Attractions

Top Choice Park in Nagasaki

Peace Park

North of the hypocentre, the Peace Park is presided over by the 10-tonne bronze Nagasaki Peace Statue, designed in 1955 by Kitamura Seibō. It also includes the dove-shaped Fountain of Peace (1969), and the Peace Sym…
Top Choice Museum in Nagasaki

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

An essential Nagasaki experience, this sombre place recounts the city's destruction and loss of life through photos and artefacts, including mangled rocks, trees, furniture, pottery and clothing, a clock stopped at …
Top Choice Memorial in Nagasaki

Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims

Adjacent to the Atomic Bomb Museum and completed in 2003, this minimalist memorial by Kuryū Akira is a profoundly moving place. It is best approached by quietly reading the carved inscriptions and walking around the…
Top Choice Castle in Kumamoto

Kumamoto-jō

Dominating the skyline, Kumamoto's robust castle is one of Japan's best, built in 1601–07 by daimyō Katō Kiyomasa, whose likeness is inescapable around the castle (look for the distinctive tall pointed hat). From 16…
Top Choice Mountain in Aso-san Area

Aso-gogaku

The Five Mountains of Aso are the smaller mountains within the outer rim: Eboshi-dake (1337m); Kijima-dake (1321m); Naka-dake (1506m); Neko-dake (1408m), furthest east; and the highest, Taka-dake (1592m). Access roa…
Top Choice Historic Site in Nagasaki

Dejima

In 1641, the Tokugawa shogunate banished all foreigners from Japan, with one exception: Dejima, a fan-shaped, artificial island 560m in circumference (15,000 sq metres) in Nagasaki harbour. From then until the 1850s…
Top Choice Castle in Karatsu

Karatsu-jō

This 1608 castle (rebuilt 1966) is picturesquely perched on a hill overlooking the sea, and houses antique ceramics, samurai armour and archaeological displays. It's a formidable sight even from the outside. To avoi…
Top Choice Buddhist Site in Usuki

Usuki Stone Buddhas

These thousand-year-old stone Buddhas lie just outside Usuki. Four clusters comprising 60-plus images (59 are designated National Treasures) lie in a series of niches in a ravine. Some are complete statues, whereas …
Top Choice Historic Site in Shimabara

Samurai Houses

In the Teppō-machi area, northwest of the castle, are buke yashiki (samurai houses) set along a pretty, 450m-long gravel road with a stream down the middle. Most of the houses are currently inhabited, but several ar…
Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Dazaifu

Tenman-gū

Poet-scholar Sugawara-no-Michizane was a distinguished Kyoto figure until his exile to distant Dazaifu, where he died two years later. He became deified as Tenman Tenjin, god of culture and scholars. Among the count…