• Japan In Focus

Ehime: Cruising in Between Cycling

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Cycleship Lazuli sails with cyclists and bikes aboard.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Shimanami Kaido is going by boat and coming back by bicycle, allowing travelers to enjoy the scenery of the Seto Inland Sea.

This route starts with a 40-minute ride aboard the passenger boat Cycleship Lazuli, from the pier in front of JR Onomichi Station on the Honshu side, to Setoda Port on Ikuchijima island. As the boat’s name implies, travelers can bring their bicycles on the boat.

Starting in January 2019, Setouchi Cruising Co. in Onomichi has offered four to five round-trip cruises on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays.

The boat, with a total length of about 18 meters, can accommodate about 50 bicycles on its first-floor deck and second-floor stand. The boat’s capacity, which stood at 75 in its initial period of operation, has been increased to 130 in response to the rise in popularity.

Free Wi-Fi service and recharging outlets are available aboard the boat. Maintenance tools for bicycles can be borrowed free of charge, too.

Setouchi Cruising President Ruka Fujii said, “We’d like to undertake various projects while taking into consideration the needs of cyclists.”

Bicycles can also be loaded to ferry boats and high-speed boats that sail from Imabari and Onomichi ports to all islands along the Shimanami Kaido.

Shimanami Co., which operates roadside rest areas along the Nishi-Seto Expressway, is planning to build a new cycle ship.