The Natural Beauty and Historic Churches of the Gotō Islands (Video)
JapanIn videoGuide to Japan
A Sweeping Vista of Sea and Islands (Video)
The Gotō Islands, rising from the sea in west Nagasaki Prefecture, are natural wonders with striking coastlines molded by volcanic activity and the relentless pounding of ocean waves. Much of the archipelago has been designated part of the Saikai National Park, a marine park that boasts gorgeous views and rich nature.
The Gotō Archipelago is also famed for its many historic Catholic churches and kakure Kirishitan, early Japanese Christian converts and their descendants who fled to the islands and preserved their faith in secret during the centuries that Christianity was banned in Japan. Now the archipelago has come in for renewed attention with various churches and Christian sites on the islands, as well as in the city of Nagasaki and on Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture, being recommend for registration as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Gotō Islands also delight visitors with their distinctive and varied local cultures. Visiting gourmands seek out thick Gotō udon noodles, which is considered among the three great udon of Japan. They also revel in the islands’ delicious shōchū made exclusively from island water and locally grown ingredients. The archipelago also boasts a number of unique festivals. The astonishing Hetomato Festival, held on the chain’s largest island of Fukue, is particularly famous and has been designated by the Japanese government as an important intangible folk cultural property.
(Originally published in Japanese. Video and editing by Fujii Kazuyuki. Video and photographs by Kuroiwa Masakazu. Banner photo: Sunset over the Ōsezaki cliffs on Fukue island.)