Travelling by car and having some local relatives on had as tour guides afforded us the luxury of going to some places normal tourists would not. Most tourists would travel on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Hiroshima completely bypassing everything inbetween. They certainly would be less likely to stray far from the areas along that train line.
Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images.
The Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道, Shimanami Kaidō) (kaido – literally means “sea road”) is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway. There are two other land connections between Shikoku and Honshu, but the Shimanami Kaido is the only one traversable by foot or bicycle.
The Shimanami Kaido begins on Honshu in Onomichi City. It then leads across the six islands of Mukaishima, Innoshima, Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima and Oshima, before terminating on Shikoku in Imabari City. The route was opened in 1999, so the bridges are modern and attractive. Along the way, travelers can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Seto Inland Sea and the islands’ small towns.
View from the Bridge
Cycling is a popular means of experiencing the Shimanami Kaido. The bicycle route is well marked and maintained, and diverges from the expressway on the islands. The ramps leading up to the bridges were built at small inclines with cyclists in mind.
We didn’t cycle the whole route however we did cycle over and back across one of these fabulous bridges and around part of one of the islands.