An invigorating bike ride along the Shimanto River
The Shimanto River is said to be the last of Japan's crystal clear rivers; a beauty that you'll want to keep secret. The best way to explore this pristine region is by bicycle, and the area is well-equipped with rent-a-cycle terminals.
How to rent a bicycle
If you're going to enjoy Shimanto River area by bicycle, rent-a-cycle service Shimanto Rin-Rin Cycle is easy and convenient. There are 7 terminals along the approx. 40km stretch between Nakamura Station (Tosa Kuroshio Railway) in the downstream area and Ekawasaki Station (JR Line) in the midstream area of Shimanto River. The bicycles are 26 inch mountain bikes. You can leave the bicycles at any of the terminals making it easy to suit your individual travel plans.
This time, we'll introduce the 20km cycling route starting from Camp Village Kawarakko and ending at Nakamura City at the mouth of the river.
There are very few hills on the road running along the Shimanto River, making it a fairly easy run. Of course the river is magnificent, but there are also tranquil forests and country scenery waiting for you. There are many tea fields between the midstream and upriver area, and dotted along the way are traces of country lifestyle. Ride through tunnels of trees, take breaks along the river banks, feel the river breeze on your face and experience all that Shimanto River has to offer.
Chinkabashi - the symbol of Shimanto River
One of the most interesting things to see along the Shimanto River are the chinkabashi (submersible bridges). Chinkabashi have no balustrades, meaning the river breeze and beautiful views are unobstructed. There are many chinkabashi between the midstream and downstream area, all of which are popular photo spots.
Chinkabashi are not very wide, so please dismount from your bicycle and walk across. While crossing the bridge, look down upon the river and find out for yourself why Shimanto is called the last crystal clear river in Japan.
Along this route, you can stop by the longest and farthest downstream of these bridges, Sada Chinkabashi, and also Takase Chinkabashi, which sits on the widest and calmest part of the river.
Take a rest from cycling and have lunch on a river cruise ship
There are several river cruise tour companies near the mouth of the river. The boats, called yakatabune, are a traditional style of roofed-sightseeing boat. Why not take a break from cycling and try cruising the river on a yakatabune! Rather than chairs, tatami mats cover the floor on the inside of the boats so you can spread out and relax, and take in the river view from a new perspective. Some of the boats tour underneath the chinkabashi, offering yet another interesting view.
There are also yakatabune that offer bento lunch boxes featuring fish found in the river like eels and sweetfish. Having lunch on the Shimanto River is also a special experience.
Check out the sights near the river mouth and return your bicycle
There are many places worth visiting around the mouth of the Shimanto River.
One of these is the 2km stretch of willow trees, called the Nyuta Willow Forest (Nyuta Yanagi-bayashi in Japanese) that runs along the river. In spring, 1000 rapeseed blossoms bloom in a sea of yellow beneath the willow, and you can ride your bicycle through this stunning scenery.
Crossing over the red iron bridge will bring you to the urban center of the Nakamura area. This place has been nicknamed "Little Kyoto," and is dotted with historical Shinto shrines like Ichijo Shrine and Fuba Hachimangu Shrine. You are able to freely walk in and look around the grounds of the shrine.
After you've finished exploring the area, head to the Shimanto City Tourism Association across from Nakamura Station to return your bicycle.