About the Goto Islands
The Goto Islands comprise some 150 islands—eight of which are inhabited—situated about 100 kilometers west of Nagasaki Prefecture.
The main islands from south to north are Fukue, Hisaka, Naru, Wakamatsu, Nakadori, Nozaki, Ojika, and Uku. The islands spread over an area of 684.46 square kilometers, stretch 80 km north and south (150 km including the Danjo Islands), and have an aggregate coastline of about 600 kilometers.
Fukue Island through Naru Island compose what is colloquially referred to as “Shimogoto,” while Wakamatsu Island through Uku Island compose the northern region called, “Kamigoto.” The town of Shinkamigoto comprises Nakadori and Wakamatsu Islands. The town is accessible by high speed boat, jet foil and ferry that convey passengers to and from the mainland cities of Nagasaki, Sasebo and Fukuoka.
Nakadori Island is the core of Shinkamigoto and spans out in four directions like a cross. The central area of Arikawa and Aokata are the main hubs for travel here. Owing to Nakadori Island’s long and narrow shape, the ocean is highly visible from all throughout the island. There are four swimming beaches and numerous observation decks perched on top of mountains scattered throughout each district in town.
Wakamatsu Island is located to the southwest of Nakadori Island and connects to it via the Wakamatsu Ohashi Bridge. The Wakamatsu-seto Strait and Marine Park reveal a glorious shade of turquoise blue interspersed with foliage-covered green clumps of land. This remote island is largely occupied by wilderness.
Notably, Shinkamigoto has sparse flat areas, which contributed to its appeal as a settlement for the faithful during the Edo-period ban on Christianity. During this time, very few farmers were eager to migrate from the mainland and assume the arduous task of cultivating the island’s mountainous terrain.
For Christians who lived on the mainland, however, this unpopular remote destination was an ideal place for them to practice their faith under the radar. Their legacy is the beautiful churches interspersed throughout the islands, which tell a story of grave oppression and of the tenacity of faith.