Explore the best of Shikoku by e-bike and SUP
Shikoku is an island in southwest Japan. It’s the smallest, least developed of Japan’s main islands. The center of Shikoku is dominated by Mt. Ishizuchi, whose dramatic peak is the remnant of an ancient caldera. On this adventure, you will get an introduction to the best of Shikoku as you travel from the Seto Inland Sea, passing over the Ishizuchi range by e-bike and descending the Niyodo River by stand up paddleboard (SUP) to the Pacific Ocean.
- 1Dogo Onsen
- 2Shimanami Kaido
- 3Mt. Ishizuchi
- 4Niyodo River
- 5Ino-cho Paper Museum
Arrive in Dogo, Matsuyama
You arrive in Dogo, Matsuyama, and check into your single room at the new Dogo Hakuro hotel. The hotel has its own hot spring bath and is located close to the famous Dogo Onsen Honkan, Japan’s oldest spa. After dinner you can have a relaxing soak at the hotel or one of the local hot spring baths. You can also swing by the local sake brewery to enjoy a tasting, followed by dinner featuring specialties from the Seto Inland Sea at Nikitatsu-an, the brewery’s restaurant.
Cycle the Shimanami Kaido
A chartered bus will take you down a scenic seaside route to WAKKA on Omishima Island, a cycling base in the middle of the Shimanami Kaido, a well-known cycling destination in the area. The e-bikes available there make it easy to explore the hilly islands and ascend the ramps to the massive bridges. Cycle on to Oyamazumi Shrine, where Japanese warriors throughout history have dedicated their weapons and armor in thanks for victory, and you might stop to pray for a safe journey. Once you get hungry, open up WAKKA’s tasty boxed lunch at one of the scenic spots along the way.
Learn about the pirates of the Inland Sea at the Murakami Suigun Museum on Oshima Island before taking a boat out into the Sea’s fast currents and whirlpools. Sail past the tiny island fortress of Noshima from which the pirates conducted their operations. Finally, cross the great Kurushima Straits Bridge and drive through the mountains back to Matsuyama, where you will stay another night at Hakuro.
Cycle up Mt. Ishizuchi
This is your last chance for a morning bathe in the waters of Dogo. After your breakfast, a chartered bus takes you through the lovely scenery of Kuma Highland to the foot of Mt. Ishizuchi where you meet your e-bike again. From the pretty Omogo River valley at 600 meters, make the long ascent up a paved road that winds up through deciduous woodland before emerging above the tree line at 1,500 meters. Here, unusually shaped peaks rise above slopes cloaked in dwarf bamboo. At the Tsuchigoya rest stop, you will be greeted by mountain priests blowing conch shells before receiving a traditional Shinto blessing.
After a delicious pasta lunch with locally sourced wild boar sausage at Tsuchigoya Terrace, cycle the dramatic UFO Line, a largely flat traverse across the shoulder of the mountain with views of Ishizuchi and vistas stretching over much of Shikoku.
The support vehicle will meet you at the other end with your bike. At the next rest stop, meet the bus for the drive to Akiba no Yado, an inn with Japanese-style rooms beside a reservoir on the Niyodo River. For dinner, sample local cuisine with ingredients sourced from the rivers, mountains, and ocean of Kochi.
Descend the Niyodo River by e-bike and SUP
Start your day by enjoying the traditional Japanese breakfast of locally grown rice with fish, pickles, and miso soup while observing how the dawn sky is reflected on the lake below the inn. Today, you will actually be getting into the river. The Niyodo River is known for its translucent, turquoise blue water and the beauty of the scenery along its banks. From the inn, cycle down the paved road beside the river to the Ainosato Waterside Station.
The Waterside Station is a market for local agricultural produce, and lunch features the vegetables and traditional processed foods of the region.
At the Waterside Station, switch to a SUP board to continue your curving descent of the river to the SUGGOI Sports base. The route includes some highly picturesque bends in the river, with deep, calm stretches and some shallow rapids for a bit of excitement. There are also opportunities for a refreshing leap off boulders and bridges. You’re sure to see some big river fish and numerous kinds of birds.
You will be paddling approximately 10 kilometers from Ainosato to SUGGOI Sports, taking up to 4 hours. From SUGGOI Sports, the bus will take you to nearby Kanpo no Yado Ino, a modern riverside hotel with an extensive selection of onsen baths. After relaxing in the baths, eat a selection of the famed dishes of Kochi, such as braised tuna, in the big dining room of the hotel.
Explore the artisanal products of the Niyodo River
The early morning view of the Niyodo River from your hotel balcony invites you to follow its course all the way to the sea. You will be served a hearty Japanese breakfast of locally grown rice with tofu, fish, pickles, and soup.
The mulberry trees and glue-bearing vines that grow along the Niyodo River are essential for making traditional paper, a material of great importance in Japanese life. Cycle to the Ino Paper Museum to learn about the steps required to turn these plants into high-quality paper, and try your hand at making some washi paper by the traditional method. Be prepared to be amazed by the sophisticated applications of simple paper.
For lunch, visit Uokane, a fishmonger with a focus on sustainability. Lunch features sweetfish from Uokane, caught with a rod by a local fisherman.
Water from the Niyodo River and its tributaries is an essential ingredient in the excellent sake brewed in Kochi. Cycle to Kameizumi Brewery, whose name means ‘the spring that never dries up,’ where the master brewer will take you on a tour of the facilities and serve tastings of the brewery’s extensive lineup.
Saying Goodbye to Shikoku
The morning finds you on the southern edge of Shikoku beside the vast Pacific Ocean. You can see the great curve of Kochi stretching away into the distance. Befitting the location, breakfast features locally caught fish with rice.
Now it’s time to say your farewells to Shikoku, and get on your way home. You’ve seen some of the best of Shikoku and learned about the history and traditions that set the island apart from other regions of Japan. We hope you’ve enjoyed the expansive scenery, the delicious food and sake, and the simple hospitality of the people. And we hope you’ll be back some day to experience some of the many other adventures that remain to be discovered here.
The contents of this page are meant as an example to use in creating your travel plans and do not represent a package tour. Lodgings, travel, guides, and all other accommodations must be arranged for by the traveler.