Through the isolated mountains and secluded islands of the inland sea, you will get a glimpse of a more traditional Japan. From the mountainside hamlets and vine bridges, castles and ancient temples, experience a place where the Japan's modernization did not penetrate.
These are big climbing days. From the deep valleys you will be climbing over the mountain passes through Central Shikoku down to the coast. You will then ride along the cluster of islets which connect Shikoku to the mainland of Honshu though to Hiroshima.
This is one of our favorites. Get ready for a trip of a lifetime.
- Cycle Japan's inland sea from Shikoku to Hiroshima across the largest bridge system in the world
- Bathe in Japan's oldest hot spring that dates back over 1,000 years
- Breakfast in one of Japan's most famous historical gardens
- Ride through Edo period villages and see Matsumoto Castle
- Stay in traditional ryokan hotels
Riding days of approximately 70-100 km daily in rolling and or mountainous terrain with bigger climbs. Elevation gains of approximately 1,000 meters and above daily. Shorter riding days available.
Biggest Climbing Day
Arrive Takamatsu which was the traditional gateway between Honshu and Shikoku. We will build bikes and take a short ride around the Takamatsu Castle ruins.
Day 2 Iya Onsen (109 km)
We start with a traditional breakfast in Ritsurin Garden, one of most famous historic gardens in Japan. Riding out of Takamatsu we ascend a mountain road and then descend to a preserved Edo town. Our destination is one of Japan’s three Hidden Valleys. The hot spring hotel sits perched on the cliff high above the plunging Iya Gorge. Take the hotel’s funicular railway down to the tranquil hot spring in the valley bottom. Transfer to
Day 3 Mt Kuishi Auberge (94 km)
We continue along the remote Iya Valley. It is said that it was a hiding place for the samurai of the Heike clan fleeing the civil wars of the 12th Century. Along the way we take a walk along a similar vine bridge which they used to evade capture. Tonight we stay in a tranquil auberge hotel located at the base of Mt Kuishi.
Day 4 The Town above the Clouds (109 km)
Venturing south we are soon back on the coast, this time the Pacific Ocean side of Shikoku. The terrain is rolling until we cross to a peninsula and ride the `Yokonami Kuroshio Line’ where we gain some elevation and have spectacular ocean views. It is then we start ascending through tea plantations back in to the mountains. Our destination is Yusuhara, known as the ‘Town Above the Clouds.’ Stay in a hotel designed by a renowned Japanese architect and walk to the hot spring over the wooden bridge seemingly suspended in the air.
Day 5 The Ancient Spring (100 km)
You will cycle ancient pilgrim back-roads to Matsuyama. Start with a big pass before a long descent. A highlight is the Matsuyama Castle which was built in 1603. The route then heads to Dogo Onsen, the oldest hot spring in Japan. It has a history dating back over a thousand years. Immerse yourself in these ancient spring waters.
Day 6 Ikuchi Island (104 km)
Today you will ride the Shimanami Kaido, via bridges that connect the six islands from the mainland of Honshu to Shikoku. Japan’s inland sea has been likened to the Greek Islands with its olive terraces, craggy coastlines and lemon groves. The destination is Ikuchishima which is halfway along the island chain. Spend the evening at a local hot springs ryokan.
Day 7 The Island of the Gods (88 km)
Our final destination is Hiroshima along the Akinada Chain of islands. The first of our island crossings will be via ferry before crossing bridges from island to island. We will ride through Mitarai which is a preserved Edo period township. Celebrate our last night on Miyajima, the `Islands of the Gods.' This is the location of the Itsukushima Shrine which is seemingly suspended on the water. It is a wondrous place to spend our last evening of the trip.
Day 8 Sayonara
Farewell and airport transfer after breakfast.