• The Shimanami Kaido begins on Honshu in Onomichi City.
  • across the six islands of Mukaishima Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima
  • and Oshimbegins on Honshu in Onomich on Honshu in Onomichi City

OSHIMA [大島]

Depending on which way you are making your way between Onomichi and Imabari, Oshima is either the last or the first island on the Shimanami Kaido. For the most part, the cycle route passes through the middle, and possibly least inspiring part of the island. For those coming from Onomichi, looking forward to crossing the final bridge into Imabari, the two long climbs that lie between Miyakubo and the entrance to the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge can be a toughest section of the ride and it isn’t uncommon to see despondent cyclists sitting on the ground next to their metal steeds.

One way to minimise climbing and enjoy some the best views on Oshima is to take the ‘Island Explorer’ route that follows the west coast. The west coast has long sand beaches, little fishing ports and a big shipyards, plus sweeping views across the water to the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge.

Along with citrus farming and fishing, supplying stone is a one of Oshima’s main economic activities and evidence of that becomes more and more evident as you make your way around the north of the island. As you round the top of the island call in at Ryoshamyo Shrine which, for some reason, among the usual torii gates, guardian dogs and other statuary prominently displays a shell from a battery cannon.

The east coast is not without its attractions though. The stretch of road between the Oshima-Hakata Bridge and Miyakubo Port and cycle terminal passes in front of little Noshima Island, the former site of a Suigun maritime clan’s island fortress. The powerful, swirling currents, knowledge of which was the source of much of the Suigun clans’ power, can be seen from the road, though a trip to see and feel them up close in one of the many boat trips available on the area is highly recommended.

Another way to view the raging torrents is to take the short ferry ride from Miyakubo Port over to sleepy Ushima Island which lies just behind Noshima and hike up to one of the excellent viewing points.



Making your way along the bamboo forest trails above the coast of Ushima, occasionally dipping down to hidden coves that the Suigun would use to hide their boats, you imagine you are starring in your own pirate adventure. Although there is little to see on Ushima, it is a wonderful little island to wander around for an hour or two. After exploring, you can either head back to Miyakubo or take the ferry to the next and final stop, Oura on Hakatajima.

Just past Miyakubo port is the Murakami Suigun Museum which has reconstructed boats used by the maritime clans in front of its entrance gand displays with limited English explanations inside. Those who enjoy a sense of completion, may be tempted to do a full loop of Oshima by continuing past the Suigun Museum and taking the southeastern coast road which will, eventually, deliver you at the Iki-iki-kan cycle terminal and seafood barbeque restaurant just before the approach to the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge. Be warned, however, that you have to pay for the undeniably good views in sweat. The road soon narrows to about 3m across and it is a real roller coaster and that this section is omitted from the Island Explorer route speaks to the fact that is only recommended for the committed (and somewhat masochistic) cyclist.

Mt. Kiro Observatory Park [亀老山展望公園]

Mt. Kiro offers possibly the best views on the Shimanami Kaido. 307m above sea level and on the southern edge of Oshima Island, Mt. Kiro looks right down on the Kurushima Bridge and Kurushima straits; it is truly breathtaking on a fine day. Cyclists be advised that it’s a tough 3.5km climb to the top!

Mt. Kiro Observatory Park
Opening Hours Open all year
Address Minamiura, Yoshiumi-cho, Imabari-city, Ehime
794-2114 JAPAN

Murakami Suigun Museum [村上水軍博物館]

Flags bearing the distinctive mark of the Murakami Suigun maritime clan flutter in the breeze around this museum overlooking their former island fortress of Noshima. Replica boats are displayed outside and exhibits inside explain the history of the clan. An English subtitled version of the DVD playing on the ground floor plays upstairs, so you may want to start there and work your way down.

Murakami Suigun Museum
Tel 0897-74-1065
Opening Hours 9:00-17:00
Closed Monday (or the next day if Monday is a holiday) and 12/29-1/3
Address 1285, Miyakubo, Miyakubo-cho, Imabari-city, Ehime 
794-2203 JAPAN

Noshima [能島]

Now uninhabited, tiny Noshima, surrounded by swirling currents, was once the site of a Murakami Suigun fort. Only open to the public during cherry blossom season, at other times of the year it can be viewed from the road, from Ushima Island and up close on one the thrilling boat tours that leave from in front of the Murakami Suigun Museum.

Ushima [鵜島]

Sleepy little Ushima is a short ferry ride from Miyakubo Port and has some great vantage points from which to view Noshima Island and some of the treacherous currents that protected the former fort from attackers. Ushima is promoting itself as a cycling destination, but it lends itself more to walking and the whole island can be covered within a couple of hours on foot.

Yoshiumi-Iki-iki-kan [よしうみいきいき館]

The Iki-ki-kan is a Michi-no-eki roadside station which has toilet facilities, gift shop, a local seafood market and a place where you can barbeque up your produce on the spot. There is also a more conventional restaurant serving noodles and seafood dishes. Bicycles can also be rented and dropped off here. Cyclists might get a kick out of the cycling goods vending machine.

Yoshiumi-Iki-iki-kan
URL:http://www.imabari-shimanami.jp/English-shimanami/English-menu.html

  • The Shimanami Kaido begins on Honshu in Onomichi City.
  • across the six islands of Mukaishima Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima
  • and Oshimbegins on Honshu in Onomich on Honshu in Onomichi City

PHOTOGENIC|しまなみフォトジェニック