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Amakusa islands

Amakusa islandsMap of Amakusa islands Amakusa is a group of islands to the southwest of Kumamoto Prefecture.
Relatively-large three islands and the mainland surround Yatsushiro Sea, and many other small islands are around there.
Also Uto Peninsula in Kumamoto Prefecture and Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture are close to this islands.

The large three islands are Kamishima, Shimoshima and Nagashima.
Between Kamishima and Shimoshima, there is a narrow channel like a canal. It is about 3 km long and only about 100 meters wide.

Uto Peninsula, Kamishima and Shimoshima are connected with national roads.
Especially, the section from Misumi at the tip of Uto Peninsula through Ooyano Island to Kamishima is called "Amakusa Pearl Line".
It has five bridges across the sea, and they are called "Amakusa Gokyo" (Five Bridges of Amakusa).

Christianity was first introduced to Japan in 1549 by Saint Francis Xavier, a Catholic missionary belonging to the Society of Jesus.
Then eager missionary works were done based in Hirado or Nagasaki in Nagasaki Prefecture.
Christianity was also introduced in Shimoshima in 1566, and it got many believers.
In the late 16th century, many churches and a seminary were built in this islands.

But Christianity was banned in 1587, and the lords around this area suppressed the Christians.
In the result, the people in Amakusa and Shimabara revolted against the tyranny of the lords in 1637 in conspiracy.
But many of them were killed out at an old castle in Shimabara where they took refuge.

Since that, remaining Christians had hidden in this islands until the lifting of the ban of Christianity in 1873.
Even now, about 30 percent of Amakusa people are Christians.

To visit Amakusa, it is convenient to use route bus from Kumamoto city.
And there is Amakusa Airtport near Hondo district, and it has the flights from Fukuoka and Kumamoto.

Main spots in Amakusa Islands

  • Amakusa Matsushima /1/ : Four bridges of Amakusa Gokyo are between Ooyano Island and Kamishima.
    These are within 3 km, and there are many small island in this channel.
    The beautiful scenery is similar to Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture.
    There is the observatory on the hill at the tip of Kamishima near the 5th bridge.
    And the pleasure boat touring around the islands leaves from the port near the observatory.
    (By route bus, get off at Yuuransen-noriba stop.)
  • Hondo Martyrdom Park /2/ : Hondo is the central district in Amakusa, and the central area is on the Shimoshima side by the narrow channel between Kamishima and Shimoshima.
    The park is on a hill west of central district.
    Originally, here was Hondo Castle built in 1530.
    The lord was a Christian, but he and many Christians in Amakusa were killed by the government troops in 1589.
    There are many tombs and monuments of the martyrs.
  • Sakitsu Catholic Church /3/ : A Gothic church located about 28 km southwest of Hondo district.
    It is in the small fishing village, and was built in 1934.
    The scenery that there is a noble church in the rustic Japanese fishing village is very unique.
    (By route bus, get off at Kyokai-iriguchi stop.)
  • Ooe Church /4/ : A church located about 5 km northwest of Sakitsu Catholic Church.
    It is a white Romanesque church built in 1933.
    The holy spring at Lourdes is set up near the church, and there is Amakusa Rosario-kan which is a museum introducing the history of Christianity in Amakusa area.
    (By route bus, get off at Tenshudou-iriguchi stop.)
  • Myoken-ura coast /5/ : The steep coast located about 8 km north of Ooe church.
    Along the coast, there are many cliffs 20 to 80 meters high, reefs and caves. It is on the western coast of Shimoshima, and we can see the view of beautiful sunset.
    (To this spot, the route bus is not convenient.)
Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

How to get to here

By route bus

  • From Kumamoto station, about 1 hour and 30 minutes to Yuuransen-noriba stop, about 2 hours and 15 minutes to Hondo.
  • From Hondo, about 55 minutes to Kawaura-koukou stop. Then about 23 minute to Kyoukai-iriguchi, about 35 minutes to Tenshudou-iriguchi.

Amakusa Matsushima The 5th bridge of Amakusa Gokyo
Hondo Martyrdom Park Sakitsu Catholic Church
Photo by Yokaphoto.net
Ooe Church
Photo by Yokaphoto.net
Holy spring at Lourdes in Ooe Church
Photo by Yokaphoto.net
Photo by Yokaphoto.net
Sunset view from Myoken-ura

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Spots in Kumamoto Prefecture

Kumamoto city
Mount Aso
Kurokawa onsen
Tsujun bridge
Kuma River
Amakusa islands