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Cycling the Islands of Japan’s Stunning Inland Sea

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In my 7 years of travelling Japan, I’ve been fortunate to visit 40 of the country’s 47 prefectures, travelling from freezing Hokkaido to the turquoise seas that lap the shores of Okinawa. These are the memories, moments and experiences that I frequently find myself going back to; the ones that put a smile on a face that is typically riddled with cynicism and despair. Hopefully they’ll give you some fresh ideas and inspire you to go off the beaten path and experience Japan your own way. Memories travelling Japan is an ongoing series.

Cycling the Islands of Japan’s Stunning Inland Sea | Onomichi, Hiroshima

If I had to give one place as being the most jaw-dropping, “instagramable” location in Japan, that award would go the Setouchi inland sea, which lies between the main island of Honshu and the somewhat mysterious island of Shikoku.

Once upon a time to get across it you’d have needed a ferry and a nap, but today the island chain known as the “Shimanami Kaido” is connected with a dozen bridges taking you from the town of Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture, over into the city of Imabari in Ehime.

Whilst Mount Fuji may be the physical challenge of choice for travellers to Japan - and heaven knows it has the wow factor - I certainly found the 70km cycle across the Shimanami Kaido far more impressive and fun, albeit equally as punishing. The 70km route from Honshu to Shikoku around remote untouched beaches and sleepy island villages that have yet to be discovered, feels like the textbook definition of adventure.
Make no mistake though, whilst the scenery may look like heaven, undertaking the cycle in a day can certainly feel like hell.

I’ve done it twice and nearly died twice.

But it was completely worth it. And I very much plan to do it again a third time.

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