Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular road and bridge network which, over a length of 60 kilometres, connects Japan’s main island of Honshu with its fourth largest island, Shikoku, spanning six smaller islands along the way.
Bike lanes feature for the full length of this network making it, in our opinion, an essential item on the bucketlist of any keen cyclist! Obviously it is a great road trip too but travelling by bike really gives visitors the chance to take in the absolutely spectacular scenery of the Seto Inland Sea National Park. It is also easier to hop on and off a bike, enabling cyclists to stop for breaks or photographs or to take detours to explore some of the wonderful sights and attractions along the way.
Although Shimanami Kaido could easily be completed in a day by experienced cyclists we recommend taking a few days to enjoy this beautiful trip and really spending some time seeing what the area has to offer. There are a number of accommodation options along the route, as well as no less than 14 cycle rental terminals, so visitors can choose whether to cycle the whole route or to swap to public transport for the more challenging sections.
Some of the highlights along the route are:
Hotel Cycle – this hotel is based in Onomichi City in Honshu, which is the starting point of the route. It is the first hotel in Japan designed exclusively for cyclists and has a number of features which cycling enthusiasts will adore, including a cycle-through restaurant!
Senko-ji Temple – also located in Onomichi City, this is one of the oldest temples in all of Japan dating back to 806. Perched upon Senko-ji Mountain it can be reached by a short cable car ride and provides fantastic views of Onomichi and the Seto Inland Sea.
Mukaishima Island – this island is famous for citrus fruit with a number of oranges and hybrid fruits unique to the area. Take a well-earned break from cycling with a lemon infused spa bath or simply try out one of the many citrus themed products available.
Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge – the world’s longest suspension bridge; made up of six lanes, its total length is 3,911 metres!
Kosanji Temple – located on Ikuchijima Island, this temple complex only dates back to 1936 when it was founded by a wealthy businessman in honour of his mother. The complex is an impressive one and many of the buildings seen here are actually replicas of Japan’s most famous temple buildings such as Nikko Toshogu's Yomeimon Gate and Byodoin's Phoenix Hall.
The above highlights are only a few options for exploration along this route. There is much, much more to see and to admire on Shimanami Kaido – quite possibly one of the greatest cycling routes in the whole world!
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