Photo/IllutrationCyclists from Ehime Prefecture pass Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture, to promote the new Around Shikoku Cycling Route. (Provided by the Ehime prefectural government)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

MATSUYAMA—Ehime Prefecture has opened a 1,000-kilometer loop cycling course that runs through Shikoku island, the final step in a campaign to make the prefecture a “holy land for cyclists.”

The prefecture estimates it will take cyclists 11 days to complete the route, which starts from and ends at the prefectural capital of Matsuyama.

“I will make every effort to establish the habit of moving around Shikoku on bicycles,” Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura, wearing cycling gear, said in March about the opening of the course.

Shikoku is already home to attractive bicycle routes.

The 70-km Setouchi Shimanami Kaido course, which connects Imabari in Ehime Prefecture with Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, was selected as one of the world’s seven most incredible bike routes by U.S. broadcaster CNN.

Cyclists hop from island to island in the Seto Inland Sea over seven bridges that provide spectacular views.

Although the four prefectures on Shikoku opened a cycling course in 2014, the latest loop route was developed by Ehime Prefecture alone by adding some scenic spots to the existing course.

All along the route, cyclists can try local specialties, such as the Sanuki “udon” noodles and “tataki” lightly grilled skipjack tuna. The course offers many picturesque views, including magnificent islands in the Seto Inland Sea and a submersible bridge over the beautiful Shimantogawa river.

The Ehime prefectural government set up a dedicated department to promote cycling culture, and it worked with Hiroshima Prefecture and local municipalities to call on the central government and other relevant parties to lower the toll fares for six bridges that are part of the Shimanami Kaido.

Fares ranged from 50 to 200 yen ($0.45 to 1.78) to pass over the bridges, but cyclists can now run on them free of charge.

Ehime Prefecture has also organized an international cycling competition.

The local government’s tourism promotion campaign is modeled on policies adopted by cycling-mad Taiwan.

The Shimanami Kaido and Taiwan’s famed Sun Moon Lake cycling spot became sister locations in 2014.

The latest cycling route on Shikoku is modeled on a 960-km loop course that runs thorough Taiwan.