The Shimanami Kaido trail – Bicycling in Hiroshima

ByBert Wishart
Aug 08, 2021

The Shimanami Kaido trail – Bicycling in Hiroshima

With the weather finally beginning to cool down, it is time to look back at outdoor activities. Before the long winter sets back in, it’s best to take advantage of the natural beauty that the Seto Inland Sea offers, and the popular way to do this is cycling. Over the last two decades, the region has engaged in heavy promotion of cycling, with various areas offering cyclist support and rentals. Ehime Prefecture, across the water from Hiroshima, even bills itself as a cyclist’s paradise. So why not take some time to see what all the fuss is about and hit the road?.

One of the most famous, accessible, and interesting rides is the Shiminami Kaido. The world’s second-longest chain of suspension bridges spans the Seto Inland Sea between Imabari in Shikoku and Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, connecting six picturesque islands along the way. The best thing about this bridge system is the cycling and pedestrian paths it has built to provide tourists complete access, except the crossing between Onomichi and Mukaishima Island. This crossing is still serviced by regular ferries, which keep the inconvenience to a minimum.

The islands along the 70km trail are beautiful, and intermediate cyclists can cover the route in one day. However, if you want to stop regularly to take in the sights, or if you aren’t a particularly strong cyclist, it is advisable to give yourself a few days to complete the journey. There are plenty of hotels and ryokans, with all budgets catered for from minshuku inns to top-class accommodation in spa hotels.

As to be expected of an island chain, seafood is a specialty of the area. Many hotels serve up a full array of fresh local catch as their evening meal, with octopus being particularly bountiful on the Hiroshima side and various fish such as snapper on the Ehime side. Desert is often hassaku, one of the many juicy citrus fruits that grow everywhere you look.

Some roads can be quite heavy going, such as the climbs to lookout points, and the trip across the Kurushima Kaiko bridge, at 4km over the open sea, can get a bit breezy at times. For those who may prefer a more leisurely vacation, public transport is available. Buses follow the expressway and many of the beautiful spots of local interest, and most islands have ferry ports.

For dramatic views of the islands’ lush green beauty, viewpoints can be found at various points, including Hirakiyama on Hakatajima, Shiratakisan on Innoshima, Kirosan on Oshima, and the Kurushima Kaiko observation deck. Besides scenery and beaches aplenty, there are many temples and shrines to explore, with Oyamazumi Taisha serving as the crown jewel. Consider spending a day here to see the museum, which houses a large collection of swords and armor, many of which are designated as National Treasures. Also, if culture is your thing, you can visit the Hiruyama museum on Ikuchijima. This is dedicated to one-time inhabitant and famous artist Hiruyama Ikuo. For history buffs, the Innoshima Suigun castle displaying weapons of the Murakami pirates is a must. There is also a separate museum for the Murakami Suigun on Oshima Island as well.

Starting from Onomichi

Coming from Hiroshima, you’ll be starting on the Onomichi side of the Shimanami Kaido. If you are arriving by train, Onomichi station is a short walk of 150m from the port where you can rent a bicycle from 7 am. Once you have your bicycle and helmet, you can board one of the regular ferries to Mukaishima Island.

Coming from the Ehime side, the most convenient bike store in Imabari is a 150m walk out of the station’s exit 2. Tourists can pick up a bus heading along the Shimanami Kaido route from directly outside the station. These busses will stop near the cycle rental terminals along the route. Busses, however, do not connect directly with Onomichi, and you will need to transfer at Innoshima.


Those interested can also find bicycle rental stores on each of the islands. Rental is a mere ¥500 a day, and you can drop your bike at any of the fourteen locations en route. It should be noted that there is a ¥1000 deposit which You can only reclaim if you bring your bicycle back to the same terminal. If you are making a round trip, this shouldn’t be an issue, but you may want to keep this in mind if you plan to blend cycling and bussing. Bicycle qualities can differ drastically, so booking one in advance by faxing a bilingual reservation form is advisable.

Hiroaki Kaneko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

nimame, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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