A chain of many islands floating in the eastern
end of East China Sea, about 100 kilometers west
of Nagasaki Prefecture, is called the Goto (five
islands) Islands, in reference to the five large
islands included in the group. The entire chain is
a part of Saikai National Park. There you will be
astonished by its white sand beaches and crystal
clear waters, as well as by the evening sun slowly
sinking into the East China Sea. In addition to
this beautiful scenery, you will also find
numerous churches among the many islands, with
this devout Christian atmosphere remaining as one
of the main characteristics of the area. The
Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs has submitted
churches at six locations for consideration as
UNESCO World Heritage sites, and they have been
included in a tentative list.
The Goto Islands were a historically important center for transportation between Japan and mainland China, and served as the last stop for a ship carrying a Japanese envoy that crossed the sea on its way to Tang Dynasty China in 804. The five main islands in the chain are Fukue-jima, Hisaka-jima, Naru- shima, Wakamatsu-jima and Nakadori-jima. The largest of the islands is Fukue-jima where the Fukue Airport and Fukue Port operate, and where the Dozaki Church is located. This beautiful red brick church was built in 1908, the first European-style church among the islands. For believers, the church serves as a base for the revival of the Christian religion. Playing the role of a small Vatican, it is a symbol of Goto Catholicism. Fifty churches are scattered throughout the islands, many of them as well imparting a sense of the area's long history.
Besides strolling among the churches, another charm of the islands is found at the sea. The area is a mecca for marine sports, including bathing, canoeing, and coral reef diving. The Danjo Archipelago is famous as a mecca for those who enjoy fishing, and there are many excellent fishing spots throughout the islands, making them a popular destination for fishing guests. During the summer season many events are held there, such as a triathlon international competition. There you will find history, romance and an overflowing number of activities to enjoy.