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Island-hopping across very large and spectacular bridges on the popular Japanese Setonaike Cycle Way between Honshu and Shikoku is a unique cycling experience.

The cycle way connects the Japanese main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku across the Inland Sea -
70 km. You can cycle it in a day but we recommend dividing this into two days with a stay somewhere (probably Setoda) on route, because there are sightseeing opportunities which lengthen each day’s travel. There are numerous small towns, and some youth hostels and hotels.

The route is basically between Onomichi on the Honshu side, which has good rail access, and Imabari on the Shikoku side which has good ferry access. Setoda also has ferry access to the mainland.

The cycle path is really separate from the main car route, but does turn into minor roads at some points, though traffic is quite reasonable. In any case, following the Japanese custom they prefer you share the side-walk (carefully!) with pedestrians.

One of the highlights of the trip is the care that has been taken with the cycle path as it approaches the bridges. They are carefully engineered so that the climb onto the bridge is not taxing. In some cases there are separate spiral ramps dedicated at great cost to the bikes, which take you well up in mid-air! Safe, but the exposure is novel. There is usually a small toll on the bridges and an honesty box – so you will need quite a bit of small change.

Exploration of each island’s back roads reveals lovely little coves but the sights are often hazy and civilization is never far away. Frequent citrus and palm trees, and (groan) vending machines. Near Setoda, there is a tourist attraction, Kosanji, part imitation of many temples in Japan, part (on the hilltop) a kind of modern sculpture environment (several hectares) in white marble that you can wander amongst. Rather worth seeing.

Imabari (on Shikoku) to Hiroshima by ferry is an interesting trip because it passes along a chain of islands, often connected by bridges, and stops at some small ports. This cost 6500 yen which is significant, but the trip took most of the morning and reasonable value for money.

MAP of bike trip along Japanese Setonaike Cycle Way


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