Just after Golden Week, I took a week off to head to the Shimanami Kaido. I spent a day and a half in Onomichi, a couple days cycling, half a day in Imabari, and a day and a half in Matsuyama. It was an amazing trip out in the middle of nowhere and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
As the title says, this is just an introduction. I have a lot to talk about and this blog may actually become the Shimanami Kaido blog. I will try not to bore you with too many details about the trip but when I say I had an amazing time, and the scenery was beautiful and spectacular, you may think that I am exaggerating, but I assure you that I am not.
This adventure started in Onomichi, a great little town. From the second you walk out of the station, you realize how small the town is. The most famous parts of the town are the temples on the hillside. I spent almost 2 days on that hill just exploring all of the little areas. It started off great, and I was away from most of the people, but things got more and more urban as I went along. If you are looking for small “streets”, the area just above the station is the best. It reminded me of Ogijima, but with better views. Having the freedom to explore these areas on my own, completely alone, was a complete joy.
After visiting Onomichi, my friend “A” met up with me in Onomichi and we headed out on the Shimanami Kaido the next morning. The Shimanami Kaido was everything I had expected from it. I did a lot of research so I was well prepared. “A” also had a great time on the trip, but since he didn’t tell his boss that he was on this trip, he had to do a little work, so it wasn’t as relaxing for him as it was for me. Watching him do some of his work on his PC was tough, but it gave me the quiet time I wanted to let me review my thoughts each day.
The start of the trip was great as I was happy to be able to take the ferry to Mukaishima without any cars, as well as to enjoy the coasts of each island. The main trail was wonderful, and some of the side trails were great too. The entire Shimanami Kaido is very well marked so it is difficult to get lost if you stick to the main trails. If you do try some of the more advanced routes, you may regret it.
There are 4 bridges on the Shimanami Kaido and each one has roughly a 1.2km climb on an average 3% incline. I thought I would die going up to the bridges, but it was a lot easier than I expected. I thankfully did a little training before this trip so my muscles didn’t hurt too much but they weren’t happy either. I was thankfully capable of walking after the trip but my butt was extremely sore every time I mounted my bike on the second day. My quads were also aching but in areas I never knew could ache. Thankfully it was a different area to walking, so I could still walk without my legs buckling.
Imabari was more developed that I would have liked. It was a stark contrast to Onomichi which is a small town. Imabari is still a lovely little city but in reality, I doubt I’ll be back again. Matsuyama is a place I still like. I was able to see a few new things and revisit some of the places I visited the first time I visited Matsuyama. Dogo Onsen was not as crowded as I thought it would be and I was able to find a nice place to drink.
The Shimanami Kaido is so beautiful and so peaceful that by the time I am finished, you’ll understand why I had to write so much about this area. I can’t help but love the Seto Inland Sea and can’t wait till my next visit to the area, probably next year!