Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Discover waterfalls and other natural features, sites of cultural and historical significance, and more.
Narao Ako Tree
34 Naraogō (Google Maps)
Just before Narao Shrine, a giant sea fig tree towers over the surrounding area. Its roots straddle the path leading to the shrine, serving as a natural torii gate. Over 670 years old, and with a height of 25 meters and a trunk with a circumference of 12 meters, it is the largest sea fig tree in Japan. It is said that those who can walk underneath the tree to reach Narao Shrine on the other side while holding their breath will live a long life.
Wakamatsu-Seto Strait and Marine Park
This beautiful ocean has abundant aquatic resources which can be observed during cruises out of Wakamatsu Port. Although it looks calm, the Wakamatsu-seto Strait has a fast current which is constantly rushing at about 7.5 km per hour. Whirlpools are also visible. Plankton flourish in this environment, resulting in great octopus and skipjack fishing as well as yellowtail farming. This marine park consists of three areas: Katashio-seto Strait, Kode Island, and Harinomendo.
This is a small strait between Shimonaka Island and No Island where the direction of the current stays the same at low tide and high tide. Brightly-colored coral can be spotted in this area.
Sakamoto Ryoma Square
Enohamago (Google Maps)
This is a destination for fans of the legendary samurai, Sakamoto Ryoma. Sakamoto Ryoma is said to have created Japan’s first trade company, “Kameyama,” in Nagasaki. On May 2, 1866, a sailboat operated by Kameyama called, “WILE WAFE” (Wild Wave), capsized in the open sea at Shioyazaki during a storm and 12 lives were lost. Upon hearing this news, Ryoma visited Enohama, where the memorial now stands, and facing the direction of the shipwreck, put his hands together to pray for the peaceful repose of those souls. It is said that Ryoma asked the locals to erect a cenotaph in this location, which is now the Sakamoto Ryoma Square. The cenotaph is still cared for by the locals with respect for those who perished. One of the tillers, which is believed to be flotsam from the incident, is also carefully preserved by the locals; a full-scale replica of the tiller can be viewed at the memorial site.
Kamigoto Floating Petroleum Storage Base
Tsuzukihamanourago (Google Maps)
This facility is the world’s first petroleum base to employ a floating storage system. Because Japan relies almost entirely on imports for domestic oil consumption, this facility was established as a backup measure in case supplies are interrupted. Construction began in 1984 and ended in 1988, taking four years to complete and costing a total of 200 billion yen. The five oil storage barges float adjacent to a breakwater that links the islands of Orishima to the right and Kashiwajima to the left. Each vessel has a volume of 880 thousand cubic meters; altogether the facility can store up to 4.4 million cubic meters of oil, which is equivalent to about a week’s worth of nationwide oil consumption. The vessels are 390 meters long, 97 meters wide, and 27.6 m deep—expansive enough to cover three baseball fields. The view of this facility from National Route 384 provides a sense of its magnitude. The islands connected to the base are government property, and while the general public cannot access them without permission, tours of the facility can be arranged with advance notice.
Kamigoto Floating Petroleum Storage Base Tours
Tours can be arranged Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Please allow one to two hours for the tour.
Groups of 5 to 60 people are permitted per visit.
Please make reservations at least five days in advance.
There is a 15-minute boat ride to and from the facility. Boats launch from the Aiko boat ramp.
Tours are free of charge.
Goto Stone Village Landscape (Important Cultural Landscape of Japan)
In the Sakiura and Kita-uonome districts, villages composed of Goto stone provide a glimpse into the past. These landscapes were declared a shared asset of the Japanese people and designated Important Cultural Landscapes of Japan on September 19, 2012. Cultural landscapes are areas with scenery reflecting Japan’s traditional roots, and among these landscapes, “Important Cultural Landscapes” have particular significance. Currently, there are only 65 of such landscapes across Japan, including the Sakiura district and Kita-uonome district in Shinkamigoto. You can visit these districts and see how Goto stone once permeated everyday life, illustrating the past prosperity of the stone industry and lending a unique character to the villages.
While the fishing industry has historically thrived in Sakiura, people started quarrying sandstone during the Meiji period, and the processed stone industry took off from there. There is an outcropping of sandstone deposits on the shores of the area that shows where several quarries used to exist. Stonemasons lived in the villages of Tomosumi, Akao, Enohama, and Kashiragashima, which were adjacent to the quarry sites. As a result, villagers began using the stone for roads, houses and daily objects. In the Tomosumi area, stone pavements and walls blended into the background of daily life, and Goto stone stretched across the alleys between houses. In the Akao area, it is common to see private residences with Goto stone wainscoting covering the lower portion of walls. This is thought to have kept rain and wind from entering the buildings and prevented damage to the outer walls. In the past, residences had imogama cellars beneath the floorboards where sweet potatoes were preserved. The stone slabs measured 5 to 6 centimeters in thickness and were about 2 meters tall.
In the long, narrow Kita-uonome district, farming and fishing villages used walls of stone to help cultivate the hilly landscape. The traditional practice of farming, preserving, and processing sweet potatoes into the staple food, kankoro mochi, is still very much ingrained in the culture here.
Hinoshima Stone Pagodas
Hinoshimago (Google Maps)
This group of ancient gravestones have stood on the western shore of Hinoshima facing the East China Sea since the 14th and 15th centuries. In addition to the gorinto pagodas from the Kamakura period, itabi-shaped towers and natural rock itabi from after the Edo period can be found. The stone towers, over 70 in number, are thought to have been brought in by pirates, and are an indicator that this area once played an important role in trade with mainland Japan. It is rare to find graves that have been preserved over such a long period of time at this scale in the country. They are listed among the cultural properties of Japanese Heritage in the Tale of the Border Islands of Iki, Tsushima, and Goto: A Bridge from Ancient Times."
251-32 Imazatogo (Google Maps)
The boat-shaped mifunesama stone is a worshiping spot located on the Imazato side of Mt. Sanno. This is where envoys came to offer prayers of thanks after a safe voyage. This naturally-shaped rock can be found underneath a cluster of trees.
Arikawago (Google Maps)
There is a waterfall on the side of Mt. Tannayama that feeds a river which runs through Arikawa. Visitors can enjoy the waterfall from an observation deck and enjoy a refreshing change of scenery deep in the forest. To access the waterfall, drive to the parking lot at Hifumidaki Forest Park and walk along the path to the falls, which runs adjacent to a stream, for about ten minutes. Please take note that one of the wooden bridges is not passable due to decay and the detour route may involve crossing a small stream.
Iwaseurago (Google Maps)
Also referred to as the “Husband and Wife Falls,” this 72-meter-high waterfall is formed by the convergence of a hearty “husband” waterfall and a smaller, more leisurely “wife” waterfall. 300 years ago, a visitor from China compared the area to Lushan in Jiangxi Province so the falls were named “Rozan” in Japanese. This is the largest waterfall in Kamigoto.
In Arakawa, there is a river that flows in the ravine between Otake (Mt. Sanno) and Medake. When it rains, the river rushes down the mountainside, which is allegedly how the area got its name, “Arakawa” (i.e. wild river). The waterfall is visible from the main road but only appears after it rains. This waterfall is named after an parable about filial piety.
Sonego (Google Maps)
In the Omizu village at the foot of the northwest side of Mt. Bandake, there is a waterfall that pours down from a steep cliff when it rains. The waterfall can produce quite a torrent depending on the amount of rain, which is how the area got its name, “Omizu” (i.e. a lot of water).
Imazatogō (Google Maps)
This river winds through the heart of Nakadori Island, the scenery of which resembles a farming village deep in the mountains of the mainland. The river bends just past the first intersection where the road crosses the river overhead, and around this area there is a pool of clear water where people come to swim during the summer.
Aokatagō (Google Maps)
In the past, when the Tsurido River ran freely through the center of Aokata, there were occasional floods that damaged residential areas along the river. To reduce the numbers floods and provide relief from water shortages, Aokata Dam was constructed in November 1984. Aokata Dam is a gravity dam with a height of 27.5 meters, and wall length of 132 meters. The surrounding reservoir has a total volume of 550,000 cubic meters. People come here to walk and jog on the 2.09-kilometer trail surrounding the reservoir. From the end of March until mid-April, cherry trees bloom in profusion. The mythical creatures called kappa also have a strong connection with this area, and many kappa statues and other figures can be spotted here.
Tsurido River’s Kappa Folklore
Farmers once used stepping stones to cross the Tsurido River, but occasionally they would lose their footing and sustain serious injuries and even drown. Every time this happened, it is said that ten or more kappa would come out and make fun of the victim. As a result, the farmers planted black-eyed peas and gourds, which kappa dislike. The kappa became distraught that they could no longer enjoy cucumbers and their other preferred foods, and they apologized to the farmers. After that, they no longer played tricks on humans and began to thump on trees in the forest to signal the arrival of rain.
Shores of Ota
Otago (Google Maps)
In the remote western end of Ota in the Arikawa district, the shoreline at komori-bana features unique rock formations and cliffs that have been carved out by the Goto Nada Sea. In the southern end of Ota, the 1.3-kilometer-long Tamaishi Shore consists entirely of large and small stones that have been shaped and smoothed by these powerful waves.
Sonego (Google Maps)
In Shinuonome in the northern part of Nakadori Island, a 143-meter cliff rises up out of the ocean. It shows the cross-section of a volcanic pyroclastic cone, the interior of which was eroded away by waves. The red color of the cliffs contrasted with the bright green mountains and the blue ocean presents a fantastic natural tapestry. The nearby Shirakusa Park offers a good view of the cliffs. The Shinuonome Sone Volcanic Akadaki Cliffs are designated a Natural Monument of Nagasaki Prefecture.
Wakamatsugo (Google Maps)
Shionokakaoru Park was created in September 1991 in conjunction with the completion of the 552-meter-long Wakamatsu Ohashi Bridge. A symbol of Wakamatsu, the bridge completely revolutionized access to and from this “remote island within a remote island.” Ferries and speed boats traveling to and from the lower islands give passengers a view of the bridge’s underside.
Shionokakaoru park, located on the eastern shore of Wakamatsu Island, has a clock with a diameter of eight meters that is decorated with seasonal flowers. Take a stroll on the path along the shoreline and view the magnificent pure white Wakamatsu Ohashi Bridgeover the azure sea from below.
Pirate History in Kotenoura
Wako were Japanese pirates who rampaged through the Korean Peninsula and the coast of China from the end of the 13th century to the 17th century. During the 16th century, the Chinese pirate king, Wang Zhi, came to Japan and other parts of Asia for trade and plundering. Wang Zhi was granted an audience with the feudal lord Uku Morisada, who allowed him to conduct trade and housed him in what is now Tojin-machi in Goto City. Two years later in 1542, at the request of Hirado’s lord Matsuura Shigenobu, Wang Zhi relocated to Katsuodake in Hirado. After the Ming Dynasty banned maritime trade, Wang Zhi started engaging in wako piracy out of Goto, and from 1550 to 1554, he obtained permission to establish a base in Hamanoura and Inoseto, which belonged to Hirado at the time.
Kotenoura Bay in Inoseto was once a perfect, natural port and base for ships; it faces the East China Sea and provides convenient passage to and from Hirado. It is also shielded from the open sea by Kushi Island. Along the shoreline of Kotenoura, there are remains from the Wakoyama Castle, including a stone fort and dry moat.