Seen from the top of Mount Noro, near the city of Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture, the islands of the Seto Inland Sea cram together as a winding labyrinth. Through the mist, a suspension bridge, linking one of the islands to the mainland, beckons the inquisitive traveler to the island realm.

It's the Akinada Bridge, the starting point for the Akinada Tobishima Kaido expressway, a network of seven bridges that spans seven islands. The 96-kilometer round trip can be followed by car, bike or on foot, from the Akinada Bridge down to Okamura Island, just to the north of Shikoku.

Although less well-known than the nearby Shimanami Kaido, the Tobishima route is gaining in popularity. "It is becoming famous as a cycling course," says Kenichi Yamamoto of Kure City's Tourism Promotion Division. "Guest houses and cafes are also increasing."