A Yumeshima Kaido island-hopping trip with a local guide

A Yumeshima Kaido island-hopping trip with a local guide

A Yumeshima Kaido island-hopping trip with a local guide
Just For Fun

The town of Kamijima in the Ochigun district of Ehime Prefecture is comprised of twenty-five small islands in the Seto Inland Sea on the eastern side of the Shimanami Kaido. Four of those inhabited islands (Ikinajima, Sashima, Yugeshima, and Iwagijima) make up the Yumeshima Kaido, a short course that can be cycled in just half a day where you’ll find lots of attractions unique to cycling in Setouchi.

The Iwagi Bridge is scheduled for completion in spring 2022 and will connect the Ikinajima and Iwagijima islands. Then, the Yumeshima Kaido will at last be fully open. Our guide is Mr. Hiroki Watanabe from Setouchi Annaisha Tabitasu, a company that runs guided cycling tours in the Setouchi area. Mr. Watanabe showed us the sights to see on this course that is getting attention not only from beginner cyclists, but also from cyclists who have thoroughly explored the Shimano Kaido.

Take a cycling trip at your own pace unique to Ikinajima Island 

You can get to the islands of Kamijima, which make up the Yumeshima Kaido, by ferry or high-speed boat from Imabari Port in Ehime Prefecture or Habu Port on Innoshima Island in Hiroshima Prefecture. Please note that some high-speed boats (Geiyokisen) that depart from Imabari Port don’t allow bicycles on board, depending on the time of day.

On this trip, we took the ferry from Habu Port on Innoshima Island to Tateishi Port on Ikinajima Island. The ferry ride took only about 5 min.

The view of the Seto Inland Sea from Ikinajima Island

The view of the Seto Inland Sea from Ikinajima Island

When we reached Ikinajima Island, we were surprised at how few cars were on the roads. There isn’t a single traffic light on the island, so you can enjoy cycling at your own pace with hardly any concern over cars.

There is also a bicycle rental service at Ikina Tateishi Port Office where you can make arrangements to ride the ferry. There are 19 bicycles available, including cross bikes, classic bicycles, and two-person tandem bicycles. The Yumeshima Kaido has many gentle hills, so we recommend an electric bicycle for beginner cyclists.

Mr. Watanabe, our guide from Setouchi Annaisha Tabitasu

Mr. Watanabe, our guide from Setouchi Annaisha Tabitasu

The perimeter course on Ikinajima Island consists of a flat road along the coastline and a mountain road surrounded by mandarin orange fields. There are hills, but if you ride an electric bicycle there is absolutely no problem. It’s also nice to take it easy and push your bicycle as you walk while fully soaking in the island atmosphere.

Sound Hakanda Campground, which is buzzing with campers in summer, is located on the northwesternmost part of Ikinajima Island. Nearby is the noted Kamijima attraction, breakwater art. The painting features finless porpoises that once lived in the area. The vibrancy of the mural makes it seem as if they could jump into the sea at any moment.

Breakwater art, “Everyone’s Porpoises” on Ikinajima Island

Breakwater art, “Everyone’s Porpoises” on Ikinajima Island

This breakwater art is a product of an art project the Kamijima Tourism Association sponsored in 2019. The artists chosen through public submissions, local high school students, and volunteers painted the artwork over several days. It’s now a popular spot where many cyclists stop to take a photo.

Another interesting spot to take a photo is a bus stop that stands alone against a picturesque view of the expansive Seto Inland Sea. The bus stop is for the town bus that locals ride, but people are drawn to the solitary sight that somehow seems secluded from the world. Apparently, cyclists stop one after another to snap a picture.

There is also an impressive landscape that can only be enjoyed for a limited time. On the western side of the island, you can get an up-close view of the giant suspension bridge, the Iwagi Bridge that is scheduled to open in spring 2022 and will connect Ikinajima and Iwagijima islands.

Iwagi Bridge is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Iwagi Bridge is scheduled for completion in 2022.

As you enjoy cycling along the Yumeshima Kaido, you’ll be particularly impressed by the view of the Seto Inland Sea. Our guide, Mr. Watanabe said, “There is no course like the Yumeshima Kaido that has such a beautiful view and is so easy to cycle.”

One reason for that is the low seawall unique to the islands that float on the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea. You can easily look out at the sea from your perch on your bicycle as you pedal. Plus, another characteristic of the Yumeshima Kaido is close proximity to the next island. There are almost no strong winds that are the bane of many cyclists. It is truly a course to recommend to beginner cyclists.

Shiomi House: Enjoy the mood of Sashima Island in a guesthouse in an old family home

If you travel about halfway counterclockwise around Ikinajima Island from Tateishi Port, you’ll see the suspension bridge, Ikina Bridge that connects to Sashima Island. Sashima is the smallest of the islands you can visit on the Yumeshima Kaido cycling road. There are no supermarkets or convenience stores on the island, which is approx. 10 km around and has a population of just under 500. Here, you can sense a special charm.

Ikina Bridge

Ikina Bridge

On Sashima Island, our guide, Mr. Watanabe wanted to make sure we saw Shiomi House, an old family home-turned guesthouse located right beside Ikina Bridge.

Nobuko Nishimura renovated this guesthouse. She is a descendant of Robert Shiomi, who was born in this house. Robert went to America about 100 years ago at the age of 13 as a Japanese immigrant and later became a doctor. Since opening in 2016, this guesthouse has welcomed many travelers from both Japan and abroad.

Keiko Tomita has worked as the guesthouse manager since the Shiomi House opened. Originally, she worked at a guesthouse overseas, but life brought her to Sashima Island where she encountered Shiomi House. Keiko says she likes the languid atmosphere of Sashima Island. She has been living on the island for about six years.

Keiko Tomita

Keiko Tomita

The traditional Goemon bath warms the body to the core and is also a symbol of Shiomi House. Guests can experience the bath by starting with burning firewood under the bath boiler to heat the bathwater.

Goemon bath

Goemon bath

Shiomi House
Address: 299 Yuge-Sashima, Kamijima-cho, Ochi-gun, Ehime Prefecture
Website: http://shiomihouse.com/

Shimade Café: Try lemon pork atop rice, the comfort food of locals in Kamijima 

You can cross the 980 m Yuge Bridge, located on the northeastern part of Sashima Island, to get to Yugeshima Island. It is the heart of the town of Kamijima where facilities such as the town hall are located. This area has the largest number of sites such as cafés and shops on the Yumeshima Kaido.

Yuge Bridge

Yuge Bridge

Shimade Café is about a minute by bicycle from Yuge Bridge in the Yuge Port area where you can catch the outbound ferry to Imabari Port. Cyclists even refer to Shimade Café as an oasis.

Shimade Café

Shimade Café

The café is run by the mother-daughter team, Ritsuko and Tomomi Murakami. Ritsuko originally worked as a civil servant for Kamijima for over thirty years and was actively involved in branding and promoting Yugeshima Island. She opened Shimade Café in 2008 as part of such activities and with the idea of energizing the island.

Ritsuko (left) and Tomomi Murakami

Ritsuko (left) and Tomomi Murakami

The café menu includes lunch and cake sets, but the recommended dish is “lemon pork atop rice.” Lemon pork refers to the meat of pigs raised on feed mixed with lemons grown in Kamijima, and is distinctive for its light fatty character. Nori, a product from Yugeshima Island, is sprinkled on the dish to produce the aroma of the sea to encourage the appetite.

Lemon pork atop rice is a kind of comfort food for the residents of Kamijima. Though you can find it at various shops in the town, Ritsuko notes that at Shimade Café the dish is characterized for its light pepper seasoning. Be sure to try this lemon pork atop rice that is prepared with the adult palate in mind.

Lemon pork atop rice

Lemon pork atop rice

The café also sells island specialty products.

The café also sells island specialty products.

Shimade Café
Address: 830-1 Yuge-Shimoyuge, Kamijima-cho, Ochi-gun, Ehime Prefecture
Phone: 0897-77-2232
Hours: 9:00 am–6:00 pm (orders taken until 5:30 pm)
Closed: Tuesdays
Website: https://www.shimano-kaisha.co.jp/cafe/

Soubeegama Tobo Dodo: Make pottery during your cycling trip 

There is a workshop in the Yuge Port area run by the local ceramic artist, Sonosuke Furukawa who studied at a Bizen ware pottery. He opened Soubeegama Tobo Dodo in 2017.

In addition to being able to make pottery under guidance from Mr. Furukawa, you can also view and purchase pottery crafted by Mr. Furukawa at the adjoining gallery.

The hands-on pottery-making takes about an hour, so it’s possible to participate on your cycling trip. Our guide, Mr. Watanabe says he has made a mug together with cyclists he was taking on a tour.

Mr. Furukawa takes care to let guests create whatever they like. He simply wants people to enjoy creating pottery, so he tries not to interfere or say too much.

Mr. Sonosuke Furukawa

Mr. Sonosuke Furukawa

Tools to use during the hands-on pottery-making

Tools to use during the hands-on pottery-making

Soubeegama Tobo Dodo
Address: 326-1 Yuge-Myojin, Kamijima-cho, Ochi-gun, Ehime Prefecture
Phone: 090-4494-3346
Closed: Thursdays
Website: https://soubeegama.net/

Kitchen 313 Kamiyuge: Carefully hand-kneaded uncommon bread and bagels 

If you head north on the Yumeshima Kaido along the coastline from the Yuge Port area, you’ll arrive at Kamiyuge Port where the ferry runs to Innoshima Island.

Nearby this port is Kitchen 313 Kamiyuge where you can eat delicious bagels. The shop is in the renovated storehouse of an old home over a hundred years old. In addition to bagels, the shop also offers an array of bread loaves and baked sweets.

The bagels and loaves of bread at Kitchen 313 Kamiyuge are all kneaded by hand without the use of a machine. From dough preparation to baking, everything is handled by the owner, Maki Miyahata. She wakes up every morning between 2:00 am and 3:00 am to prepare.

When asked the reason for being so meticulous about hand kneading, she says that in this day and age when you can buy anything at convenience stores, she wants to value the work of hand kneading and baking each piece in this historical building.

“I can only make a small amount a day. Even so, there are people who want my bread, and I’m happy when they’re happy.” We were impressed by her gentle smile as she gazed with devotion at the bagels.

You can enjoy the bagels, muffins, and baked sweets in the dining space inside or garden, together with coffee that her husband, Shuhei hand roasts himself.

Kitchen 313 Kamiyuge
Address: 313 Yuge-Kamiyuge, Kamijima-cho, Ochi-gun, Ehime Prefecture
Phone: 0897-72-9075
Hours: 11:00 am–3:30 pm
Closed: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays
Website: https://313.mystrikingly.com/

Hidden art that can only be enjoyed if you cycle to the northernmost tip of Yugeshima Island

Yugeshima is a narrowly shaped island running north-south. On the northernmost tip of the island is Omori Shrine, and in front of that a small torii gate faces the sea. Actually, this is also a popular spot with cyclists for taking photos. Between the torii gate and seawall you can just get a glimpse of the seascape. Together with your bicycle it makes an attractive photo.

Also, if you go behind Omori Shrine along the road, a wonderful panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea and the brightly colored seawall art, “Heavenly Flower” appear.

In the Yumeshima Kaido area of small islands, the northern side of Yugeshima Island is a rare spot where you can enjoy the expansive seascape. The islands dimly floating in the distance appear just like ink paintings. Against that scenery, the brightly drawn “Heavenly Flower” was breathtakingly beautiful.

Breakwater art, “Heavenly Flower”

Breakwater art, “Heavenly Flower”

The Iwagi Bridge scheduled for completion in spring 2022 will connect the Ikinajima and Iwagijima islands, and the Yumeshima Kaido will be fully open. Now when travel is being reassessed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, how about avoiding the 3Cs (closed spaces, crowds, and close-contact situations) and head out with family and friends on a cycling trip to get close to nature?

PROFILE

Hiroki Watanabe

He is a tour guide from Setouchi Annaisha Tabitasu that conducts guided cycling tours in the Setouchi area, centering around the Shimanami Kaido.
https://www.tabitasu.net/

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