• Get Active on the Shimanami Kaido, Kick Back in One of Japan’s Oldest Onsen Resorts


Get Active on the Shimanami Kaido, Kick Back in One of Japan’s Oldest Onsen Resorts

Recommended Length: 4 Days

After exploring the higgledy-piggledy streets of Onomichi, this four-day itinerary takes you straight to the heart of the Shimanami Kaido cycle route where you will enjoy stunning views and sail over the blue sea via impressive bridges. Your trip ends with a reviving visit to the onsen town that is said to have inspired the Ghibli classic Spirited Away.

Day 1
Fukuyama and Onomichi

Travel: Osaka to Fukuyama

・Take the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Fukuyama Station (Approx 1 hour 10 minutes)

Fukuyama Castle

Fukuyama Castle Photo: Hiroshima Tourism Association

On route to Onomichi by train, you will change trains at Fukuyama. The recently renovated Fukuyama Castle is visible from the train platform and is so close to the station that you can pop out to see it in between trains.


Travel: Fukuyama Station to Onomichi Station

・Take the local train from Fukuyama Station to Onomichi Station (Approx 20 minutes)

Explore Onomichi, town of temples, cats and bicycles

The Onomichi Ropeway sails above the hillside port town.

Ushitora Shrine's 900-year-old camphor tree.

Coffee break in Onomichi U2

Onomichi Brewery Photo: Tom Miyagawa Coulton

Onomichi Ramen Photo: Tom Miyagawa Coulton

Sample locally grown organic tea at Tea Stand Gen.

Whether you visit the temples and cats on Mt Senkoji, the retro shopping arcade, or the stylish boutique hotels and restaurants, Onomichi has something for everyone. Begin your adventure at Onomichi U2, a repurposed warehouse that has been transformed into a must-visit destination. The complex boasts stylish shops, a restaurant and the Hotel Cycle – a chic hotel designed and built for cyclists.

Ride the ropeway to the top of Mt Senkoji for a panoramic view of Onomichi and Mukaishima Island across the strait and say hello to the cats along Neko no Hosomichi (Cat Alley) on the way down. Stroll along the retro shopping arcade and explore the maze of alleyways branching off the main street.

Seek out Tea Stand Gen, a charming tea shop with a loyal fanbase who travel from far and wide to sample the delicious organically grown teas. Those who prefer something a little stronger might like to check out Onomichi Brewery, run by a friendly couple who use local agricultural by-products and produce in the brewing process. Join one of the lines that snake from the town’s most popular shops serving the town’s soul food, Onomichi Ramen, made with soy sauce based soup, locally caught fish and pork fat.

Accommodation: LOG

Photo: Tom Miyagawa Coulton

Photo: Tom Miyagawa Coulton

This boutique hotel, designed by renowned architect Bijoy Jain, is a one-of-a-kind resting place where you can fully recuperate and refresh after an active day on the Shimanami Kaido. Bijoy Jain has achieved something quite remarkable with his refurbishment of a 1960 apartment building, testament to Onomichi’s commitment to reimagining the future of the town while respecting its past. The rooms are simply beautiful, with every detail carefully designed and crafted to enhance the hotel’s calm atmosphere. Meals, based on the freshest of locally sourced ingredients, change with the seasons and LOG is an excellent option for vegan travelers.

URL: https://l-og.jp/en

Day 2

Before leaving Onomichi, take a morning stroll up to THE PEAK observation deck on top of Mt Senkoji where you can take in the views over the Onomichi Channel that separates the town from the Shimanami islands which you will explore over the next couple of days.

Travel: Setoda to Onomichi

・Take a ferry from Onomichi Port to Setoda Port (Approx 40 minutes)


Calm waters of Setoda

Strolling along the promenade in Setoda

Setoda is located in one of the prettiest sections of the Shimanami Kaido.

Kosanji Temple in Setoda


Kojoji Temple pagoda in Setoda

Legs stretched, it’s time to board the ferry bound for Setoda in the heart of Shimanami. Check local information for departure times of the pride of the fleet, the Cycle Ship Lazuli to enjoy the journey to the full.

The picturesque port town of Setoda on Ikuchijima Island is located about halfway along Japan’s premier cycling destination, the Shimanami Kaido. Here, you will find some lovely seaside cycling and walking paths, some impressive visitor attractions and a variety of places to grab a drink or bite to eat.

Kosanji is a fascinating temple complex known for its colorful architectural motifs and serene atmosphere. Marvel at the intricate sculptures, stunning gardens, and tranquil ponds that make Kosanji a popular destination (don’t miss the opulence of the Hill of Hope above the temple complex). Continue to the Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art, where you can see masterpieces by the acclaimed Setoda-born artist famous for his dreamy Silk Road paintings. To go a little deeper, contact SOIL SETODA LIVING for details about tours of organic lemon orchards and trying Zen meditation at Kojoji temple.

Accommodation: yubune

Named after the floating bathhouses of the Edo Period (1603-1868), yubune offers simple, but elegantly designed rooms featuring Japanese cypress wood and comfortable Japanese style platform beds. The same building contains one of the most unique sento (public bath) in the region. Meals are not provided, but you can enjoy the bounty of the local waters and hills, prepared in both Japanese and European style, across the street at the delightful Minatoya.

URL: https://yubune.co

Day 3
Shimanami Kaido and Dogo Onsen

Travel: Imabari to Dogo Onsen

・E-bike or charter taxi

Shimanami Kaido cycling

Oyamazumi Shirine on Omishima Island

Cruise some of the prettiest sections of the Shimanami Kaido cycling route by E-bike. E-bike rentals and transportation (by car, van or boat) can be arranged through WAKKA, based on neighboring Omishima. Stick to the “Blue Line” to ride the Shimanami Kaido all the way to Imabari or take a detour from the main route to explore Omishima. Check out the charming Oyamazumi Shrine, a sacred site renowned for its impressive collection of samurai armor and weaponry, and art museums with incredible views along the undulating west coast.

Further along, on Oshima, learn about the history of the Murakami Suigun, seaborn samurai who controlled local waters, at the Murakami Suigun Museum. Cruises that take up close the the powerful, swirling currents that protected their island strongholds also leave from near here.

Crossing thethe 4km Kurushima Straits Bridges is a worthy climax to your Shimanami Kaido ride, but you can take the experience up another level on special tours to the top of one of the bridge’s 184m tall towers.

Travel: Imabari - Dogo Onsen

・ Take a Limited Express train from Imabari Station to Matsuyama Station (Approx 40 minutes)
・ Take a taxi from Matsuyama Station to Dogo Onsen (Approx 15 minutes)

Accommodation: Yamatoya Besso

Matsuyama is a city blessed with a host of cultural and historical landmarks and Dogo Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest hot spring resorts. For tonight, however, relax and revive yourself after an active few days at Yamatoya Besso.

Yamatoya Besso is an elegant ryokan hotel steeped in Japanese tradition and hospitality. The ryokan's rooms are built entirely out of Japanese cypress creating a calming atmosphere. The attentive staff will welcome you and attend to your every need during your stay. You can also indulge in the culinary delights of Yamatoya Besso, where kaiseki meals are skillfully crafted with the finest local ingredients.

URL: https://yamatoyabesso.com

Day 4
Dogo Onsen and Matsuyama

Dogo Onsen and Matsuyama

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Beer

Eclectic Ishiteji Temple is one of the 88 temples on the famous Shikoku Ohenro Pilgrimage route and is only a short distance from Dogo Onsen. As you go around Shikoku, you will undoubtedly spot pilgrims with their distinctive straw hats, white robes and walking stick trekking between temples. Visiting Ishiteji Temple is a way to experience a tiny part of this vast journey that attracts pilgrims from all over the world and a great a way to start your day.

Dogo Onsen is all about relaxation and the art of bathing. Dogo is one of Japan's oldest and most revered hot springs. The beautifully preserved Dogo Onsen Honkan, a historic bathhouse that has welcomed visitors for centuries, is a must visit. The original hot spring onsen is still in operation and open to the public. They also offer guided tours around the facility, including a look at the special bath constructed exclusively for the emperor’s private use.

Whether you take the plunge or not, why not treat yourself to a taste of Matsuyama's local craft beer. Sample the rich and distinctive flavors of Dogo Beer created by local brewers who try to incorporate local ingredients and flavors into the beer and served next to Dogo Onsen Honkan.

Matsuyama Castle, an impressive hilltop castle with panoramic views of the city and is accessible by an open air chair lift. For a nostalgic trip between Dogo Onsen and Matsuyama Castle, try to catch the Botchan Ressha, a steam locomotive named after the title of the novel of the same name written by one of Japan’s most famous writers and which is set in Matsuyama.

Matsuyama’s sea bream rice and goshiki somen noodles

Matsuyama is known for its delicious cuisine and these two dishes are held in high esteem. To create the sea bream rice (tai-meshi), sea bream and kelp are slow-cooked with the rice, infusing the whole dish with umami-rich flavors. Before serving, some regions around Matsuyama arrange raw slices of sea bream on top while others mix carrot and fried tofu into the rice.

Goshiki somen noodles come in five bright colors – brown, green, red, yellow and white. They achieve the different colors by kneading various ingredients into the noodles, such as matcha tea, mandarin oranges and ume plums.

Both goshiki somen noodles and sea bream rice can be ordered at Goshiki, 5 minutes walk south of Okaido streetcar stop fairly close to Matsuyama Castle.

Onward Travel

Matsuyama is connected to Hiroshima by an excellent ferry service.

URL: https://setonaikaikisen.co.jp/language/en/