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Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Nagasaki
Population
1,516,536

Nagasaki

Fusion and fire in Japan's international gateway

Looking out to the East, Nagasaki prefecture has long been the gateway between the outside world and Japan.

A flourishing port of international exchange in the 16th and 17th centuries, Nagasaki prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu was the only place in Japan to continue to welcome foreign trade during the country’s 200 year period of isolation. As a result, Nagasaki became a keyhole to the world’s modernization and has played an important role in Japan’s cultural and economic development ever since.

Nagasaki prefecture is marked throughout by this distinct meeting of cultures.

Shippoku, a fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Western dishes, is the prefectural cuisine while Portuguese castella are a popular souvenir. There are a large number of Christian sites that survived the religious persecution of the Edo period, and that continue to welcome Japanese worshippers today. You can even take a trip to Holland via Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park which recreates a Dutch town complete with canals, red brick architecture, tulips and windmills.

Huis Ten Bosch

Photo by: Maru Fish Yes, this is Japan. Photo by Marufish.

But Nagasaki prefecture’s relationship with the outside world is also marred by the WWII atomic bombing which devastated much of its capital, Nagasaki city. Nagasaki’s recovery is a testament to the Japanese spirit of ‘gaman’, or perseverance, and a rewarding experience for any visitor. Witness the optimism in its cosmopolitan hills, colorful temples and lively festivals held during the year.

Across from Nagasaki port is the abandoned Gunkanjima (Hashima Island), which inspired the villain’s lair in the 2012 Bond film Skyfall.

Battleship Island in Nagasaki

Take a guided tour of the haunting abandoned island of Gunkanjima.

Nagasaki prefecture also encompasses the sweeping Shimabara Peninsula. Shimabara is home to Japan’s first ever National Park, with the fiery Mount Unzen at its center. Hot springs through the mountains relentlessly pump out steam which makes hiking around the area feel like a prehistoric adventure – you can even steam or boil your lunch in some of the baths – and there are dolphin watching cruises that depart from various points along the coast.

Places to visit

Battleship Island in Nagasaki

Gunkanjima (Hashima Island)

The inspiration behind the villain’s hideout in the 2012 Bond film Skyfall, Gunkanjima is an eerie time capsule of Japan’s industrial age.

Nagasaki cityscape at night is one of the best views in Japan

Nagasaki

A vibrant and thriving port city.


Nagasaki Peace Park

Serving as a sobering reminder of the loss of life that occurred, the Nagasaki Peace Park is also an artistic symbol of the enduring struggle for peace.

Dutch Church in Dejima Island

Huis Ten Bosch

Go Dutch in Nagasaki.


Nagasaki, Japan city skyline at dusk

Mount Inasa

This is the night, such a beautiful night.

Nagasaki, Japan - November 14 2013: Remen restaurant in Nagasaki, Japan on November 14, 2013. Unidentified ramen shop keeper, specialize in Champon and Saru Udon, in Nagasaki's Chinatown

Hamanomachi Arcade

Nagasaki’s shopping maze.


Shimabara Castle in Shimabara, Nagasaki, Japan.

Shimabara Castle

A picture-perfect castle with a not so picture-perfect history.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum

As pretty as a picture(s)


View over Mount Unzen Hot Spring - Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture Japan

Unzen Onsen

Despite its dark history, Unzen Onsen is a nature lover’s paradise.

Sasebo downtown skyline at night, Nagasaki, Japan.

Sasebo

Cultural fusion in Nagasaki prefecture’s second largest city.


Obama Onsen

Obama Onsen

Feeling hot, hot, hot.

A scenic bridge heading to Hirado, Nagasaki.

Hirado

A dramatic story lies behind these cosmopolitan islands.


View of the volcanic summit in the Japanese resort Unzen

Mt Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall

A moving museum and memorial.

Shimabara, Nagasaki, Japan townscape.

Shimabara

Walk in the footsteps of samurai.


Green road along the Shimabara peninsula.

Minami-shimabara

Beaches, breweries and bottle-nosed dolphins.

Nagasaki, JAPAN - February 23, 2015: Jizo statues stand on the beach of Iki Island.

Iki Island

Anything but icky.


Nagasaki Bio Park

Animals, plants and excessive cuteness at this zoo/botanical garden.

Tsushima

A remote treasure island with a long military history.


Goto Islands

You’ve got to go to Goto. Try saying that three times fast.

Unzen Toy Museum

Nostalgia in Nagasaki.

Other Destinations in Kyushu

Dazaifu shrine in Fukuoka prefecture

Fukuoka

Fukuoka prefecture isn't just about partying - but it's a good place to start.

Kagoshima, Japan with Sakurajima Volcano.

Kagoshima

Traditional, tropical; mystical, magical, Kagoshima is nothing short of extraordinary.

Mountain Pass in Kumamoto Prefecture

Kumamoto

Between the smoking crater of Mount Aso in the east and the isolated islands of Amakusa in the west, Kumamoto has plenty to keep you enthralled.

Takachiho gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki

Miyazaki is a mountainous and mango-growing prefecture to rival Okinawa in the tropical paradise stakes.

Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Japan's onsen town

Oita

Bathe in hell (in a good way) in onsen-filled Oita.

Ishigaki island lagoon in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Okinawa

White sand beaches and crystal blue waters, jungles and rare wildcats, centuries of unique native traditions, the birthplace of karate — this is Japan’s very own tropical island paradise.

Rice fields looking out to sea in Saga Prefecture, Japan

Saga

Saga is the smallest prefecture on the island of Kyushu best known for its prized, and pricey, pottery.