With blue skies, blue seas, and beautiful islands, Shimanami Kaido is gaining attention even among cyclists.
Shimanami Kaido is the name of a highway mainly for motor vehicles that consists of a total of 9 bridges connecting 8 islands reaching from Imabari city in Ehime prefecture to Onomichi city in Hiroshima prefecture.
Apart from Shin Onomichi Bridge, all the bridges have pedestrian only and car only lanes, making them truly rare bridges that you can cross on foot.
The beauty of the numerous islands surrounding Shimanami Kaido will captivate anyone.
This time we will introduce the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido 3-Day March, an event that unfolds along the beautiful Shimanami Kaido.
The event is a walking rally that aims for healthy minds and bodies, as well as close interaction with nature, history, culture, and human nature!
Here’s a glimpse from last year (2014).
Participants fall into various age categories, but everyone walks at their own pace.
This year, the event will be held over the three days of October 2nd (Fri), 3rd (Sat) and 4th (Sun).
Various courses for various times and endurance levels are set up at each region along Shimanami Kaido. This year there will be 12 different courses including two new ones.
And although the event lasts for 3 days, using the three days to cross the whole Shimanami Kaido, or participating for just for one day are both okay.You can choose which course and how many days you wish to participate.
The main starting area is the event ground in central Imabari city, which is Imabari Castle, one of Japan’s three Mizujiro (Castles by the Sea), where the moat water comes from the sea, rare in the whole of Japan.
In addition to this one, if you take the 3-day crossing course, or the 2-day crossing course, you will cross the Shimanami Kaido while departing islands such as Omishima, Hakata, Onomichi, and Setoda, among others.
This is Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge, the largest of Shimanami Kaido’s bridges.
You cross the bridge on foot, of course, and get to see scenery not visible from cars.
The numerous ships that slowly come and go, the blue seas, and the tidal whirlpools, among other moving sights that you wouldn’t normally see, are present here.
As mentioned earlier, this year there are two new routes. One of them is “Ehime’s northernmost tip – Namikata peninsula 20km scenery course”.
It’s a scenery course that tours Osuminohana, a highly recommended spot located in Namikata-cho, which is at the northernmost tip of Ehime prefecture. Imabari city is also famous for shipbuilding, so you’ll be able to get a close-up view of large ships under construction.
The second route is the “Murakami Suigun Museum 15km course”, which offers views over Hiuchi offing and includes walking through the nature-filled island, and visiting the Murakami Suigun Museum to appreciate the various precious articles on display, articles that are the heritage of the Murakami feudal navy that operated in the Seto Inland Sea area during Japan’s warring period.
As there’s a bus to the museum, and from Oshima to Imabari there is a boat, those who aren’t confident about being able to walk back need not worry.
Another route I’d like to introduce this time is the “Interaction Walk – 6km course” that takes participants through the Imabari temple town area where the temples that are lined up are said to have been assembled when the castle was being constructed.
The course starts from Imabari castle and goes through the Imabari city area towards the temple town area.
Believe it or not, this is the only course that is free for all who participate! They have also arranged an ink-stamp collecting event where participants can get a stamp at each of the 11 temples in the temple town area.
Those who gather all 11 stamps receive a “3-Day March” limited version badge with a Bary-san motif, Imabari’s mascot character, after reaching the goal!
As the course is only 6 km, you can tour the course as if taking a walk.
Temple town is said to have been formed during the construction of Imabari castle, when Todo Takatora, who had the castle constructed, gathered the most important temples from around Imabari city.
It’s a must-see course for temple lovers.
Other courses include the 10km “Omishima Art Museum Tour Course”, which tours around Omishima island’s art museums, the 20km “Pilgrimage Course”, which tours the Shikoku pilgrimage temples that can be found within Imabari city, and the 10km “Eternal Onomichi” walking course that includes touring old temples in the Onomichi city area as well as a ferry trip to Mukojima. It’s really hard to choose which course to take.
To take part, participants must be in good health, and they should observe the rules and etiquette of the event. Elementary school students and younger need a guardian, and those who need assistance must participate together with a helper.
Check further details at the event homepage.
This walking event allows you to interact with the Seto Inland Sea scenery, history and nature in the gentle autumn breezes.
Though advance entry is only available until September 4th, participating on the day is possible, too.
How about taking this chance to visit Shimanami Kaido together with family and friends?
Shimanami Kaido 3-Day March Action Committee Office
Location: 1 Chome-4-1 Bekku-cho, Imabari city, Ehime prefecture (Imabari city hall 2nd annex 6th floor at Event interaction promotion section)
Participation fees: Advance entry (Adults JPY2000, high school students & younger JPY1000)
Actual day entry (Adults JPY2500, High school students & younger JPY1000)
* Middle school students & younger living in Imabari city, Onomichi city or Kamijima town may participate free of charge.
Event held: October 2nd (Fri) thru October 4th (Sun) 2015
Reference Homepage: http://www.shimanami3dm.jp/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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