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A Cycling Trip On The Shimanami Sea Highway

A Cycling Trip On The Shimanami Sea Highway

Hiroshima 2017.02.14 Bookmark

Shimanami Sea Highway, the awe of cyclists. This 70 km long course runs from Onomichi, Hiroshima to Imabari, Ehime - meaning that you can cycle between prefectures as you enjoy fabulous views of the Seto Inland Sea.

Translated by Jay Issei Karslake

Written by MATCHA-PR

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The Shimanami Sea Highway is beloved by cyclists. It's a 70 km long road that connects Hiroshima prefecture's Onomichi city and Ehime prefecture's Imabari city. You can cross it on bicycle too, all the while enjoying great views of the various islands in Seto, as well as of the sea itself. The Shimanami Sea Highway has gotten rave reviews from cyclists from around the world.

This time, we'll show you a bicycle trip itinerary along with breathtaking pictures of the popular Shimanami Sea Highway.

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Start Out from Hiroshima's Onomichi City

We recommend starting from Hiroshima prefecture's Onomichi city. Onomichi is filled with places like Onomichi U2, making it the perfect environment to start a bicycle journey from.

It's possible to get to Onomichi directly from bus by Hiroshima airport, but if you're heading there after touring around Fukuyama, the number of boats leaving from Tomonoura are somewhat limited.

Let's Rent a Bicycle!

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While it's possible to rent a bicycle on the day, the most popular easy to ride bicycles are limited in number, so we recommend making a reservation in advance. For reservation and rental places take a look at Shimanami Cycle's reservation site.

Once you've paid the rental fee and signed your name on the necessary documents, they'll take you to the bicycle location.

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You're ready to go after adjusting your seat and pumping air into your tires. If you need to change, you can do so in the bathroom.

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Now, On to Shimanami Sea Highway!

This time, we ran the elite full length 70 km course, so that we could completely enjoy all of the Shimanami Sea Highway.

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First, we rode the ferry headed to Mukaishima. The ferry is 100 meters away from the rental location.

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The ferry comes every 7.5 minutes on weekdays and every 12 minutes on weekends.

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The fare is payable on the bought, so make sure to have your coins ready. It's 100 yen a ride for adults and 10 yen per bicycle, bringing your total to 110 yen. Take a look at this article for information about Japan's money: Basics of Money in Japan: Currency Exchange, Duty-Free, and More!.

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There's a map of the entire Shimanami Sea Highway on the ferry loading area, so let's take a look at it while waiting for the ferry.

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When the ferry arrives, follow the line and enter the ferry with your bicycle.

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We'll go to Mukaishima, which is right nearby. On the ferry you will see many different people with their bicycles, further demonstrating just how popular the Shimanami Sea Highway is.

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We continue through the narrow Mukaishima sea road. It might make you want to enjoy a calm boat ride, but you're only on the boat for 5 minutes.

Your Bicycle Journey Starts When You Land on Mukaishima!

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You arrived on Mukaishima. Now, your journey finally starts.

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There is a blue line drawn on the road in order to make the course easy to understand.

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The distance left until you reach your destination is displayed too. If you departed from Onomichi, then Imabari is the goal on the Shimanami Sea Highway.

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If you keep going for awhile, you'll begin to see the sea. Feeling the wind of Seto Inland Sea and being able to stare aimlessly at the beautiful scenery really helps you to enjoy cycling to the fullest.

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In the distance, you'll soon be able to see a large red bridge. There are a lot of pristine photography spots too, so stopping to take some pictures is a good idea if you have the time.

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If you keep on going, there's a rest stop from where you can see Innoshima Bridge. Now that you've made it all the way here, let's take a water break. Then, we'll cross the Innoshima Bridge that's right in front of you.

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Here's a billboard showing the distance you will cover if you want to take a lap around Mukaishima.

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Next you'll be heading to Innoshima, but first, you'll have to cycle up the mountain, since Innoshima Bridge is much higher up than your present location. However, the slope is gentle, so if you take your time and climb up, you won't end up feeling that tired.

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We're about to cross the bridge.

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There are specific lanes for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists, so make sure to stay in your own lane as space is limited. The wind across this bridge is very strong, so please be careful when cycling here.

From Hiroshima to Ehime: Crossing the Tatara Bridge, a Prefectural Border

After passing through Innoshima to Ikuchishima, your next destination will be Omishima. If you go from Ikuchishima to Omishima, you must cross the Tatara Bridge, a prefectural boundary that connects Hiroshima prefecture to Ehime prefecture.

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The roads split off before you cross the Tatara Bridge, but please be careful because one of the roads is the entrance to the highway, which you cannot obviously cycle on.

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The central span of Tatara Bridge is 890m long and is the largest cable bridge built in the 20th century. Even now it prides itself on having been the 5th largest.

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In the center of the bridge is a sign saying that this is the border between Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures, a spot that many cyclists stop to take pictures on. From this bridge, you can also enjoy stunning views of the islands around you; this is an ideal spot to take a break, get off your bike and enjoy a few refreshing deep breaths of the sea air.

The Sacred Place of Cyclists?

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Once you cross the Tatara Bridge and join the public highway, you will find the Tatara Shimanami Park, a rest area with plenty of restaurants that serve fresh seafood dishes and produce from the surrounding farms, as well as shops selling local specialties. You can purchase seafood direct from fishermen, produce from farmers, and other goods here.

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At Tatara Shimanami Park there is a monument that's been labeled as a sacred place for cyclists.

This monument was built by the Seto Inland Shimanami Sea Highway Development Council and the Taiwan Cyclist Association. On October 25th, 2014, the Seto Inland Shimanami Sea Highway and the Riyuetan cycling course signed a sisterhood cycling road agreement. It commemorated the International Cycling Tournament (Cycling Shimanami) that was held on October 26, 2014.

This statue is designed in the shape of a great bridge connecting the many islands in the Seto Inland sea, as well as a bridge to the future. Made from Oshima stone, which comes from Imabari city, the two holes symbolize bike tires, and the large rock on top is shaped in the form of a bicycle seat.

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You can also find this unique statue standing in the cyclist's sacred place. Do you know what it is?

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It's actually a bike rack. This statue is particularly interesting because, when you put your bicycle into it, it looks like a person is holding up the bike.

Arriving at Our Goal, Ehime's Imabari City

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Now that you're in Ehime, you will want to continue along the Shimanami highway, and you will soon come to another rest area, Imabari City Marine Oasis. Hakata is known to the Japanese as being the production center for salt. Local salt is sold here too.

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As you keep pedaling, you'll finally see Kurushima Bridge, your final bridge ahead of you. By this point, you've already pedaled over 60km at this point, so you might find crossing this bridge fairly difficult.

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Stop in the middle of the bridge and take one last commemorative photo of your trip. All you have left to do now is head for the final goal.

What did you think of the trip? Being surround by the wide sea and open skies while cycling on the Shimanami Sea Highways cycling road is something we recommend to everyone, even those who don't like bicycles. People who can't ride for the full 70 km should, of course, turn back part way, or spend the night on an island that's on the way to their final destination, and start back up on their trip the next day.

Rental bicycles can be dropped off at locations scattered at terminals throughout the various islands, meaning that it is easy to change your destination, stop on your journey, or even chose a different bike. Ride at your own pace and enjoy the journey through this refreshing cycling course.

You May Also Like:

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Learn All About Fukuyama! Highlights From The Fukuyama Castle Museum
Featured In Films! A Town Brimming With Edo Spirit: Tomonoura
Experience The Traditions Of Japan At 4 Spots In Fukuyama, Hiroshima
The Charm Of Sensuijima Island, A Resort On The Seto Inland Sea
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