7 Best Attractions in Amakusa recommended by Igaya!
There are about 200-300 wild bottlenose dolphins living offshore Tsuji Island, which is approximately a 40-minute drive north of Igaya Ryokan. It is rare even worldwide for dolphins to settle in one area and as such Amakusa is known as one of the seven “Most Famous Dolphin Watching Places in the World”.
In Amakusa, you can enjoy dolphin watching from fishing boats. The local fishermen are “friends” with the dolphins and will be your guides on the tour.
Fishermen in Amakusa have for long co-existed in harmony with the dolphins and have always left the smaller fish for the dolphins to feed on. This is probably why the dolphins are so friendly and will often come close to say hello, jumping and swimming alongside the boats. Your chance of encountering the wild dolphins is over 95%. Please feel free to let us know at the time of your reservation if you would like us to book a dolphin watching tour for you. Think of it as your rare chance to encounter wild dolphins! The experience is sure to be precious and memorable, for young and old.
＜Dolphin Watching in Itsuwa-machi (Amakusa)＞
Ph: 0969-54-3303 Timetable: 5 cruises/day, starting from 10 am. The boat departs every 90 minutes (Duration: 1 hour)
Passenger Fare: ¥2,500 for junior-high school students and older, ¥1,500 for elementary school students, free for children under the age of 6 (accident insurance included)
*Reservations must be made for this tour.
*Please note that the cruise may be cancelled in case of adverse weather conditions.
Romantic Sunset Spots in Amakusa
Igaya Ryokan is located on the west coast of one of the Amakusa Islands, on the west extremity of Kyushu. Facing the East China Sea, you can take in breathtaking views of the evening sun setting beyond the sea horizon.
There are many amazing sunset spots around Amakusa, including the “Kikaigaura Observation Deck” (5-minute drive from Igaya) and “Jusanbutsu Park”, located at the tip of a cape (15-minute drive from Igaya).
For our overnight guests we recommend a leisurely 10-minute walk from Igaya to the seaside before your dinner time, where you can admire a romantic panorama of the beautiful evening sun slowly setting into the East China Sea.
The dramatic scenery will make for an unforgettable experience.
The sunsets are especially remarkable in autumn and winter, when the air is crisp and clear.
“Kikaigaura” approximately a 5-minute drive from Igaya
“Jusanbutsu Park” approximately a 15-minute drive from Igaya
The chalky-white Romanesque-style church stands on the hill of Oe where Hidden Christians once clandestinely practiced their faith. The current church was built in 1933 by Father Garnier, a French missionary.
During the Meiji period (1868-1912) five renowned poets known for “Gosoku-no-Kutsu” (Five Pairs of Shoes), including Kitahara Hakushu and Yosano Tekkan, travelled to visit this very place. The poets had made an extremely long journey from Tokyo to meet with Father Garnier in Amakusa. The warm personality of the French missionary speaking in the local Amakusa dialect would have touched their hearts, while the Island’s natural scenery, European-influenced culture and the unique history would have led them to reflect on the period when Christians secretly maintained their faith in spite of violent oppression against them.
The poets’ experience took form as a travelogue titled “Gosoku-no-Kutsu” and was published in newspapers as a series, fostering great interest in Amakusa’s culture across the wider population of Japan.
They continued to publish many more works, and their Amakusa experience is known to have had a great influence on modern Japanese literature.
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM ? 5:00 PM
Sakitsu Tenshudo is a Gothic-style church that blends with the surroundings of the quiet fishing village of Sakitsu.
It is one of the historical sites of “Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki and Amakusa” that are under consideration for becoming UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2018.
The church was built where the residence of the village headsman once was, which is where the hidden faith was cracked down and oppressed.
The current altar is said to be positioned on a spot where ‘e-fumi’ (a test to ensure non-allegiance to Christianity) had been conducted.
It is also a rare example of a church fitted with tatami (straw mat) floor, which is rarely seen even in Japan. The church’s altar, arched steeples, stained glass windows are just magnificent with a solemn air occupying its space.
The current church was constructed in 1934 under the guidance of Father Halbout.
The surrounding village is also an interesting place to explore while enjoying the quaint feeling of the fisherman’s town where the traditional way of living remains. There is also an information centre, a museum and gift shops around the area.
Sakitsu Tenshudo Opening Hours: 9:00 AM ? 5:00 PM
Amakusa Fishermen’s Cooperative Sakitsu Direct Store “Kintsu Market”
Opening Hours: 10:00 AM ? 4:00 PM Closed: Wednesdays
Sakitsu Shuraku Guidance Centre Opening Hours: 9:00 AM ? 5:30 PM
Natural white sandy beach
Our guests have mentioned that the further you go in to Amakusa’s west coast the more vivid the colour of the sea becomes. In fact, the sea beside Igaya is so clear that you can see clearly to the bottom of the ocean. Our guests often come to swim in the beautiful beaches during summer, and my recommendations are Tomioka Beach and Shiratsuru-hama Beach where I also frequently visit with my family.
Tomioka beach is known for its crystal clear water and is chosen as one of the “100 excellent beaches to swim” in Japan. The beach attracts many people during the summer period as they have free parking and restaurants in the vicinity.
Shiratsuru-hama beach in particular is the only beach within the Kumamoto Prefecture that has been selected as the “88th nicest beach in Japan”. The natural white sandy beach goes on for 1.3km and since the shape of this beach looks like a crane spreading its wings. Appropriately, it was named “Shiratsuru-hama” which literally means “a white crane beach”.
The “Umi-no-Ie” (little cabana) will also be open for business during the summer period.
You can also enjoy riding a jet-ski and a banana boat and there will be plenty of inflatable floats available for rental so you can travel light.
The Shiratsuru-hama beach is known as a popular spot for surfers as well.
It is also very pleasant to take a walk on the sandy beach during the comfortable climates in spring and autumn.
” Tomioka Beach” approximately 15-minute drive from Igaya
” Shiratsuru-hama Beach” approximately 15-minute drive from Igaya
Island of Pottery and Porcelain
Amakusa is world famous for both its quality and quantity of porcelain stone mined in the area for use in pottery production. Local people call the mountains where porcelain stone is quarried “stone mountains” and have appreciated nature’s blessings. Products made from Amakusa`s porcelain stone are treated with loving care. Renowned Japanese ceramics manufacturers such as Arita-Yaki use Amakusa`s porcelain stone to make beautiful ceramics.
Currently, there are numerous pottery studios in Amakusa, including “Takahama Pottery Juho Kiln”, “Amakusa Karatsu Jyurou Kiln”, “Maruo Pottery” and many others; each of these feature unique designs.
In 2003, the local porcelain industry was officially recognized by the Japanese government as a National Traditional Craft, giving national recognition to Amakusa’s pottery.
“The Amakusa Ceramics and Porcelain Festival”, a popular event that attracts large crowds of people is held in autumn and spring.
At Igaya we also use the pottery and porcelain from the local pottery studios.
There are some studios where the visitors can experience pottery painting and learn to use the pottery wheel. Why not make your own special piece as a memento of your trip?
Takahama Pottery Juho Kiln
Amakusa Karatsu Jyurou Kiln
Amakusa is surrounded by the ocean that provides a harvest of splendid seafood.
For this reason, seafood is often the popular souvenir choice for people visiting Amakusa.
Prawn, sea urchin, squid, abalone, turbo, seaweed, dried octopus, mirin-boshi (dried seafood marinated in sweet rice wine) ….
You can choose to send these items directly from the shop still alive or in a processed form where the fresh seafood has been preserved with care.
Citrus fruit are also popular as the warm climate of Amakusa produces various unique citrus fruit throughout the year.
To purchase these souvenirs, we recommend “JA Toretate Market” or “Aino Amakusa Mura” in Oyano-machi.
We can suggest many more specialized shops, such as shops that can directly send out fresh goods. Please feel free to ask us at any time.
JA Toretate Market
Aino Amakusa Mura