Another mission accomplished and wow!
The Nishi-Kyushu Line between Imari and Sasebo is amazing. Coastal and mountain scenery, terraced rice paddies, green tunnels and soaring sea eagles. I stood the whole time at the front of the train.
While Tabirahiradoguchi is the westernmost regular train station in Japan, Sasebo is the westernmost Japan Rail system station. The Nishi-Kyushu Line was actually part of the Japan Railway network before becoming a “third sector” operation by the Matsuura Railway.
Anyway, I’ve done both and only the south remains. That means jumping aboard the JR Kyushu local at Sasebo and the a couple more trains to get to Kagoshima tonight.