Our Next Stop
Ikuchi-jima was our next stop, a short drive in the car on the express way, over the next bridge on the Shimanami Kaido, which we hadn’t cycled yet and probably would have give a miss…but more on that in a later post if you are curious.
Juicy Fruit Inn
In Setoda I had booked a stay in a Minshuku, basically a Japanese bed and breakfast. I had found the Minshuku Juicy Fruit online and had liked the look of the blue wooden building, next to the Inland Sea. When we got there I was a bit disappointed, as the building seemed to have weathered not quite as well as shown on the pictures. Nevertheless, we got a spacious, tatami room with our own small bathroom. We had to set up our futons ourselves, but having done it many times before that wasn’t an issue.
Setoda Sunset Beach
After check in we still two hours until sunset and so we decided to cycle to the nearby Setoda Sunset Beach for a swim. Ikuchi-jima is famous for the sunset beach and the brochures and websites mentioned this strip of sand as a must visit destination on the islands along the Shimanami Kaido. When we got to the beach we thought, that’s it? We definitely had been to nicer beaches on this holiday before. I could understand that children would love the slides and the pontoons, also it was enclosed with nets to protect from jellies (not that we have ever seen one on our many swims here in Japan) and the water was very shallow, so ideal for small children.
Facilities at Setoda Sunset Beach
There are some restaurants, toilets and showers available, which probably makes it popular with locals and tourists alike. However, we found the sand very rough; more like gravel in places and the water didn’t seem to be as clear as on other beaches. Even allowing for this it was still a good spot to stop for a swim, Jerome quickly made friends with some of the local kids on the pontoons and slides.
After about an hour we decided to cycle a bit further along past Setoda Sunset Beach, we looked at the art sculptures that were dotted around along the promenade before turning around and cycling back into town to find a restaurant and have dinner. We found the kids that Jerome had played with on the beach cycling into town and joined their ride following them back to the next town along the coast.
Octopus is considered a local delicacy. We found a restaurant opposite the Kosan-ji temple; you can spot it on the giant octopus outside. Chris and I enjoyed a dish of cold noodles with octopus sashimi; Jerome went for hot udon instead – he is still not quite totally food adventurous.
Along the way back to our minshuku I saw a lot of woman sitting in small groups on the harbour walls having a chat with each other. Now that the sun was setting and the heat was over they all seemed to come out of their homes and enjoy this beautiful time of day. They all smiled and greeted us with a happy “Konban-wa”.
The Last Three Islands
The following day we would cycle the longest stretch of the Shimanami Kaido, across the last three island and the famous bridge that connects to Shikoku.
Where to Stay on Your Tour of the Shimanami Kaido:
Onomichi: The uber cool U2 Hotel Cycle, even Paul Smith stayed there…
Innoshima: Hotel Innoshima somewhat dated but a truly authentic experience and very helpful staff offering amazing views
Ikujijima: Tsutsui, a lovely, modern ryokan in the heart of Setoda
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