Slow Tour comes to Japan: Day 4

Ikidane Cyclist Hostel to Onomichi

I say Hostel. You don’t think gourmet breakfast, do you? Well let me tell you Ikidane Cyclist Hostel had a great breakfast. The perfect start for any cyclist doing any part of the Shimanami Kaido. Please note the shoes left outside of the sleeping quarters.

On this day we were completing the ride from Imabari to Onomichi and then taking a Shinkansen to Tokyo. Onomichi is:

  • a quaint town located along the Seto Inland Sea.
  • known for the Temple Walk, a network of paths connecting 25 temples.
  • a famous sightseeing place that is characterised by a townscape that is brimming with a retro vibe.
  • probably most well known as the small port town at the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido.
  • nicknamed the “Town of Hills and Cats”.

Our route was 45kms and is shown below.

Morning of discovery

The blue line is the official route, but some times going off-piste provides rewards. This is certainly true this day. I found it hard to limit the pictures in the gallery below. Because we:

  • discovered a mikan inspired toy capsule vending machine on the side of the road.
  • were alerted to the possibility of a close encounter with a wild boar.
  • were encouraged to have a beer by a portly statue.
  • became reacquainted with Cafe Via, who you might remember lost their Tokyo cafe in the recent typhoon.
  • discovered a famous korokke artisan.

This was all before lunch!


Again Takero used his local knowledge and language to find a unique lunch spot just a little bit of the blue line. On Innoshima island went to Manda Fermentation an international company, that unsurprisingly, specialises in fermentation.

Manda Fermentation at its headquarters has a garden, foot bath, store and cafe. I personally believe that all cycling routes should have a foot baths to revive cyclists tired feet.

We had lunch in the Cafe and a tried Manda’s amazake. Wikipedia tells me that amazakeis a traditional sweet, low-alcohol drink made from fermented rice. It is part of the family of traditional Japanese foods, made using the koji mould, that includes miso, soy sauce and sake. I say oishiii!


On the way to our final destination we came across the wonderful 70 Cafe with a beautiful view. At that point, I seriously contemplated resigning and opening a cafe…. It can’t be that good all year round can it?

I thought the name of 70 Cafe was because there was about 70kms to Imabari. But, its named after the owner’s pride an joy – the Toyota 70 Landcruiser.

It is surprising to learn that after all those amazing bridges the “New Onomichi” bridge does not have a lane for cyclists! But it does not matter because there is a frequent and cheap ferry service that is available for pedestrians and cyclists. When we arrive there was a small market along the foreshore. The foreshore does have a converted warehouse with food, accomodation and wonderful local goods.

We didn’t have enough time to explore much more of Onomichi as we had to catch the train. Perhaps next time we visit!

Takero, arigato-gozaimashita. Helen and I look forward to riding with you again.

Slow tour comes to Japan: Day 2

Tobishima Kaido

A beautiful 42 km ride following a blue line across seven islands. There was no need for GPX file. There is useful information on the Kure Area Travel Report website.

The islands

  • Shimokamagarijima
  • Kamikamagarijima
  • Toyoshima
  • Osakishimojima
  • Heirajima
  • Nakanoshima
  • Okamurajima

Our starting point was Nigata Station – it took two trains from Hiroshima. A rapid service and then one stop on a local service.

To get to these seven islands we crossed seven bridges.

We also had a few tunnels to save our legs we benefitted from some tunnels. But a tunnel is always easier than riding over a hill.

Ate lunch at Marichan’s – her Okonomiyaki was sugoi oishiiii!! We required help from so locals to find the narrow lane that it was located on. We’ve taken a photo of lane to help you!

We took a short detour to visit an old Edo era village with many of its original buildings intact. Interestingly, it also had the bike used by the first Japanese person to ride around the world. At least, that’s our memory of the information at the site! We will stick with that.

At the end of the ride, we took a ferry to our overnight accomodation and the starting point for Day 3 of the Slow Tour – Imabari. Imabari is:

  • the second largest city in Ehime Prefecture
  • home to the Shimanami Kaido
  • shipbuilding town with a beautiful castle and an attractive old commercial district
  • one of the largest production center of towels
  • a city on Shikoku Island, Japan
  • home to Imabari castle.

Slow Tour Comes to Japan: Day 1


We arrived in Japan from London at Tokyo International Airport (HND) walked briskly through immigration and customs to the arrivals hall where we met our friend, Takero. We promptly pulled out our pre-prepared cycling luggage – two Brompton Bags and two small panniers and our bikes ready for our flight Hiroshima.

In Haneda we took advantage of the luggage delivery service – which meant our big bike bags and our other suitcases would magically arrive at our hotel 4 days later and appear in our room! Awesome!

Perhaps what is more amazing is that the Japan Airlines transported our bikes without any protective bags to Hiroshima without incident. They carefully placed our bikes in the boxes shown above and added some protective bubble wrap. Here are our bikes in Hiroshima. It is a caring service.

Hiroshima is:

  • the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan
  • is located on the broad, flat delta of the Ota River, which has 7 channel outlets dividing the city into six islands which project into Hiroshima Bay
  • an industrial city of wide boulevards and criss-crossing rivers along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea
  • a bright, modern city with a sad history: in 1945 it was the location of the world’s first nuclear bombing  

The Route

Hiroshima is a convenient location for getting to the Tobishima Kaido and Shimanami Kaido. These two blue-line cycling routes are the the objective of our journey.

After at an awesome Okonomiyaki lunch – Hiroshima style, I did however plot a loop ride that took us past many of the interesting spots in Hiroshima.


Hiroshima is a mostly flat city. So included what seems to be the only hill. Up there is where the art gallery is! Some photos from the ride are below.

Hiroshima Peace memorial

We came across some fellow travellers from Lithuania, they’ve been doing an epic ride over a couple of months in Japan that had bikes that matched ours.

Hiroshima Castle
Memorial Cathedral for World Peace

Preparation for the big day ahead

Getting ready for the big ride the next day meant plenty of carb loading! Remember no gyoza, no life!

The weather has been perfect….

… for cycling in Japan and catching up with friends. We spent three days cycling the Tobishima Kaido and the Shimanami Kadio, which is in the inland Sea of Japan near Hiroshima with our friend Takero. The views like the picture above were stunning… and the roads were great (sorry England, but here they are maintained). We had a great time and value the time spent. Namma bieru mitsu onegaishimasu (hiragana does not work in the blog so you get bad Japanese)!

We were also fortunate to catch up with some of our Brompton friends at the hi-monthly Brompton in Palace meeting. It was great to see all the bikes, enjoy fast food udon, and visit a park which you can cycle around and see many things – including bonsai, traditional garden and open spaces. It was a great day and we value being able to attend! Thank you Mayumi! For more information search for Brompton in Palace on Facebook.

We also spent time with our non cycling friends Gaku, Ryoko and Shota seeing their Tokyo and getting to visit our favourite shops in new locations. Gaku planned a great day involving seeing an exhibition at Tenozu Island of Channel called Mademoiselle Privé – about fashion and her inspiration, and a great lunch – It’s always interesting seeing Tokyo from the perspective of people who live here.

Kym and I really appreciate the time spent with us – we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Cheap breakfast

For a few visits to Tokyo we’ve been saying we should try the Sukiya shop – it’s effectively a beef bowl restaurant. If you have been to Tokyo you will of seen the red, white and yellow signs all around the place.

Three cheeses beef bowl

We needed a fast breakfast last Sunday before catching the train to meet people.. and it fitted the bill perfectly. Ordering efficient (yeah for English menu) – and it was tasty too!

Yes, that was the price for two! Here is what Kym has…

Kym’s beef bowl

Bromptoneering in Japan…

On Sunday we had a Brompton cycling day planned by one of our Japanese Brompton friends. There was going to be no rain… once everyone got to the station around 10ish it was agreed by consensus we would have a coffee while waiting for the shower to pass. Yes even we can go to McDonald’s – here is proof.

Then we set off – first up the obligatory photo

Then we set off… it is amazing how much space there is in Japan. We stopped at a flood gate… here is where it began to rain and we then lost one of the group because he was so wet!

As luck would have it.. eventually it cleared up…

The route was great as there were very few cars. Only had to watch for joggers and other cyclists. We cycle between baseball pitches, golf courses, rice paddies and houses. Around 1:30 we stopped for lunch at Via cycling cafe which is certainly set up for cyclists – and they have great food options. Here was my lunch – oishii!

After an hour of sitting around eating and talking we set off again and went to a working farm which sells fabulous ice cream!

From here we went to Kawagoe.. which is famous for old Edo style street and historical shrine and bell tower. Certainly worth the visit if you have time. We eventually got to the train station and said goodbye until the Brompton in Palace ride in November!

Mori Arts Museum…

A visit to Tokyo usually involves a visit to the Mori Arts Museum in Roppongi Hills. Apart from having fabulous views across the city (although not on this occasion due to a press event) there is usually something interesting on display.

The exhibition was a retrospective of Shiota Chiharu, who is Japanese but lives in Europe. We had seen her work earlier in the year at the Art Gallery of SA – and I was really pleased to discover it was on during our visit.

Suspended suitcases

…my photos do not to it justice.

Remind me its humid in October…

It is warm in Tokyo. No, its humid. Originally today it looked like it was going to be raining – something to do with a typhoon… but the rain soon passed and the sun came out. Given the weather report we decided to go to Yokohama. Eventually the train emptied out.

We had decided to catch the hop-on-hop off bus (yes so unlike us) to the Aka-Renga Soko (Red brick warehouse). As it hadn’t quite opened we walked around the port area, and came across the Japan Coast Guard Museum. Surprisingly it was air conditioned and inside it contained a North Korean spy ship, retrieved after sinking from an interaction off the coast of Japan. There was a good mix of Japanese and English translation, and they had retrieved a number of personal items which were on display. Pretty good for a free exhibition!

Bar hopping in Kichijoji

First night in Tokyo and we met up with our Brompton friends in Kichijoji. It was great to catch up have some great food (it’s Tokyo it’s all good) and alcohol.

Plates are empty- they did contain goyza, rice and beer. Yes we were cramped into the booth at the end – most enjoyable!

… then we moved to a four story bar

Then a Scottish themed bar… where we talked about gin

… and now on the second to last train home. Here is to sleeping in!