#4422

Cycling the scenic Seto Inland Sea

A fun and easy way to explore hidden Japan

If you're looking for a holiday in Japan which involves stunning scenery, great food and some moderate exercise then the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido Cycling route is for you. The cycling route runs for about 70 kilometres across 6 islands and bridges of the Seto Inland Sea, linking Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture with Onomichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The islands of the Seto Inland Sea come in all shapes and sizes - some rising straight out of the sea with pine trees clinging precariously to their cliffs, while others have lovely sheltered bays and beaches. The larger islands have typical country scenery with farmers working their rice paddies and vegetable fields. The water of the Seto Inland Sea is turquoise blue and the currents running between the islands make for some interesting rapids and whirlpool phenomena when the tides are running. There are many picturesque little fishing villages with terraced mikan (mandarin) fields surrounded by bamboo groves and pine forests. Also, you can expect to see plenty of shipbuilding and stone cutting factories, for which this part of Japan is famous. The huge bridges you cycle across, with dedicated cycle lanes, are not just engineering marvels but quite beautiful to gaze on as well.

There are plenty of interesting places to stop and visit on the ride, including the start and finish cities of Imabari and Onomichi. Looking for something historic then check out Imabari castle and Onomichi with its 25 Buddhist temples, many which are national treasures such as the Senkoji temple. At the Murakami Suigun Museum and Innoshima Suigun Castle you can learn all about Japanese pirates, that ruled the Seto Inland Sea in the 15th and 16th centuries. On Ikuchijima Island you can visit the Ikuo Hirayama Museum to see the best collection of one of Japan's most famous recent painters of the traditional hanga style, and the Kosanji Temple, an eclectic collection of buildings topped by a blinding white mountain of sculptures made of Italian marble.

The Seto Inland Sea is also well known for its seafood, and you wont be dissapointed. On Kurushima Island at the Yoshiumi Iki Iki Kan you can choose your fresh seafood and cook it on a charcoal barbeque at your table. Onomichi has some great seafood restaurants, including the trendy izakaya, Tamaganzo. Onomichi is also well known for its ramen and okonomiyaki which have their own local style. And to keep you cool on the ride make sure you have plenty of the local mikan juice, gelatos and ice creams, especially the Hakata Island salt ice cream which despite what you might think, tastes very good!

The cycling route is very popular with foreign tourists because the local tourism promotion bodies have done an excellent job of making it user friendly. The route itself is well marked with English signs and English guide maps are readily available so you wont get lost. Moreover, if you don't bring your own bicycle you can rent them for as little as Yen1,000 per day from 15 different locations along the way. What really impressed me was how easy to use and flexible the rental cycle system is and how good the bikes were. You can go one way the whole way, or just do sections of the route and finish the rest by bus or ferry. Moreover, the rental cycle company will arrange for your luggage to be delivered by takkyubin to your hotel and there are coin lockers located at or near the bike rental stations. Both Onomichi and Imabari are easily accessible from Tokyo or Osaka by air and train.

For more information see: http://www.go-shimanami.jp/global/english/

Phil image

Phil

Australia

Phil's other advice

Onomichi - Hiroshima's gateway to the Seto Inland Sea images

Onomichi - Hiroshima's gateway to the Seto Inland Sea

Japan has 47 prefectures all of which have their own attractions making it hard for the foreign visitor to choose where to go. Hiroshima is undoubtedly high on the list of must visit places because …

Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen - Classic Japan images

Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen - Classic Japan

Whenever my friends from overseas ask me what would be a classic thing to do in Japan, I always reply that visiting a medieval castle and staying in an onsen town (hot spring bath) are a "must". The…

The Roof of Japan: where sakura bloom in Golden Week within 3 hours of Tokyo! images

The Roof of Japan: where sakura bloom in Golden Week within 3 hours of Tokyo!

One of the top things that visitors from overseas want to see when they come to Japan is, of course, the sakura (cherry) blossoms. Timing as they say, is everything and this very much applies to sak…

Who would ever think up a festival like this and then keep it going for 1,200 years images

Who would ever think up a festival like this and then keep it going for 1,200 years

Who would ever think up a festival like this and then keep it going for 1,200 yearsIt was our second day of pulling a ten-ton log down a mountain with 50 hefty men clad in fancy gear riding on top …

Oita Prefecture in Japan is a Haven of Onsen and Beautiful Scenery images

Oita Prefecture in Japan is a Haven of Onsen and Beautiful Scenery

"Get the latest updates here on Deep Japan as we collaborate with Tokyo Broadcasting System(TBS) Television, JNN(Japan News Network/TBS nation wide affiliates)'s seven-station network across Japan an…

Nagano Prefecture is One of Japan’s Must Visit All Year Round Destinations images

Nagano Prefecture is One of Japan’s Must Visit All Year Round Destinations

"Get the latest updates here on Deep Japan as we collaborate with Tokyo Broadcasting System(TBS) Television, JNN(Japan News Network/TBS nation wide affiliates)'s seven-station network across Japan an…

You might also like

Mitarai - Hiroshima's Best Kept Secret images

Mitarai - Hiroshima's Best Kept Secret

Connected by a set of scenic bridges to the mainland, the historic island town of Mitarai sits on the eastern outcrop of Osaki Shimojima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. The island is home to the m…

Tom Miyagawa image

Tom Miyagawa

Hyogo and Hiroshima Prefecture - Western Japan travel from Osaka images

Hyogo and Hiroshima Prefecture - Western Japan travel from Osaka

Visit Himeji Castle“Often said to be Japan's best example of a complete fortress castle, Himeji Castle is a picturesque beauty, sitting atop a hill in Hyogo Prefecture. It is often referred to as…

DeepJapan image

DeepJapan

How to Enjoy Hiroshima Twice as Much! images

How to Enjoy Hiroshima Twice as Much!

Many people want to go by themselves and learn about the importance of pursuing world peace and the influence of nuclear weapons by visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Park. In addi…

DeepJapan Editor image

DeepJapan Editor

Explore Northern Japan – travel recommendations for Hokkaido and Miyagi images

Explore Northern Japan – travel recommendations for Hokkaido and Miyagi

Lavender fields, a sea of flowers“In Hokkaido, Furano's lavender fields attract large numbers of visitors to the region every summer when the plants are in full bloom. Lavenders usually start blo…

DeepJapan image

DeepJapan

Miyajima- Hiroshima prefecture images

Miyajima- Hiroshima prefecture

Miyajima scenery well-known from the guide book or typical image of Japan.Although it's very famous scenery, many people don't know it's in the Hiroshima prefecture.Miyajima was build 9century an…

yukorose image

yukorose

Hitachino Nest Beer images

Hitachino Nest Beer

Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki prefecture has been making Hitachino Nest Beer since 1996. They offer over ten different kinds of beer including Amber Ale, Espresso Stout, Pale Ale, Weizen, and Japanese Cl…

Nate image

Nate