On April 28, 2009 I embarked on my second great motorcycle adventure. I went for two weeks to Shikoku. Shikoku is an island located south of the main island. It’s the fourth largest island and a dream destination of mine. I had two destinations for riding adventures, Hokkaido and Shikoku. As I have written before, I had already visited Hokkaido, with a bad result. This time, things were completely different.
From Tokyo, there are two simple ways to reach Shikoku. The fastest and possibly cheapest is to take the highway from Tokyo to Tokushima. This is roughly 700km in total. You will start off in Tokyo, head past Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe before going over the Akashi Bridge to Awaji Island and then over the Naruto Bridge into Shikoku. In Japan, the ETC system can provide significant savings to your trip. On weekends and holidays, there is a flat rate of 1000 yen for cars and motorcycles with an ETC system. If you travel overnight, enter or exit between 10pm and 6am, you can receive up to 50% off your total travel costs. Many people make use of this system, however be very aware that during the weekends and holidays, traffic will be backed up for kilometres. During the first Golden Week rush, there were traffic jams along every expressway on Japan’s main island and they could stretch for over 100 kilometres in some cases. ETC has also become so popular, that it’s sometimes faster to go through a regular pay toll gate than the automatic ETC gates.
The second route, and something I recommend if you don’t have ETC, is to take a ferry. From Odaiba, you can board a ferry and reach Tokushima in 18 hours. It’s an overnight ferry, but the gas and sanity that you save is a lot. Plus, you can meet a lot of people if you want to. It’s definitely better if you can enjoy the trip with a friend. The ferry arrives around 1pm in Tokushima and it’s just enough time to go around the city. Going outside the city to other regions can be difficult unless you plan everything correctly.
When travelling in Japan, most Japanese people will use their car navigation to find out how to go from A to B. This is the most efficient way to do things, but it isn’t always the best. For motorcyclists, we have a touring bible. It’s called “Touring Mapple”. It’s written completely in Japanese, but there are references within each book, road recommendations, and information about camp grounds, hostels, and almost anything you need to know when travelling. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Whether you travel by bicycle, car, or by it’s intended audience, by motorcycle. Without it, I would have been lost in my travels.
If you’d like to see the following posts in this series, please follow the links below:
Route 55 (Tokushima to Kochi, via Muroto)
Route 197 & 320 (Kochi to Ozu, via Uwajima)
Ozu to Matsuyama
The Great Motorcycle Adventure – Part II (Wrap Up)