Use the

Planning a Trip to Japan?

Share your travel photos with us by hashtagging your images with #visitjapanjp

2023.01 Make Ehime Your Base for Cycling Japan’s Scenic Shimanami Kaido [PR]

Located in the northwest of the island of Shikoku, Ehime is celebrated for its natural beauty, surrounded by the sea and mountains. The sun-drenched prefecture is known for its citrus fruits, and the storied Dogo Onsen, a hot spring with a history over 3,000 years. Enjoy an unforgettable cycling adventure, with views of the Seto Inland Sea, the blue sky, and myriad islands connected by bridges. The Shimanami Kaido is a cycling route that stretches 70 km from Imabari in Ehime to Onomichi in Hiroshima. Cycle the whole route or choose a section to explore at leisure. 


Enjoy sea and island views along the Shimanami Kaido


Rental bicycles are available at the JR Imabari Station Rental Cycle Terminal (i.i.imabari! Cycle Station). You can also rent bicycles at the Chuo Rental Cycle Terminal adjacent to Sunrise Itoyama at the foot of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge, which is a popular starting point for cycling the Shimanami Kaido. Hybrid bikes, e-bikes, children's bikes, and other types are available. English maps are available at the cycle terminals, and most of the route is marked by blue lines on the road. 


Enjoy a one-day cycle trip from Imabari to Omishima Island, roughly halfway along the Shimanami Kaido. From there, you can continue on to Onomichi, or return to Imabari. Starting at Sunrise Itoyama, take the bike and pedestrian path next to the highway and ride up to Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge. The bridge consists of three successive suspension bridges, spanning the Kurushima Strait. As you cross these, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the many islands in the strait, from 65 meters above the sea. Feel the sea breeze and enjoy the scenery as you travel along the dedicated 4-km-long sky-sea route.


The Shimanami monument at Sunrise Itoyama in Imabari marks the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido.


The Shimanami monument at Sunrise Itoyama in Imabari marks the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido.


Once you reach Ohshima Island, take the public road Route 317. Guided by the blue route marker lines on the road, cross the Hakata-Ohshima Bridge, and follow the West route along the coast of Hakatajima Island. Cross the Omishima Bridge, characterized by its beautiful arch, and take the East route on Omishima Island to Tatara Shimanami Park, your goal for the day. Many riders take a celebratory photograph at the “Cyclists’ Sanctuary” stone monument. A nearby rest stop has a variety of restaurants where you can try local seafood and other popular dishes. The distance from JR Imabari Station to Tatara Shimanami Park is about 34 km. You can enjoy a full day’s ride (about 8 hours) while taking in the sights and savoring the area’s delicious cuisine along the way.


Route map


There are several rest stops or “cycle oases” on each island where you can take a break, stock up on water, and use the lavatory, air pumps, and other facilities. If you do not plan on cycling back to Imabari, you can return your bike at the Kamiura Rental Cycle Terminal in Tatara Shimanami Park and take the highway bus from the nearby Omishima Bus Stop to get back. If during your bike ride, you decide not to go all the way to Omishima, you can turn back at Ohshima Island or take a bus back from Hakatajima Island.


Another alternative is to stay overnight on Omishima Island and explore the island at your own pace. WAKKA is a comprehensive tourism facility with a range of accommodations  where you can store your bicycle. Enjoy dishes made with local ingredients at the cafe, with a view of the islands of the Seto Inland Sea.


The “Cyclists’ Sanctuary” monument on Omishima Island is a popular stop for photos.


Enjoy the view of Tatara Bridge from WAKKA, an accommodation facility on Omishima Island.


Try local dishes such as Imabari’s specialty grilled pork with egg and rice at WAKKA cafe.


Spend some time exploring the islands of Ohshima and Omishima, with cycling routes that include popular spots around the islands. 


Ohshima Island: Kirosan Observatory Park


The ride up to this observation deck is about 3 km after getting off the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge, but with an elevation of 307 m, the route is a tough hill climb for beginners. However, the spectacular view of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge from up top is worth the effort.


Ohshima Island: Kurushima-Kaikyo Rapids Observation Boat ride and seafood BBQ


On this 45-minute cruise departing from Shitadami Port, you can experience the swirling rapids of Kurushima Strait, one of the three fastest currents in Japan. At Michi-no-eki Yoshiumi Iki-iki Kan near the cruise boarding point, you can enjoy a BBQ lunch featuring local seafood.


Omishima Island: Oyamazumi Shrine


Oyamazumi Shrine was once an important shrine for samurai, and the 2,600-year-old camphor tree on the shrine grounds is a living testament to the shrine’s history. Visit the Homotsukan (treasure house), to see the katana swords, armor, and many other items offered by military commanders throughout history in their prayers for victory. About 80% of the weapons designated as National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties in Japan are preserved in the Homotsukan.


Enjoy sweeping views over the Shimanami Kaido from Kirosan Observatory Park.



The Kurushima Kaikyo Rapids Observation Boat ride (above) and tidal currents (below)


Enjoy “all you can eat” oysters in winter, and charcoal-grilled seafood year-round at Michi-no-eki Yoshiumi Iki-iki Kan.



See the worship hall of Oyamazumi Shrine (above) and the large camphor tree that has been watching over the shrine for about 2,600 years (below).


Relax tired muscles and enjoy traditional culture at an ancient hot spring


Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan, dating back over 3,000 years. The opulent public bathhouse, Dogo Onsen Honkan, is a must-see national important cultural asset. Conservation and repair work to the bathhouse is expected to continue until 2024 but it is open to visitors, and bathing is still allowed. The elegant Yushinden, the private imperial bathhouse, has been visited by successive generations of Japan’s imperial family and is also open for tours (reservations required; see the link at the end of this article).


The Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu bathhouse was built in the architectural style of the Asuka period (around the 7th century) and opened in 2017. Until February 29, 2024,  “Installation in the interior garden of the Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu” by film director and photographer Mika Ninagawa will be on display, featuring her signature colorful flower photographs laid out across the courtyard.


After enjoying Dogo Onsen Honkan and Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu, visit one of the many hot spring hotels in the area. By staying in a room with an open-air bath at the hot spring resort, you can revitalize both your mind and body, making your trip even more special.


Dogo Onsen Honkan (before renovations started)


The Oima room of Yushinden at Dogo Onsen was built for members of the Imperial Family.



Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu (above) and Mika Ninagawa’s “Installation in the interior garden of the Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu” in the courtyard (below), which is on view until February 29, 2024. ©mika ninagawa, Courtesy of Tomio Koyama Gallery / dogo2021


There is a range of accommodations in Matsuyama near Dogo Onsen, and some hotels and inns have private open-air baths. Photo: Dogo Onsen, Yachiyo


Follow a sacred pilgrimage route around Shikoku


The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage or “Henro” is a route that connects temples and sacred sites where the Buddhist priest Kukai (Kobo Daishi) is believed to have trained or spent time about 1,200 years ago. Anyone is welcome to follow the pilgrimage route. While it can take months to complete the whole pilgrimage on foot, many people complete small sections of the route over a day or two. Iwaya-ji is the 45th sacred site of the pilgrimage and is perched on a steep mountainside above a gorge. Climbing up the steep mountain path is believed to make the traveler feel connected to the spiritual experiences of the monks who have practiced ascetic worship here since ancient times.


Temple 45 Iwaya-ji is a temple located midway up a rocky peak. ©Seiji Nakamura


The main hall of Temple 45 Iwaya-ji is built in harmony with the giant rocks in the background.


Getting to Ehime Prefecture


Matsuyama Airport is the main hub for air transport in Ehime. There are direct flights from Haneda Airport in Tokyo (around 1 hour 20 minutes), Narita Airport (around 1 hour 40 minutes), or Itami Airport in Kansai (around 50 minutes). By land, take the Shinkansen bullet train and transfer at Okayama Station to the Shiokaze limited express train for Matsuyama Station. It takes about 6 hours from Tokyo Station or around 3 hours 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station.


Imabari is the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido cycling route. From Matsuyama Station to Imabari Station, it takes about 35 minutes by the JR Shiokaze limited express train. To get to Dogo Onsen Station, it takes about 25 minutes on the Iyotetsu tram from  outside of JR-Matsuyama Station . To reach the temple of Iwaya-ji, it takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes by bus from JR Matsuyama Station.


Related Links


Visit Ehime Japan



(Instagram) visitehimejapan



Experience Ehime Japan



(YouTube) Experience Ehime Japan






(YouTube) Attraction of Shimanami Kaido (Shimanami Co. Ltd Official PV



Shimanami Rental Cycle Reservation 



The Chuo Rental Cycle Terminal adjacent to Sunrise Itoyama






Dogo Onsen



Dogo Onsen, Yachiyo



Temple 45 Iwaya-ji Temple



Please Choose Your Language

Browse the JNTO site in one of multiple languages