Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Shimanami Kaido

Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular 60-kilometer road-and-bridge network connecting Japan’s main island of Honshu with Shikoku, passing over 6 small islands in the Seto Inland Sea 瀬戸内海. The startng point of Shimanami Kaido is in Honshu 本州 Island in Onomichi 尾道 city and end at Imabari 今治 City in Shikoku 四国 Island.

Shimanami Kaido will link the 6 islands of Mukaishima 向島, Innoshima 因島, Ikuchijima 生口島, Omishima 大三島, Hakatajima 伯方島 and Oshima 大島 together with the modern and attractive bridges.

Actually each bridge that links the islands has its own name, but all together they are called Shimanami Kaido.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Cyclists Paradise @ Shimanami Kaido

Cycling is a popular means of experiencing the Shimanami Kaido. I will talk about that in my next blog but now I like to talk about Mt Kiro/Kirosan Observatory Park.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Kirosan Observatory Park 亀老山展望台

One of the best place to view the most spectacular view on Shimanami Kaido is to go up to Mt Kiro/Kirosan located at the southernmost point of Oshima Island. Kirosan Observatory Park is located on Mt Kiro at about 307.8 m high. When you go up, you can enjoy 360 degree unblocked panoramic view of the surrounding area.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

There are stairs to go further up to the observatory deck but no elevator so you have to climb.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

As the weather was really good on a Sunday afternoon, I managed to see the Imabari townscape to the south and Mt Ishizuchi to the southeast and Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge in the northwest.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge 来島海峡大橋 – Best view!

Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge at my foot (below), it is the world’s longest suspension bridge structure which connects the island of Oshima to the main part of Shikoku.

The total length of the bridge is 4,015 m slightly longer than the length of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge 明石海峡大橋 3,911 m which I will use it when I go to Osaka on my way back.

Mt Kiro/Kirosan Observatory Park is one of the best spot to see Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge with an unblocked view/bird view.  You get to see the whole bridge from the top linking from island to island.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Sea Activities 

Observe closely, there are plenty of ships activities in the sea as sea provide great source of food supplies for the Japanese people. Japanese diet is depending highly on seafood, such as fish, prawn, squid, octopus, clam, seaweed etc. I would say seafood is their main diet, not animal meat. You notice Japanese breakfast usually come with fish & rice. After staying more than a week in Japan, my poo also smell different – more like the smell of cat poo as my daily diets contain plenty of fishes and seaweed. 🙂

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Country with plenty of Islands

Beside the stunning Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge, you are able to see there are so many big and small islands. Most of the islands are connected by bridges, some bridges are really long and stunning and some are shorter.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Turtle Statue in Mt Kiro

Kiro ” 亀老” mean an old turtle hence you see a large turtle before you walk up to the observatory deck.  There are coins placed at the head of the turtle to bring good luck.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

There is a map on the floor of the observatory.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Kirosan Meibutsu 亀老山名物 – Famous thing in Kirosan/Mt Kiro

The is a little shop selling souvenirs at Mt Kiro/Kirosan.  Do try out their home-made ice-cream with the speciality of few pinch of “special salt”.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Algae Salt 藻塩 @ 350 yen (USD 3.10)

I bought a refill bag of salt back home.  The refill bag has one time more than the one in the bottle. Both selling at same price 350yen.

What is so special for the Salt 藻塩 here ?

Salt here are coming from the burning seaweed/algae. The color look slightly different and are not white but more brownish color. The taste is also slightly different, the salt is more of mild flavor because the salt concentration is lower, not as salty. It has the deliciousness of the algae/seaweed I guess.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Home made Ice-Cream with Algae Salt – Must try!

Kirosan Home made Ice-cream with Algae Salt tasted so yummy @ 300 yen (USD 2.64).  You must try out the hand-made ice-cream if you come up to Kironsan! I find the ice-cream goes so well with the algae salt, making it hard to resist.

Yes, there are some cyclists made it to the top of Mt Kiro Observatory with their bikes too!

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

How to go up Kirosan?

Kirosan from Imabari is only about half an hour drive.  There are also other cyclists who made it to the top but I think it is quite challenging as the slope is very steep and the road is bit  narrow for the cyclists.  Driving is manageable.

  • Address in Japanese : 愛媛県今治市吉海町南浦487-4
  • Address in English : 487-4 Minamiura, Yoshiumicho, Imabari City, Ehime
  • Tel: 0897-84-2111 => This is important number if you are using a rental car, just key in the phone number and it will bring you to the destination.
  • Parking : Free Parking with 18 car parking spaces
  • Entrance : Free entry 24 hours a day

Below is the small road up to Mt Kiro

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Final thoughts :

If you like to see how Shimanami Kaido look like without any unblocked view/bird view, it is really worth to come up to Kirosan/Mt Kiro Observatory Park. It is just half an hour drive from Imabari. At Kirosan Observatory Park, you get to see the spectacular world’s longest suspension bridge Kurushima Bridge and also those little islands around Shikoku. Do remember to try the hand-made ice cream with pinch of algae salt.

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari

30 Replies to “Japan Shikoku : The most spectacular view on the Shimanami Kaido @ Kirosan Observatory Park, Imabari”

    1. Dear Incalexandra,

      April is the best season to see Japan, not only you get to see the “hanami” also known as sakura viewing in most of the Japanese park and garden, the weather is also the most comfortable as it is not too hot and not too cold.

    1. Dear Lyosha,

      Japan is a country that has never been colonized by a Western country so making it one of very unique and different from the rest of the Asian country and the world. It also has a period called “sakoku” from 17th to 19th centuries, when Japan was completely isolate from the world. They shut down and do not any foreigner to come in and stop any Japanese from leaving the country. Hence making the country still maintain a lot of old tradition as compared to the rest of the world.

  1. Japan is one of my dream country to visit not because I want to see a cherry blossoms but because I wanted to see their beautiful spots and views.

    1. Dear Catherine,

      Japan cherry blossom look prettiest when you pose in front of the castle. Avoid cherry blossom season if you are not really into cherry blossom as this period will be the most crowded as local tourists will be flooding everywhere.

    1. Dear Janine,

      Kirosan is in Shikuko Island (4 largest island) and this part of Japan is very remote as compare to Tokyo or Osaka. People get up to get the glimse of Shimanami Kaido and the Seto Inland Sea view.

    1. Dear Danielle,

      The road to go up Kirosan is not easy to find but with a GPS now, you can reach anywhere with no problem. Anyone who is doing Shikoku Island with self driving a rental car is advise to go up, worth it as the view is just breathtaking.

  2. What amazing views! I always tell people Japan has some of the best beaches in the world! Will definitely check this bridge out next time I’m there.

    1. Dear Brittnie,

      Not sure Japan has the best beaches after living in Japan for few years during my University life many years ago. But what I know is Japanese can’t live without the sea and they sea activities are just amazing if you watch it from the top of the Kirosan.

    1. Dear Sara,

      I strongly agree to expose your son to a new culture has got so many benefit to him. It not broaden his perspective of the other part of the world but also help him to understand his own identity. You son may love the animation in Japan, as it is insane and a global hit thing!

    1. Dear Preet,

      Thanks for your comment. I hope to help visitors who are in doubt to go up to have a better understanding of this place. Hence, there is even information for parking lot at Kirosan 🙂

    1. Dear Kate,
      You are totally right about this. There are 6 bridges linking the famous route of Shimanami Kaido route (best scenic cyclist route in Japan).Kurushima-Kaikyo suspension Bridge is the most longest and most stunning of all the bridges in Shimanami Kaido route. At Kirosan Observatory you get to see the whole bridge in a glance.

    1. Dear Catherine,

      Japan is one of the unique country to visit in Asia. It is clean, tidy and very much in order as compared to other part of Asian countries. The people are like “robot” as they tend to have certain uphold gesture when they are outside, look neat and clean in their suit or outfit. The way they walk and their gesture immediately show the difference and we would know straight away they are Japanese 🙂

    1. Dear Twinspirational,

      Kirosan is not easy to get up unless you have a car or bus to go up. There is no public transport to go up the mountain. Some cyclists cycle up to top of the Observatory Park, I am sure it is super challeging as the road are very narrow even for cars.

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