Onomichi is a small port town located in the Hiroshima Prefecture known mainly for it's famous cycle route, the Shimanami Kaido. It is known to be one of the world's best cycle routes and connects the neighboring islands in the Seto Inland sea.
Onomichi may not be as well known as it's famous neighbours such as Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka or Hiroshima, however it is the perfect city to enjoy if you like to explore and get off the beaten path a little. Taking the option of travelling by bicycle is the perfect way to enjoy the fresh sea air, we highly recommend exploring the Shimanami Kaido route. You can read our Full Japan Itinerary if you would like to see a full day by day itinerary including other day trip suggestions.
In this blog, we will explain the exact route taken, how to reach Onomichi and where you can stay when you get there. The Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular 60KM road-and-bridge network connecting Japan's main island of Honshu with Shikoku (the nation's fourth largest island)
Disclaimer - If you do decide to book with any hotels we recommend, we get a small commission at no additional fee to you, and helps to support us to keep bringing content to you. Thank you always for your support.
Travel Tips in Japan
If you haven't already checked out our Japan must know travel tips then you can here.
You can also check out our Onomichi Vlog that goes into a huge amount detail of our exact Onomichi itinerary.
You can also find more Japan Vlogs if you are interested in an extended stay in Japan, including tips and suggestions that may be useful for your adventure.
A couple of helpful travel tips:
Get yourself an ICOCA card, this is the best way to hop on and off transport in the Hiroshima Prefecture, and works very similar to an Oyster card in London / Opal card in Sydney. You can top it up when it gets low at the train station.
If you plan to only visit Onomichi for the day (although we highly recommend an overnight stop) there are coin operated lockers available at the Onomichi train station.
How to get to Onomichi
Kyoto to Onomichi
Take the JR Shinkansen train from Kyoto Station to Fukuyama Station (time 1hr 15 mins) the JR pass may not cover Nozomi train line, then change for the JR Sanyo Line at Fukuyama to Onomichi Station (time: 20 mins)
Osaka to Onomichi
Take the JR Shinkansen train from Shin-Osaka to Fukuyama Station (time: 1 hour) this cost will be covered if you have a JR pass, then change for the JR Sanyo Line at Fukuyama Station to Onomichi Station (time: 20 mins)
Hiroshima to Onomichi
Take the JR Shinkansen from Hiroshima station to Mihara Station (Time: 30 mins) this cost will be covered if you have a JR pass, then change fro the JR Sanyo Line at Mihara station to Onomichi Station (Time: 15 mins)
Where to stay in Onomichi
U2 Hotel Cycle ($$$) Click here for reviews and pricing
This is where we stayed for a couple of nights. This hotel is designed for cyclists and tourists interested in cycling the Shimanami Kaido cycle route. You can rent bikes directly from the hotel for 5,400 JPY per person. It is a huge renovated warehouse, designed extremely tastefully! The modern interior is a dream, and with a cafe, bar and restaurant on site it is super convenient.
Sima Inn ($$) Click here for reviews and pricing
Where you can sleep on the traditional tatami mats in a traditional Japanese space.
Singai Cabin ($$) Click here for reviews and pricing
Singai Cabin is also on the harbour front and like Hotel Cylce offers a contemporary space.
Gueshouse Yadocurly ($) Click here for reviews and pricing
A budget option in a very good location and with futon beds available.
If you're looking for an apartment base, or if you are travelling with more than two then using Airbnb could be a good option for you. Check out airbnb options below and claim your $70 credit at the same time!
Where to hire a bicycle
If you do not rent a bicycle from your hotel, there are bicycle rental systems offered along the Shimanami Kaido route as well.
The regular rental option
This option is cheaper and there are more terminals offered along the route. The rental fee is 1,100 yen per day (plus a deposit) You are able to rent at one end and drop off at the other end, or stop anywhere in between should you get tired! There may be an additional fee if you drop off at the other end.
The Giant rental option
There are only two terminals for this option, one at Onomichi and the other at the end station - Imabari. These are higher quality bicycles and so more expensive and start from 4,000 yen per day. If you wish to cycle only one way, there is also an additional fee.
Cycling the Shimanami Kaido route
The entire cycle route is around 60km in total and connects with six of the neighbouring islands in the Seto Inland sea. Most opt for travelling from Onomichi to Imabari via a combination of ferry and bicycle, it is also possible to start at Imabari and cycle to Onomichi.
There are a few ways to experience the cycle route
Experience part of the cycle route with a day trip
We cycled for 4 hours and covered 2 of the islands stopping for lunch at a great service station linked here (food pictures below) Cheap and great food! We are amateur cyclists which may help give an indication as you what you could achieve if you are an experienced cyclist.
As beginner cyclists, we did not feel the entire journey could be completed in just a single day, however, if you are a more experienced cyclist and used to cycling very long distance then this could be entirely possible.
Across a few days
There is so much to see on this beautiful cycle route that we feel this would be best cycled across a few days to have time to stop and enjoy the attractions along the way.
There are bike and pedestrian lanes for the entire length, and the beautiful Seto inland sea is an incredible sight as it runs alongside much of the cycle journey. There are plenty of rest stations along the way for breaks and refreshments and extra special views to grab some great photos.
Other things worth mentioning:
There are small tolls that are paid at each bridge crossing, if you travel the entire way this will total to around 500 yen and so keep some change handy with you for this.
You may need to catch a ferry a long the route too, keep in mind cash needed for these crossings.
The route is very well sign posted and so you can't really go wrong in terms of finding your way.
Other blog posts you may like: