Tour of the Setouchi Sea – Hiroshima’s Islands of Peace 2019

A breathtaking tour across the islands of west Japan

This region, steeped in history, claims some of the most unique and lasting aspects of Japanese culture, such as the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage and the ancient Izumo Taisha shrine along the northern coast.

Since time immemorial, this has been an area of immense historical and political importance. It is also home to the historic naval bases, which led to the tragic dropping of the first atomic bomb. Rebuilt upon a common vision for a peaceful future, cities like Onomichi and Matsuyama couple their characteristically historic machinami (or townscape) with more progressive culture. The small islands that pepper the sea between Ehime and Hiroshima became home to some of the most beautiful cafe and bicycle vistas in the world, namely the Shimanami Kaido.

Traverse these islands on roads and bridges built just for cycling. Relax at a seaside onsen, and watch the sun descend behind the mountains in the distance. Explore the mountains of Ehime, and the famous shrine in the water at Miyajima before enjoying an exquisite meal made just for you. We cannot wait for you to share in the beauty of this often left unexplored region.

Bike Tour Japan - Sunset Views

  • REGION: Hiroshima and Ehime Prefectures
  • DESTINATION: Shimanami Kaido, Onomichi, Matsuyama, Hiroshima, various island routes
  • DURATION: 8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS
  • DIFFICULTY: 2/5 (options to add distance each day)
  • PRICE FROM: $5,200 USD
  • SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $1000 USD

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THE ROUTE

Bike Tour Japan - Setouchi Sea Route

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Bike Tour Japan - Cycling on Beautiful Paths

TOUR BY DAY

Want a more zoomed in view of a day on tour with us? Check out our in-depth view of Day 6 from our Tour of the North Alps.

Day One: Onomichi

Join the group for lunch on our first day in the quiet seaside city of Onomichi. We will warm-up by riding around the old town area, which is full of small local businesses and coffee shops. Option to extend the route by venturing into an independent chocolate/coffee factory on a mountain in Mukaijima. When we are back in town, we’ll take a stroll around the mysterious cat-filled side streets that wind their way up the hill to Onomichi’s Zenkouji. Spend this leisurely day soaking in the atmosphere known for its countless traditional festivals, coupled with independent modern culture. In the evening, we will reassemble for a celebratory dinner at our Ryokan together.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Onomichi Machinami, Jikanji, Ropeway to Zenkoji, U2 Cycle Center
The Day: 16km (10mi), 150m (500ft) gain, light walking around the town and up the hill.
Accommodation: Senkojisanso Ryokan

Day Two: 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 the mysterious island of Shikoku and the main landmass in Japan, Honshu. You’ll feel like you’re flying across the sea on these roads that are designed and painted specifically for cyclists traversing these famous islands and bridges. We’ll dip in and out of seaside towns and coastal roads, and arch over massive suspension bridges with paths paved solely for us. Finally we’ll get to our destination, the tiny old port town of Setoda. Take a stroll and explore the breathtaking temple and museum Kousanji – whose secrets are best left unspoiled – before coming back and enjoying a luxurious, traditional meal at the Suminoe Ryokan.

Accommodation: Suminoe Ryokan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Mukaijima, Innoshima, Kousanji, Hirayama Art Museum
The Day:  64km (40mi) of seaside riding, 600m (2000ft) of climbing

Day Three: Shimanami Kaido, Pt 2

The road continues on through the increasingly wild islands of Omishima, Hakata, and finally Oshima. Choose your own adventure through the various mountains we pass; whether you take your time along the quiet seaside routes or push your limits up to the various mountain vistas on the islands, you’ll be treated to an experience unique to this world, let alone Japan. The final chapter will take us across the longest suspension bridge in the world (though divided into three parts); the whirlpools underneath, coupled with the island filled horizon will blow you away (if the wind doesn’t!). After checking out the end point of the Shimanami Kaido, we’ll head up to the beautiful Daichouso ryokan, to watch both the sunset and sunrise reflected upon the sea we just crossed.

Accommodation: Daichouso Ryokan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Washigatozan, Utena Dam, Sunrise Itoyama
The Day: 56 km (35mi), 460m (1500 ft) gain

Day Four: Ehime’s Old Japan

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Or so we’ll say as we take on the biggest ride day of the week, climbing up, through, and over the wide, Mt. Takanawa. We’ll dive into parts of Japan most people never knew existed – the quiet mountain roads filled with tiny Japanese houses forgotten to time, the hills lined with bamboo forests that twinkle in golden sunlight. Once we summit and take in the view of the roads we’ve traveled and the roads to come, we’ll fly down the mountain through winding forest roads past lakes into the east side of Matsuyama city where the oldest Onsen in Japan, Dogo Onsen, lies in wait. Heal your legs in the 1200 year old Onsen’s waters, absorb the ancient atmosphere, and eat yet another feast in the beautiful Chaharu ryokan.

Accommodation: Dogo Onsen Chaharu
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Mt. Takanawa, Dogo Onsen
The Day: 72km (45mi), 1,200m (4000ft) gain

Day Five: Hiroshima, the City of Peace

A short ride takes us across the rice fields north of the city, overshadowed by the mountaintop Matsuyama castle. Delving deep into the hills, we will come across Taisanji temple, #53 of the 88 temples that make up the 800 mile-long Shikoku Henro-no-michi, or pilgrimage. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to see pilgrims wearing pure white and holding a staff, making their spiritual and physical journey across Japan.

Kick back with a coffee on the ferry across the sea to the river delta city of Hiroshima. Though home to nearly 1.5 million people, you’ll be amazed by the serenity of this place as we bike on riverside paths towards Heiwa Koen (Peace Park). In lieu of a hotel in the city, we’ll boat to the mysterious island of Miyajima, where you can enjoy a gorgeous nighttime stroll along traditional streets to catch a view of the moon silhouetted behind the famous shrine in the water, Itsukushimajinja.

Accommodation: Suminoe Ryokan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: #53 Taisanji, Coar Kindergarten, Peace Park, Miyajima
The Day: 32km (20mi), 150m (500ft) gain

Day Six: The Islands of Hiroshima

After returning to Peace Park, we’ll say our goodbyes to the city and cycle back down to the port for one of our last ferry rides. We’ll wind up in Mitaka, the northwestern tip of the islands of Etajima, home to people living a quiet seaside life while watching the city expand from across the water. These islands are also home to even more beautiful cycling roads, whose flat and smooth surface will carry us on wings around curves, bridges as we soak up the ocean breeze. We’ll ride our way around the historic naval base city of Kure and head across the Akinashi bridge. The cobblestone streets of the tiny island town on the first island Shimokamagari will serve as the preamble for the last leg of our journey, the exotic Tobishima Kaido.

Accommodation: Akou Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Kure, Yamato Museum, Rantokaku Museum
The Day: 80km (50mi), 300m (1000ft) gain

Day Seven: The Tobishima Kaido

Our last true riding day – and in true spirit of this week, we’ll be going across some of the most remote islands in the country. Of all the roads we’ve crossed, this route is known for being rather more difficult than the others. With a few more hills, these back roads are rarely ridden by non-locals. While this implies less of the usual convenience of Japan (good bye conbini’s), it means we get to experience the purest sense of rural island life in Japan. We’ll take our time across these green islands, reflecting upon the paths we’ve traveled, listening to, and perhaps getting splashed by, the waves just a couple feet away. Finally we’ll come to Seifukan, and in the onsen, we will experience the meaning of its name – Pure Wind.

Accommodation: Seifukan Ryokan
Meals: Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Seaside villages, Neroli no Cafe, Maruseki Cafe
The Day: 64km (40mi), 460m (1500ft) gain

Day Eight: The Bamboo Town, Takehara

Alas, all good things must come to an end! However, it’s hard to ask for a more fitting finish. Instead of repeating what we’ve done, we’ll head to the north side of the island, and take a short ferry ride into the quiet, historical town of Takehara. Known as the Kyoto of the West, it’s one of Japan’s most scenic places, and fulfills its namesake by playing host to glorious forests of bamboo that overshadow the quiet streets. After, we’ll head up the nearby Mt. Asahi for a glorious view of the sea and islands we have mastered. From there, it’s a short ride to Hiroshima city or Onomichi, and an even shorter one to Hiroshima Airport. Farewell, till the next adventure!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Destinations: Old Town Takehara, Mt. Asahi, Rabbbit Island Okunojima
The Day: 24km (15mi), 230m (750ft) gain

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Bike Tour Japan - Beautiful Scenery on a Bike

Included:
  • Fully-serviced, quality road bike, plus helmet and accessories
  • All accommodations: traditional Japanese Ryokan Spa Hotels
  • Full meals: breakfasts, bento lunches, and dinners
  • Snacks and beverages between meals. We’ll have snacks/beverages both familiar and new!
  • Nutritional support before, during, and after each ride
  • All gratuities at hotels, onsens, and restaurants
  • Access to relaxing natural hot spring baths (onsens) each day. (Please note: private onsens are booked separately; if interested, inquire in advance)
  • Expert guides, with extensive cycling and local knowledge, who will go above and beyond to cater to your every need
  • SAG Wagon to support a variety of route options
  • Entry fees to museums, shrines, historic sites, parks, and other attractions
  • Baggage transfers and porterage from trip pick up to drop-off
  • Ability to purchase gifts, local snacks, local sake, etc along the way and put them in the van at any time
  • Pick up and drop off before and after your tour (Hiroshima Airport and Onomichi Station)
  • Gratuities for BikeTourJapan guides (learn why we don’t ask for tips!)

BikeTourJapan strives for a truly immersive and unique experience. For this reason, each itinerary may be subject to slight modifications. Contact us for the most up-to-date tour inclusions.

Not Included:
  • Airfare
  • Concierge from  Osaka or Hiroshima Airport(please inquire)
  • Pre- and post-travel planning advising with optional upgrade to Full Planning  (please inquire)

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