Getting Organized

Unlike the other routes, this section involves a few major decisions, and so it begins not with "Getting There" but "Getting Organized."

- Resources -

The first thing that you should know about the Shimanami route is that we're not alone on this one; there are several excellent websites that offer information in English on this route. The best English one is probably:

[follow the links to individual pages and maps]

The best Japanese site is probably the "SHIMAP" site:

This site has a simply amazing amount of information - to note just one example, the third button on the left takes you to a map leading to more detailed maps that cover literally everything there is to see along the entire route - with miniature photos of each spot. Even people unable to read Japanese will benefit from clicking on things and looking at the photos. (Hint: in the detailed maps, click on the names, not on the orange dots.)

- Rent-a-Cycle Terminals -

Some people decide to rent bicycles to do this route, rather than bring their own. This is one of the few routes on this site for which this is a viable option, since the route is virtually flat. However, keep in mind that the bicycles will invariably be what are sometimes referred to here as mamachari - the kind of simple bike with one to three speeds that a housewife would take to go shopping (apologies for the sexism). If you would prefer to have a few more options in terms of gear ratio, you should definitely bring your bike with you. Rental mountain bikes and road bikes are very hard to find in most parts of Japan, for some reason - and even if you should happen to find a mountain or road bike for rent, there is no guarantee that it would be in your size. Also, in response to an inquiry, I would say that it is very unlikely that the bike rental places here would have luggage trailers for rent, particularly those that could be attached to the typical 0-to-3-speed rental bike found in Japan.

Nevertheless, if you don't have a bike or really don't want to bring one with you, and if you overnight at least once along the route, you would only have to cycle about 38 kilometers per day; most people should be able to handle that even on a clunker bike. More importantly, renting a bike offers many advantages: there are lots of bike rental places along the route, and you can pick up a bike at one place and and drop it off at any of the other rental places. Apparently at all of the terminals you can even reserve bikes in advance, but the quantities are limited, and for some terminals reservations should be made at least a week in advance (but there's no charge for making the reservations).

Here are the names of the 14 rent-a-cycle terminals along the route. I would doubt that they can speak much English at any of these phone numbers, though. If you're starting at either end, you'll only need the numbers for Onomichi-Mukaijima (the first three) or Imabari (the last two). Note that "rent-a-cycle terminal" should not be confused with the cycling terminals that offer accommodations; only one of the 14 places is an actual cycling terminal (Sunrise Itoyama, the first of the two Imabari numbers listed). You're obliged to pay a 1,000 yen deposit on the bicycle. However, if you're dropping it off at a terminal other than the one you rented it at, your deposit is not returned.

(1) Onomichi Port

(on Honshu - at the port parking area in front of Onomichi Station) 0848-20-1360

(2) Onomichi Tosen Noriba (ferry landing)

(on Mukaijima) 0848-44-0515

(3) Fukumoto Tosen Noriba (ferry landing)

(on Mukaijima) 0848-44-2020

(4) Shigei-nishi Port

(on Innoshima) 08452-5-0548

(5) Habu Port

(at Innoshima municipal central parking area) 08452-2-3362

(6) Setoda-cho Tourist Information Center

(on Ikuchijima) 08452-7-0051

(7) Sunset Beach

(on Ikuchijima) 08452-7-1100

(8) Tatara Information Center (Michi-no-Eki "Tatara Shimanami Koen)

(on Omishima) 0897-87-3855

(9) Michi-no-Eki "Shimanami no Eki Omishima"

(on Omishima) 0897-82-0002

(10) Marine Oasis Hakata (Michi-no-Eki Hakata S-C Park)

(on Hakatajima) 0897-72-3300

(11) Miyakubo-cho Tourist Information Center

(on Oshima) 0897-74-1074

(12) Yoshiumi Cycling Terminal

(on Oshima) 0897-84-3233

(13) Imabari City Cycling Terminal (Sunrise Itoyama)

(on Shikoku) 0898-41-3196

(!4) Imabari City Cycle Station (Michi-no-Eki "Imabari Yunoura Onsen")

(on Shikoku) 0898-47-0990

And here is a map showing the locations of these 14 rent-a-cycle terminals:

According to the references I have (and which I have recently confirmed by telephone), you can rent a bike from any of the 14 rent-a-cycle terminals along the route and drop it off at any other one. The only exception is motorized bicycles - bikes with small motors on them, which it is theoretically possible to rent but which you shouldn't really need since the only significant uphills are the entrances to the bridges. The only restriction seems to be opening hours: you'd have to get there before they close to drop off the bike. All of the terminals are open from 9 to 5 daily, except for the New Year vacation when they are closed (with the exception of the Onomichi Port one). During the warm months, the first three listed above stay open until 6 p.m., and Sunrise Itoyama in Imabari stays open until 8 p.m. Sunrise Itoyama also opens an hour earlier (8 a.m.) year-round.

The rental fee for a regular bicycle (once again, be advised that these are undoubtedly the normal bikes people use to go shopping here; probably three gears at most) is 500 yen per day for adults and 300 yen per day for children.

There are baskets on each bridge, usually at the entrance, into which you toss a couple of coins as a bridge toll. This is entirely on the honor system, there's nobody there to check. I confess that I couldn't even find the basket on one of the bridges, so I guess I cheated (unintentionally). But the amounts are very small:

Innoshima Ohashi            50 yen

Ikuchi-hashi                    50 yen

Tatara Ohashi 100 yen

Omishima-hashi 50 yen

Hakata-Oshima Ohashi 50 yen

Kurushima Kaikyo Ohashi 200 yen

As was mentioned in the text, cyclists are strongly urged to AVOID the northernmost bridge (on the Onomichi side), the Shin-Onomichi Ohashi. For one thing, even the official literature recommends skipping this one, as there is no real bike and footpath, just a very narrow sidewalk. The most important reason, however, is that there is a much more pleasant way to get from Mukaijima to the Honshu mainland (or vice versa) in the form of the numerous (at least three) tiny ferries that go back and forth across the narrow straits. You can wheel your bicycle right on board, and the ferry ride only takes a few minutes and costs around 110 yen (for both you and your bike).

Getting There

One more basic decision is which end of the route to start with. People have asked me about the prevailing winds, thinking this might factor into the decision. However, since winds normally blow from west to east rather than north - south, it shouldn't be much of a consideration in terms of which direction to cycle in (when I went, the winds were not strong at all). Therefore, the main basis for the decision would be accessibility, and on that account Onomichi is the clear winner: it's on the main JR line and is thus easily accessible from either Osaka or Tokyo. However, the bullet train (shinkansen) is Shin-Onomichi, considerably north of the city center, and there's no train connection; you'd have to take a bus between stations. So if you're going west to Onomichi by bullet train to start the ride, it would be best to change at Fukuyama to the regular JR line and continue on to Onomichi Station on the coast.

Note that Onomichi is a very nice tourist city in its own right; it's a great place to kick back and do a little sightseeing either before or after the ride. This contrasts with Imabari on the other end, which has little to offer the visitor. However, Matsuyama 40km down the coast is famous for Dogo Onsen, one of Japan's oldest and most famous, and as the setting for the famous novel "Botchan" by Natsume Soseki (there's even a "Botchan Streetcar" that you can ride through the city). Frequent trains link Imabari and Matsuyama, and on some of them you can even wheel your bicycle right on board certain cars. This would be a way to explore Matsuyama city with the same rental bike... however, if I were asked to give an opinion, I'd probably recommend exploring Matsuyama by streetcar, since it's one of the few cities in Japan that still has a functioning (and quite picturesque!) streetcar system.


This is a long, long list indeed. I count well over 100 hotels and inns between Onomichi and Imabari, with the hotels naturally weighted toward the major cities at either end. For this reason, I include some basic information on Onomichi (since I can recommend a particular minshuku there) and list the official telephone numbers for information on accommodations for each of the other islands on the route. Someone should be at these numbers during normal business hours, normally daily until 5. The information I have doesn't say anything about the offices being closed on weekends, so you should be able to get in touch with someone even on weekends.

Accommodation Information Services


Onomichi Tourist Association (0848-22-6900) [note: this number says ryokan annai but should also be able to point you to minshuku or hotels as well]

Hotels and ryokan are in the city proper; Onomichi's five minshuku are across the narrow straits on Mukaijima. As they are right on the water and you can watch the boats go through the harbor at night, I highly recommend choosing a minshuku for your stay here. A good one is Ohmoto-so (0848-44-0697). The others are:

- Matsumoto (0848-44-2705)

- Omae (Daizen?) (0848-44-0495)

- Emi (0848-44-2646)

- Kaneda (0848-44-0276)

In recent literature, Kaneda's number is listed as the portal for all five minshuku, so if you're having trouble getting through, try that number.


Mukaijima Tourist Association (kanko kyokai) (0848-44-0110


Setoda-cho Tourist Section (kanko shokoka) 08452-7-2211


Innoshima Shimaokoshi-ka Kankomachizukuri-kakari 08452-2-1311 Ask for "naisen (extension) 252"

Innoshima Tourist Association 08452-2-1311 Ask for "naisen (extension) 253"

Innoshima Tourist Office 08452-2-3333


Tatara Information Center 0897-87-3855

Omishima Tourist Association 0897-82-0002


Hakata-cho Tourist Association 0897-72-1500

Marine Oasis "Hakata" 0897-72-3300


Miyakubo-cho Sangyo Kanko-ka 0897-86-2500

Yoshiumi-cho Sangyo Kanko-ka 0897-84-2111


Imabari Regional Tourist Information Center 0898-36-1118

Imabari Regional Tourist Association 0898-22-0909


There are several campgrounds as well:

Mukaijima: Sea Park, on the southwest end of the island

Innoshima: "Healthy Resort Sun Green", just north of the western end of the Innoshima Ohashi bridge

Ikuchijima: KOA Setoda Campground, on the south end of the island (a bit far from the route)

Omishima: three locations:

- Tatara Campground, just at the western end of the Tatara Ohashi bridg

- Dai Campground, near the beach of the same name in the north central part of the island

- Mori Campground, on the northeastern end of the island

Oshima: three locations:

- One just inland from the western end of the Hakata-Oshima Ohashi bridge

- Two right near each other on the southwestern end of the island, at Nagome and Minamiura

- Shikoku: several campgrounds, one just inland from Imabari and others north (2 locations) and south (one location) along the coast.

There are also a few campgrounds on the southern islands south of Omishima and Innoshima islands along the route. Naturally, there are no bridges to these islands; getting to them would require taking local ferries.


Prior to the opening of the Shimanami route and the bridges linking each island with the others and with the mainland, most of these islands were very isolated. Therefore, most of the official tourist "sights" here are relatively minor; the real attraction is the rural scenery and the route itself, especially the often spectacular bridges you cycle over. However, here are a few of the things to see along the way. A 77 km route that rises to no more than 70 meters elevation is very doable in a single day for most people if all you want to do is cycle, but if you can spare the time, I'd recommend overnighting somewhere - if only to see a few things along the way, like the armory collection at the Oyamazumi Shrine.


Mukaijima will probably be of most interest for people staying in the minshuku located right across the straits from the main city of Onomichi.


Innoshima offers the Suigunjo Castle visible on the hill, essentially a recently built museum dedicated to the pirates that used to plague the Inland Sea a few centuries ago. It also has the Innoshima Flower Center, a photo of which is in the Story section.


Ikuchijima offers the Kojoji Temple near Setoda Port, with a 3-story pagoda dating back to 1403, a National Treasure, and Kosanji Temple, a modern (1936) one noted for replicas of famous temple buildings from various parts of Japanese history. The island also offers the Ikuo Hirayama Museum, with artworks and sketches by the painter who is originally from this island. The museum is right near the rent-a-cycle terminal.


This may be your best overnight location, because of the Oyamazumi Shrine (founded 719, present structure from 1427). But the real attraction is the shrine's treasure house, which has an astonishing 80% of Japan's most precious samurai weapons - both National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.


The sights on Shikoku are covered in the Shikoku route on this site. Imabari has little of touristic interest, but Matsuyama is well worth a stop, if only for Dogo Onsen, one of Japan's most famous hot springs, still housed in an enormous wooden building.

Getting Away

"Getting Away" will naturally depend on which end you started at. Buses run between Imabari and Onomichi, Fukuyama and Hiroshima. There are also frequent trains between Imabari and Matsuyama.

The main problem will be dropping off a rental bike. For some unfathomable reason, neither of the two Imabari terminals are located near the station. One is just at the base of the last bridge, while the other is considerably south of the city center, at a "michi-no-eki" (roadside rest station) that is also supposedly an onsen. While this might be a fun way to end the ride, it appears to be about three or four kilometers from the train line, so a bus or taxi would be involved to get to the train station from either rent-a-cycle terminals.

Although I've been unable to confirm it, I've been told that on some Shikoku trains between Imabari and Matsuyama it is possible to just wheel the bike on board certain train cars without putting it in a bikebag. This might be convenient if you want to keep the bicycle and explore Matsuyama by bike. I will try to confirm this, and find out which trains, but in the meantime your best bet may be to ask at Sunrise Itoyama when you arrive at Imabari (or in Matsuyama itself if you are doing the route from south to north).

One last note: if you end at Imabari, it is possible to go all the way back from the port of Imabari to Onomichi by ferry (and I suppose the reverse would be possible as well). However, you'd have to change twice to different ferries (at Mihara Port and Setoda Port), and it wouldn't be cheap - also, the ferries apparently can only handle a limited number of bikes. It looks to be more trouble than it's worth.

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