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6 things to do in Hirado, Nagasaki

NAGASAKI, Japan Far away from Tokyo Metropolis, the historic island of Hirado in Nagasaki prefecture offers a refreshing experience for visitors who prefer to witness how life in Japanese countryside goes.

In 1609, Hirado became the very first foreign trade port in Japan when it began trade with Holland. The archipelago then served as a bridge between Japan and Western culture.

Previously the trading post of the Dutch East India Company during the Edo Period, walking in the streets of Hirado City will take you back in time.

Experience fishing with locals

Fishing is one of the main livelihood of residents in Hirado. Visitors can take a ride on a fishing boat at Shiraishi Port early morning and help fishermen pull in a fixed net. Every fishing trip is unique as visitors will have to see what kind of fish will be caught.

The fishing tour will take one to two hours. Breakfast or lunch will be served after returning to the port in an eat-all-you-can buffet style with local food such as tempura, baked fish, salad and pickles. Sashimi and miso soup will be served at your table. The fishing experience and food cost 4,000 yen for adults and 3,000 yen for children.

Visitors can also experience feeding birds while en route to the fixed fishing nets in the sea. Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association/Released

Adults and children can enjoy the hands-on fishing experience in Hirado. Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association/Released

Enjoy the scenery

Situated at the westernmost tip of Kyushu, Hirado draws visitors for its beautiful scenery. One of the popular destinations is Kawachi Pass, a 30-hectare grassland elevated for over 200 meters. Iki and Tsushima islands are visible at the summit of the hill, as well as the Furue Bay, the Kofuji, Ikitsuki and Oshima islands and the Sakai National Park.

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The Kawachi Pass in Hirado City, representative of the Nagasaki Prefecture, stretches for about 30 hectares. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

A panoramic view of the surrounding islands can be enjoyed at the summit of Kawachi Pass. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Kawachi Pass is a popular trekking destination in Hirado. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Eat Hirado beef

Hirado Wagyu beef is known for its particular tenderness. Several restaurants in the city offer Wagyu beef, particularly steaks and barbecues, in their menus. An annual event called Hirado Jigemon Festival is held every summer where Hirado Wagyu beef can be eaten with vegetable.

Hirado beef is served in various restaurants in the city. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Drink traditional samurai tea

The Matsuura clan ruled the island from the 11th to 19th century. Their residence has been transformed into a historical museum, where the treasures of the clan are displayed. Visitors can dress up in samurai armor or a Japanese kimono inside the museum.

Visitors can try a kimono or a samurai attire at the Matsuura historical museum. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

At the side of the museum is a ceremony house where visitors can enjoy original warrior-style green tea and “castellan” sponge cake, a popular sweet in Nagasaki prefecture. The tea ceremony starts with a lecture from the Chinshin school of tea, explaining the traditional tea ceremony.

Deep-fried “castella,” a Japanese sweet, is served along with green tea. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Deep-fried “castella,” a Japanese sweet, is served along with green tea. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Experience warm arm bath

Hirado’s hot springs are a blend of Western and Japanese cultures. The hot springs in the city contain sodium carbonate which helps relieve nerve pain and heal burns. Before heading to the Matsuura Museum, drop by the arm bath and foot bath below the entrance of the clan’s residence.

Lodging facilities with hot springs are available throughout Hirado City. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

An arm and foot bath is open to the public along the streets of Hirado. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Visit Christian sites

Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier first introduced Christianity in Hirado when he arrived in 1550. Special bilingual mass is held in the Christian churches in Hirado, where visitors can participate in along with local Christians.

The city also features three hidden Christianity sites – Nakaenoshima, Kasuga Village and the summit of Mt. Maruo – which are candidates for World Heritage recognition.

RELATED: Nagasaki: A Christian pilgrim destination

Bilingual mass is offered at the Tabira Church in Hirado. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

A statue of St. Francis Xavier stands outside the church named after him. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Perched on the hills of Hirado, the Tabira Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

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Editor’s note: The tour to Nagasaki was hosted by Japan Discovery and Media International, in partnership with Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association, to promote tourism in the area. At no stage does the host organization has a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by Philstar.com following editorial guidelines.

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