Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Japan Dec 2011 Day 5: Shimanami Kaido しまなみ海道 in Imabari 今治

We took a limited express JR train from Matsuyama to Imabari 今治 (about 25 min) and changed to a local JR train one stop away (4 min) at Hashihama for the pick-up to Sunrise Itoyama サンライス絲山 bicycle terminal which I had called earlier to book in my very broken Japanese (reservation is by Japanese only). You may also take a local JR train directly to Hashihama (about 1 hour). When we arrived, we were a little worried that we may have got the station wrong because it was a deserted train station with no train master. Other than an old lady and us, there was no other human being LOL. I called them again and was told that the pick-up is on the way. We heaved a sigh of relief when we saw the van =) After a short ride, we arrived at Sunrise Itoyama, where you can get a splendid view of the Kurushima Kaikyo来島海峡 and rent a bicycle. A rental bicycle costs JPY500 each with a JPY1000 deposit that will you will get back if you return the bicycle at the same place where you rented it. Serious cyclists use their own specialized bicycles as the rental ones are really basic so you are better off pushing it up the spiral track toward the start point haha.

The entire route stretches a total of 70 km, covering several islands and bridges, will take 8-10 hours to complete one way. We targeted to just go to and fro Kurushima Kaikyo 来島海峡 (4.2 km one way) which consists of 3 bridges. The view is really spectacular and since the weather is cold, it was great for cycling because you don't perspire!

After the refreshing ride, we returned to Sunrise Itoyama to have lunch at Kaze-no-resutoran 風のレストラン which serves Japanese Western meals. Their prices are very reasonable and the food taste very good. From the restaurant, you can get a wonderful panoramic view of Kurushima Kaikyo too!

The people at Sunrise Itoyama are really helpful and gladly showed us the way to take a public bus back to Imabari 今治 where we caught a limited express 25-min JR train ride back to Matsuyama. Here’s a photo of the time-table, where the yellow highlighted times are for Sunrise Itoyama.
We had planned to take the Botchan steam locomotive (SL) in Matsuyama but were not able to catch it because of the infrequent services. Maybe we will try to another time if we come back again =)

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