Through activities on this tour such as gentle cycling and hiking, visitors can experience the history and culture of Ehime and enjoy a taste of the daily lives of local people.
- A unique and spectacular view of the Seto Inland Sea whilst cycling through the islands and bridges of the Shimanami Kaido.
- Absorb local history and culture as you interact with local people whilst cycling along the Yumeshima Kaido
- Visit Matsuyama City and discover the rich history and charm of Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen
- Experience a taste of a Shikoku pilgrimage by walking on historical paths that still remain in the mountains.
- Visit Uchiko, Ozu, and Uwajima; small charming cities and towns full of unique history, culture and stunning urban and rural landscapes.
Day 1 Shimanami Kaido Cycling
The Shimanami Kaido is a roughly 70-kilometer highway connecting Onomichi City in Hiroshima and Imabari City in Ehime. The route links small islands in the Seto Inland Sea via 7 impressive bridges. The road is very popular among tourists who want to enjoy gentle cycling. The unique scenery is woven together by the natural beauty of the ocean, local villages of islands and the structural magnificence of the bridges. One of the many highlights is the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge from where cyclists can enjoy a splendid view.
Cycling routes can be adjusted according to your requirements. Variables include what you would like to see, how much you would like to cycle, time of the year and so on.
Stay overnight in Shimanami Kaido area
Day 2 Yumeshima Kaido Cycling and Sightseeing in Matsuyama
In the morning, enjoy cycling along the Yumeshima Kaido. Connecting 4 islands (Iwagijima, Ikinajima, Sashima and Yugejima), this route stretches out on the eastern side of the Shimanami Kaido. Experience and learn about the daily lives of the locals as you visit quaint towns and communities. Alternative cycling routes or other activities can also be recommended.
In the afternoon, move to Matsuyama City. Visit Matsuyama Castle, famous for being one of Japan's twelve original castles. From the castle tower, a beautiful panoramic view of the entire Matsuyama City and the Seto Inland Sea can be enjoyed. Next, enjoy strolling around Dogo Onsen, one of Japan's oldest and most charming hot spring towns. Visit Dogo Onsen Honkan, a wooden public bathhouse which has welcomed visitors since 1894.
Stay overnight in Dogo Onsen
Day 3 Shikoku Pilgrimage Experience
The "Henro" is a pilgrimage route connecting 88 temples and sacred sites in Shikoku. The route is said to have been undertaken by the revered Japanese Buddhist monk Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi. The circular pilgrimage route has a history stretching back over 1200 years and it physically extends over four prefectures in Shikoku for about 1,400 kilometers. Today, you will walk on the traditional pilgrimage route between Daihoji Temple (the 44th temple on the Ohenro) and Iwayaji Temple (the 45th). The trail from temples 44 to 45 is approximately 10 km in length. With an elevation gain of about 540 meters (1771 feet), the hike takes around 3.5 hours to complete. You can feel the atmosphere of the olden days as you walk primarily on unpaved trails through forests, with only a few small sections of paved road.
Stay overnight in Uchiko or Ozu
Day 4 Explore Uchiko and Ozu
Uchiko is a traditional local town located in the southwestern part of Ehime. This town thrived in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the production of traditional wax, and remains full of nostalgic charm, transporting visitors back in time. In the outskirts of Uchiko, you will find a farming village with terraced rice fields on a steep mountain slope. Visiting here provides us with a glimpse into the world of the local farmers.
Within a 30-minute drive from Uchiko, Ozu is a historic castle town which also boasts a traditional townscape. Surprisingly, the town's historical charm was on the verge of disappearing, as is often the case with many of Japan's regional settlements. Both the public and private sectors have joined hands to preserve and recreate new values by converting the traditional buildings into inns and other facilities. Feel how the once decaying town is now trying to regain energy.
Don't miss a hidden gem of Shikoku - Garyu Sanso - which is an authentic and artistic villa sitting atop cliffs overlooking the Hijikawa River. This villa was built around 1907 and was carefully designed using traditional architectural methods as well as Japanese aesthetics. Take some time to soak in the tranquility of this magnificent retreat. Stay overnight in Uchiko or Ozu if you would like to continue your trip in southern Shikoku, or head back to Matsuyama/Dogo in order to move to your next destination.