Most travellers pass through the port of SHIMONOSEKI (下関) at the southern tip of Honshū, 65km west of Yamaguchi, as quickly as possible en route to Kyūshū, or to Pusan in South Korea on the daily ferry. However, this unpretentious city is not without its attractions. The narrow Kanmon Channel, which separates Honshū from Kyūshū, is best viewed from Hino-yama, the mountain park that rises above the port. The channel was the scene of the battle of Dannoura, the decisive clash between the Taira and Minamoto clans in 1185, and the colourful shrine Akama-jingū is dedicated to the defeated Taira. If you have enough time, make the short trip to the neighbouring town of Chōfu, with its authentic enclave of samurai houses and streets, sleepy temples and lovely garden.

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