Cycling Shimanami 2022:

Must-Know Information Before You Go

written by Jen Santelices

Tatara Bridge, one of the bridges in the expressway that have dedicated bike lanes

Spanning over 70 kilometers of routes that traverse cable-stayed bridges and stunning islands, Cycling Shimanami is a one-of-a-kind event that every cyclist in Japan should experience. 

This year, Cycling Shimanami is gearing up for a highly anticipated return after a four-year hiatus. Previous participants will be glad to know that in addition to the courses from 2018, a brand new course has been created for 2022, for a total of eight cycling courses suited for all levels of cyclists. 

Whether you’re keen to do a fun outdoor activity with the family or you’re already an experienced cyclist searching for a new adventure, Cycling Shimanami is open to everyone who wants to appreciate the beauty of the southern Japanese islands while on a bike. And if you’ve never joined before, we’re sharing all the information you need to fully enjoy the unique event that is Cycling Shimanami.

Fast Facts

Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge, one of the longest bridges that’s part of the Expressway
  • Date

    October 29-30, 2022

  • Location

    Shimanami Kaido, Ehime Prefecture

  • Distance

    30km (18.6 miles) to 140km (87 miles)

  • Maximum Participants

    7,000 cyclists

  • Entry

    April 18 to May 20, 2022 (first come, first served)

  • Price

    ¥14,000 to ¥18,000 (depending on category)

About Cycling Shimanami

Attracting thousands of cyclists from Japan and all over the world, Cycling Shimanami is a non-competitive public cycling event that takes place on the Shimanami Kaido Expressway every two years. During the event, participants will be able to freely cycle on the expressway’s roads, as the sections covered in the courses will be closed off to cars and other vehicles.

Cycling Shimanami is an easy event to get into even if you don’t speak Japanese – brochures with complete information on routes and course details are available in multiple languages: English, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

Shimanami Kaido Expressway

Although biking on an expressway might at first seem like a bad idea, the Shimanami Kaido is a beloved route among cyclists in Japan. In addition to having unrivaled views from the Seto Inland Sea, its roads have seen massive improvements over the years in an effort to make the expressway very cycling friendly. 

Locally known as a “Sacred Place for Cyclists”, Shimanami Kaido is structured with dedicated cycling lanes painted with a bright blue line that guides cyclists so they won’t get lost. Throughout the surrounding area, over 150 shops, cafes, and guest houses are more than happy to welcome cyclists in. They provide essentials such as air pumps, bicycle stands, drinking water and toilets. Certain buses, trains, and ships that service the area also accept cyclists with their bikes onboard.

Thanks to all of this and more, Shimanami Kaido is considered to be a world-class cycling course and officially became a “National Cycle Route” in November 2019.

Dedicated bike lane on Tatara Bridge

Cycling Shimanami 2022

Course Categories

Cycle access ramp at Imabari

Course A: Imabari 70

If you want to experience the entire length of the main highway course without the round trip aspect, Imabari 70 will get you there. Beginning at Mukaishima Island in Hiroshima Prefecture, participants will make their way southwards and cross over 7 different islands, ending at Hirokoji in Imabari City.

Type: One-way
Bicycle class: Sports
Total distance: 70 km / 43.5 miles
Capacity: 1,000
Aid stations: 5
Time limit: 5 hours

Course B: Innoshima 70

This course starts at the same point as Imabari 70, but differs halfway through when the course diverges outside of the highway main line and through to two of the smallest islands included in the event (Iwagijima Island and Ikinajima Island). Innoshima 70 is one of only two courses that cover this area, the other one being Course G: Yumeshima 80. Participants end back in Onomichi City, located in Japan’s main Honshu island.

Type: Round trip
Bicycle class: Sports
Total distance: 70 km / 43.5 miles
Capacity: 300
Aid stations: 3
Time limit: 5 hours 45 minutes

Omishima Bridge

Course C: Omishima 100

Although this course both starts and ends in Onomichi City, you might have guessed from the name that it focuses on Omishima Island. It is the only course that goes all the way around Omishima, giving participants a chance to enjoy lovely views of the island from all angles.

Type: Round trip
Bicycle class: Sports
Total distance: 100 km / 62.1 miles
Capacity: 1,200
Aid stations: 4
Time limit: 7 hours 45 minutes

Course D: Complete Shimanami 140

Best for serious cyclists

Made for experienced cyclists who want the full Shimanami experience, Complete Shimanami 140 is the longest course available. Similar to Omishima 100, it starts towards the south, in Onomichi City, and goes through the entire highway main line up north then returns to Onomichi. Cycling through the main line twice means you won’t miss out on any spectacular views.

Type: Round trip
Total distance: 140 km / 87 miles
Capacity: 500
Number of Aid Stations: 6
Time limit: 8 hours 15 minutes

Yugejima Island, one of the islands included in this course.

Course E: Onomichi 70

Onomichi 70 is the biggest course in terms of capacity, maxing out at 1,500 people. It shares the same route as Course A: Imabari 70, but starts south of the highway and finishes in the north.

Type: One-way
Bicycle class: Sports
Total distance: 70 km / 43.5 miles
Capacity: 1,500
Aid stations: 3
Time limit: 4 hours 30 minutes

Course F: Ikuchi 110

Ikuchi 110 is a round trip course that covers about 3/4ths of the highway main line, before going around its namesake, Ikuchijima Island. The course then loops back, finishing near its starting point of Imabari IC, crossing four cable-stayed bridges along the way.

Type: Round trip
Bicycle class: Sports
Total distance: 110 km / 68.3 mile
Capacity: 1,000
Aid stations: 3
Time limit: 7 hours 30 minutes

Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge

Course G: Yumeshima 80

Best for island views!

Described as the “course devoted to islands”, Yumeshima 80 will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to number of islands crossed. 4 of the islands covered fall outside of the highway main road and this event is the only chance when you can freely cycle through these islands without seeing cars along the way.

Type: One-way
Bicycle class: Sports
Total distance: 80 km / 49.7 miles
Capacity: 500
Aid stations: 2
Time limit: 5 hours 45 minutes

Kirosan Observatory Park

Course H: Oshima 30

Best for families & first-time cyclists!

The course of choice for beginners and families, Oshima 30 accepts participants regardless of bicycle type. In fact, you’re even allowed to ride on a tandem bike! You can have fun cycling over Kurushima Kaikyō Bridge, which set the record as the world’s first three-stage suspension bridge when it was opened in 1999. There is also an E-Bike Guided Tour Division limited to 30 people. The tour goes through an extra stop at Kirosan Observatory Park for mountain top views of the Seto Inland Sea and the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge.

Type: Round trip
Bicycle class: Sports, City/Commuter, Tandem (General Division) E-Bikes (E-Bike Guide Tour Division)
Total distance: 30 km / 18.6 miles
Capacity: 970 (General Division), 30 (E-Bike Guide Tour Division)
Aid stations: 1
Time limit: 4 hours

Preventative Measures Against COVID-19 for Cycling Shimanami 2022

Participants are expected to abide by the rules set by the event organizers. This includes agreeing to withdraw from the event in cases such as having a body temperature of 37.5°C or above, testing positive for Covid within three weeks of the event, or being in close contact with someone who tested positive within two weeks prior to the event. 

Participants will also be given a health check app or sheet to complete two weeks before Cycling Shimanami. This information will then be verified at the check-in counter on the day of the event. During check-in, other preventative measures will be enforced, such as measuring body temperatures at the entrance, wearing of face masks, hand-disinfecting, and the provision of a bag for belongings that will be submitted during check-in and handed back after crossing the finish line.

Once the cycling event is underway, masks will be required before starting, during aid station stops, and after crossing the finish line. Outside of these instances, it is up to participants’ discretion whether to wear masks while on the road. To avoid the risk of heat stroke, mask-wearing is not strictly enforced during cycling. You can find the full details for Cycling Shimanami 2022’s Special Covid-19 Rules here.

Cyclist-friendly Accommodation Around Shimanami Kaido

In an effort to revitalize the Shimanami Kaido area, the local government has appointed several cyclist-friendly accommodations at popular start and end points. The right column shows the Cycling Shimanami courses based on varying start and end points.

Along the Shimanami Kaido, many places of accommodation have bike storage facilities and bike delivery services, while some have a mixture of repair and maintenance facilities, showers available outside of business hours, laundry facilities, and internet access.

More information on cyclist-friendly accommodation is available on the Shimanami Kaido Official Website

Imabari

Start point for: Course C, D, E, F, G
End point for: Course A, C, D, E, F, H

Onomichi

For Onomichi accommodations (starting point for Course A and B, and end point for Course B), although they aren’t included in the site, there are a couple of cyclist-friendly places to stay across the city:

Other

Oshima
Start point for: Course H

Yugejima
End point for: Course G

About the Author

Originally from the Philippines, Jen has lived a quarter of her life in Japan, with half of that working as a professional writer.

During lockdown, she learned how to find ways to stay healthy and active indoors, so now Jen’s a yoga-practicing, semi-vegan home cook who can do the splits! Her next goals involve being able to do a handstand and keeping her chili plants alive.

jen