Special Feature
Cycling around Shikoku
What is the "Shikoku Discovery Ride 2012" ?

Experience Secluded Shikoku, A Special Bicycle Tour

 The Cog-way Shikoku Cycling Project (Cog-way Shikoku) was created in order to communicate the charm of Shikoku to the world. Cog-way Shikoku's "Shikoku Discovery Island" tour was held from September 10 to September 20, 2011. (During that time, Shikoku Cycling 2011, a ride from Kochi city to the Shimanto River, was also held).
 At the core of Cog-way Shikoku is a group of cyclists who have completed long cycling journeys such as riding across the African continent or following the Silk Road. The name, Cog-way Shikoku, is made of the words "cog" which comes from the Japanese word "to pedal" which symbolizes the fun of riding a bicycle, and "way", which represents using one's own strength to blaze a new path. The cyclists established this group in order to communicate their messages to society.
The goals of Shikoku Discovery Ride 2011 were for "participants from overseas to come and interact with the local people and experience the charm of Shikoku", and "to create new discoveries through having people come from all over the world and do something together." Last year was the first year this was held, and despite it being the year of the Tohoku earthquake, 40 cyclists came together from America, the UK, Italy, Poland, Denmark, China, Korea, Taiwan, and more.
 Shikoku, the stage for the event, has four prefectures, each packed with their own unique culture and history, beautiful nature, delicious food, and unique attractivenesses. However, for people overseas, Shikoku is still largely an unexplored region. The project begins, entering Ehime prefecture via Onomichi, Hiroshima prefecture, and circling the island in a 700km course covering the Shimanami Sea Route (Ehime), Kotohira-gu Shrine (Kagawa), Yoshino River (Tokushima), Shimanto River (Kochi), and more. The cycling course runs through all the best secluded spots. Participants experienced both the rich nature of Shikoku and the culture of hospitality and support for journeying pilgrims. Along the trip, the Shimanto River in Kochi was especially popular. The rain eased up, and the participants rode along the mist-enshrouded river, soaking up the spirit of Japan's bygone days.

  • Along the Shimanto River, enveloped by majestic nature. (Kochi)Along the Shimanto River, enveloped by majestic nature (Kochi)
  • A landscape full of Japanese atmosphere along the Yoshino River (Tokushima)A landscape full of Japanese atmosphere along the Yoshino River (Tokushima)

Bicycles Helping People Cross Linguistic and Cultural Boundaries

 "We can connect with each other, overcoming differences in language, culture, religion, and ideology, using the bicycle as a tool."
Inside a bicycle hides the power to overcome many linguistic, cultural, and religious barriers. This is the second purpose of Cog-way Shikoku. Participants call out to one another, enjoying the grand scenery together as they ride along on their bicycles. Before long, the participants have naturally overcome language barriers. This is one moment when it feels as though the project has succeeded.
 In order to help participants understand Shikoku more deeply, the project included a number of events designed to showcase the traditions and culture of Shikoku. A party on a boat, a stay at a temple, morning Buddhist prayers, a stay at an elementary school, dancing Awa Odori, seared bonito over a straw fire, and bathing at a hot spring. Plus, one can't speak of Shikoku without mentioning the food. Participants enjoyed Shikoku hotpot, Naruto kintoki sweet potatoes, bonito seared over a straw fire, Sanuki udon noodles, an imo-ni simmered potato, and more. The participants from overseas delighted in the many new discoveries they made in Shikoku.
 The Tohoku Earthquake, which happened in March 2011, caused many of the participants from overseas to say, "we want to do something to help Japan!" so during the program some charity activities were held to support the impacted areas. Spending time on this bicycle trip with people from other countries who had a genuine love for Japan created many scenes where people made cross-cultural "connections" despite differences in language and culture.
 Connections between people, encounters with the charm of Shikoku, the feeling of accomplishment gained from journeying by bicycle: participants have so much to discover on this cycling project. This will certainly continue to be an event to watch out for. Why not join us in making new discoveries on a bicycle trip around Shikoku?

  • Participants encourage each other during a pit stop (Ehime)Participants encourage each other during a pit stop (Ehime)
  • Jazz concert at Iwamoto Temple (Kochi)Jazz concert at Iwamoto Temple (Kochi)
  • Participants enjoy dancing Awa Odori (Tokushima)Participants enjoy dancing Awa Odori (Tokushima)
  • A group photo before departure after spending the night at Zentsuji Temple (Kagawa)A group photo before departure after spending the night at Zentsuji Temple (Kagawa)