Nagasaki Prefecture is situated on Kyushu Island and is the western-most region of Japan. The Nagasaki region has in recent years, become an extremely sought-after holiday destination for millions of Japanese and foreign tourists alike – not surprisingly so, since there is such an abundance of unique attractions and things to do. Most of them are centered in and around Unzen, Nagasaki City, and Sasebo – and we will cover them all here.
- Mount Unzen
- The Haruno Tsuji Ruins
- The Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park
- The Kujukushima Islands
- Mount Inasa
- The Nagasaki Peace Park
- Shinchi Chinatown
- Takahama Beach
- Dejima Island
- The Shofukuji Temple
Visit Japan’s Most Destructive Volcano
Mount Unzen is the only active volcano in the Nagasaki prefecture and has earned itself a bad reputation. The three overlapping strato-volcanoes which form Mount Unzen have had multiple eruptions in recent history, which claimed many lives.
In 1792 it was responsible for the worst volcanic eruption in Japanese history when an enormous landslide caused by the explosion created a tsunami that killed an estimated 15,000 people. The most recent series of events occurred from 1990 to 1995, during which it killed 45 people.
Today, tourists can reach the summit by either cable car or on a guided hike – despite the volcano still being active!. If you’re still brave enough to visit, then be sure to stop by the Heisei Shinzan Nature Center, which sits near the base of Mount Unzen. It’s where you can learn more about the volcano and its turbulent history.
Check out our complete guide to visiting Mount Unzen.
|Unzen Ropeway||08:51AM to 17:03PM||One way trip: ¥630 / Round trip: ¥1,260|
|Heisei Shinzan Nature Center||09:00AM to 17:00PM||Free|
Explore the Ancient Haruno Tsuji Ruins
If you ever wanted to catch a glimpse of what life in Japan was like during the Yayoi Period (300BC-AD300), then be sure to visit the Haruno Tsuji Ruins in Iki. Chinese historical texts say that these ruins were once the capital of one of the oldest kingdoms in Japan – the Ikikoku Kingdom. It was home to a thriving community throughout the Iron Age Era, and visitors to the site can see 17 slightly restored ancient structures.
A small collection of discovered artifacts are on display, some of which include plates, everyday tools that were used during that period, and various bronze items.
Visit the Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park
The Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park is situated in Sasebo and is a major Nagasaki Prefecture tourist attraction. It’s modeled after what a real-life Dutch town looks like – complete with houses, hotels, a colorful flower park that changes with the seasons, and even real windmills!
It’s also home to a unique hotel – the Henn Na Hotel – the world’s first and only establishment that is entirely run by robots. During the day, tourists can enjoy boat rides along the Dutch-style canals, visit various shops, watch performances at the theater, stroll through the flower park and eat at restaurants – all in European style. At night, the entire theme park comes alive with bright and colorful illuminating lights.
Explore the Kujukushima Islands
The Kujukushima islands are a stunning collection of 208 forested islands that covers a 25-kilometer area just off the Nagasaki Prefecture coast. Only four of the largest islands are inhabited since the others are either located in protected areas or are too small for human settlements.
The official Japanese name is the ‘Kujukushima Islands’, but many simply refer to it as ‘Kujuku’ for short or even ’99 Islands’. Boat cruises are the most popular way of experiencing its beauty, but there are other options such as yachting or kayaking for those who prefer more of a solo expedition.
If you suffer from seasickness, then rest assured as there are three observatory decks located on Sasebo Hills from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the islands. The Yumihari, Ishidake, and Tenkaiho Observatories each offer incredible views of the islets. Also, from the Yumihari Observation Deck, you will be able to see Sasebo City – so be sure to bring a good camera along.
|Rela-Cruise||11:20, 13:20, 14:20, 15:20||1,000¥ (Kids) / 2,000¥ (Adults)||Website|
Enjoy Views of Nagasaki City from Mount Inasa
Making your way up Mount Inasa for the incredible 360-degree view should be one of the first things you do in Nagasaki City. The view is nothing less than spectacular, and watching the illuminating city lights during the evening makes for an even better view. From the summit, which sits at 333 meters above sea level, you will see Mount Unzen off in the distance, the picturesque coastline, islands, various important historical sites scattered throughout the city, and the port.
|09:00 to 22:00 (1st March – 30th November)|
09:00 to 21:00 (1st December – 28th February)
|One way trip: 720¥ / Round trip: 1,230¥||Website|
Visit the Nagasaki Peace Park & Atomic Bomb Museum
The Peace Park, established in 1955, is home to a black stone monolith, which indicates the exact spot where the Nagasaki atom bomb detonated 500 meters above ground on August 9, 1945. A staggering 73,884 people lost their lives on that day with many more from radiation poisoning in the years that followed.
The museum, completed in 1996, showcases the historical events that led up to the attack – including the horrific aftermath. There are photographs and original items on display from the actual destruction. Each year on the anniversary, the Nagasaki mayor makes a peace declaration to the world to honor the victims. So be sure to put the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum on top of your list of things to do in Nagasaki City.
|08:30 to 18:30 (May to August) |
08:30 to 17:30 (September to April)
|29 to 31 December||200¥ Per Person|
Stroll Through Shinchi Chinatown
Many Chinese people have been living in Nagasaki City even before Japan’s isolation period in the 17th to 19th centuries. Limited trading was allowed with China through the Nagasaki City port during the isolation period, which is how Shinchi Chinatown came to be.
Shinchi Chinatown, or Nagasaki Chinatown as its sometimes called, is the oldest Chinatown in Japan and one of the three largest in the country. The noodle restaurants attract large numbers of locals and tourists, and eating at any of the famous noodle restaurants is among the most recommended things to do in Nagasaki. There are somewhere around 40 different restaurants that are open to serve lunch from 11:00 – 15:00 and dinner from 17:00 – 21:00. It’s also an excellent place to browse and shop for a wide variety of imported goods from China.
Visit Takahama Beach
Not only has Takahama Beach been rated as one of the top 100 tourist attractions in Japan, but it’s also one of the top 100 beaches in the world. The exquisite beach with its white sand and clean water can be found on the Goto Islands and has become one of the top tourist attractions in Nagasaki. The beach is open for swimming during July and August and attracts people from all over Japan and the world.
Visit the Historically Important Dejima Island
The word Dejima means ‘Exit Island’, and it’s an artificial piece of land in the bay of Nagasaki created by local merchants in 1634 to house Portuguese traders.
The Dutch used it as a trading post from 1641 to 1853. Authorities limited the movement of foreigners to this island during Japan’s isolation period, mostly to end the missionary activities of Europeans in Japan. It was the only place where Japan traded with non-Japanese people. The Dejima Dutch Trading Post was declared a Japanese National Historic site in 1922. Roadways and houses have been beautifully preserved, and tourists can see how European traders lived while in the country during the Edo period.
|8:00 to 18:00 (until 19:00 in summer and during peak seasons). No admission 20 minutes before closing||No closing days.||510¥ Per Person||Website|
See Japan’s Oldest Zen temple
The Shofukuji temple was established in 1195 by priest Eisai. The temple taught the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism from China and is known as being the first Zen temple in Japan. Unfortunately, visitors cannot enter the temple building and will have to instead admire the beautiful structure from outside while walking through the beautiful temple grounds. The temple, along with its immediate surrounding areas, has been declared a National Historic Site.
|Always Open||Never closes||Free|