Usuki was great. The stone Buddhas are worth a side trip if you’re ever nearby. One of them looked like he may open his eyes at any moment and say something. Not sure I’d understand a 1000 year old dialect of Japanese though so it’s just as well that he didn’t. Is Usuki worth a side trip in the pouring rain on a borrowed bicycle with a lousy umbrella? Yes, if you’re me and therefore crazy.
I also stopped at a shrine that I’ll call the Red Cat Shrine on the way. There was no English information, but my guess is that it enshrines a spirit that takes the form of a red cat.
I’m now on the Sonic Limited Express. It’s a funny train, modern and sleek but some of the design clearly dates from the early 90s and has not aged well. It still works, it just looks a bit dated.
Like many trains on Kyushu (and most shinkansen), it has no clear front or back. The front is where the driver is sitting. On this service, it changed directions about halfway along its run, so everyone got up and rotated their seats to face the front again.
Originally written February 1, 2010