21 Most Beautiful Scenic Spots in Nagasaki Prefecture
Located in Japan's southern area of Kyushu, far from the usual tourist routes, Nagasaki Prefecture still captivates the hearts of many thanks to the abundance of mesmerizing, scenic spots! From ancient temples and shrines, to forested offshore islands and charming hot-spring retreats, Nagasaki offers unique ways to enjoy Japanese history and natural beauty. In this article, we will discover the 21 most beautiful scenic spots that you shouldn't miss during your visit to Nagasaki!
Feb 25 2021
What to See in Nagasaki Prefecture
1. Fruit Bus Stops - Wait for the Bus at Japan's Cutest Bus Stops
In Nagasaki's Konagai Town and the surrounding area are sixteen lovely bus stops shaped like fruit, imitating strawberries, melons, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, and watermelons. They were originally built by Konagai locals in 1990 for the Nagasaki Travel Expo and remained as a local landmark after the event, contributing to the fairy-tale scenery and vintage look of this seaside town. The fruit bus stops offer unique photo opportunities, especially when they are teamed up with the charming shores and flower fields in this part of Nagasaki Prefecture!
If you want to know more about Konagai, its fruit bus stops, and delicious seafood cuisine, check out our article on 3 Days in Kyushu: Exploring Hidden Gems and Rich Culture in Nagasaki, Saga, and Fukuoka Via Public Transportation.
2. Dejima - Wander Around the Island That Was Once Japan's Only Gateway to the Outside World
Constructed in 1663 during Japan's isolationist period (1639 - 1853), Dejima served first as the home of Portuguese Christians and later as a Dutch trading port, at the time being the only place in the country foreigners were allowed to set foot on and Japan’s only gateway to the outside world. For this reason, Dejima boasts both stunning Edo-period wooden buildings reminiscent of past Japan, as well as European-style structures, creating a fascinating mix that is hard to find anywhere else in Japan. As the surrounding land was reclaimed in the 20th century in name of the urban development, today's Dejima is not an island anymore and allows visitors to conveniently soak in Japan's history right in the center of Nagasaki City.
If you want to read more on Dejima's history, level up your knowledge with our article on Dejima, Isolationist Japan's Only Connection to the Outside World.
3. Glover Garden - Stroll Through a Romantic Garden With Views of Nagasaki City
Glover Garden is an open-air museum that exhibits foreign mansions established in Nagasaki after the end of Japan's seclusion in the second half of the 19th century. It offers interesting insights into Nagasaki's history, so strolling through its grounds will feel like traveling back in time. Located on top of the hill of Minami-Yamate, the garden opens upon the stunning panorama of Nagasaki Harbour and it's perfect for those who want to have a walk among natural landscapes that are reminiscent of Europe and Japan at the same time. Glover Garden's main attraction is the Former Glover House, the oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan.
In case you are planning a trip to Nagasaki City, check out our article on The Best Sightseeing Spots in Nagasaki: World Heritage Sites, Gourmet Dining, and More.
4. Gunkanjima - Tour an Abandoned Island to See Nagasaki's Most Mysterious Scenery
Formally named Hashima, this abandoned island and former coal mine in Nagasaki was given the nickname of "Gunkanjima" (battleship island) because of the many man-made structures and buildings that reshaped its natural features till it ended up resembling a massive battleship. Due to coal being an important economic resource back in the past, more than 5,000 people lived on the tiny Gunkanjima, making it the most densely populated place ever recorded. The mine ended operations in 1974 and the residents began departing to seek new jobs, leaving behind their houses, shops, and all the daily-life tools they weren't able to bring with them. Now crumbling and rusty, Gunkajima awaits visitors with some truly eerie views.
5. Mt. Inasa - Admire Nagasaki's Million-Dollar Panoramic Nighttime Views
Not far from Nagasaki's city center, the 333-meter-high Mount Inasa is the perfect observation point for those who want to witness some truly magical scenes. The dark waters of the sea and the mysterious sky at night create a breath-taking contrast with the thousands of lights sparkling in the city and its port. The spectacular 360° view is also ideal for visitors who are planning to admire Nagasaki tinted in the golden hues of sunset. A ropeway connects the city to the top of Mount Inasa, making the journey up to the summit an enjoyable attraction on its own.
6. Sofukuji Temple - Visit a Zen Temple Reminiscent of Ghibli's Spirited Away
Originally built in 1629 for Nagasaki's Chinese residents, this zen temple is built in a Chinese-style reminiscent of the architecture in Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away that makes it stand out among other Japanese temples. It's even more special because some of its buildings were built in China, disassembled, and reassembled in Nagasaki. One of the most impressive features of the temple is its two-story red entrance gate, the Ryugumon which literally means "the gate of the dragon palace."
7. Meganebashi Bridge - Cross a Bridge That Looks Like Spectacles
Nagasaki's Edo-period Meganebashi (Spectacles Bridge) is Japan's oldest stone arch bridge as well as one of the most famous, along with Edo's Nihonbashi Bridge in Tokyo and Iwakuni's Kintaikyou Bridge in Yamaguchi. There are several stone bridges spanning the Nakashima River that once was the city trade artery, but Meganebashi stands out for the fine architecture and photogenic scenery, thanks to its round arches that, when reflected off the water, resemble a pair of spectacles. The bridge and its picturesque surroundings dotted with shops and cafes are a great occasion for a tranquil walk.
8. Unzen Onsen - Soak in Steam-Clouded Hot Springs
Hidden in the slopes of Mount Unzen, Unzen Onsen is a hot-spring town surrounded by the Unzen Jigoku, several hot-spring fields knows as "jigoku" (Hells) that consist of hot-spring pools, flowing steam vents clouding the landscape, and streaming hot water, with some streams even reaching boiling point. This steam-clouded onsen town is a feast for the eyes all year round but it is particularly prized for its remarkable blazing colors in autumn and for the frosty vista in winter. Unzen Onsen is also a great base to explore the Unzen area and its mountains, a paradise for nature lovers that is renowned for becoming Japan's first national park in 1934.
9. Shimabara - Learn More About Samurai History at Nagasaki's Renowned Castle Town
Shimabara Castle dates back to the early Edo Period when it was erected as the residence of the local feudal lords. The castle has majestic white walls and an outstanding structure far larger than castles of similar status. No surprise it was designated as one of the 100 finest castles in Japan! The castle town of Shimabara also houses several samurai houses. Thus, walking through its traditional alleys will allow you to soak in the atmosphere of past Japan as if you were in the samurai era.
If you want to learn more about this scenic spot in Nagasaki check out our article on Shimabara Castle Town: We Visited the Location of a Christian Rebellion.
10. Goto Islands - Refresh Your Mind in a Secluded Natural Paradise
As the name suggests, literally translating to "five islands," the Goto Islands consist of five main islands (Fukue, Hisaka, Naru, Wakamatsu, and Nakadori) along with a number of smaller islands. Located 100 kilometers off the coast, this group of islands was used as a hideout by Japan's hidden Christians during the ban on religion during the Edo period. Today, dozens of churches remain scattered across the area as a reminder of that historical time. Four of which were even declared World Heritage Sites in 2018. The Goto Islands are also well known as a treasure trove of natural wonders, including impressive beaches and mountains.
11. Misojien Garden - Enter a World of Blazing Autumn Colors
Misojien Garden is a hidden gem nestled in the mountains of the Unzen area. This secret garden is a must-visit scenic spot for all nature lovers, as it is blessed with an abundance of "momiji" (Japanese maples) that tinge the surroundings in blazing colors during autumn. The prized autumn colors of Misojien are welcomed with celebrations that include local food and craft stalls, as well as a night display that highlights the beauty of the garden's 1,000 momiji. The garden is located on a private plot of land, so the owner who lovingly cares for the plants opens it to the public only in November and December, which makes the visit even more special!
12. Obama Onsen -Test Your Hot-Spring Skills With Some of the Hottest Onsen Waters in Japan
Overlooking the blue waters of Tachibana Bay, Obama Onsen is a quaint hot-spring town prized for its breathtaking sunsets and beneficial waters. This Nagasaki hot-spring wonderland is said to be founded in 713, enjoying unwavering popularity since that time thanks to its thirty springs that run as hot as 105°C and produce 15,000 tons of water per day, so that clouds of steam floating over the town are not an unusual sight. Obama Onsen offers traditional lodgings at local "ryokan" (Japanese inns), delicious seafood cuisine, and Japan's longest foot bath which is 105 meters long.
13. Kujukushima Island - Cruise Through 208 Extraordinary Islands
Located inside the Saikai National Park, the Kujukushima Islands include dozens of beautiful natural landscapes, jagged coasts, and extraordinary islands. The name of this scenic spot (that translates to "99 islands") suggests how this area has the highest density of islands in Japan, with 208 islands in total dotting the sea 25 kilometers off the coast of Sasebo City. The best way to enjoy the diversity of Kujukushima's panorama is by one of the several cruises that depart from Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort and take visitors around the bay. Another great way to appreciate the stunning scenery of the islands is by visiting one of the observatories in the area. Particularly recommended are the Tenkaiho Observatory and Park with an impressive view of Kujukushima and expansive flower fields, and the Ishidake Observatory that has a 360-degree view of Kujukushima.
14. Nanatsugama Limestone Cave - Explore a Rare Natural Formation
Nanatsugama Limestone Cave is one of Nagasaki's beloved natural wonders. It consists of a series of caverns that emerged from the sea 30 million years ago characterized by rare formations thanks to the erosion of the water. For this reason, the site has been recognized as a National Nature Treasure that visitors can enjoy from sightseeing cruises or explore on foot from the plateau above Nanatsugama that allows a striking panoramic view of the cave and the ocean.
15. Kazagashira Park - View Enchanting Cherry Blossom Scenery
Kazagashira Park stretches out on top of Mt. Kazagashira at a height of 159 meters. Overlooking Nagasaki City and its harbor with the long suspension bridge, the park is prized as one of the best viewpoints of the city. This green area is also a very popular flower-viewing spot, and thanks to the 350 cherry trees blooming in spring and many hydrangeas blossoming in early summer, visitors can admire the city framed by beautiful flowers!
16. Kofukuji Temple - Discover Spirituality at One of Nagasaki's Oldest Temples
Originally built in 1620 as a shrine to pray for safe sea journeys, Kofukuji Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Nagasaki. Promoted by the Chinese merchants of the city who brought their prayers to the temple every time they had to venture out the sea, it is located in Nagasaki's Teramichi Temple Town district. Kofukuji houses the largest temple gate in Nagasaki that is also registered as a Prefectural Designated Cultural Property.
17. Iojima Island - Relax on an Island Shimmering With Magical Lights
Iojima Island is blessed with spectacular nature and plenty of fun activities to try, such as stand-up paddle-boarding, surfing, sea kayaking, cycling, and segway riding. Connected to the Kyushu mainland by a bridge, this island is great both for a day trip and a longer stay, as it is appreciated for its luxury resorts and fashionable hotels with ocean views. Visitors shouldn't miss relaxing at one of the island's many spas and hot springs, as well as get the chance to explore Iojima's famous Island Lumina, a night-walk interactive adventure that includes magical lights, motion pictures, and digital art.
18. Nagasaki Suwa Shrine - Take Part in a Traditional Festival With a History of 400 Years
Suwa Shrine is the main shrine of Nagasaki City. It is located on Mount Tamazono, so it boasts a beautiful 277-step stone staircase leading up the mountain to the various buildings of the shrine. The shrine is also the location of Nagasaki's prized Kunchi Matsuri, a colorful festival that has been celebrated for about 400 years that presents traditional Japanese dances, Chinese-influenced dragon dances, and performances involving festival floats.
19. Nagasaki Lantern Festival - Lose Yourself Among the Lights of 15,000 Lanterns
Initially celebrated in Nagasaki's Shinchi Chinatown, over the decades, the Lantern Festival has become a major winter tradition of Nagasaki. During the festival, which takes place over the first fifteen days of the Chinese lunar new year, the city is decorated with over 15,000 Chinese lanterns illuminating the streets and buildings with mesmerizing hues. Visitors can also enjoy displays of giant lanterns, such as those of the zodiac animals.
20. Wakamiya Inari Shrine - Enjoy Nagasaki's Most Colorful Traditional Festival
Wakamiya Inari Shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Japanese god of rice and fertility, and associated with foxes. This Nagasaki shrine is especially famous for its autumnal festival called Takengei, an acrobatic display that dates back to the early 19th century and represents the shrine's deity playing in a bamboo grove. During the celebrations, two performers wearing fox masks scale 10-meter-high bamboo poles, performing stunts to the rhythm of traditional music. The performance concludes with them throwing "mochi" (rice cakes) to the jubilant crowd.
21. Nomozaki Nagasaki Meotoiwa - Pray for Good Luck in Love at Nagasaki's Couple Rocks
Nomozaki Meotoiwa are the beautiful "couple rocks" located in the southern part of Nagasaki City that are considered a popular power spot as well as a symbol of marital happiness. This hidden nook of Nagasaki is especially appreciated for the stunning sunsets that can be witnessed from its shores, characterized by the breath-taking sight of the setting sun between the two rocks. Visitors can also enjoy views of Gunkanjima Island in the distance during clear days.
Enjoy the Scenic Beauty of Nagasaki Prefecture!
We hope that after introducing some of the most beautiful scenic spots in Nagasaki you'll add this prefecture to your bucket list. Through these unique spots with superb views, you'll be able to experience the natural wonders of the prefecture as well as Nagasaki's rich history!
Explore the Kyushu Area!
Nagasaki is magical, but it's not the only prefecture hiding in Kyushu, the region that Nagasaki Prefecture is a part of. Kyushu includes 7 prefectures, each with something unique to offer, so if Nagasaki sounds incredible to you, we think you'll love what the rest of Kyushu has to offer. Check out the official Kyushu tourism website for more information on what's out there in the region.
Visit Kyushu Official Website: https://www.visit-kyushu.com/en/
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.