Begin your exciting adventure in the trendy, coastal town of Onomichi – a destination that punches above it’s weight when it comes to the number of attractions versus it’s overall size. Temples and pagodas stretch out across the steep hills of the downtown area, inhabited by semi-tame but friendly cats. Senkoji Park – accessed by ropeway or heavily-inclined paths – comes alive with sakura cherry-blossoms in the spring, and enjoys spectacular views across the Seto Inland Sea throughout the year. The waterfront shotengai (commercial street) sees hipster cafes and shops juxtaposed with century-old ramen shops and izakaya pubs.
The major draw for a lot of travellers though is the Shimanami Kaido, a 70km cycle route along a series of bridges that connecting Honshu, via six smaller Setouchi islands, to the city of Imabari on Shikoku. Traversing the stunning waters between two of Japan’s main four islands is an unforgettable experience, and achievable for even moderately fit cyclists… though that’s not to say it’s a breeze.
For anyone with limited time, looking to get a decent taster of the journey, we would recommend spending a few nights in Onomichi, taking one full day to complete a 30km course (crossing three islands, and two of the iconic bridges). Along the way you can enjoy the spectacular scenery, witness everyday rural life, pass small local temples, and take your time on two wheels to appreciate the Setouchi fresh air. We will provide you with all the info you need, including bike rental tips, ferry times and general guidance on the route to follow.