Since Shikoku is bordered on the north by Honshu and on the west by Kyushu, there are numerous potential destinations on both of those islands for those wishing to extend their trip. Closer to home, however, are two smaller islands:

- The teardrop-shaped island of Awaji offers quiet coastal roads, inland greenery and more cows and onions than you've seen (or smelled) in awhile. Since Awaji is located between Shikoku and the Kansai region of Honshu, access is easy: no train lines run on the island, but a number of ferries provide service between Awaji and both major islands, and bridges now provide road and therefore bus service direct from Kobe on Honshu or Tokushima on Shikoku. Awaji can be circled in one very energetic day, but it might be best to make it a two-day trip and really explore the island; low-cost inns abound, and food is both fresh and delicious.

- Even smaller Shodoshima is perhaps most famous as the beautiful rural setting of the classic Japanese '50s movie 24 Eyes (Nijuyonme no Hitomi). To cyclists, it deserves to be famous for moderate elevations but often spectacularly steep inclines to get to them. This is one island destination for which you will need some mountain riding experience. Shodoshima is located just north of Takamatsu and is linked by ferries from both Honshu and Shikoku.

Ferries leading to Kyushu are not as plentiful as those from Honshu, but those that are available provide convenient access. At least one of the daily Honshu to Kyushu (Shin-Moji, Beppu or Oita) ferries makes a stop at Matsuyama. Other ferries go to Oita from Yawatahama (near Uwajima) and there is even one that departs from a place near the tip of Cape Sata far to the west (apparently no relation to the Sata in Alan Booth's book "The Road to Sata").

(Note: For more information on Kyushu routes, be sure to check out the Kyushu route on this site.)

If you're heading to Honshu, you have a wide variety of options:

FERRY: Numerous ferries link the islands of Shikoku and Honshu, most of them leading from Tokushima/Naruto or Takamatsu to the Kansai area (Kobe or Osaka). To the west, the options are fewer but still plentiful. The aforementioned Honshu - Kyushu ferry that stops in Matsuyama is one; there are many smaller ones, mainly for commuting workers, that depart from such relatively obscure places as Kure near Hiroshima.

TRAIN: The Seto-Ohashi bridge line offers train service linking Okayama with Takamatsu and parts beyond.

BUS: As three bridge systems now link Shikoku with Honshu, numerous bus options are available: from Osaka/Kobe via Awaji to the east, from Okayama via the Seto-Ohashi Bridge nearer the center of the island, and from Hiroshima and Onomichi to Matsuyama.

However, far and away the best way for cyclists to get from Honshu to Shikoku is the new Shimanami Kaido, the series of bridges that now link Onomichi on Honshu with Imabari on Shikoku (40-odd kilometers from Matsuyama), via a series of islands. Unlike the two other bridge systems spanning the islands, this one was designed with cyclists in mind, and it enables you to skip across the straits like a stone over the water. The route is 77 kilometers long, but because the only elevations are the entrances to the bridges, it's a route practically any cyclist in moderate shape should be able to do in a day - and there's even a youth hostel at the midway point if you get tired. Want more incentive? The spectacular bridge in this photo is, believe it or not, for bicycles only!
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