Shimanami Kaido – cycle across Japan’s forgotten islands


The Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道) is an increasingly popular, but still relatively quiet cycling route across the islands connecting the Chugoku region near Hiroshima and Shikoku. The 60 kilometre route has been designed for cyclists in mind and the temperate climates helps to make the ride enjoyable and not too physically tough. Along the way there are some eye-catching shrines, museums and some amazing sights over the sea.


Bicycles are available from terminals all along the route. It costs 1000 yen for a standard bike, and 1000 yen for the deposit. You get the deposit back if you return to the same terminal, but this is quite difficult to plan for if you want to do a good bike across the islands. That’s only $20 for a day on the bike though!

The route is clearly signposted, with blue lines on the road showing the way and frequent multi-lingual maps. Pick up a free copy of the map when you rent your bike as well. Along the way, there are a few alternative routes, so it’s to see how you feel when you do it. Some say the route is tough, others have no problems.

Budget travel tips

  • This may be the countryside, but there are plenty of convenience stores along the way. Eat at these rather than the expensive souvenir and restaurant spots.
  • Free wifi is available though at some of these souvenir/tourist restaurant spots along the route if you need help with the route.
  • When renting a bicycle, don’t use the expensive rental shop called Giant. Go to the public terminal.
Maps and information boards on route
Maps and information boards on route

Transportation on route

If you want to finish along the way and make your way, there are a variety of bus and ferry services. Buses go all along the route, but a transfer may be required (2250 yen all the way).

There are also ferry ports available:

Onomichi Port – Shige Higashi Port – Sawa Port – Setoda Port

40 minutes, 1050 yen (additional 300 yen for bicycle), departures every 1-2 hours

All the ports have bike terminals nearby. Only four boats per day stop at Sawa Port.

Imabari Port – Tomoura Port – Kinoura Port – Habu Port

75 minutes, 1750 yen, departures about every 2 hours

There is a cycling terminal near Habu Port. Additional fees for taking the bicycle, and a few ferries don’t allow bikes (ask when you rent the bicycles for latest info).

How to get there

You can start in Imabari, Shikoku or Onomichi, Chugoku region (near Hiroshima).

With a Japan Rail Pass or other pass

Onomichi is connected to the Shinkansen line via Fukuyama station, while Imabari is a limited express stop between Matsuyama and Okayama/Takamatsu.

Without a rail pass

Both Imabari and Onomichi are connected to highway bus networks. Local and express trains also stop at both.


Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict