After a night in the inn of the Ikuchijima Island we are beginning slowly our second day by the visit of Kosanji Temple. It is an old temple which particularity lies in its buildings built on the model of famous religious building like the Yomeimon gate of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine.
It conceals also a big statue of Kannon Goddess, a cavern symbolizing hell and a hill the top of which is paved and covered with statues of white Carrara marble symbolizing paradise.
There is a great view on the sea and islands around. Except one month in the cold season, the temple always has flowers, especially in August when lotuses contained in 300 display cases are flowering.
All temples in Japan have an access way called (Omote) Sandô.
We are taking this of Kosanji Temple. Decorated differently according to seasons, it gathers shops selling traditional snack food that cyclists can enjoy while riding, the typical building of an old post office transformed in a rest room for cyclists, traditional wealthy houses of salt producers, and at the end of the street, in an old salt warehouse, a small and free marine museum, opening on the street, held by an old spirited lady who doesn't speak a word of English but who will explain you everything on former boat life. A wonderful encounter!
From there, we are going in the direction of the Tatara Bridge. Its access ramp weaves along slopes convenient for orchards where organically grown trees are covered by mikan (Japanese mandarin) and lemon, originated from this island.
The Tatara Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge with its pure lines fits well in the landscape. Pieces of wood were placed under its pylons for passers-by to create sounds that the pylons echo reverberates with a metallic effect.
On the other side of the bridge is the Tatara Shimanami Park Michi no Eki, a direct sale market for the local production of fruits, vegetables and other natural products, adjoining some restaurants. After a few hours of ride, it is really the good timing for a sandwich break. I cannot resist to the local famous sea bream fish-burger in a small fish-burger shop: very tasty, melting in the mouth with a light and crispy crust in soft and crusty bread. I have also bought some flavorful lemons and a pot of mikan honey. That's it, now we are ready to move on.
The island has got some interesting art museums but we decide to go along the coast with this fabulous view of the surrounding islands in the morning sun. We are going up in the green on the bicycle lane to reach a height overlooking the bridge and the bay. The arc bridge has got nothing particular but the view from it is splendid.
The Hakata Island is just a transit spot for us. We have just passed a shipyard, one of the main local activities and are following our way to the foot of the Oshima Bridge. There is Marine Oasis, a small leisure complex where we stop to contemplate palm trees on the beach and the bridge. I am testing there a very simple and very surprising snack called Jako-ten. (You should taste this very Japanese and local snack - a square made of rockfish paste steamed and fried).
Just energized enough, we are crossing the bridge to take a very picturesque road running along the seashore and finally reach the area of the Noshima Island surrounded by strong currents, which stood the Murakami fleet fortress.
Further after the very typical long fishing port with its small sized boats is the Suigun restaurant where we are having a rest and a delicious fish based lunch across the street from the Murakami Suigun Museum.
Murakami Suigun Museum
The numerous islands of the regions strengthen the tide effect which results in strong currents. Those were feared by old time navigators who, for most of them, did not know how to swim. Inhabitants began naturally to guide boats against remuneration, pirating ships occasionally, and organized themselves on the region level before to be rented by fiefdoms as extra battle fleet during wars, capable of affecting the battle results.
The museum, new and clearly organized, explains their story and offers visitors to try on related armors and kimonos. Simple and rewarding!
After the visit, we are back to the village center to take again the Shimanami -Kaido which crosses the island in its middle and passes two small hills to reach the Kurushima Kaikyo impressive three successive bridges. It is a master piece of 4 km long spanning on small islands. There is an astonishing view on islands from there, and we have a good timing for sunset, as well as a great spectacle enjoyed by local people through jogging or family walk.
The bridge runs up with a false flat to its center and from there you just have to let you go right to the Imabari bicycle terminal located at the foot of the bridge where you can enjoy again the bridge you have crossed. We are exhausted because of spindrift and pure air but very satisfied!