Kame woke me up at 7:30 on the dot just as promised, and dropped me off back where I had left Shirley (the bike) the night before.
Kame and his Aussie style thumbs up!
I was looking forwards to today’s ride. I would be traveling along the shimanami kaido, an 80 km route passing through 6 islands via a series of massive suspension bridges, the largest of which is almost 6km long, and would ultimately lead me to the third major island of my trip, Shikoku.
The Shimanami Kaido route to Shikoku
Although there are two other bridge systems connecting japan’s main Island of Honshu to Shokoku, this is the only one allowing cyclists, and is a very popular day trip for cyclists all over japan.
Although the first and shortest of the bridges does allow cyclists there is no dedicated path and it was recommended to take the short ferry ride across to Makaishima
On the ferry - Why waste time brushing hair when you'll be wearing a helmet anyway?
The cycling route was extremely well marked out with large green arrows painted on the ground and I was soon at the first bridge connecting the island of Innoshima.
bridge to innoshima
Unfortunately the bike path ran underneath the main road which meant there was a fence and the framework between me and the view.
felt a bit caged in
Still, the view was pretty good all the same.
View from innoshima bridge
On Innoshima I stumbled upon a Sunday market next to the beach. Behind a large crowd of people I found a sushi chef hacking up a whole tuna.
Sashimi - Yep I know what your thinking... that tuna head looks mighty tasty!
I was no match for the large group of mostly retirees and failed to fight my way to the counter to secure the prize of freshly hacked tuna so had to settle for some fried sweet potato on a stick.
As each of the bridges were so high up there was a reasonably steep climb up along a bike (and scooter) path to reach the entrance. It was nothing too steep though and quite enjoyable.
Windy bike path leading up to the bridge
The next bridge lead to the island of Ikuchijima. I liked the clean design of this one.
Ikuchijima bridge and a pesky power pole spoiling my photo
The bike path was up on top of the bridge this time, which meant some great, uninterrupted views over the sea and nearby islands.
View from Ikuchijima bridge
I stopped for a quick photo on the bridge. Please excuse the Lycra, it’s not going to win me any fashion awards but at it’s comfy when cycling.
Me on a bridge rockin the spandex... yeah!!!
On the island of Ikuchijima I stumbled across a small town with a large temple complex that seemed to be popular judging by the masses of tour buses parked nearby.
The place was huge and was built by a wealthy businessman from Osaka who became deeply religious after his mother passed away. You could see more of an Indian, Buddhist influence with a more flamboyant style, bordering on outright kitsch in some places, such as this massive wooden statue that must have been around 20 meters high.
A big statue
Still, the quality in both the design and craftsmanship was easily apparent.
A big red shrine
The adjoining Japanese style garden was also quality stuff
A beaut garden
And some nice rock carvings. The fella in this one looks like a top bloke.
Friendly rock man
Yep, it’s safe to say that the guy who built this was no half stepper. There was even a massive sculpted park built entirely of marble shipped all the way from Italy. Personally I found this area pretty tasteless, but the Japanese visitors seemed to love it.
Would you like some marble with your marble?
There was also an Italian cafe which was of course built of marble, so I dropped in for a pizza and glass of red, but to my disappointment, and as is usually the case in Japan, the red wine was served cold straight out of the fridge… criminal! …at least it didn’t come with ice I suppose.
Pizza and icy cold wine!
Next it was over to Omishima island and a nice ride along the coast before heading over yet another bridge to Hakatajima, where I found a nice beach, and as it looked like rain was on the way decided to set up camp there.
As I went to the nearby Kombini I met a Swiss couple who are taking the same route across Japan as me, only in the opposite direction. The guy even gave me a detailed map book from the area he had passed. Not sure if he was being friendly or just happy to lose some weight from his load which looked a lot heavier than mine.
Swiss cyclists taking on the "length of Japan" challenge - Good on em!
As the rain set in I set up camp, looking forwards to enjoying the rest of the Shimani kaido path tomorrow.