JAPAN: THE 6 BEST Day Trips from Nagasaki

Hirado Brigde from Tabira Park
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BEST Day Trips from Nagasaki, Japan

If you’ve never been to Nagasaki, then you’re missing a huge part of the history. Nagasaki, located on the coast of Kyushu was widely influenced by China, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Even in the present day, you’d still see vintage trams, old signs, and historic buildings.

Shimabara Castle, Shimabara City
Shimabara Castle, Shimabara City

Not everyone may know it, but there are an array of things to see and do in this amazing destination. To make your future visit worthwhile, we’ve round up the 6 best day trips from Nagasaki. Read along!

Huis Ten Bosch

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Both a resort and a theme park, Huis Ten Bosch is a sight to behold. This Dutch-themed destination is located at the northern tip of Omura Bay. It was built in 1992 to commemorate the long history between Japan and the Netherlands.

Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo
Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo
Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo City
Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo City

It’s divided into two areas: the Theme Park Zone and the Harbor Zone. There are various attractions, mostly in the Theme Park Zone, and you need to purchase a regular admission ticket to get access to both zones. What makes this place so special is that it’s surrounded by Dutch-style homes, an art house, canal ride, ice café, windmills, wooden clogs, and tulips – if you’re lucky enough to visit on the blooming season (March to June).

How to get there

To get here, there are two options. First is getting into a high-speed boat from Nagasaki Airport, where travel time takes about 50 minutes. Another option would be taking the JR Seaside Liner towards Sasebo for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then alight at Huis Ten Bosch Station.

If you’re coming from Hakata Station in Fukuoka, take the JR Limited Express Huis Ten Bosch for 1 hour and 50 minutes, then get off at Huis Ten Bosch Station.

Shimabara Peninsula

Situated on the north-eastern tip of Nagasaki lies Shimabara Peninsula, wherein 1934, it was hailed as Japan’s first national park. It also became Japan’s first global geopark in addition to its many historical sites.

Shimabara Castle
Shimabara Castle
Onsen footbath in Shimabara
Onsen footbath in Shimabara

This destination is also known for its four seasons and its three types of onsen hot spring. This is where you can see Japan’s longest footbath and the Obama Hot Spring where you’ll be facing the Unzen mountains and the breathtaking sunset. Other activities to do include visiting the former castle town in Shimabara Onsen, dolphin watching between Shimabara Peninsula and Amakusa, riding the cable car in Nita Pass, and relaxing at Shimeisho Spring Garden, located in the middle of Shimabara’s “City of Swimming Carp.” You can also take a detour at the west side of Shimabara Castle, and check out the marvelous Old Samurai Warriors’ Houses, where samurai families used to live.

How to get there

To get here from Nagasaki, take the JR train going to Isahaya Station. At Isahaya Station change to the Shimabara Railway (Shimatetsu) to Shimabara Station where travel time will take about approximately 1 hour.

However, if you’re coming from Nagasaki Airport, you can take the bus going to Shimabara Station, where it’ll take about 2 hours to get to the station.

If you’re traveling from Kumamoto, another option would be taking the bus central Kumamoto going to Kumamoto Port. From there, you may ride a ferry across the Ariake Bay to Shimabara Port.

Hirado

Hailed as the fourth largest island in Nagasaki, Hirado should be included in your top places to check out on your next visit to Nagasaki. It’s located off the northwest coast of Nagasaki Prefecture, and popular with its beaches, Christian churches, and historical sites. One of the reasons why it was called the “Land of the Hidden Christians” is because, during the Edo period, Christians were forced to give up their religion, but few believers have kept the faith and continued to practice their religion in secret, in some villages in Hirado.

Hirado Brigde from Tabira Park
Hirado Bridge from Tabira Park
View of a Temple and a Church, Hirado City
View of a Temple and a Church, Hirado City

There’s the Matsura Historical Museum displaying a large collection of the Matsura’s clan heirlooms, from maps, drawings, samurai armor, lacquer boxes, and other household items and treasures. Another attraction to check out is the notable churches such as the Francisco de Xavier Memorial Church, Himosashi Church, Kigatsu Church, Furue Church, Osashi Church, Houki Church, Yamano Church, Kamikouzaki Church and the Tabira Church located over the bridge on the mainland.

How to get there

There are three options to get here. First is taking the Rail JR trains from Fukuoka going to Hirado-guchi Station in Tabira with travel time taking about 2 hours. Second is taking the Express buses from Hakata Station which will take two hours.

There are also regular buses heading to Sasebo from the bus terminal near the ferry port.

Arita and Imari

If you’re more of a laidback tourist, then Arita and Imari is the place to be. This small seaside city is known for being the birthplace of Japanese porcelain wares and pottery making. There are various attractions offered for both kids and adults, from visiting galleries at the Arita Ceramic Art Museum in Arita town, The Kyushu Ceramic Museum, and Imari city’s Imari Nabeshima Gallery. Don’t forget to drop by at the Imari-Arita Ware Traditional Crafts Center to check out more porcelain displays.

Shop with Arita ware, Japanese porcelain, made in the area around the city Arita
Shop with Arita ware, Japanese porcelain, made in the area around the city Arita

One of the best places to visit here is the Nabeshima Domain Kiln Park dedicated to the history and culture of Imari porcelain, and has an amazing backdrop of a mountain for that picture-worthy shot!

Lastly, you may also get your shopping done at Arita Street, lined with ceramics shops and outlets perfect for that pasalubong shopping. Here you can find beautiful cups, plates, bowls, and vases.

How to get there

To get here, take the JR Sasebo Line from Saga Station. To get between Arita and Imari take the Matsuura Railway Nishi-Kyushu Line.

Sotome

Just like Hirado, Sotome was also home to hiding Christians during the Edo Period. It’s located one hour away from north-central Nagasaki. Some of the places to visit are the Kurosaki Church, the Endo Shusaku Literary Museum, the famous de Rotz Memorial Museum which was originally used to manufacture fishing nets.

Sotome in Nagasaki
Sotome in Nagasaki
sunset at Sotome area
sunset at Sotome area

The museum now displays personal belongings of French missionary Father Marc Marie de Rotz who played a large role in reestablishing the religion in the area. Displays to see here includes medical instruments, documents, religious items and farming tools used by the aid center. Another building he was able to build is the Shitsu Church perched atop a hill overlooking the sea.

How to get there

To get here, you can either rent a car in Nagasaki. However, if you want to take public transport, you can either take the hourly bus connections from Nagasaki Station up the Sotome coast. Alight at the Shitsu Bunkamura bus stop, and from there, you can walk and visit the attractions in Sotome.

Goto Islands

Set off the western coast of Kyushu lies Goto Islands, famous for its azure waters and different water activities. Make sure you wear your sports attire, as this is one of the best places in Japan to make those tropical getaway dream come true.

Dozaki church in Goto Islands
Dozaki church in Goto Islands
Takahama beach
Takahama beach
Osezaki lighthouse in Goto Islands
Osezaki lighthouse in Goto Islands

Goto Islands are technically a chain of over 100 islands and part of Saikai National Park, but usually referring to the five most famous islands, Fukue, Hisaka, Naru, Wakamatsu, and Nakadori.

Aside from swimming, you can do canoeing, coral reef diving, birdwatching, and even fishing. You must not forget visiting some of its 50 churches dotted around the islands.

How to get there

You can either take the plane, ferry or jetfoil to get to these islands. Since Fukue Island has its own airport, you can visit this island via scheduled flights from Nagasaki and Fukuoka. If you want to take the ferry, visit the Ferry Terminal which will take about 3-4 hours to reach the islands.

Overall, Nagasaki boasts various historical sites perfect for history buffs and adventure seekers. It may have experienced a tragic past, but this prefecture has so much to offer than what meets the eyes. This is also the perfect destination if you want to get a breathtaking night view of Japan. As a matter of fact, it is home to eight of the twenty-three of these World Heritage Sites.

It’s the perfect escape to check out some exotic town and a retreat to the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Nagasaki Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels and affordable flights? Check out our complete list of affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new tourist attractions in Nagasaki, Japan? Please follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, and TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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