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A lot of KANcycling photo albums seem to start out with a picture like this. No wonder - from the Kansai region, ferries are often the cheapest and nicest way to travel. This trip began with an overnight ferry from Kobe to Shin-Moji, at the tip of the island of Kyushu. I chose this ferry due to time restrictions and departure time; ferries also go to Beppu, Oita, Hyuga and Miyazaki further down the coast. For this trip, Beppu or Oita might have been a better choice; from Shin-Moji, it was 40km down a busy coastal highway to my first stop, Usa.

Usa is the head office for Japan's 25,000 Hachiman shrines (which are second in number only to the "inari-jinja" or fox shrines, originally related to prayers for a good harvest). It's also probably the least-known of Japan's finest shrines, and among the most unusual. Nowhere else in Japan have I seen anything like this curved combination bridge and shrine corridor. And this is merely the entranceway to the main complex.