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6. Khushu, here we come:
Memorial to mothers and children awaiting the return of loved ones fighting in the Philippines during WW2
Northern Kyushu, arrived at by cycling through an undersea pedestrian/cycling tunnel, was highly industrial, chaotic, noisy, and, unlike Hokkaido and Honshu, traffic had little sympathy for cyclists. At such times I missed the wide open spaces of New Zealand. South of Fukuoka, Kyushu offered wonderful river gorges in agreeable highlands, and then the beautiful Kagoshima Bay.
And Kyushu introduced us to the delights of drinking Shochu, made from Kumara, wheat, or barley. We decided kumara shochu is best.
We scheduled a detour to Nagasaki, partly to visit the A Bomb museum. It was here I felt proud to be a New Zealander when I saw my country heading a list of nations that had contributed to world peace.
New Zealand's recognition was for the strict anti-nuclear legislation, banning nuclear powered and armed ships from New Zealand ports, introduced by Prime Minister David Lange in 1984. I also felt elated because an email had confirmed the New Zealand World Peace Bell had been cast and loaded on the Japanese peace ship "Topaz" headed for many of the world's ports including Auckland.
A fast ferry whisked us across Shimabara bay from a town of the same name, and we headed south. A few days later, we were skirting Kagoshima Bay on highways with light traffic.
The one disappointment was not being allowed to bike ride on the private toll road we needed to take on the final eight kilometres to Cape Sata. We had asked for permission but were refused on grounds of safety. We took a bus ride on a quiet road that climbed over steep forested hills. It would have been a perfect, if challenging, bike ride. We were the only two bus passengers for the day.
(Editor's note: In April 2007, the ownership of this road has changed hands. Then it's turned out it's allowed to ride on by bicycle. You can go to the car park by bike at no charge. From there, walk the toll trail about 800 meters long, then arrive in Cape Sata. This trail is open during 8:00 - 17:00.)
Our length-of-Japan ride was stalled by just eight kilometres. I had thought of riding secretly at night but knew I could not plead ignorance if caught. And I had already been stopped once by police as a suspected Russian terrorist.
Late in the afternoon of our 69th day we headed north for the first time. Rounding a corner on a steep descent we hit the brakes as two human-sized monkeys alarmingly bounded across the road and leapt a high fence - as keen to flee from us as we from them.
A spirited bike ride back along the coast of Kagoshima Bay, a stunning sunset behind the volcanic Mount Kaimondake guarding the entrance of the bay, and an unrepentant gorging at a "Joyful" restaurant discharged any lingering feelings of disappointment.
We had completed the length of Japan on the scheduled 69th day. Length of Kyushu had been 643 kilometres over nine days. We had pedalled 3777 kilometres from Soya misaki. My string-on-a-map calculations, made on cold New Zealand winter evenings, had been a mere 270 kilometres underestimated. This had been compensated by several days when we cycled over 100 kilometres.
uploaded:27, 06, 2008
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