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.
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.
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.
There are stairs to go further up to the observatory deck but no elevator so you have to climb.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
There is a map on the floor of the observatory.
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”.
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.
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!
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
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.