Jump on a Bicycle for a Loop of Awaji Island
1 Dec 2020
Awaji Island is just a 90-minute bus ride away from Kansai International Airport. With stunning nature and delicious food, it is a popular getaway even for Japanese people living in nearby Kansai. More recently, Awaji Island has been gaining popularity among cyclists for the Awaichi cycling loop. Interested parties can simply pop along and rent a bicycle on the island.
A Conveniently Located Rental Hub
From Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, visitors can get to Awaji Island either by car, highway bus or high speed boat. One bicycle rental hub on the island—CYCLISM AWAJI—is located within the Higashiura Bus Terminal, and so visitors can rent a bicycle as soon as they get off the bus. Alternatively, foreign visitors can reserve in advance online through their English website. Those taking the high speed boat to Awaji Island can even get their bicycles delivered to the port! There are a range of different bicycles for the whole family, including children’s bicycles and electric-assist bicycles for those worried about their fitness level. Visitors can also get hold of a cycling route map, available at CYCLISM AWAJI and other locations, before they set off.
The Izanagi Course—56 km Around the Top Half of the Island
Awaji Island has created a number of different cycling routes with varying difficulty levels. Today we’re going to look at the Izanagi Course, which traverses relatively easy terrain and is great for beginners. Izanagi is the name of a god who, according to Japanese mythology, was responsible for the creation of the Japanese archipelago. Legend has it that Izanagi spent the later years of his life at Izanagi-jingu Shrine, which is one of the spots along the route.
After leaving CYCLISM AWAJI, the route takes cyclists along the east side of the island down National Route 28. The road passes by residential areas, magnificent greenery, restaurants suited for tourists, and a beautiful coastline with waves crashing against the shore. With so much to see, there’s no danger of getting bored, but please be aware that the roads are busy.
After about 15 kilometers, the route turns right at Shizuki and heads inland. This road cuts through the island, and gradually leads to higher ground, with more and more greenery to be seen along the way. There is no doubt something soothing about expansive rural fields. After passing the highest point, the route heads back towards a residential area, and it is here that cyclists reach Izanagi-jingu Shrine. The majestic wooden shrine building, together with the pond of turtles and koi carp, presents a dignified, sacred atmosphere. After leaving the shrine and continuing along the route, visitors reach Gunge Port. From here, the route traverses the west side of the island. This part of the loop passes through many a tourist spot, and so whether you stop by each one or simply enjoy your cycling is completely up to you.
Cyclists should also be able to see the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, the northernmost point of Awaji Island which connects the island to Kobe. From here, the end of the route is just another ten kilometers down the east side of the island. Mid-way, though, visitors can stop by the View Matsuho no Sato Hot Spring (only open during the day) and the Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park, home to gorgeous fields of flowers.
Cycling with Peace of Mind
Due to the popularity of cycling on the island, many convenience stores have their own bike racks and even road bike tire pumps for cyclists to use. Although some of the cyclist on the island are veterans, there’s little to worry about. Although English-language signs are few and far between, the tourist association website offers detailed route guides in English. With GPS, cyclists can find out their current location, and make sure they stay on the correct route.
Without stopping, the Izanagi Course takes about four hours. A more casual cycle, with delicious local seafood and wagyu lunches and stops for perfect photographs in between, would take about six hours. Another option is to spend a whole day cycling while stopping off at all the tourist spots, staying over at a hot spring hotel, and experiencing everything that Awaji Island has to offer.