Crossing the Seto Inland Sea

IMG_9531

The Shimanami Kaido Bridge

I have always considered myself to have been blessed and fortunate enough to have lived in Shikoku, Japan. When I tell Japanese people that I lived in Shikoku they always say “Shikoku?! I have never been there.” When I tell non-Japanese people that I lived in Shikoku they always say “I have never heard of it, is it near Tokyo?” Actually it is nowhere near Tokyo and very few people make it to Shikoku which is really a pity because Shikoku offers you the beauty of seeing 90 year olds riding their bicycles, cranes flying over rice fields and children stopping and picking up critters at the side of the road. This is rural Japan and Shikoku has been described by many as Japan 50 years ago and never modernized. Now that I am back in Canada and running to get to work, to study to make sure I don’t miss the train, I often find myself thinking about the easy-going life style that I left behind and wonder if I will ever experience that again. I certainly hope so because it gives you the time to appreciate the simple things in life and love them even more.

One of those things that I loved while I lived in Shikoku was the natural beauty of the place. IT really was stunning with mountains on the south, the Seto Inland Sea on the north and rice fields sometimes as far the eye went. One of my favourite places in Ehime Prefecture was the Seto Inland Region. The Seto Sea is the 400km long stretch of water between the islands of Shikoku and Honshu. It is joined by 6 suspended bridges and up until 1999 the only way to go between the islands was either by ferry or via Tokushima Prefecture, which is in the opposite end of the island, so in many ways Shikoku has made some big improvements over the last 15-20 years.

The biggest thing in my bucket list to do while I lived in Shikoku was to cross the Seto Inland Sea by bike… and I did it at the beginning of May! It was by far one of the most amazing experiences in Japan and plan to do it all over again whenever I get the chance to visit again. For those of you who plan to adventure into Shikoku (you should!) I would highly recommend this bike ride. It is 70km from end to end with the most spectacular views the whole way through. I will admit going up on the bridges is not easy on the legs but going down the bridges makes it all worth it.

Our day began early in the morning and we took the train from Niihama (our town) to Imabari City and walked from the train station to the bottom of the Shimanami Kaido (1st bridge). There we rented bicycles for the low price of 1000Yen (approximately $10Cdn). If you decide to return back to the same place, you get a refund of I believe 500Yen  back but if you complete the 70km then you don’t get your refund back because you will need to leave your bike at the other end. So off we went! Thomas has mountain bike with gears and I had a bike with little wheels and 3 speeds that at first I was totally skeptical about, but in the end I loved the bike so much I wanted to steal it (I didn’t).

For those of you wondering how hard of a bike ride it is, let me say that it is relatively speaking easy. After the first bridge things get a little rough and there are a couple of steep hills where I thought I was going to throw up but after stopping a few times for ice cream, lunch, etc. it was nothing I couldn’t handle. People who know me would say that I am not the most physically strong person and I made it without any problems. On the way there are many places to stop by as well, and there are many chances for beautiful photography if interested. The path is well marked the whole way (always follow the blue line) and if you need any more convincing of what an incredible experience this was you should follow Lonely Planet’s advice on the Best in Travel 2013-Top 10 Regions #9. They know what they are talking about!

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/best-in-travel-2013/top-10-regions/

Here are some pictures from our biking adventure:

IMG_9528

The Seto Inland Sea.

IMG_9525

Imazo Shipbuilding. I used to teach in that company. They produce bulk carriers like the one you can see in the background.

IMG_9523

The amazing view!

IMG_9567

The halfway point. Beauty!

IMG_9559

Stopover.

IMG_9569

Party bus!!!

IMG_9580

Random dino on the way.. haha! Gotta love random Japan.

IMG_9592

The view at the end of the 70 km, Hiroshima Prefecture.

IMG_9535

May I comment on the t-shirt? Turning Japanese!

IMG_9539

Art…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: