Shimanami Kaido Highway, Imabari, Ehime Prefecture しまなみ海道(来島海峡大橋)愛媛県今治市

Ehime is in Shikoku facing the picturesque Seto Inland Sea. In 1999, a series of bridges and highways hopping over small islands across the Inland Sea connected Shikoku and Honshu. Nicknamed “Shimanami Kaido,” they formed an expressway (freeway) linking the city of Imabari in Ehime and Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is 59.4 km (36.9 miles) long. The momentous construction took 11 years from 1988 to 1999. One of Japan’s major feats of modern civil engineering.

Shimanami Kaido allows vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. It’s mostly flat, so it’s an easy and popular cycling route. Each bridge section connecting the smaller islands have a name. The photos show the first bridge from Imabari named “Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge” going to Oshima island. All the bridges have off-ramps and on-ramps so you can explore the islands along the way (left photos). Very scenic and diverse.

I really enjoyed it, cycling two days from Imabari to Onomichi with an overnight stop on Ikuchi island (生口島) famous for the ornate Kosanji Temple (耕三寺) in Hiroshima Prefecture. Both Imabari and Onomichi are also worth exploring for at least a day. Imabari has a nice castle, and Onomichi has picturesque hillsides. 🚴‍