|Travel Reports by mfedley||view profile of mfedley|
|Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.|
January 1, 2019 - Obscure Kyushu : Amakusa
For my third day in Japan, I decided to drive around the Amasuka Islands in Kumamoto to see what these islands had to offer. The islands in Japan are known as being a stronghold of Christianity in the past which can be seen through the large number of crosses in the vicinity.
My first stop for the day was a 2 hour dolphin cruise which costs 4,500 yen and leaves three times a day (first time was 10AM) which can be found next to the Aquarium in Amakusa. Note that it's best to book online if it's peak season and they claim to find Dolphins 98% of the time.
It takes around 40 minutes to reach the area where the dolphins are found in large numbers which is close to the Shimabara Peninsula. The cruise was quite choppy today and I believe that it is normally much more calmer than today.
We followed the Dolphins for around 30 minutes which gives plenty of opportunities to see these animals in action. Note that they can come really close to the boat but the large waves made it difficult to take good photos of quick moving objects.
My second stop for the day was Shokakuji Temple which is reasonably difficult to find without GPS. This rather uneventful temple is the home of a previous bastion of Christianity and a temple was put in its place. Parking is limited and large cars will struggle to get into the roads in this area.
A fair distance from the previous temple is Sakitsu Church which seems to be very popular in the town. It's one of the oldest churches in Japan and looks quite interesting from the banks of the port.
It should be noted that no photography is allowed in the church and they also ask you to book in a time you wish to visit due to numbers which come here during tourist season. Parking close to the church is difficult even during the quiet season - so I suggest parking at the beginning of the town next to the port.
Located directly opposite the church on a hill is the local shrine which is nothing special in itself, but it does have nice views of the town so I would consider it a must visit if your in the town itself.
Located roughly a 10 minute drive from Sakitsu Church is Oe Church which holds a commanding view of the surrounding valley. There is also a Rosary Museum at the foot of the hill and parking can be limited at the church itself in peak season.
My last stop for the day was Tomioka Castle which is rather large and in good condition. There is also a museum which allows you to enter the buildings for 300 yen but it was closed for New Years holidays. Note that it's quite a steep climb for not mobile people but most people should find the walkway fine.
The main thing I discovered today was my lack of interest in Christian sites in Japan compared to other countries. But when you've visited churches built in the 6th century in Georgia, I guess that explains it a little. I would say that the dolphin cruise was highly enjoyable but better weather would have improved the enjoyment level. My next post will be Yatsushiro.
Dolphin Cruise (English): https://www.seacruise.jp/english/
Amakusa Tourism Bureau (English): https://www.t-island.jp/en/
UNESCO Church Signup (English): http://kyoukaigun.jp/en/