Feb 2, 2019
The island-hopping Shimanami Kaido route between Onomichi on Japan’s main island of Honshu and Imabari on the island of Shikoku is fast becoming one of western Japan’s must visit spots. It is best known as a cycle route, but at around 70km long, not everyone has the time, or the energy, to do the whole thing.
If you’d like to get experience part of one the Shimanami Kaido’s most picturesque sections while saving your legs, you can jump on a ferry from Onomichi which will drop you in the small town of Setoda on Ikuchijima, which is at around the halfway point of the route. The small town is home to some of the region’s most popular visitor highlights which are all within walking distance.
Among them is the veritable Buddhist wonderland that is Kosanji, a sprawling temple complex built by a wealthy industrialist in honor of his mother. The complex is famous for several incredibly well executed replicas of famous Japanese religious buildings. Continue up the hill to the stock up on your Instagrams at the Hill of Hope, crafted from dazzlingly white Carrera marble shipped from Italy.
Art fans may like to pop into the Ikuo Hirayama Museum of Art, dedicated to the work of the local-born artist and A-bomb survivor. If you don’t visit the museum, try to walk up to the pagoda that overlooks Setoda Port, and check out one of the Hirayama’s favorite views out to sea over the cute gourd-shaped islet of Hyotan-jima.
Setota’s Shiomachi shopping street also has some interesting cafes and shops selling locally sourced products. As well as products made with the ubiquitous Setoda Lemon, restaurants serving locally caught octopus dishes are particularly popular with Japanese. Don’t dally, however, as places tend to close early.
You can also rental bicycles from near Setoda Port at very reasonable prices. You can use them to explore the town, or head further down the coast along a dedicated cycle path (this is great for kids) lined with palm trees. This path takes you past Sunset Beach (about 3km from Setoda Port), one of the nicest beaches in the area, and, as the name suggests, a great place to watch the sunset.
A further 2.5km along the coast is the Tatara Bridge, one of the Shimanami Kaido’s most impressive. From here you can either choose to return to the port, embark on a full loop of the island, or, plans be damned, give in to the lure of pushing on to Shikoku.
Address: Setoda-cho, Onomichi-shi
Phone:+81-845-27-0051 (Japanese language only)
Best season: Spring, Autumn
Admission to Kosanji Temple and the Hill of Hope:
Adults ¥1,400, College Students ¥1,000, High School Students ¥800, Senior over 65 years old ¥1,200
Rental cycle daily rates:
Adults ¥1,000~, Under 12 ¥300
Deposit ¥1,000 per bicycle (refunded if you return your bicycle to the same terminal rented you from)
Access to Onomichi:
Information about transport passes:
Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass
JR-WEST RAIL PASS
*Information is correct as of January 2019.
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