Setouchi Sea Tour: Shimanami Kaido + Hiroshima’s Islands of Peace

2020 Tour Dates
Nov 23-30 🍁

2021 Tour Dates
Mar 29-Apr 5 🌸
Nov 24-Dec 1 🍁

🌸 Blossom Season
🍁 Fall Colors
⭐ Guaranteed Trip
🍱 Almost Full!

Difficulty
Level 2 out of 5
Daily Distance: 30-80km
Daily Elevation: 100-800m

See FAQ for Route Levels

Explore Bike Options

Accommodations
Premium Ryokan Hotels + Futon Japanese Beds + Public Hot-Spring Onsen Bath

Learn more about the ryokan experience

Regions
Hiroshima Prefecture
Ehime Prefecture
Shimanami Kaido
Tobishima Kaido
Takehara
Shikoku
Dogo Onsen
Miyajima

Price
$5,650 USD

+ $1,000 USD Single Supplement

+ $750 USD e-Bike Rental

The Setouchi Sea region of Japan is steeped in ancient and modern Japanese history. Some of the most unique aspects of Japanese culture and tradition live here, including the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage, the Shimanami Kaido, and the ancient Izumo Taisha Shrine.

Since time immemorial, this has been an area of immense historical and political importance. It is also home to the Japan’s historical naval bases, which led to the tragic dropping of the first atomic bomb. Rebuilt upon a vision for a peaceful future, cities like Onomichi and Matsuyama couple their historic machinami (or townscape) with progressive modern culture. The small islands that pepper the sea between Ehime and Hiroshima have become home to some of the most beautiful cafes and bicycle vistas in the world. We’ll explore many of these unique places by way of the Shimanami Kaido, Japan’s much-loved bike route!

Traverse islands on roads and bridges built just for cycling. Relax at a historical seaside onsen. Watch the sun descend behind the mountains in the distance. Experience the Shimanami Kaido, a bright blue path of bike lanes and bridges built across the islands of the Setouchi Sea. Explore the mountains of Ehime, and the famous shrine in the water at Miyajima. Enjoy exquisite meals prepared just for you. We cannot wait for you to soak in the beauty of this often unexplored region!

Bridges on the Shimanami Kaido

Itinerary

Day 1 (25km | 200m)Onomichi Konnichiwa!

Your BTJ guides will be ready to meet you at the front of Onomichi Station. After introductions and bike fits, we are off on our scenic ride across the first island of the Shimanami Kaido. Trace the shoreline and explore hidden roads off the beaten path. We’ll enjoy a delicious lunch by the harbor before we take to the hills and climb up to our ryokan perched atop the hills behind town. When you’re ready, meet up with our guides for a beautiful traditional dinner and our first toast to a great week ahead!

Day 2 (45km | 350m) Shimanami Kaido Pt 1

Today is the first day of our journey across the Setouchi Sea, the brilliant blue body of water peppered with islands that stretches between Shikoku and Honshu. Welcome to the Shimanami Kaido! You’ll feel like you’re flying across the sea on these roads that are designed specifically for cyclists traversing these gorgeous islands and bridges. We’ll spend the day dipping in and out of seaside towns and coastal roads. Be sure to stop for the best views each island has to offer along the way. Just before our ryokan, we will take time to explore the magical Kousanji Temple. Our home this evening is a very traditional ryokan situated right on the seaside.

Day 3 (65km | 600m) Shimanami Kaido Pt 2

The road continues on through the increasingly wild islands of Omishima, Hakata, and finally Oshima. Complete the Kaido by tracing the remaining islands and bridges that take us to the final island of Shikoku. Along the way, we will stop at the Oyamazumi Shrine, home to one of Japan’s oldest trees at over 2,600 years old. Our ryokan this evening is just past the final suspension bridge, the largest in the world! Take a break to enjoy the hillside with magnificent views of the bridge and inland sea. On a lucky day, you can see the incredible whirlpools in the waters below. Finally, roll into Daichouso, for a soak in the hot-spring and a beautiful kaiseki spread for dinner.

Day 4 (50km | 750m) Pilgrim Paths & Forest Roads

After three days of ocean scenes, we will take to the mountains! Get a taste of rindo​ (forest paths) that inspired our love for road cycling in Japan. Then, experience the rejuvenating feeling of rolling on tiny roads lined by trees and bamboo. We’ll stop at one of the 88 temples of the mystical Shikoku Pilgrimage. Small back roads take us up to the highest point of our trip at the Suigatouge Tunnel. After cutting through the mountain, a long downhill rewards us all the way into Matsuyama City, where we will stay across the street from the famous Dogo Onsen Building.

Day 5 (Rest Day) Dogo Historical Onsen

Our rest day is a perfect chance to relax while still maximizing your time exploring this incredible corner of Ehime. Your guides will make several recommendations for places to explore on foot, so choose to explore them on your own, or join us for a guided trip through the historical grounds of Matsuyama Castle, which easily rivals the famous castles of Matsumoto and Osaka.

Day 6 (60km | 500m) Tobishima Kaido

Hop back on the bikes for a short ride over to the Matsuyama Scenic Ferry Terminal to catch our ferry to the port town of Kure (2h). Relax aboard and soak in the sights as we weave between the scattered islands of the inland sea. Once docked in Kure, our route takes us on the most remote part of our trip across the Tobishima Kaido. This rarely-traveled string of islands and bridges will lead us to the orange capital of Japan, a truly refreshing and wild island!

Day 7 (45km | 450m) Orange Fields, Turquoise Seas

After a morning soak and breakfast, we will hit the island for a victory lap. Today’s ride is full of hillsides covered in orange groves, coastal views, and fresh sea breeze. Savor these locals-only routes before we’ll hop on our last ferry (20m) back to the mainland town of Takehara. While this region has less of the typical convenience of Japan, it also means we get to experience the purest sense of rural island life. Reflect upon the paths we’ve traveled and listen closely to the soothing waves nearby.

We will enjoy lunch in Takehara and help you arrange any travel for tomorrow at the train station before rolling up the Kamo River to our ryokan this evening nestled in the nearby valley.

Day 8 (25km | 200m) Setouchi Sayonara!

On our final day, we will head out one last time by bike to retrace the Kamo River back to Takehara Town. Known as the Kyoto of the West, this is one of Japan’s most scenic places. First we will head up the Kamo River through scenic satoyama rice fields before headed back towards town. Take in the zen forests of bamboo that overshadow the quiet streets in early morning. Once in town, we will explore the historic old town before stopping to enjoy lunch and coffee and recount the highlights of the week before we say farewell until the next time!

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Shimanami Kaido yukata

Setouchi + Shimanami Kaido Map

Included

  • Fully-serviced road bike or hybrid bike, with helmet and accessories. Please inquire in advance if you would like an e-bike (Electric Bike Rental: $750 USD)
  • Two BTJ Expert Guides, who will be your cultural ambassadors and road navigators during your cycling experience.
  • All accommodations: traditional Japanese Ryokan Hotels.
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and all snacks/hydration throughout the tour.
  • Luggage delivery.
  • Support and gear vehicle.

Not Included

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from the tour
  • Meals not listed above
  • Alcoholic beverages