Explore the Islands of Nagasaki
Nagasaki Prefecture consists of 594 islands, including both inhabited and uninhabited islands. Among the inhabited islands, Tsushima, Iki and Goto are the main ones that have gained popularity within the recent years. These islands are most well-known for its uncrowded and stunning beaches, outdoor and water activities, fresh and extensive selection of seafood, and of course warm-hearted hospitality from the local people. The beauty, warmth and adventures that you’ll find on these islands are definitely one of a kind in Japan.
Tsushima, located between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula, is referred to as the “border island.” The majority of this island is covered by mountain forests, and its untouched nature helps preserve the almost-extinct wildlife, the Tsushima Leopard Cats, which can only be found on this island. In recent years, outdoor activities on the island such as sea kayaking, fishing, and trekking are becoming popular among the visitors.
Watatsumi Shrine, also known as the “sea shrine” on Tsushima Island is famous for its picturesque view of the five torii gates; two of which are located offshore. Legend has it that this shrine was once a palace for the Dragon God.
Aso Bay is a large complex inlet that is most well-known for its ria coastline. Unlike the open sea, the waters at Aso Bay is tranquil, which makes it the ideal location for sea kayaking.
Designated as a national treasure in Japan, Mt. Shiratake is a symbolic sacred mountain located on Tsushima Island. The hiking trail that leads up to the summit takes approximately three to four hours round-trip, but the panoramic view at the top is well worth the hike.
Iki is an island that has an impressive history that can be traced back to the Jomon Era. It was first officially recorded in Chinese history as “Ikikoku” in the 3rd century, namely in the Records of the Three Kingdoms. With its extensive history, and also having 150 registered Shinto Shrines on the island, Iki is said to be the place of origin of Japanese Shintoism. For gourmet lovers, sea urchin, Iki wagyu beef, and Iki shochu (alcohol) are some of the must-try foods.
Saru-Iwa (Monkey Rock)
Saru-Iwa, which literally translates to “monkey rock”, is a famous landmark on Iki Island. The rock boasts of an impressive size, which can be easily seen from the observatory deck. Alternatively, you can take a short hike that will take you right next to the Saru-Iwa.
The uninhabited island, Tatsunoshima, is located 2km off the coast of the northern edge of Iki, Katsumoto Harbor. Regular boat tour is available every 1-2 hours from March through November. Enjoy the view of the crystal clear, turquoise blue ocean water, and its uniquely shaped cliffs; all of which can only be seen from the boat.
Known as one of the power-sports in Iki, Kojima Shrine is located on an offshore island, which can only be accessed on foot during low tide. At high tide, the path (which includes the torii gate and staircase) that leads up to the actual shrine is submerged under water, thus making it look like an isolated island.
The Goto Islands, (meaning “Five Islands”), is actually comprised of approximately 140 islands. The entire area is designated as a part of the Saikai National Park. In addition to having one of the Top 100 beaches in Japan, it also has many historical churches, and an inspiring history on the Hidden Christians Sites in the Nagasaki Region. Local specialty goods such as camellia oil and Goto udon are also some of the highlights this area.
Dozaki Church is a gothic-style church in Oku-ura district where the Hidden Christians first migrated and settled on Fukue Island. It was built as Goto’s first church in 1879, and then rebuilt in full-scale with redbrick in 1908. Now, the church serves as a museum displaying the historical documents and items related to the faith and history of the Christians in Goto.
The Osezaki Lighthouse is set against a dramatic backdrop of wave-worn cliffs as steep as 150 meters. Although the current lighthouse was built in 1971, the original structure was designed by an Englishman and erected in 1879. A part of it has been turned into a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Maritime Science in Tokyo.
The nearby observatory is a popular spot for both visitors and locals to enjoy the sunset view. For adventurers, you can also walk to the lighthouse. Getting to the lighthouse requires a 2.4km hike (round-trip of about an hour), but intermittent green tunnels created by camellia trees lining both sides of the paved trail make it a pleasant trek. Once at the lighthouse platform, the sight of the stoic white structure combined with the cliffs and surrounding ocean makes it a spectacular and an unforgettable view.
★Access: Approx. 1 hour by car from Fukue Ferry Terminal
One of the top 100 beaches in Japan, Hamagurihama is one of Shinkamigoto’s most popular beaches. At low tide, the receded shoreline leaves behind a wide expanse of soft sand and shallow puddles. The event “Let’s play at Hamagurihama Day” is held here every year near Marine Day, drawing a crowd from both the various islands and other parts of Japan. Amenities in the area include a beach house and shower stalls.