Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Touring in Japan - Shimanami Kaido

One of the nice things about starting a new blog is that you have an excuse to get in contact with other bloggers. Of course, you can do that even if you don't have a blog, but if you have a blog, the person you contact can see what you are about and so you are on a more equal footing.

When we started this blog, I emailed a bunch of blogs we've been fans of just to say hi and that we've added their links to our blog. One of the blogs I contacted was Candy Cranks. Candy Cranks is a blog written by women from all over the world. I'm not all that into the fixies thing which Candy Cranks often write about, but there is something about them that's different. I think it's that they have so many different perspectives and their love of the bike come across as very genuine. So when I emailed them, I got a very nice and quick reply from Meg in Sydney who I assume is the brains behind Candy Cranks. She was very complimentary about our paper mache bikes (she did a nice post for us!) and also told us about her plan to tour in Japan on a tandem with her partner and asked us if we knew of some good routes there. I replied that I haven't really toured much (or at all) in Japan, but we'll look for information and get back to her, maybe even do a post about the findings on our blog.

Well, that was a couple of months ago, and we still hadn't done the research and the post. I knew her trip was coming up soon and then I saw this article of her trip there so far over at Candy Cranks. I'm glad to see that they are having a great time. How cool is their custom tandem bike(aka WASP)!

I left a comment there and suggested a route called the Shimanami Kaido. It's a route which runs from the Island of Shikoku to the main island of Honshu which goes over the numerous small islands in between. I have of course never been there, but it's definitely a place I would love to ride one of these days. I don't know if they will see my comment in time or if they will ride there anyway, but I thought I would write about the Shimanami Kaido route for this post.

Here's what city of Onomichi says about the Shimanami Kaido:
The Shimanami Kaido (“kaido” - literally means “sea road”) is an expressway which links the main islands of Honshu and Shikoku through a series of bridges and islands. It spans the 60km distance between Onomichi City, in Hiroshima prefecture, and Imabari City, in Ehime prefecture. (Please note that the total cycling distance is 70km, including bridge access ramps.)

Thousands of people flock here annually to enjoy a fun bicycle ride in a great environment. Some cyclists complete the full trek in a matter of hours, and some take a more relaxed pace and spend the night in one of the accommodations along the way. And while a few people actually make the return trip by bicycle, many opt to make the trip back by bus or ferry.

Without having the experience of being there ourselves, the best I can do is look online for information. Here's a blog post from Francois' Japan Blog about his experience biking the route.

Just for perspective, you can see in this map below where the route is located within Japan.

View Larger Map

City of Onomichi which is at the Northern end of the route is located roughly 60km East of the city of Hiroshima and it's quite far from other major cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and especially Tokyo.

Anyway, congratulations to Meg and Tarn for taking on such an adventure; traveling internationally with a tandem bike and touring/camping in a strange country! When I move back there and we both have our "good" bikes, we will definitely venture out into the Japanese countryside. Thanks for inspiring us!


  1. Oh, how wonderful! I have not been to Japan yet, but have dreamed about it for a long time. Would love to tour on the sea road.

    Thanks also for writing about Candy Cranks, I did not know about this blog.

  2. Yes, I'm proud of my home country. I've yet to really explore it on the bike, but that's something I'm looking forward to doing. If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, You should definitely do that.

  3. Thank you : )

    As a college student, I did a lot of research in "East-West" cultural psychology, where we compared the experience and expression of emotion in American vs Japanese students. This is no longer my specialty, but that is where my interest in Japan came from.

  4. That sounds like a really interesting subject to study. When I first came to the US as a child, it was so different in everyway from Japan, but I think over the years, there's been hanges in both countries and I think they have beome similar in some respects. Or maybe it's just me who has gotten used to both places, and nothing seems out of the ordinary.