The Shimanami Kaido is a great 70km cycling route between Imabari on Shikoku island and Onomichi on Honshu. Joining 6 islands by bridges with dedicated cycle routes either on or under the bridges. It is a relaxing way to ride with easy gradients and most of the way on dedicated cycle routes or quiet roads. We even managed a swim off one of the islands, the water was a really nice temperature.We enjoyed the contrast of island cycling after the busy roads through the metropolis that covers most of flatter southern Japan. From Kyoto it had been a stream of seemingly endless traffic lights and heavy traffic.
We stayed a couple of days in Onomichi a small town surrounded by docks and shipbuilding. We discovered a newly opened high end bike hotel ,U2 which had opened in a converted warehouse. We had already booked in elsewhere and it looked great but pricey. All the rooms had a rack to hang your bike and there was a bike shop, coffee shop, restaurant and bakery all on site.
From Onomichi we were back into the mountains heading to Hiroshima and then on to Shimonoseki and a boat to Korea. The Peace Park at Hiroshima was very sad with a memorial with stories from children who had survived the first A bomb on the 6th August 1945 which killed 290,000 people. Hiroshima is a thriving modern city now set on a delta surrounded by mountains.
There was no easy way through the mountains which were cut through by rivers producing deep gorges. It was a question of zigzagging up and down valleys to work your way across. Once again the roads were quiet and on our last full day in Japan we cycled through a limestone area with grasses and rocks, not unlike parts of England.
We managed to find an open campsite to celebrate our last night in Japan. Unsurprisingly we were the only people camping there. We sat and watched the millions stars on a beautiful clear night.
We took the Kampu ferry from Shimonoseki to Busan the next day. We managed to get 50% off the tickets as there is a cycling promotion encouraging cyclists to come to Korea. It was a lovely way to say sayonara to Japan and hello South Korea.