This multiactivity holiday in Japan takes you from the Seto Inland Sea to the Pacific Ocean as you experience the best of Shikoku by E-bike and SUP.
On this multi-activity holiday in Japan, we travel across Shikoku from the Seto Inland Sea, passing over the Shimanami Kaido and Mt. Ishizuchi by e-bike and descending the Niyodo River by SUP to the Pacific Ocean. This tour is an introduction to the best of Shikoku by E-bike and SUP.
We first get on our e-bikes to cycle the Shimanami Kaido, a chain of islands and bridges crossing the Inland Sea. It was once home to maritime clans (pirates!), who took some cargo in return for guiding ships through the racing currents and whirlpools of the hazardous sea. From the islands, we can see Mt. Ishizuchi looming ahead.
The climb up to Ishizuchi is challenging, but e-bikes make it possible for any averagely fit person. Traversing the mountain on the ‘UFO Line’ is quite a trip – the views over Shikoku roll on and on, blending into the distant ocean.
The pure blue Niyodo River rises on Ishizuchi and flows down to the Pacific. We ride its translucent waters on SUP boards, stopping occasionally to jump off boulders and the rustic bridges used by local people.
Along the route, we meet the ancestors of pirates, the Shinto priests whose deities watch over the mountains and seas, and the craftspeople who use the water from the mountains to make beautiful washi paper and deliciously fresh sake.
Best of Shikoku by E-bike and SUP
You arrive in Dogo, Matsuyama, and check into your hotel. The hotel has its own hot spring bath, and is located close to the famous Dogo Onsen Honkan, Japan’s oldest spa. After a short orientation covering what to expect during the adventure, we visit a geisha teahouse for a delicious dinner with sake and traditional entertainment.
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive by a scenic seaside route to a cycling base on Omishima Island in the middle of the Shimanami Kaido. We cycle to Oyamazumi Shrine, where we pray for a safe journey. At the Murakami Suigun Museum on Oshima Island, we learn about the pirates of the Inland Sea.
Then we take a boat out into the fast currents and whirlpools of the Inland Sea, passing the tiny island fortress of Noshima.
Finally, we cross the great Kurushima Straits Bridge and drive through the mountains back to Matsuyama, where we stay another night at Hakuro. Dinner is seafood from the Inland Sea and local sake at an izakaya in Dogo.
This is your last chance for a morning bathe in the waters of Dogo. After breakfast, we drive through the lovely scenery of Kuma Highland to the foot of Mt. Ishizuchi where we meet our e-bikes again.
From the pretty Omogo River valley at 600 m, we make a long ascent by paved road that winds up through deciduous woodland before emerging above the tree line at 1,500 m. Here, weirdly shaped peaks rise above slopes cloaked in dwarf bamboo. At the Tsuchigoya rest stop, we receive a traditional Shinto blessing, complete with a conch-shell fanfare.
For lunch, we’re served a delicious pasta with locally sourced wild boar sausage. Then we cycle the dramatic UFO Line, a largely flat traverse across the shoulder of the mountain to Mt. Kamegamori, with views of Ishizuchi and vistas stretching over much of Shikoku.
We do an hour’s hike over one of the peaks, Kamegamori. The support vehicle meets us at the other end with our bikes.
After the hike we cycle mostly downhill to the Kanpuzan rest stop. From here we drive to an inn with Japanese-style rooms beside a reservoir on the Niyodo River. Dinner is local cuisine with ingredients sourced from the rivers, mountains, and ocean of Kochi.
We’re served a traditional Japanese breakfast of locally grown rice with fish, pickles, and miso soup. At breakfast time, the dawn sky is reflected on the lake below the inn.
Today, we actually get into the river. The Niyodo River is known for its translucent, turquoise blue water and the beauty of the scenery along its banks. From the inn, we cycle on a paved road beside the river to the Ainosato Waterside Station, a market for local agricultural produce.
Lunch features the vegetables and traditional processed foods of the region. Now we switch to SUP boards to continue our curving descent of the river. Our route includes some highly picturesque bends in the river, with deep, calm stretches, and some shallow rapids for a bit of excitement.
There are also opportunities for a refreshing leap off boulders and bridges. We end our river trip at a modern hotel with an extensive selection of onsen baths. Dinner is a selection of the famed dishes of Kochi such as braised tuna.
The early morning view of the Niyodo River from your hotel balcony invites you to follow its course all the way to the sea. Breakfast is locally grown rice with tofu, fish, pickles, and soup. The mulberry trees and glue-bearing vines that grow along the Niyodo River are essential for making traditional paper.
We cycle to the Ino Paper Museum and try our hand at making some washi paper by the traditional method. Lunch features sweetfish caught with a rod by a local fisherman. Then we cycle to the mouth of the Niyodo River where it flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Water from the Niyodo River is an essential ingredient of the excellent sake brewed in Kochi. We cycle to Kameizumi Brewery, where the master brewer takes us on a tour of the facilities and serves tastings of the brewery’s lineup.
Then we drive to Kochi city for our last dinner together, at Kochi’s famed Hirome Market.
The morning finds you on the southern edge of Shikoku beside the vast Pacific Ocean. We spend the morning hiking a picturesque section of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
After lunch, it’s a short drive to the airport for departure and the end of your multiactivity holiday in Japan