Western Kyushu is the road less traveled. In contrast to the main cross-Kyushu route, which tries to hit as many of the island’s Greatest Hits as it travels from north to south, this route seeks the backwaters — principally the lovely Amakusa Islands just south of Nagasaki, and the Shimabara area just north of the islands which is most famous for its Christian history up until the brutal suppression perpetrated in the first half of the 1600s. Many of the persecuted Christians fled to remote Amakusa, and there are still gravestones and other relics of their “kakure-Christian” (hidden Christian) existence. To get there, we head south and west from Kagoshima to go along a 22km bikepath on the west coast up to the bridges and ferries that connect Amakusa with the main island. Note that this route is based on being able to access two short (30 min) ferry rides between islands, so keep close tabs on the weather — ferry service is likely to be canceled or curtailed in the event of a typhoon. (There is access to the Amakusa islands by road on the eastern side, but it’s truly the LONG way.)
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