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Tour of Kyushu starting with Fukuoka Plan B

2 nights, 3 days

Tour of Kyushu starting with Fukuoka Plan B

Exotic scenery of Nagasaki, the only town opened to the world during Sakoku, or the Isolation period(1641-1854), and the towns that form the birthplace of ceramics, Arita, Imari and Karatsu.

1st Day
Nagasaki Prefecture Nagasaki City

Hakata Station > (1 hour 50 minutes by JR Limited Express) > Nagasaki Station > (4 minutes by Nagasaki Electric Trainway) > Kokaido-mae > (10-minute walk) > Koufuku-ji Temple > (15-minute walk) >Sofuku-ji Temple > (10-minute walk) > Shokaku-ji-shita Station > (7 minutes by Nagasaki Electric Trainway) > Oura Tenshudo-shita > (5-minute walk) > Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church > (10-minute walk) > Glover Garden > (15 minutes by Nagasaki Electric Trainway) > Matsuyama-cho Station > (One-minute walk) > Nagasaki Peace Park, Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum > (10 minutes by Nagasaki Electric Trainway) > Chikko Station > Chinatown

From Fukuoka to Nagasaki (1 hour 50 minutes by JR Limited Express Train)

Nagasaki locates at the northwest-edge of Kyusyu, and is close to the Korean Peninsula, Continental China and South East Asia. During the Edo Period when Japan closed itself off from the outside world, Nagasaki was the only place open to foreign countries. Consequently, you will notice the influence of foreign culture blending harmoniously with Japanese culture here and there.

The city has many hills, so comfortable walking shoes are definitely recommended when sightseeing.

Nagasaki Kunchi Festival
The huge 15-day 'Nagasaki Lantern Festival' is held every February in celebration of the Chinese New Year, and about 15,000 colorful Chinese lanterns are displayed throughout the town. The annual 'Nagasaki Kunchi Festival', held from October 7 to 9, is a unique autumn festival that merges Japanese, Chinese and Dutch cultures, and is famous for its Chinese dragon dance.

Kofuku-ji Temple
Take the Nagasaki Electric Trainway No. 3 line from Nagasaki Station. A ticket is only 100 yen no matter how far you go. It might be convenient to purchase a one-day trip ticket (500 yen) that allows you to get on and off as many times as you like within a day. Get off at 'Kokaido-mae' and walk about 10 minutes to reach 'Kofuku-ji Temple'. It is the first temple of the Oubaku sect in Japan, founded by a Chinese priest in 1620. In Nagasaki at that time, Christians were severely persecuted, and the Chinese people built many 'Chinese temples' to prove that they were actually Buddhists. The temple precincts where precious buildings still stand today are protected as a historical site.

Megane-bashi Bridge
The oldest of the beautiful arch-type stone bridges in Japan was constructed by the priests of this temple. The combination of the actual arches and their reflection in the water looks like a pair of glasses, so it is called Megane-bashi Bridge (Spectacles Bridge).

Sofuku-ji Temple, one of the Chinese temples situated within a 15-minute walk, houses 21 cultural assets including national treasures.

Take the Nagasaki Electric Trainway No. 1 line from 'Shokaku-ji-shita' Station, change at 'Tsuki-machi' Station to the No. 5 line, and get off at 'Oura Tenshudo-shita' Station.

Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church
The 'Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church', designed by French priests in 1864, is the oldest existing Christian building in Japan built by Japanese. There was a time when Christianity was banned in Japan; however, the flame of the faith was never entirely extinguished. As you visit the sites and contemplate this troubled history, you will surely feel an even greater sense of their significance.

Glover Garden
Walk to Glover Garden. Nine Western-style buildings have been grouped together at the former enclave for foreign residents and were improved to form a park. When the long period of national isolation ended in 1859, Nagasaki was opened as a port for free trade along with Yokohama and Hakodate. Initially, however, foreigners were permitted to reside only in one tightly controlled area, which was this small enclave.
It is situated on a hilly site, providing a view over the Port of Nagasaki. It is also open at night, during the summer.

Nagasaki Peace Park
Take the Nagasaki Electric Trainway to the 'Nagasaki Peace Park'. Nagasaki and Hiroshima are the only cities in the world to have suffered an atomic bomb attack. The Peace Park is situated on the hill above the north side of ground zero where the bomb was dropped. A memorial ceremony is held every year on August 9 in front of the Peace Statue, which is about 10 meters tall, and a message appealing for peace is sent out to the world.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
Visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, too. The devastation caused by the atomic bomb, the circumstances surrounding the bombing and the history of nuclear weapons are all clearly explained. Films such as the animated 'August 9 Nagasaki' and the documentary 'Nuclear experiment and antinuclear peace' can be viewed with English subtitles in the video room.

We recommend dining in Chinatown. How about trying Nagasaki 'champon', a deliciously unique noodle dish?

As a souvenir, the castella or sponge cake originally from Portugal is famous.

*Photo (C) Nagasaki Pref. Tourism Federation

2nd Day
Birthplace of Ceramics
JR Nagasaki Station > (1 hour 50 minutes by JR Limited Express) > Arita Station > (10-minute walk) > The Kyushu Ceramic Museum > Arita Station > (10-minute walk) > Imaemon Museum of Ceramic Antiques > (10-minute walk) > Arita Station > (5 minutes by taxi) > Gen Emon Gama Gallery > (5 minutes by taxi) > Arita Station > (25 minutes by JR Matsubara Tetsudo line, 410 yen) > Imari Station > (15 minutes on Saihi Bus) > Imari Nabeshima-yaki Kaikan Hall/Nabeshima-han Yo Koen Park > (15 minutes by bus) > Imari Station
Arita town in Saga Prefecture is the origin of Japanese porcelain with a history dating back 400 years.

Characteristic features of Arita ware are the almost transparent white base and the exquisite, vividly drawn pictures. Arita ware is classified into three types: Ko-imari or early Imari ware, Kakiemon and Iro-nabeshima, according to the production period and style. This porcelain was shipped from Imari Port, so it was well known as 'IMARI' overseas, and it was highly valued by royalty and aristocracy not only in Europe but also in Turkey and Islam in the 17th to 18th century.

Imari now has a sister-city affiliation with Meissen, Germany, which is also famous for its porcelain. If you would like to learn more about Arita ware, visit the 'Kyushu Ceramic Museum' and 'Arita Ceramic Museum'.

Imaemon Museum of Ceramic Antiques
To better understand the production process, we recommend a visit to the 'Imaemon Museum of Ceramic Antiques' situated next to the kiln. Imaemon is the name of the current generation, a living national treasure, who holds the stewardship of the Arita ware technique handed down over 350 years. The 'Gen Emon Kiln' is 5 minutes by taxi from Arita Station and you are welcome to visit inside the workshop.

Arita Ceramic Market
At the Arita Ceramic Market, which is held from April 29 to May 5, about 600 shops open up in a line extending 4 km. Products are sold at discount prices, so more than a million people visit this market each year.

Next, you travel on the Matsuura Tetsudo line to Imari, which is also famous as a birthplace for ceramic techniques.

Okawachi-yama is located about 15 minutes by car from the station. It is a mountainous area richly endowed with nature, and is the site of many kilns, so the area is called 'Hiyo-no-sato' or secret kiln village. Around the end of the 17th century, government officials grouped the kilns in this area and ordered the people to produce articles for presentation to the Shogun.

Just walking through the village with its climbing kilns, is a moving experience. From the observatory of Nabeshima-han Yo Koen Park with its many pleasing ceramic objects, you can view the magnificent scenery.

On the way back, take a break at the 'Imari Nabeshima-yaki Kaikan' Hall and treat yourself to some coffee made with natural water in a cup of your choosing.

You travel back to Imari City for an overnight stay.

Photo (C) Saga Pref. Tourist Federation

3rd Day
Castle Town Karatsu
Imari Station > (5-minute walk) > Akira Kurosawa Memorial Museum Gallery and Theater > (1 hour by JR local train) > Karatsu Station > (20 minutes by circular bus, 160 yen) > Karatsu-jo Castle > (10-minute walk) > Karatsu-jinja Shrine Hikiyama Exhibition Hall > (10-minute walk) > JR Karatsu Station > 1 hour 30 minutes on JR Chikuhi line > JR Hakata Station
Akira Kurosawa Memorial Museum Gallery and Theater
You will visit the 'Akira Kurosawa Memorial Museum Gallery and Theater', which introduces the achievements of world-famous movie director, Akira Kurosawa. Plans are currently underway to open a cinema complex, research center for cinematic art and a movie production school by 2010.

Travel to Karatsu on the JR Chikuhi line.

Karatsu ware pottery
Karatsu City in Saga Prefecture is rich with nature facing the Sea of Genkai, and it still retains some remnants of the days 400 years ago. The city is also known for its Karatsu ware pottery. Karatsu Bay has a beautiful sandy beach 5 km long and 1 km wide populated with clusters of black pine trees. Because the shape of the trees resembles the arch of a rainbow, the beach is called Niji-no-matsubara (rainbow pine-covered area).

Karatsu Castle
First, let's visit the symbolic Karatsu Castle built in 1608 and believed to embody the beauty of a crane spreading its wings. The present castle was rebuilt in 1966, faithfully reproducing the original. Precious historical materials are displayed inside and the view from the observatory facing Karatsu Bay should not be missed.
The area around the castle has been made into a beautiful park, with 500 cherry trees blossoming there every spring.

'Karatsu Kunchi' festival
The annual 'Karatsu Kunchi' festival held from November 2 to 4 is when Karatsu receives its largest number of visitors. It is quite a sight to see the colorful Hikiyama floats pass through the town to the rhythm of gongs and drums. When it is not festival time, you can see the floats at the 'Hikiyama Exhibition Hal' next to the Karatsu-jinja Shrine.

Photo (C) Saga Pref. Tourist Federation