Nagasaki, Unzen, Sasebo, Arita and Hirado 4-day sample trip plan: Western Kyushu highlights

Nagasaki Lentern Festinal
Nagasaki Lentern Festinal is one of the biggest event in Nagasaki city.

I will show you 4-day sample trip plan of the western Kyushu from Fukuoka. This trip plan covers these following spots:

✔ Arita
✔ Hirado
✔ Kujukushima (99 islands) cruise
✔ Nagasaki
✔ Unzen Onsen
✔ Shimabara

Overview

4-day trip route map
The blank map provided by CraftMAP

On day 1, starting from Arita, which is famous for pottery, we will visit Hirado. This small town was the first trading port during the isolation period and this place is known as the hidden Christian village.

On day 2, you can enjoy a cruise on Kujukushima Island, and then move to Nagasaki, tour the exotic city, and see one of the three great night views of Japan.

On day 3, you will stay at Unzen Onsen, which is located at the foot of the active volcano, Mt. Unzen.

On day 4, you will be exploring Shimabara which is the old castle towns before heading Hakata.

JR Pass and Kyushu Rail Pass cover some part of the train trips.

Day 1, Hakata – Arita – Hirado

Hirado
The town of Hirado is located around the bay.

On the first day of trip, you will take the limited express Midori from Hakata to Arita and then transfer to a local train of Matsuura Railway. There is no direct trains to Tabira-Hiradoguchi station and you must change trains at Imari station.

Take a local train to Tabira-Hiradoguchi station which is the easternmost station in Japan. Catch a local bus to Hirado and spend the rest of the time in Hirado.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
07:29Hakata station
JR limited express Midori 1
08:54 / 12:14Arita station
Matsuura Railway local train
12:37 / 12:40Imari station
Matsuura Railway local train
13:46Tabira Hiradoguchi station
Walk 10 minutes
14:03Hiradoguchi Sanbashi bus stop
Seihi Bus
14:15Hirado Sanbashi bus stop

Highlights

Arita

Arita-yaki and Imari-yaki are very famous pottery in Japan. ©Saga Prefecture/©JNTO

Arita-yaki is also known as Imari-yaki. Most of ceramis which was produced in this region were exproted from the port of Imari. These were named of “Imari”. That is why these ceramis are known as Imari-yaki, especially outside Japan.

Most of sites are located near Kamiarita station which is one station away from Arita station. Kamiarita station is serviced by a local train only and it does not run very frequetnly. A taxi ride is highly recommended. A fare is around 1,000 yen per cab and it takes 10 minutes to get the old town of Arita.

Hirado

Hirado castle saga kyushu
Hirado castle is located on the mountain. You can hike up there easily.

Hirado was the only trading port in Japan during the period when it was isolated during the Edo era, and it is also a place where Christian culture is strongly received. Therefore, you can see a unique townscape that fuses Western and Japanese culture.

hirado temple church
This is most unique view in Hirado. You can see the roof of St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church over the temple.

Day 2, Hirado – Kujukushima – Nagasaki

On the second day of trip, you will take a local bus from Hidado-Sanbashi to Sasebo station. And change to the other bus for Pearl Sea Resort. Pearl Sea Resort is a departure point for the Kujukushima cruise.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
08:30Hirado-Sanbashi bus stop
Saihi Bus
10:00 / 10:15Sasebo station bus stop
Saihi Bus
10:40 / 14:30Pearl Sea Resort
Saihi Bus
14:55 / 15:10Sasebo station
JR Rapid train “Sea-Side Liner”
16:27 / 16:35Isahaya station
JR limited express Kamome 25
16:55Nagasaki station

Sasebo is very closed to Huis Ten Bosch. Huis Ten Bosch is a Dutch theme park and very popular tourist site in Kyushu. You can visit there instead of Pearl Sea Resort if you want. You can extend one more day to visit this theme park.

Huis Ten Bosch
Fireworks and light up event is very popular. ©HUIS TEN BOSCH/J-16324

Highlight

Kujukushima Cruise by Pearl Sea Resort

Kujukushima cruise
Kujukushima cruise is serviced by the boat shaped like a large sailing vessel.

“Kujukushima” means 99 islands in Japanese, but actually there are more than 200 islands in this beautiful bay. You will enjoy a 50 minutes cruise in a bay with numerous islands.

There are many restraurants and shops in Pearl Sea Resort. You can get a bite after cruise. In the peak season, the cruise departs every half an hour on the :00 and :30. If you are family traveler, you can enter an aquarium in Pearl Sea Resort too.

[Official site] Pearl Sea Resort

Ten million dollar night view of Nagasaki

Nagasaki night view
Night view of Nagasaki like a glittering jewels

Take a gondola by Nagasaki Ropeway and go up to the top of Inasayama mountain to enjoy this superb night view. You can get there by Nagasaki Ropeway gondola.

[Official site] Inasayama Park – Nagasaki Ropeway

Day 3, Nagasaki – Unzen Onsen

Oura church Nagasaki
Oura Church is a disgnated place of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the third day of trip, enjoy visiting various places in Nagasaki until an express bus departs for Unzen in late afternoon.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
16:10Nagasaki bus terminal
Nagasaki Kenei Bus
17:51Unzen Onsen bus terminal

Highlight

Gunkanjima

gunkanjima
Gunkanjima is a common name, and the formal name is Hashima.

“Gunkanjima” means the island of the battleship.

This island is a town that flourished in coal mines, and in the peak period, this island had a population of more than 5,000 even though the size of the island is 480m (525 yards) long and 150m (164 yard) wide.

This place was most developed town in Japan at that time.

Since the coal mine has been closed, it is now an uninhabited island and it is very popular as a tourist destination.. There is no such concentrated area in the world, and this abandoned land can be landed if you participate a tour.

There are several companies to service a tour for Gunkanjima. It takes about half day to complete a tour.

Nagasaki Peace Park

Nagasaki peace memorail
Nagasaki Peack Park

Nagasaki is known as the place destroyed by atomic bombs after Hiroshima before the end of World War II.

Oura Church and Glover Garden

Overlooking the Nagasaki port from Glover residence

Nagasaki took over the role of a trading port from Hirado. After that, it functioned as the only trading port with Dutch during the isolation period in the Edo era, and Nagasaki is now more well known than Hirado.

Nagasaki has many Western-style historic buildings. Glover Garden and Oura Church are most popular properties in these. These are located side by side and very easy to visit both at same time.

Chinatown

chinatown nagasaki
Nagasaki Shinchi Chukagai is an official name of the Chinatown.

During the period of isolation in Edo era, Chinese traders were also allowed to work in Nagasaki, so many Chinese historic buildings remain. Chinatown is one of the these, and the lantern festival is held every year on the Chinese New Year, and is very popular event.

Nagasaki Champon and Sara Udon are among the foods that were influenced by Chinese culture. Enjoy these specialty dishes in Chinatown.

Nagasaki chanpon
Nagasaki Champon is a noodle in soup with a lot of pork, seafood and vegetables.
Nagasaki Sara Udon contains very similar infredients on the fride noodle.

Meganebashi

Meganebashi nagasaki
Meganebashi means glasses in Japanese.

Meganebashi is one of the bridges over the Nakashima river that runs through the downtown of Nagasaki, and the bridge and the reflection of the bridge on the river surface look like glasses, so this name was given.

Suggested itinerary for city touring (except Gunkanjima)

TimePlace and transporation
09:00Nagasaki station / Nagasaki-Ekimae tram stop
Nagasaki Tram
09:20 / 10:20Heiwakoen tram stop
Visit Nagasaki Peace Park
Nagasaki Tram
10:40 / 11:10Dejima tram stop
Visit Dejima
Walk 10 minutes
11:20 / 13:00Nagasaki Chinatown
Lunch break
Try Nagasaki famous noodle dishes, “Chanpon” or “Sara Udon.”
Walk 30 minutes via Dutch Slope
13:30 / 14:55Oura Charch and Glovar Garden
These two places are located side by side.
Walk 5 minutes
15:00 / 15:05Oura-Tenshudo tram stop
Nagasaki Tram
15:20Meganebashi tram stop
Walk 3 minutes
15:25 / 15:40Megane bridge
Walk 3 minute
15:45Shimin-Kaikan tram stop
Nagasaki Tram
16:00Nagasaki station

Day 4, Unzen Onsen – Shimabara – Hakata

Unzen onsen jigoku
Unzen hot springs field

On the last day of the trip, you will walk around Unzen Onsen, and then move to Shimabara and enjoy visiting the castle and the old town.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
11:11Unsen Onsen bus terminal
Shimatetsu Bus
11:57 / 16:11Shimabarastation
Shimabara Railway
17:20 / 17:37Isahaya station
JR limited express Kamome 34
19:17Hakata station

Highlight

Unzen Onsen Jigoku

Unzen onsen jigoku
There are lots of steam vents along the pathes.

This hot springs town is located around many hot springs fields. These fields are called “Jigoku”, which means hell. Many paved pathes offers an easy walk in these fields.

Shimabara

Shimabara castle
Shimabara castle

Shimabara is a beautiful town centered around the castle. Shimabara Castle is a reconstructed building, but its appearance is impressive, Samurai residences remaining in the castle town. And you can see many carps swimming in the small canals where abundant spring water flows.

Samurai residence preserved district

Travel cost

All JR train trips are covered by JR Pass, Northern Kyushu Rail Pass or All Kyushu Rail Pass. Local bus trips, Matsuura Railway rides and the admission fees are extra. You can get your money worth of Northern Kyushu Rail Pass by this trip.

Please see the table below to find the cost breakdown:

TripCost
JR limited express Midori from Hakata to AritaCovered
Taxi for the round trip to Arita old town from Arita2,000 yen
(appx)
Matsuura Railway from Arita to Tabira-Hiradoguchi1,570 yen
Saihi bus from Hiradoguchi-Sanbashi to Hirado-Sanbashi260 yen
Saihi bus from Hirado-Sanbashi to Sasebo1,500 yen
Saihi bus for the round trip to Pearl Sea Resort from Sasebo520 yen
JR Rapid train Sea-Side Liner from Sasebo to IsahayaCovered
JR limited express Kamome from Isahaya to NagasakiCovered
Nagasaki Kenei Bus from Nagasaki to Unzen1,850 yen
Shimatetsu Bus from Unzen to Shimabara850 yen
Shimabara Railway from Shimabara to Isahaya1,480 yen
JR limited express Kamome from Isahaya to NagasakiCovered
Total cost10,030 yen
Accommodations and meals are not included.

Summary

The summer season is the best season to do this trip plan. But you can use this trip plan in the winter time too. The drift ice season is very popular too.

I hope this trip plan helps you to build your trip plan.

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