Breezing Through Setouchi in Ehime
Navigated by Jeremy from the U.S
#02 Getting Your Feet Wet in Ehime with the Shimanami Kaido

When it comes to cycling across Japan, Ehime prefecture should be part of anybody’s bucket list. From mountain to inland sea, there is plenty to see and do while cruising along one of the multitudes of well-planned routes crisscrossing the island of Shikoku’s northwestern side.

First let’s take a ride through one of the most sought-after destinations for cyclists across the world over, the Shimanami Kaido. For hardcore folk, the entire ride is about 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) but for the purposes of this article we’ll only be going as far as the border to Hiroshima prefecture on the Honshu-side of the Setouchi sea, split between two relatively leisurely afternoons.

Table of Contents

 1. The first stretch, Oshima Island and the seafood barbeque
 2. Oshima to Hakatajima, an amazing view, a beautiful sunset and okonomiyaki dinner after a rough climb
 3. Day Two! Traversing Omishima on an e-bike and stopping by at a local brewery

1. The first stretch, Oshima Island and the seafood barbeque

Assuming many of my readers won’t be bringing their own rides, I left my bike at home for this trip and instead rented one at shop conveniently located at the very beginning of the route in Imabari for the first half of the trip.

Here’s the website in English where you can reserve your bike and learn all you need about the route.

The best part about this rental service are its ten locations all along the way, giving you the freedom to go as little or as far as you like without having to return to where you originally started your ride.

From the bike rental it was a quick ride to a ramp leading to the first bridge on the route connecting Imabari to the island of Oshima.

Upon reaching the far side of the Kurushima Bridge into Oshima I am quickly reminded of the season in which I have had the pleasure of taking this trip during.

There will be plenty of chances to stop and admire the cherry blossoms along your ride if you get a chance to visit the Shimanami during early spring. But for now, I’m late for lunch since I started today’s portion of the trip a little late. Having a two-year-old boy will do that.

Cutting across Oshima, be forewarned of a gradual but long incline in the middle of the island. Not extreme or anything but I did pass a group of people walking it less than one third of the way up. That must have taken a minute.

If you’re biking across the sea, you had better stop for some seafood along the way. Combine that with your own personal tabletop grill at a lunch spot called Noshima Suigun and you’re in for a uniquely delicious experience.

If you have time, there’s also a pirate museum right across the street from here that looked interesting.

The sashimi bowl is also much recommended for a little extra energy on the riding to come. Especially if you do this next part.

2. Oshima to Hakatajima, an amazing view, a beautiful sunset and okonomiyaki dinner after a rough climb

If I had the e-bike I’m going to be renting tomorrow it might not have been as hard but this hill was a doozy. I made it without having a heart attack though and I have to say it was worth the climb.

Amazing views from the observatory at the pinnacle but if that’s not enough, a mountain top outdoor cafe playing jazzy hip-hop and an outdoor sauna a fellow is doing with his little dog out of the back of his truck on the edge of a cliff…!

The view from the observatory.

Hotdog Café HOAM

It was last call for food by the time I got here, so you should try and get here earlier in the afternoon but the looks pretty good!

Entrance to the cliff side sauna called Sa. I put my bike inelegantly in front of the sign. Can you spy the katakana perhaps? 
The man was packing up for the day as it was after 4pm, not that I was going to get in after the climb I just had.

Late to drop off point for my rent-a-bike, I took the fastest way down the mountain to the next bridge, an unmaintained steeper-than-the-way up straight-shot-down little road I wouldn’t recommend, especially on a road bike. Paved but covered in twigs and leaves, I felt the need to get off and walk for a bit when I came to a small stream flowing over the road and off a sharp drop down the side of the valley.

The next bridge connecting Oshima Island to Hakatajima Island, where I will be staying the night.

If you’d like to have the full Hakata Island cycling experience visit the site below.

However, I arrived barely in time to return my bike to the drop off point nearest the guest house I will be staying at.

Sunset from Hakatajima

Plenty to see if you have time to explore the island, but as for dinner spots, there are only a few. We went with this solid okonomiyaki spot called Fuu.

3. Day Two! Traversing Omishima on an e-bike and stopping by at a local brewery

Some morning coffee at Shimanami Coffee on my way to pick up the bike.

Today we drove to Omishima Island, where I would be renting my next bike. Yesterday’s rental shop was a very convenient no-frills utilitarian type of business. Today’s shop is an entire hub for riders, complete with fleet of Specialized e-bikes, seaside bungalows, showering facilities and a delicious cafe where I had a bit to eat before the day’s journey.

I shared this Bacon and Cheese Baguette Sandwich with my wife since we will be meeting up later on at another cafe on the other side of the island.

The route I decided on will be about two-thirds of the island’s coastal roads. Plenty of big hills if you’re looking for some exercise, but the ride is nice and breezy with plenty to stop and look at along the way. Although I was in it mostly for the ride and the views, there are plenty of sleepy little shops, cafes, and museums catering to cyclists for a place to take a break almost whenever you feel like it.

Half way through the long southern stretch of my route, I started noticing a bridge in the distance from time to time and realized I was looking at the beginning of my yesterday afternoon.

For a late lunch there is stewed boar in a demiglace sauce with omelet rice and boar meat hamburger steak with a side of, you guessed it, boar meat sausage on a stick at a little spot called Daishin.

And if there’s craft beer nearby, I can smell it, especially if it’s made locally.
Introducing Omishima Brewery. A very cool little spot, if you’re staying in the area, you can sip fresh beer next to the brewing equipment in their tatami matted tasting room. By the way, you will find breweries and beer bars to be a common theme in the articles to come.

But as most people are just passing through, they persist mainly on take-out which is bottled and sealed directly from the tap in these convenient aluminum brawlers.

Just to say I did it, I road half of the Tatara Bridge to the border between Ehime to Hiroshima to complete the first portion of my bike tour across Ehime prefecture.

Not too extreme but not too boring either, I’ll definitely be back to complete the entirety of the Shimanami Kaido in the future.
But for now, stay tuned for my next article as we dive deeper into Ehime’s expansive cycling paradise.

Text_ Jeremy Kircher
He hails from Pennsylvania, the United States, and spent around 10 years living in Honolulu, Hawaii. Since 2017, he has resided in Japan, and now works for a craft beer brewer in Takamatsu, Kagawa. Biking is his favorite way to get some exercise, and he eagerly anticipates sharing numerous appealing cycling routes throughout Shikoku.

Tokyo old town bicycle stroll #01
Collecting “Goshuin” (temple or shrine stamps)  in the Yanesen area of oldtown Tokyo-Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi.

Nice to meet you. My name is Shitamachi Kombu, born and raised in the old town area of Tokyo. I’m what you might call a third-generation Edokko (it’s said that if you live in Tokyo for three generations, you’re considered an Edokko, while if you live in Yokohama for three days, you’re considered a Hamakko). In this column, I’ll be exploring the down-to-earth neighborhoods known as “Shitamachi” in Tokyo by rental bike and sharing the charm of these areas with you. Please enjoy these casual reports.