Asia, Japan, Travel

The Goto Islands: Exploring Japan’s hidden gem.

In Japanese Gotō means “ five-island”, and hence the Goto Islands are the 140 islands located on the western coast of the East China Sea. Among these islands, there are 5 main islands known as Fukue Island, Naru Island, Wakamatsu Island, Hisaka Island, and Nakadori Island. These islands have deep historical roots in the Christian community of Japan and how for years they practised their religion in secrecy because their religion was banned for almost 2 centuries. The ban was finally lifted in 1873 and with the freedom to practice their religion, there also came the opportunity to build their churches.  Hence, today there are quite a few churches in each of these islands and among these many churches, 4 were officially marked as World Heritage Sites in 2018. 

With the increase in the trend of travelling and exploring different cultures all over the world, these ‘ hidden ‘ islands are also getting recognition and for the last few years, a lot of tourists come to these islands. Apart from their interesting and sad history, these islands are a gem of natural beauty. With their beautiful beaches along with the breathtaking views of the splendid mountains and the traditional villages which are quite popular among the fishermen, they make one of the best places where you can spend your vacation. 

When it comes to getting to Islands then there are multiple ways for tourists to arrive at Islands. One of them is the car and bike ferries that arrive and depart from the port of Fukue, which is the largest Island among the Goto Islands and from Nagasaki as well. Direct flights also leave from Nagasaki in case you prefer air travel. 

A ferry port entrance building
Fukue Island ferry port

When it comes to the churches of the Goto Islands then the Dozaki Church is one of the very few churches which is no longer used as a place of worship rather have been transformed to be used for educational purposes. Opened in 1908 and built in a gothic design and stained glass windows, the Dozaki Church is one of the oldest church that was built following the designs of the west. The church currently is open as a museum and pays tribute to the Christian history of the islands by having displays that showcase the struggles of the Christians of the pre-ban era and the Catholic missionaries who initially brought the religion in Japan. 

Some of the other popular churches of the Goto Islands are Kaitsu Church, Mizunoura Church, Old Gorin Church, and the Martyrdom Church.

Of course, churches are not all that there is to these beautiful Islands. One of the other special things about the island and that is popular among tourists as well as the locals is all the marine sports and sea activities that you can do on the Islands. Canoeing and coral reef diving are just a few of the many marine sports that you can enjoy. There are plenty of fishing spots as well that make these islands one the best destination for fishing, as well as snorkelling and scuba diving.

Takahama Beach, Fukue

For a more specific Goto islands itinerary, why not read our other blog: The Goto islands – Paradise in Nagasaki.

Thinking of travelling to the Goto islands? Make sure to download Hanna on iOS or Android for all your Japan travel needs. 

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