This blog is about travelling through Japan on a foldable bicycle (Brompton) but also by train, ferry, plane, bus or any other transport, if sea, weather, mountains or the like come between me and my desire to ride.
I have tried to summarise information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc. Once I start my ride, I will upload the actual routes taken, together with some pictures and description.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Day 49 - Shimanami Kaido part 2 and on to Matsuyama しまなみ海道から松山へ

Bicycle touring Japan - Day 49

Today the second half of the Shimanami Kaido ride from Omijima over to Shikoku and then onwards by train to Matsuyama. 

Bicycle: 51  km
Train: 45 km 
Riding time: 3:30 h
Total ascent: 484 m 
Route: Omijima to Imabari by bicycle, on to Matsuyama by train
Weather: Sunny and some clouds, 15 C

Today, the second day on the Shimanami Kaido, crossing the remaining 3 bridges and 2 more islands (not counting a number of smaller islands that as base for the bridge(s). Islands are simply relaxing:

The day started in my ryokan with a Japanese breakfast. I have to admit that even after 49 days touring through Japan, I am not a fan of Japanese breakfast. Grilled fish, vegetables and rice is simply not my feel-good-food for breakfast. 

The first stop of the day was the only sightseeing spot today, except again the islands and bridges themselves. As I was staying in Miyaura on Omijima I visted the shrine right in the center of the village. Well... it's a shrine like many others as well:

Then I started my bicycle tour of the day. I continued on the island circle ride, but at some point (km 4.5) I took a road inland, which was the route I had planned with Garmin in advance. Over a slight hill, but all very manageable. Back on the coast there was some more up and down, but also here, quite manageable. As the islands are so close to each other, at one point I could also sea the last bridge of today's ride. On the picture below you can see it only very faintly to the right of the center of the picture. 

But here the first bridge, from Omishima to Hakata:

As yesterday there was a access way only for cyclists up to the bridge, winding gently up the hill through clementine groves. 

The island of Hakata was quickly crossed, as I didn't do any excursions around the island, and on to the second bridge:

There was a resting area just off the bridge, where I took a rest and booked a flight for tomorrow back from Matsuyama to Tokyo. Not because I really want to go now to Tokyo, but because I need to organize something for the removal to the Netherlands back in Tokyo... The rest here was slightly too long, so that I was starting to feel rather cold. Although the sun was shining and just occasionally a cloud came by, it was still just 15 C, so if you are not moving it gets cold in T-shirt and shorts. So I was happy to find relatively soon a coffee shop where I had a home made beef curry. Very warming!

Today there were noticeably less cyclists around compared to yesterday. Easy explanation, today was Monday!

But I saw more touring cyclists compared to other days. Most of them on heavily loaded bicycles. It is really amazing how many things one does not need to transport around by staying in hotels instead of camping. 

The islands are known for their citric fruits, but have also industry (e.g. shipyards) and stone quarries. 

The last island I crossed in the middle. Originally I had planned to go along one of the coasts as there where less hills, but once arrived, it kind of seemed that the suggested itinerary is straight through the island, so I just trusted this and followed it. It was not too hard. And it brought me to the last and longest bridge of all:

And it has a very special access for us cyclists:

On both ends:

And this finalized the ride over the islands toward Shikoku. I had a look at my further transport options and decided to ride into Imabari. The ride continues to be well indicated, but it is partly on a road with very heavy traffic. I had originally planned in Garmin a different road that seemed (on the map) to have less traffic, but when I was there I decided to follow the blue line indicating the Shimanami Kaido, hoping that also for the last kilometers into Imabari they had chosen a nice way, but this was not the case. It was kind of just the shortest way. But well, I arrived to Imabari station, where I got a local train to Matsuyama. 

In Matsuyama I got back on the bike to ride to my hotel in Dogo onsen. After the cold yesterday evening on Omishima, I was a bit concerned if I could ride without my stockings, but actually in Matsuyama it is not that cold at all. Even now in the evening. I had hoped to get a look of Matsuyama castle on my way, but actually it is on a high hill in the middle of the city, so I only saw it from quite far away in the night. 

After a first relaxing bath in my hotels onsen (including a rotenburo), I went to Dogo onsen, had dinner and then went to the oldest onsen in Japan:

Around the onsen there were many people walking around in their yukata. It was kind of strange, as Dogo onsen is no longer a village onsen, but just a part of Matsuyama, but it seems that in order to properly enjoy an onsen, it is more important to wear a yukata than to be in the nature. 

Although what I had read about this onsen was not specially promising (e.g. no rotenburo), I still went. How could I not visit the oldest onsen in Japan?

Well, it is still very popular. I went after dinner, around 21:00, but even at that time we were around 30 women at least in the onsen. The onsen pool is big enough, but not very large, and actually from inside this onsen looks much newer (and less interesting) than from outside. But still, how can one not want to take a batch in such a building?

Bicycle touring Japan - Ride maps

For details on the bicycle tour today in Shikoku, checkout the below maps:

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