Nagasaki prefecture is full of charm, from its international architecture and local delicacies to its theme park “Huis Ten Bosch” — a theme park replicating a traditional European town.
The spots we will introduce you in this article will excite those new to Japan and Japan pros alike!
Let’s take a look at the prefecture’s popular world heritage site (registered in July 2018) and the beautiful landscapes, and traditional churches of the Goto Islands located in western Nagasaki.
Nagasaki prefecture lies in the northwestern reaches of Kyushu.Nagasaki City is well-known as a large port town, similar to Kobe and Yokohama, and has cultural ties to China and Netherlands.Some of the most prominent sights to see in Nagasaki City are Glover Garden, the Christian cultural landmarks of Oura Church and Urakami Cathedral, and Dejima, where visitors can learn about the history of Japan’s isolationist period. In Sasebo City, stop by Japan’s largest theme park Huis Ten Bosch to enjoy seasonal flowers, lights, and games.
The Goto Islands, made of 5 large islands and countless smaller islands, is another must-visit location. Visitors can enjoy island exploration in Goto by heading to Hashima, known for its deep-sea coal mines (closed as of January 2020 due to damage from typhoons), or one of its many remote islands.
At Nagasaki, you can also enjoy various local delicacies like Chanpon and Sara Udon, a regional noodle dish chocked full of meat, seafood, and vegetables, or Shipoku, a large-plated course meal for those who appreciate Japanese, western, and Chinese tastes. Do not forget to try the locally famous Sasebo Burger too!
During its isolationist period from the 17th to 19th century, Japan banned the practice of the Christian faith. There were worshippers who continued their religious practices in secret at various hidden locations. Oura Church in Nagasaki City, Kashiragashima Church which is the hamlet of Narushima on the Goto Islands, and the remains of Hara Castle in Minami-Shimabara City were registered as world cultural heritages in July 2018.
Oura Church is where the ban on Christianity ended, as hidden Christians were able to publicly practice their face without repercussions after the construction of the church, and is now prized as a national treasure and as one of the oldest wooden churches in Japan. We recommend checking it out when you are nearby Nagasaki City. The other locations require a reservation to visit,so remember to confirm all necessary information before visiting.
The Goto Islands are located in the western region of Nagasaki prefecture and make up by 5 large islands and about 140 smaller islands. The majority of these islands have been registered as part of Saikai National Park, and while the islands are best known for their world heritage registered church, they have plenty more to offer!Wakamatsu Island’s Satonoura is home to the “Christians’ Caves”, a set of caves hidden among a treacherous cliff that can only be accessed by boat, which acted as a secret place of worship for hidden Christians attempting to avoid persecution at the beginning of the Meiji period. (Reservation necessary to visit.) The Goto Islands are also famous as the location of the live-action movie version of a popular novel. Osezaki Lighthouse on Fukue Island is a popular night view location that sits atop a bluff from which the beautiful scenery of the East China Sea can be seen.
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