Introducing places of interest: Saikai National Park
Hirado & Kujukushima Area
The Ishidake Observatory commands the best view of the Minami-Kujukushima Islands and Sasebo Bay among all observatories located within the city of Sasebo. Many photographers equipped with tripods visit this place at dusk on holidays. The beauty of a Japanese evening landscape was captured on film here and used for the opening scene of the movie The Last Samurai.
This site is also famous as a point from which to observe cranes migrating northwards to northeast China and Russia. Cranes residing at the nearby Sasebo Subtropical Zoological & Botanical Garden are known for facing upwards and bidding farewell to their fellow cranes when they fly overhead in around February and March.
In the town of Shikamachi, situated halfway between Hirado and Sasebo, stands Nagushiyama Park, which commands a fantastic view of the Kujukushima Islands from a vantage point 234 meters above sea level. From the middle of April to the beginning of May, one hundred thousand azaleas tinge the west side of Mt. Nagushi in a red hue. Throngs of visitors from within and outside the prefecture arrive to celebrate the Azalea Festival held at this time.
A public square and campground can be found on the grounds of the park, which can be thoroughly enjoyed by families and groups year-round.
First lit in 1958, Obae Lighthouse is a white lighthouse standing atop sheer cliffs rising about 100 meters above sea level on the northernmost tip of Ikitsukijima. On clear days, faraway Iki and Tsushima can be seen.
This site constitutes an observation point from which to view cranes, honey buzzards, grey frog hawks, and other migrating birds. The land portion above the edge of the cape consists of gently sloping grassland inhabited by colonies of crinums.
Depart from Hirado, cross the Ikitsuki-Ohashi Bridge, and head towards this lighthouse and you will be able to enjoy a drive along the west coast of Ikitsukijima. The route you will be taking is known as the Sunset Way for affording a stunning view of the sunset as it dips below the horizon of the East China Sea. The precipice of Shiodawara, which consists of graphite columnar joints, can also be seen.
Cape Ose comprises sheer cliffs jutting out into the East China Sea. Extending for 15 kilometers along the water's edge are sea cliffs revealing beautiful layers of ancient rock. A white lighthouse on the tip of the cape emits the brightest light of any lighthouse in Japan (2 million candelas) to ensure the safety of ships navigating these waters at night. The sight of the evening sun sinking westward into the sea from the observatory is breathtaking. This location is used by migrating perns at the end of September as a staging base. It is also used as a launching point for routes pointed in the direction of the East China Sea. The lighthouse has been chosen one of the 50 most beautiful lighthouses in Japan. Cape Ose also commands a view of the evening sun that is considered one of the 100 most beautiful sunsets in Japan.
Situated between Wakamatsujima and Nakadorijima, Wakamatsu Seto is described as a classic submerged coast.
Numerous small promontories jut out into the narrow channel here, where there are also many islets and shore reefs present. A complex, indented coastline combines with islets dotting the clear waters of the sea to form an exquisitely gorgeous coastal landscape.
Facing Saganoshima Island and the western side of Fukuejima Island, Takahama is—along with Tontomari, which is located further back—a shallow, natural coast blessed with beautiful white sandy beaches and clear seawater. Visitors can find bathing areas complete with parking lots, shower rooms, and rest stations. Takahama has been selected one of the best beach 88 in Japan.