Cycling along the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture!

Written by Yuge Takahisa
25 Jun 2016
Last update :

What comes to mind when you think of Kochi? Sakamoto Ryoma or katsuo (skipjack tuna), perhaps? Or maybe it’s their plentiful sinking bridges!

Many people think of the historical drama about Sakamoto Ryoma, Ryomaden, or the majestic Kochi Castle. And many others think of katsuo and fresh sashimi. But did you know the hottest new thing to do in Kochi is cycling along the Shimanto River?

The chinkabashi, or sinking bridges, are famous for their special design: They have no railings and sink with the water level to prevent them being washed away when the river floods. With 47 sinking bridges, the Shimanto River offers an idyllic landscape of serenity. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing bike ride.

There's something about cycling along the last clear stream in Japan—I'm still talking about the Shimanto River, of course—that just can't be put into words. The crystal clarity of its waters and the grandeur of its surrounding nature will leave you in awe. There’s no better place to feel and to experience the gifts of Mother Nature first-hand. Just be sure to plan your trip around the rainy season which ends mid-July.

The whole reason for this trip was for me to acquaint myself with the Shimanto River and its sinking bridges, and I feel I was able to accomplish just that.

Statue of Sakamoto Ryoma in Katsurahama. The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum is just around the corner as well, if you’re interested.

Don’t miss the panoramic view of the surrounding area from the tower of Kochi Castle either. It’s truly magnificent!

And you simply can’t leave before trying the fresh local sashimi!

Admire the clear waters of the Shimanto River! Cross the sinking bridges! Cycle through the breathtaking natural world of Kochi!

The Shimanto River is special in that it remains untouched and unaltered by man; its lack of dams and levees are the reason for its clear, natural waters.

I started cycling from the Sata Chinkabashi downstream, and made the 18.5 km ride to the Kuchiyanai Chinkabashi.

It may have been cloudy, but I felt surrounded by life; my heart and soul were rejuvenated. At a pace of only about 9.6 km/h, I was able to really take in my surroundings as I rode towards my destination over the course of nearly 2 hours.

The route was definitely beginner friendly, too, varying from approximately 10-61 meters above sea level.

After arriving at the Kuchiyanai Chinkabashi, you won't want to miss the chance to try some local home-style food at the farm restaurant Shaenziri. You can also go out on an excursion boat or try your hand at canoeing! Step into the magical world of silence, where all you can hear is the water slapping against the bottom of the boats.

※Purely for reference, I used the Runtastic app to keep track of my fitness.
For sightseeing information, please refer to the following.
※You can download a travel guide as well.

My starting point: The Sata Chinkabashi downstream the Shimanto River.

Worry not! There are numerous signs along the way to keep you on course.

When crossing the sinking bridges, one must follow the rules: Get off and walk your bicycle across.

Try amego (red spotted masu trout)—a local delicacy you won’t want to pass up—at the farm restaurant Shaenziri. (The menu changes with the seasons.)

Why not view the bridges from below via an excursion boat?

The boatman said I should have come on a nicer day, but I still enjoyed myself tremendously!

It’s a great place to try canoeing, too!