The last day, we walked across the Kanmon pedestrian tunnel 関門トンネル and visited Munakata Taisha shrine 宗像大社 and pedaled to Fukuoka Airport 福岡空港 and then flew to Tokyo.
Shimonoseki City is located on the west end of Honshu 本州, facing Moji town 門司市 on Kyushu island 九州 across the Kanmon Straits and it has prospered from ancient times as a port city and one of the traffic points in Japan.
Breakfast at Karato Fish Market
We went to Karato Fish Market to have breakfast. It was just 5 minutes walk from Uzu house, the inn where we stayed, and only a restaurant, “Yoshi” 市場食堂よし on the second floor was open at that time.
I ate Seafood bowl 海鮮丼, my husband ate deep-fried fish set 魚フライ定食, and my son ate ikura, salmon roe bowl いくら丼.
Kameyama Hachiman Shrine
After breakfast, I left my husband and our son and bought coffee at Family mart, a convenience store and walked to Kameyama Hachiman Shrine 亀山八幡宮.
The shrine was founded in 859 and originally located on a cliff. Later, the land around the shrine was reclaimed.
From here, in 1863, Choshu domain shot cannonballs at the fleets of the U.S, France and the Netherlands to expel them. It triggered the Shimonoseki campaign.
Shimonoseki city is called Fugu city or pufferfish city. There are the world’s largest Fugu statues and Fugu-shaped Ema 絵馬, votive picture tablets are hanging on the board.
Cross the Kanmon Straits
We started riding to the Kanmon submarine tunnel.
Before entering the tunnel, we stopped at statues of the Battle of Dan-no-Ura 壇ノ浦の戦い, which was a decisive battle in Japanese history.
In 1185, The Minamoto Clan (Genji 源氏) defeated the Taira Clan (Heike 平家) and many Heike nobles along with the young Emperor Antoku 安徳天皇 perished. It was the beginning of “warriors world”.
Two statues of brave generals, “Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune 源義経” and “Taira-no-Tomonari 平知盛” in the battle of Dan-no-Ura.
Kanmon submarine Tunnel
The Kanmon submarine Tunnel 関門トンネル is 775 meters long and was constructed in 1958.
Passage fee for pedestrians is free and a bicycle is ¥20, but riding through the tunnel is prohibited.
There is a vehicle’s tunnel above the pedestrian’s walkway.
We walked across the border between Yamaguchi pref. and Fukuoka pref. under the sea.
After 10 minutes walk, we landed on Moji Town of Fukuoka pref. Kyushu Island.
“Mojiko Retro Area”
We rode through “Mojiko Retro,” 門司港レトロ area. Mojiko or Moji port was opened in 1889 and prospered as an international port. There were many branch offices of banks and trading companies and shipping companies.
The red brick building was the former Moji Customs House 門司税関 constructed in 1912.
There was no charge for admission to the former Moji Customs House. The Interior looked like Miyahara Optometry in Taichung.
We got on a train from JR Mojiko Station 門司港駅 to Akama Station 赤間駅.
The present Mojiko station building was constructed in 1914 and the restoration was completed in March 2019.
While waiting for the train, I enjoyed its classical architecture and watched the video of the history and the renovation process of the station.
Munakata Taisha Shrine
We arrived at Akama Station 赤間駅 and unpacked bikes. Then we had lunch at “Mini Stop” a convenience store and headed Munakata Taisha Hetsu-Miya 宗像大社辺津宮, which is one of the three shrines of Munakata Taisha 宗像大社.
In Japanese myth, three daughters of Amaterasu, the sun goddess descended from heaven to the places in order to support the Emperors and they were enshrined here.
Okinoshima island 沖ノ島, which is one of the three shrines, lies halfway between Kyushu island of Japan and the Korean Peninsula. It is a sacred shrine and where rituals were held since ancient times.
As even landing on the island has been prohibited, the strict taboos have allowed archaeological ritual sites on the island to be preserved almost intact over for a millennium.
All of three shrines were designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2017.
There was no ladle on the Temizuya, the ritual basin so we scoop water with our hands.
Imperial chrysanthemum emblem on the doors of the main worship hall because the goddesses were the ascendents of the Imperial family.
Honden, the main shrine building was constructed in 1578
Adjacent to the main hall, many subordinate shrines, which were relocated from other sites in this region in 1675 by Kuroda Clan.
We walked 5 minutes to Takamiya Saijo, an ancient ritual site on the hillside of Mt. Munakata where the three deities descended. Along with Okinoshima Island, it is one of the most sacred of all places.
I saw the primitive ritual site for the first time. Before the worship halls were built in the 8th century, Shinto rituals had been held outside and trees were used as the place where the deity temporarily descended during the ritual.
The place was quiet and had a kind of sacred atmosphere.
Another impressive place in Munakata Taisha Shrine was Shimpokan (The treasures of the God) Museum. The treasure museum houses 80,000 treasures which were excavated on Okitsushima island, which were dedicated to Kami, the god, to pray for national prosperity and maritime safety.
Because landing on Okinoshima island has been prohibited, the treasures were preserved in good condition.
Please look at the website of the museum. I was fascinated by the brilliant pure gold ring made in the 5th century.
Fukuoka Airport and return Tokyo
We left Munakata Taisha Shrine and headed to Fukuoka Airport. Fukuoka is one of the major cities in Japan and the traffic was heavy. It was not a comfortable ride.
We arrived at Fukuoka Airport, and my husband packed a tandem bike for the flight. He was not used to packing our new tandem bike and it took more time than we expected. We didn’t have enough time to eat any local specialty at the airport and bought beer and bento to snack on the airplane.
It was my first visit to the San’in district and I visited many historic sites and scenic places. All the places were great, but Akiyoshidai 秋吉台 and Tsunoshima Bridge 角島大橋 were the best for me as a cyclist. (As a history buff, Munakata Taisha Shrine 宗像大社 was the best for me.)
I was satisfied with the itinerary because it had an excellent balance of sightseeing and cycling.
During the trip, my son never complained, cried and said: “I can’t ride anymore!”. I felt my son’s mental and physical growth.
Our new tandem bike made my husband and our son faster and I was sometimes behind them on the slopes. (I will write our new tandem bike in detail later.)
- Shimonoseki to Moji
Distance: 6.2 km
Elevation: + 37 / – 36 m
- Akama Station to Fukuoka Airport
Distance: 45.0 km
Elevation: + 225 / – 219 m