Hiking in Shikoku


For spring break this year, I took my car on the ferry from Tokyo to Tokushima and went hiking and car camping in Shikoku. Six years ago I did a similar trip by motorcycle, and it was good then, so why not mix it up with a revisit by car? There were bicycles to ride and mountains to climb.

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It was my goal to climb Mt. Tsurugi and Mt. Ishizuchi, because they're on Japan's Top 100 Mountains list. Along with those two mountains are Mt. Ryuo and Mt. Miune, which are less famous, and those four mountains are the highest points of each of the four prefectures in Shikoku. Mt. Ryuo isn't even a hike — you can drive to the summit — but the other three mountains were around 10 km jaunts up the hills. Late March weather can be spotty, so there aren't many other hikers around, so it makes for a relaxing time.

Later in the trip I headed west to ride on the Shimanami Kaido, a bicycle path that runs from Imabari in the south to Onomichi in the north, bridging the island chain from Ehime to Hiroshima. I rented a bike in Imabari, and it took about seven hours at a leisurely pace to get to Onomichi. Getting back to my car in the south was complicated: walking, a ferry, more walking, a highway bus, and yet another long walk. The path was also on my list of sixteen motorcycle roads.

If you live in Kanto and have a car, Shikoku is a great spring break location. The ferry is slow but inexpensive, there are many free or cheap campgrounds, and there's a lot to explore. Along with the above-mentioned hikes and rides, I spent a day driving through the Iya Valley, replete with thatch roofs, vine bridges, and mountain valleys with crystal clear streams.

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