7 Places to See and Things to Do in Nagasaki Prefecture

Photo by Blue7/Pixta

7 Places to See and Things to Do in Nagasaki Prefecture

As the westernmost harbor of Japan, Nagasaki Prefecture was one of just a handful of ports where trade with other nations was allowed during the 220-year span known as the Sakoku (closed country) policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate. As a result, the region developed a unique culture, and Western ideas like Christianity thrived despite widespread opposition. Today, the prefecture is filled with historic churches, temples and other religious sites, as well as boundless natural beauty in its beaches, mountains and islands. These top seven attractions and things to do in Nagaski Prefecture are just a fraction of the wonderful things to discover in the picturesque coastal region.

table of contents

[x] close

7 Places to See and Things to Do in Nagasaki Prefecture

Nita Pass and Unzen National Park

Photo by Kattyan/Pixta

Nita Pass in Unzen National Park, Nagasaki Prefecture is one of the region's most popular sightseeing spots among locals. The valley is naturally beautiful at any time of year, with gentle pink cherry blossoms in spring, giving way to brilliant azaleas just before summer, brilliant reds in autumn and a blanket of fog and delicate hoarfrost in winter. Take in the scenery of Nita Pass from the ropeway up to Mount Myoken, and make your way to the observation deck for panoramic views of the Arike Sea, Amakusa Island and the active volcano Mount Aso.

Akahama Red Coastline

Photo by Siro46/Pixta

Akahama, meaning 'Red Coast', was created hundreds of years ago by the island's volcano, now long dormant. The volcano's eruptions spewed lava and ash containing large amounts of iron into the sea, which oxidized with the saltwater and resulted in the curious discoloration. The Akahama Red Coastline is located on Ojika Island's southeastern shore, one of the Goto Islands of Nagasaki Prefecture. While the landscape is striking, swimming is not recommended.

Narao Shrine

Photo by Eji/Pixta

The most striking feature of the otherwise modest Narao Shrine is its 650 year old fig tree, known as the Narao Ako Tree. The tree is twelve meters wide, its roots split down the middle creating a natural archway and allowing visitors to pass through - those who do are believed to be blessed with a long life. The Narao Ako Tree lives on the southern end of Nakadori Island, which is located west of mainland Nagasaki Prefecture.

Huis Ten Bosch

Huis Ten Bosch, named after the palace of the Dutch Royal Family, is a sprawling theme park designed to transport guests back to a traditional Dutch town. With its tulip fields and red brick buildings, rolling windmills and wide canals, the park's designers worked hard to create the atmosphere of a charming European town, and contains uncanny replicas of famous landmarks like the Dom Tower in Utrecht and the original Huis Ten Bosch royal palace.

Konoura Traditional Townscape, Azuchi-Oshima Island

Photo by ドラマル/Pixta

On the remote island of Azuchi-Oshima, in the Konoura district of Hirado, the traditional buildings of an old port town are beautifully preserved. After catching a ferry back to Hirado's mainland, be sure to check out the area's other historic gems, like the Buddhist temples sharing fences with the Saint Francis Xavier Memorial Church, the old Umegaya Kairaku-en Villa and the charming traditional architecture of Anjin Hall, built in the early Meiji Period (1868-1912).

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Memorial Park

Photo by Panwasin Seemala/Shutterstock

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is impressive, designed to take visitors back in time to August 9th, 1945, when the harborfront city became the last known victim of an atomic bombing. The exhibits seek to inform the public of the devastation of war and nuclear weapons and be a voice for peace. Visitors can deepen their understanding by heading to the nearby hypocenter of the blast, preserved with a memorial, and the Peace Park with its iconic peace statue, whose right hand points to the Atomic Bomb while the left points to peace.

Shimabara Castle and Samurai Houses

Photo by Hayakato/Shutterstock

Shimabara Castle was a striking, five-storey castle that was far more extravagant than the local lord could afford, and the heavy taxation of his subjects required to build it eventually led to the Shimabara Rebellion in 1637. Like many of Japan's historic castles, the original castle was destroyed on the government's orders at the start of the Meiji Period, and the current structure is a faithful recreation. The nearby samurai district, however, was preserved and restored, and several of the antique homes are open to the public.

In Conclusion

Nagasaki City welcomes a fair share of visitors to its internationally acclaimed Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park each year, but few of these curious travelers venture beyond the capital's borders. However this large, coastal prefecture is brimming with historic places to discover, and is home to sandy beaches and islands, along with mountains and hillsides overflowing with colorful, fragrant flowers and trees. Discover these top seven sights around Nagasaki Prefecture and start planning your trip today.