Cost: 2000 Yen – 1000 rental fee + 1000 deposit. You get your deposit back if you return the bike at the same bike station.
Peeling Skin: 3-4 weeks
I was big on cycling in South Korea. My work location was about 8.5km away from where I lived so I would always cycle there and back (rain or shine). My school location was out in the sticks so cycling there actually cut the time in half (25-28min) as opposed to taking public transportation and having to transfer (50-55min). Like thousands of expats residing in South Korea, when vacation hits, we want to see what else is out there. Now I’ve been to Japan several times in the past and did all the touristy things in big cities like Osaka. It was this trip, however, that really sparked my interest and passion for long distance cycling. I highly recommend any teachers currently living in Asia or anyone interested in cycling to do this route. It was definitely an indelible experience taking a backseat and exploring an area of Japan that many may be unaware of.
Very small but quiet and cute town. For any Final Fantasy 8 fans out there, the town gave me vibes of Fisherman’s Horizon for some odd reason.
I stayed in a very small but affordable hostel that was kind of hard to find. The owners were a young married couple with a little baby boy. They spoke good English and were very friendly and hospitable. I highly recommend staying with them if you are thinking about cycling the Shimanami Kaido.
I did not see too many foreigners; the majority were Japanese cyclists with their biking gear next to the floor mats that the hostel provides. Throughout this trip, I saw somewhere between 40-50 other cyclists.
Mukaishima Island (1st island) -> Innoshima Bridge (1270m) -> Innoshima Island (2nd island)
Innoshima Island (2nd island) -> Ikuchi Bridge (790m) -> Ikuchijima Island (3rd island)
Ikuchijima Island (3rd island) -> Tatara Bridge (1480m) -> Omishima Island (4th island)
Omishima Island (4th island) -> Omishima Bridge (328m) -> Hakatajima Island (5th island)
Hakatajima Island (5th island) -> Hakata-Oshima Bridge (1165m) -> Oshima Island (6th island)
Oshima Island (6th island) -> Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridges (4105m)
From here, I returned the bike at Imabari station, took a train down to Matasuyama, stayed at a park watching thousands of Japanese wandering around catching their Pikachus and Charizards (Pokemon Go was alive and well), took a ferry back to Hiroshima, and spent my final two days there.
Tips for those wanting to cycling through and things I wish I’d done.
I’ve heard of numerous people doing this cycling trip over a span of two days, staying in hostels on some of the islands and exploring other thing that the islands have to offer. That is totally fine and had I had more time, I may have done that as well. However, this will be for those who are looking to test their endurance and stamina.
Sunscreen and/or rash guard: This is obviously a no-brainer. Depending on what time of year you decide on doing this, be prepared. For whatever reason, I decided against common sense and suffered the consequences afterwards.
Stop at every convenience store you see: I always made sure to stop at refill on water and snacks. I probably drank in total 8-9 Liters of water.
Be prepared for the sudden elevation incline spike on the 6th island: Before crossing every bridge, there is a 3-5% incline that spans for approximately 1-1.5km. I was not prepared, however, for the seemingly endless incline that I ran into on the 6th island. I’m the type of person that sees something, goes for it, and just kind of wing it without being thoroughly prepared. For whatever reason, I get more of a thrill this way as opposed to those that plan out their trips. Looking back at my map overnight in Matasuyama, I saw the elevated incline but had not looked at the map before or during this trip. Towards the middle of the 6th island, I believe there is a 2km steady incline that is an absolute killer for even some of the more advanced cyclists. I was running low on water and almost considered turning back to the last convenience store that was about 5km away. Be prepared for this.
Enjoy the moment: You will cycle through warehouses, farms, small towns, and along coastlines. The journey is long and if you are cycling in the summer, the heat can be unbearable. Just remember to enjoy and have fun! You are on vacation after all (or at least I hope)!
If you have any questions regarding this cycling trip I will be more than happy to answer them here! Have a good evening everyone!