Shimanami Kaido, Japan | Guide to Cycling The Final Three Islands of the Shimanami Kaido with Kids

shimanami kaido tatara hashi bridge

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Early Morning

Chris and I woke up early this morning as we had to be downstairs for breakfast at 7:30am. It is a danger of staying in Japanese Inns as the Japenese people do seem to like an early start! I had not slept very well as I could hear some drunk people making a racket until 2am in the morning, not something common in Japan. A hot coffee and some delicious breakfast soon woke us up. Jerome could not wake up that morning so we left him to sleep for a little while longer.

setoda ikuchijima shimanami kaido cycling

shimanami kaido cycling signs

shimanami kaido ikuchijima cycling wild boar

The Longest Cycle Ride

Once Jerome was up and ready we cycled into our what would be the longest cycle ride for Jerome in a day. We had decided to get as far along the Shimanami Kaido as we could.

shimanami kaido tatara hashi bridge

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea

Setoda Sunset Beach

We started back past Setoda sunset beach, which seemed still empty at this time of day, towards our first bridge on The Shimanami Kaido for the day.

shimanami kaido cycling path seto inland sea

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea bridge

En Route for the Shimanami Kaido

We had already passed a few cyclist doing he same route, some of them appear to have been on their bikes for longer than us. We pedalled up the winding path, broke out into a sweat and kept on looking for the next vending machine.

shimanami kaido ikuchijima cycling japan

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea plants

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea barrier

Cycling Acrosss Two Islands

The next two islands on route, Omishima and Hakata-jima, we barely cycled on, the main route cuts the corners off although you can go right round any of the islands if you want to extend the rides.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea hakata jima shipyard

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea shipyard

Oshima

The three bridges and short hops quickly got us to the longest part of the Shimanami Kaido, Oshima.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima bamboo forrest

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea hill climb

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima bus stop

Hilly Oshima Island

Oshima has the most climbs and elevations on the entire route and therefore we decided to cycle along the coast road, which we thought would have less cars and also perhaps be less hilly. We soon found out how wrong we were, it was a pretty and interesting ride around the coast but there were two hills, the first was easy, however, the second was steep and too long to manage in the heat. Jerome was getting exasperated by the stifling heat, and combined with pushing his bike up the “mountain” he was getting tired and angry. We stopped a lot, worried that the sun and physical work out might be too much for him. Thankfully there were plenty of vending machines on route, even in the oddest places; we must have spent a fortune on drinks that day.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima cat

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima wildness

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea bamboo

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea bend

Fast Downhill

The great thing about a hill is that once you climbed up, there’s always a way down. It was a long bendy road, which we cycled down in the warm wind barely cooling us down.  Jerome loved the decent and the bad mood lifted.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima hair dresser barber

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima advertising

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea abandoned house

Lunchtime

We had Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style for lunch at a little restaurant 一休 in Yoshiumicho. The mama-san prepared the tamago pancakes on her tappan and we then ate them directly off the hot plate in front of us. It was worth making the detour.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima okonomiyaki

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima noren

Cycling Through the Countryside

We pedalled past quiet villages, through stunning countryside, a dockyard where 2 massive container ships were being built. In the end we turned a corner and finally got an amazing view of the last bridge on The Shimanami Kaido, the Kurushima-Kaikyo-hashi bridge.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima boat

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea shipyard

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea oshima fisher

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea beach

The Longest Suspension Bridge

At 4015m Kurushima-Kaikyo-hashi is the longest suspension bridge structure in the world. Constructed with six soaring towers and suspending the bridges on their thick steel cables it made it exhilarating to cycle across and definitely the absolute highlight of The Shimanami Kaido.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi beach

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi

Cycling Across the Bridge

There was a gentle breeze and we stopped several times to take in the views of the Seto Islands and the sparkling sea beneath us. Jerome and Chris wondered at the engineering on the magnificent structure, even the route up took us round and round a twisting path that gave fantastic views.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi

Problems with our Return Journey

At the other end we went to the Sunrise Itoyma Center to find out about buses back to Setoda. The friendly gentleman at reception told us that it was possible to take the bus but only if we had Rinku bags for the bikes, he even could have found us last minute places, even though you should really book the bus the day before you cycle. Unfortunately we did not think to bring them and therefore had to look at other options. If you do plan to cycle and get the bus back make sure you check this in advance.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi visitor center

Alternative

After some help from the man at the cycle centre it became clear out best option was to take the ferry back to Innoshima-jima, leaving from Imabari port seemed the easiest option.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea imabari port

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea imabari ferry

Ferry Ride back to Innoshima

The downside? Well, this meant an extra un-planned few hours of extra riding would be needed on already tired legs. We would have to cycle into Imabari port for the ferry, and would then have to continue back from Habu on Innoshima-jima, via the Innoshima-hashi bridge all the way back into Setoda and on to our minshuku.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea imabari ferry

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea Kurushima Kaikyo hashi view

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea imabari habu port ferry

Another 15km

In total this added another 15km to our already long cycle ride, the only good part was a lazy ride on the ferry for about an hour and a chance to pick up some refreshments as the sun went down in Habu.

shimanami kaido cycling seto inland sea innoshima hashi

Return to Setoda

After eating we had to complete the last part in the dark we had not brought our bike lights with us either, so I propped up the iphone in my basket and used its torch as a light to guide us through the darkness on the winding trail up to our last bridge of the day. Thankfully the cycle route back  to our ryokan was almost all on a dedicated cycle path the whole way and after the food Jerome treated it like an adventure. So in the end we got to cycle all bridges, including Innoshima-hashi bridge, completed a ride as long as the whole Shimanami- Kaido route in one day, and it truly made a lasting impression on us, one we will never forget. In every holiday there is always one special day – perhaps this was the one for us on this visit.

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6 thoughts on “Shimanami Kaido, Japan | Guide to Cycling The Final Three Islands of the Shimanami Kaido with Kids

  1. Great blog! I rent a bike and crossed the Tatara Ohashi Bridge last summer. Reading your blog, I started feel I missed so many places to stop and enjoy it. Must be cold there in this season but try to be there again next spring! Thanks for sharing 😉

    1. Thank you. I’m glad to hear you liked it. I’m sure it must be cold there now, but maybe go back and take more time to enjoy the islands in a while. I love all the food you have on your blog and I’m sad it’s so hard to get proper Japanese food over here. Just another reason for going back soon, and I will always have a look at what else delicious you have found.
      Vanessa

      1. Thanks, Vanessa! Yes… will share with you when I will go back to the area!

        I liked the fishcake shop which has more than 100 yrs history called Keima in Onomichi. There was a small eating space in from of the shop and we heated up some fishcakes we bought at the shop by ourselves. Free hot tea and small oven there. Enjoy local specialties while your next trip to Japan! I will have a look your blog too! 😉
        Ellie

      2. Ellie, thank you for the recommendation of the fishcake shop, if I am ever back I will definitely try it. I might contact you before our next trip for recommendations as you seem to know great hidden places that we would never find on our own.
        Vanessa

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