike trail. Among the many things that this city boasts of is the fact that it is home to the unique, seawater moated Imabari castle. It is also home to different Shikoku pilgrimage temples. The city is most popular for its shipbuilding capabilities, being one of the largest ports in the area.
This island is located halfway through the entire Shimanami Kaido route and is considered as the best place to take a break. It has a fantastic view and access to Seto islands. There is also a museum of architecture in the island, a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
This particular island is quite popular for the active Mount Mihara. This particular volcano has turned Oshima into an onsen island where stressed out and fatigued bodies can relax and enjoy. There are a number of inns and ryokans in the area available for public bathing. On top of that, it is also popular for the small fishing port of Habu – a small town boasting of its rich Japanese heritage complete with old-fashioned homes.
Compared to other locations around the Shimanami Kaido bikeway, Hakatajima has the least amount of historical or cultural tourist destinations. It is most famous for its Park Beach and Salt factory. The park beach is more popular during the summer days because a quick swim is an easy pass after hours of biking in the hot sun.
This place is famous for the best scenic view of the Seto Inland Sea and its nearby islands. One of the famous tourist destinations around the Setoda island would be the Kojoji temple built in the center of the city. This temple has a tall three-tiered pagoda popular with tourists. Another would be the Kosanji temple and the Hirayama art museum. When it comes to local delicacies, Setoda is most popular for its citrus produce located in orchards throughout the island.
The island of Innoshima is one of the smallest islands in the cluster with a total area of 40 square kilometers. Its most popular destination would be the Mukajima or Innoshima Bridge which is about 770 meters long. This is the most popular fishing spot in the entire region and it is one of the primary source of the economy on the island. Since this small island is not as busy as normal urban destinations, there are a number of cultural and historical sites in the place. One of these would be the Murakami Suigan Castle which is a small place home to naval forces of the islands centuries ago.
This small island is a part of the Shimanami Kaido bike route and is most known for Mount Takamiyama, the highest peak in the region. This island is most popular for its shipbuilding history where they have been known to be the best shipbuilders in the region for centuries. There are a number of dockyards, shipbuilding centers, and shipyards in the northern portion of the island which services to hundreds of ships every year.
This is the other end of the Shimanami Kaido and is best known for being a temple town. There are about 25 temples in the famous Onomichi Temple Walk alone where slopes lead to a network of shrines. This is a 2 and a half kilometer long tourist destination which is known to be the perfect way to end (or start) the long journey through the bike trail. There are multiple historical buildings, pagodas, ancient sculptures and more. Many of these temples would be found on the Ikuchihjima Island of Onomichi. There are also museums and other historical sites which can be found in Onomachi.
All About Shimanami Kaido Cycling
Not much for beginners
A 60-kilometer bike ride is not an easy feat for beginners and first-time road cyclists. Even top-rated recreational bikes can take about three to five hours to complete a 60-kilometer bike ride one way. This would mean that the ride can be quite exhausting. A good amount of energy source and the water source is needed for the ride.
For those who are first-time bikers, it might be a good idea to ride in progressing distances as training before trying out a long trail like this just to see how much the body can handle. Try riding at 10 km intervals weekly or daily to train the body for long rides like this. For those who are planning to go onzz the Giant Route, which takes travelers from end to end without any terminals, a good amount of training and warm-up might be needed.
It is best to check the weather and the terrain before trying out the trail. Do some research about the stops as well. Furthermore, consult a doctor or a trainer regarding the proper diet that would be required for the ride.
Highlights for bike enthusiasts
The entire expressway has a toll requirement for normal vehicles. However, there was a move to promote tourism in the area which is why the toll fee is waived for cyclists until 2018. On top of that, there is a specialized pedestrian or bicycle lane for safety. People can even jog or walk in the trails.
The best thing about this is that the entire trip is filled with amazing scenery. The islands and the sea provide great sight-seeing opportunities for visitors. The best of all is that this bike trail is a great place to meet other cycling enthusiasts from different parts of the globe which is an amazing way to make new friends and acquaintances.
Tips to Remember about the Shimanami Kaido Bike Trail
Shimanami Kaido Luggage Storage
There are a number of foreign and local tourists that go to Shimanami Kaido just to enjoy the bike trail. Of course, if they are traveling from a destination far away it is inevitable that they bring with them luggage. This is a common dilemma for people who wish to enjoy the 70-km long ride – what are they going to do with their luggage?
For those who are staying just for a few days, most hotels and train stations offer storage spaces known as coin lockers. The costs are usually rated on a per night basis so it would be best to make sure that there will be time made to go back for the luggage the next day. There are luggage storage or lockers available in the JR Onomachi station but availability is not really promising. Most hotels and hostels also offer luggage storage facilities but they do come with a price.
Although most hotels and hostels have luggage storage facilities available, it is more convenient to have the luggage traveling with a person than to spend the time to go back kilometers again going to the hotel to pick it up. A popular option would be the luggage delivery service or luggage forwarding service, this is especially for those who plan to stay in the area for long periods of time.