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Shimanami Kaido Cycling

Girl's Cycling Trip

Over seven bridges, visit seven islands with expressive expression

Tobishima Kaido

The Tobishima Kaido is the road and seven bridge network connecting islands between Okamurajima Island in Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture and Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture. Although it's not as well-known as the Shimanami Kaido, with the neatly paved roads and the charming countryside scenery, the Tobishima Kaido route has been growing popular among cyclists. First, we're going to take a ferry with our bikes at Dai San Sanbashi, or Third Pier, at Imabari-ko Port to Sekizen (Okamurajima Island). From there, we can reach Kure City in Hiroshima only by land! That should be fun!

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One-hour ferry Trip

From Imabari-ko Port to Okamurajima Island, we take a ferry. It's good to get off my bike and take an ocean route once in a while. After a 15-minute ride, we pass beneath the gigantic Kurushima Kaikyo Ohashi bridge. It's a rare opportunity to look up at a big bridge from down below. Chatting with my friend makes the one-hour trip feel even shorter. There are many groups of cyclists, motor cyclists and runners on the same ferry. I wonder if all of them will head for the Tobishima Kaido as well.
You can see the route and the timetable of the ferry here

We've landed on Okamurajima Island! The rustic port area evoked nostalgic feelings. I spotted "Maruseki Cafe" near the port. It wasn't open yet, so we decided to come back later, hurrying onward. We saw some shops and houses near the port, but once we got on the cycling route, there were no buildings to be seen. Since the road is smoothly paved with few cars passing by, it is such an enjoyable ride! And the ocean is so close! I feel like if I look over the cement wall, I could touch the water! The ocean feels closer than the Shimanami Kaido.

Taking three bridges to Osakishimojima Island

From Okamurajima Island to Osakishimojima Island, we cross 3 bridges. These are Okamura Ohashi Bridge, Nakanose Ohashi Bridge and Tairahashi Bridge which cut through 2 uninhabited islands (Tairashima and Nakanoshima Islands). Over Okamura Ohashi Bridge, we crossed the border of Ehime Prefecture and Hiroshima Prefecture. Taira Hashi Bridge, which is the smallest among the seven bridges in the Tobishima Kaido, is a rarely-seen cable-stayed bridge made of cement.

Cycling in Osakishimojima Island

On this trip, we decided to visit the must-see area called the Mitarai settlement on our way back, when we wouldn't feel pressed for time: The Mitarai has been selected as one of the "Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings" by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. So, our immediate goal is to finish the cycling course of the Tobishima Kaido.
The recommended course located on the north coast of Osakikamijima Island is mostly flat. Since the road is so close to the ocean, an amazing ocean view continues to unfold. Unlike the Shimanami Kaido which has an isolated cyclist/pedestrian ramp leading up to the bridge, though, the Tobishima Kaido has no equivalent. So we have to ride the same uphill road together with cars and motorcycles. This uphill is pretty steep and long!

Toyohama Ohashi Bridge

Toyohama Ohashi Bridge is a truss bridge covered with tinted blue paint. It is a unique bridge which is different from any others of the Shimanami Kaido. The bridge is 543 meters long, opened to traffic in 1992. On the side of the pedestrian lane is a relief of the symbolic bird of Hiroshima Prefecture, the red-throated loon. The tinted blue bridge goes well with the blue ocean background.

Rare Find "Mari-chan"

Getting off Toyoshima Ohashi Bridge, we found a typical Japanese port town that evokes nostalgia. There, we came across a group of friendly local men. One of them got out of his way to take us to the town's coveted Ramen noodle shop, which turned out to be an Okonomiyaki restautant!
The place is nestled in the deep end of a narrow alley. The restaurant is called "Mari-chan." What a stunningly retro name! The place seems genuinely popular among locals who continue to get their Okonomiyaki pancakes and Yakisoba noodle takeouts. The reason why the shop is known for Ramen is this: One dish on its menu, Toyoshima Ramen, was raved about so much on both social networking media and word of mouth that non-locals started to come all the way for its ramen. The broth of Toyoshima Ramen is made of hairtail fish from the local sea. Usually, hairtail is known for its unique fishy smell but the restaurant invented the way of getting rid of the smell and created deep flavored fish broth. Its Okonomiyaki is, of course, made in Hiroshima style, not in Kansai style, using plenty of cabbage. Okonomiyaki mixed with delicately thin noodles is topped with plenty of scallions. It was so flavorful. On our way out, the lovely matron who seemed to have a lot of fans among locals sent us off with a big smile, saying "Please come back again!" You all made our day. Thank you!

Getting as many lemons as you can at the green market

Toyoshima cycling route goes around the northern coast of the island and mostly flat on the coastline. It also has a long and steep uphill slope towards Toyoshima Ohashi Bridge. On our way to the bridge, we found a green market full of locally grown citruses and vegetables. And they were so cheap! We could get as many lemons as we could fit in a plastic bag for 100 yen! The lemons were scratched a bit but they were huge and beautiful. I managed to put eight lemons in a bag! Since our photographer kindly offered to carry all the extra luggage, I didnft have to worry about carrying heavy bags on the trip onward.

Next

Girl's Cycling Trip

Shimanami Kaido

Tobishima Kaido

Yumeshima Kaido

Imabari, Tamagawa, Asakura

Mini-trip to Matsue City

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