HOW TO RENT THE BICYCLE
There are two systems:
- The new system of Giant bike company:
- Needs reservation.
- There are two collection points at each end of the route:
- In the Giant store, behind the collecting point of normal bicycles in Onomichi.
- And the other in the Giant store at Imabari station.
- The bikes are high quality, but very expensive, between 4,000 and 13,000 ¥ (see this link to the official website of Giant Onomichi), in addition there is a surcharge of 3,000 ¥ if the bicycle is returned in the opposite terminal to where it is picked up, that is what most people do. The route is completely flat, so I consider it is not necessary to spend so much money.
- The usual bicycle system:
- No reservation required.
- There are 12 terminals, located along the route or near the ferries ports, where you can rent or leave the bike; those of the islands are smaller and have less variety.
- Onomichi’s is 150 meters from the station, right in front of the ferry terminal, in a car park.
- Imabari’s is a few meters from the west exit of the station. There is another, Sunrise Itoyama, little accessible; there are buses (infrequent) from the station, going by taxi will cost about ¥ 2,000, or you can walk from Hashihama station (30 minutes).
- The price is 1,000 ¥ from 7 am to 7 pm at Onomichi, the rest of the terminals (not all) usually open later and close sooner, most open at 8:30 and close at 5 pm. A deposit of another 1,000 ¥ is required, which acts as a surcharge if the bike is returned to a different terminal.
- There are all kinds of bicycles, some are very basic, so making the route with them can become a hard experience, but others have more than enough quality to bike the route without problems, so it is convenient to spend a few minutes to inspect all available bicycles. You can also rent tandems (1,200 ¥) and electric bikes (1,500 ¥ for 6 hours), but you have to return them in the terminal where they were collected.
- A third option is to hire a tour. I strongly advise against it; is much more expensive, and you have to keep up with the group. One of the good things about this route is to be able to stop and enjoy the scenery when you feel like it.
TRANSPORTATION FOR WHEN WE DO NOT WANT TO PEDAL ANYMORE
Unless you make the full route back and forth, which means 140 km (what I did), you will have no choice but to use the public transport to move from where you have stopped to where you want to arrive.
- Ferry: There si no direct ferry line Imabari to Onomichi or vice versa, but there are several lines that go from one island to the other. The most important are:
- For the islands closest to Onomichi: Onomichi Ekimae – Shige Higashi – Sawa (only 4 daily) – Setoda: 40 minutes, ¥ 1,050 (additional 300 ¥ per bicycle) every 1-2 hours. There are bicycle terminals near each of the 4 ports.
- For those closest to Imabari, less convenient: Imabari – Tomoura – Kinoura – Habu: 75 minutes, 1,750 ¥, every 2 hours. There is no terminal to leave the bicycles at Tomoura and Kinoura. It is a fast ferry, and some do not allow bikes. From Habu you can connect with a bus to Onomichi.
- There are direct buses between Onomichi and Imabari (1.5 hours, 2,250 ¥ ida) every 3 hours.
- More frequent, but slower and more expensive, are non-direct buses. From Imabari they arrive at Innoshima Ohashi Station (1.5 to 2 hours, 2.250 ¥, as well as the direct to Onomichi). From this station we can take buses to Habu or Onomichi ports (Innoshima is an intermediate point on the Onomichi – Habu line, one every hour) or to Setoda port (every 2 – 3 hours, stopping at Kosanji Temple).
- If once in Imabari we would like to return to Honshu directly by bus, there are direct buses to Fukuyama (1.5 hours, 2500 ¥, 1 bus / hour) and Hiroshima (2.5 hours, 3700 ¥, 3 buses / day), although most people would return to Onomichi and use their Japan Rail Pass.