Hiroshima & Islands of the Seto Sea Bike Tour
Nine nights; nine days. Often referred to as road bikers' heaven, this route follows the Shimanami Kaido Bikeway from Onomichi, across the Seto islands to the beautiful Shikoku - the smallest and least populated of Japan's major islands.
Start: Shin Onomichi Station, near Hiroshima, 13:00, Day 1. Bullet trains come often from Osaka in the east or Kukuoka and Hiroshima in the west. A description of Japan’s trains can be found here. Optional pickup from Hiroshima airport also available.
Finish: Your hotel in Hiroshima, 09:00, Day 10. Optional transfer back to Hiroshima airport. Please note that on guided trips your guide will depart the previous evening.
Introductions and 2.5km walk
Start with an early afternoon pick up At Hiroshima Airport or Shin Onomichi Station. Onomichi is famous for being the start of Shimanami Kaido - a bikeway linking Honshu with Shikoku. Stretch your legs on the Temple walk, a beautiful 2.5 kilometer walk along the historic slopes of Onomichi.
Onomichi to Omishima 60km
Short ferry to start Shimanami Kaido cycling route, crossing bridges between islands of the Seto Inland Sea. On the Island of Omishima, visit Oyamazumi Shrine. There is one of Japan's best collections of Samurai Swords and other military equipment. The shrine’s Treasure House is reputed to hold 80% of Japan's cultural and national treasures.
Omishima to Matsuyama 60km
From the end of the bike path in Imabari city, transfer 25km to Matsuyama City and Dogo Onsen. In the evening you can take a hot spring bath at the oldest bath house in Japan.
Matsuyama to Yanai 60km
09:40 ferry from Matsuyama to Yashiro Island. Ride 40km along the coast, then cross another bridge onto the main island of Japan, and another 10km to Yanai City, known for its Shirakabe no Machi - an area of beautiful white-walled buildings, and the site of the Well of the Willow Tree.
Yanai to Yamaguchi 80km
Ride into Yamaguchi Prefecture, and to Yamaguchi City - a city whose wealth originated from trade with China's Ming Dynasty. Fascinating glimpses of its past can be seen at Kozan Park, where a highlight is the five-storey pagoda at Rurikoji Temple - a world heritage site.
Yamaguchi to Tsunoshima Island 90km
Follow quiet valleys to the ocean, and cross to the tiny island of Tsunoshima. Explore the island's pretty lanes before returning to your lodging on the mainland.
Hotel Nishi Nagato Resort, Tsunoshima
Tsunoshima to Hagi 90km
Leave the beach, and head inland towards Akiyoshidai - a beautiful area of limestone landscapes. Explore limestone caves, a nice feature of which is the elevator that takes you up to the plateau, where your bikes will be waiting for you, so that instead of a two-kilometer, 15% hill climb, you can descend through farmlands, back to the Japan Sea and the Town of Hagi - a classic old castle town , fantastic for an evening walk through old feudal Japan.
Mihagi Hotel & Resort, Hagi
Hagi to Yoshika
It is 50 kilometers through rural Japan to the town of Tsuwano, remotely hidden in a valley, and known for its picturesque main street, lined with Edo-era buildings and koi ponds. Continue to Yoshika, a quiet village with rice paddies, nestled in the mountains of Shimane Prefecture.
Yurara Hotel, Yoshika
Yoshika to Hiroshima (Miyajima) 60km
Start early, cross over the mountains and back to the Inland sea, and take the ferry to the Itsukushima Shrine, for a few hours of exploration on the island before transferring into Hiroshima. A final dinner at the famous Hiroshima Okonomiyaki provides a fitting conclusion to a wonderful week of immersion in rural and urban Japan. Your guide will say goodbye following dinner.
Rihga Hotel, Hiroshima
Your tour concludes this morning after breakfast. Transfers to Hiroshima airport can be arranged on your behalf.
Note about the route:
Much of the route is on dedicated bike paths with paved surfaces. There are walks, and stops at interesting sites each day.
Often referred to as road bikers' heaven, this route follows the Shimanami Kaido Bikeway from Onomichi, across the Seto islands to the beautiful Shikoku - the smallest and least populated of Japan's major islands. All linked with beautiful bridges, the trail of islands leads you to Yashiro Island and the Yamaguchi Prefecture. Along this route you will visit the largest treasure house of fighting equipment used during the age of the samurai in Japan, Oyamazumi Shrine. You will also visit captivating limestone caves, historical temples, castles, and even Japan’s oldest bath house. Allow some extra time in Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Park and the Genbaku Dome, the Shukkei-en Gradens, or the Hiroshima Castle to take in some rich cultural history.
NOTE: Japan is an interesting but culturally very different place. Food, rooms, even the side of the road: everything is different: You will sleep on futons on tatami floor mats. You will eat beautiful raw fish sushi with rice for breakfast. You may choose to bathe in onsens (communal baths). Please refer to Freewheeling’s introductory documents in order not to be surprised by some of the social graces that will be expected of you.
Maps & Elevations
There is a lot to do and see in Japan. We encourage spending an extra few days before or after your tour in Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya.
Rent a car and visit Kyoto’s World Heritage sites: Zen Buddhist temple Kinkakuji, the gardens of Ryoanji, and many others. Kyoto has some 2,000 temples and shrines across the city.
For more ideas visit Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Things to Do in Japan.
If you have a layover at Narita (Tokyo) airport, you can have a mini cultural immersion in Narita city instead of making the long trek into Tokyo. Withdraw cash at the airport, go to the info desk to find out how, and head into town. Here are some ideas: Centuries old Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, Buy some grilled unagi eel, sold on the streets, Miyoshiya (a tranquil tea garden serving giant piles of shaved, flavored ice), or Try Tokyo Bananas.
Shin Onomichi Station, near Hiroshima, 13:00, Day 1. Bullet trains come often from Osaka in the east or Kukuoka and Hiroshima in the west. A description of Japan’s trains can be found here. Optional pickup from Hiroshima airport also available.
Your hotel in Hiroshima, 09:00, Day 10. Optional transfer back to Hiroshima airport. Please note that on guided trips your guide will depart the previous evening.
US 4245 C 4995(per person, includes 9 nights, 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners, full-time guiding, vehicle support, necessary transfers, maps, luggage handling).
N/ANot available for this tour.
US 845 C 995
Very limited availability; please ask well ahead of time.
Hybrid: US 225 C 265
**Note: group sizes are limited to eight people.**
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
Custom or Private Tours
Want to go but on different dates?
Want to make a change to the itinerary?
We can adapt for you!
Here are some terms:
Bring your friends. We will run most of these trips for you whenever you want, at the advertised price for a group of four or more on a guided trip, or two if it's self-guided! We reserve the right to make changes if the original inns, etc. are already booked.
If you cannot find others, let us advertise the trip for you! Give us a commitment as far in advance as you can. As long as we have the minimum number of guests at the start, the price will be as advertised. The catch is that if it is just two of you and you want a guided trip, you must be willing to pay a 20% premium in the event that others do not join you. The bright side is that, once reserved, you can count on the trip, whether it remains private or becomes a larger group.
Ask for changes to the itinerary.
We are very flexible, and given enough time, can create a new itinerary to match your desires.