The 99 Islands in Saikai National Park
The Kujukushima are a group of islands spreading along the coast between Sasebo City and Hirado Island, in Nagasaki prefecture in Kyushu. Composed of 80 % of natural spaces, they belong to the Saikai National Park created in 1955. The archipelago is divided into a northern part, the most extensive, and a southern part, the closest to Sasebo, and is now one of the main attractions of the area.
The Saikai National Park and its 24.646 hectares are home to a natural environment called Kujukushima, literally the "99 islands". Since the Meiji Era (1868-1912), this archipelago is well-known and liked by the Japanese who come from throughout the country to admire its wonderful natural landscape.
A wilderness area to preserve biodiversity
Despite its name counting 99 islands, the archipelago actually encompasses 208 islands. At the time of naming the place, nobody really took the time to count the islands, and the number 99 was used to give the idea they were too many to be easily numbered.
Only four of the islands are inhabited, the other were left to the wild and are a natural shelter for migratory birds. Each year, cormorants, mandarin ducks, mallards in winter and Japanese cranes in spring 🌸 stop by Kujukushima during their migration, renewing the vitality of the area.
Leisure and relaxation for all
Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort is a place dedicated to the discovery of the Kujukushima islands and located in their southern part. Various attractions are available:
- Kujukushima Visitor Center, an information center on the archipelago. Its formation, as well as its natural environment, flora and wildlife are presented on explication panels and videos. It is the ideal place to start sightseeing.
- The large Umi-kirara aquarium has a huge 4,8-meters deep outdoor water tank, home to 120 species. Its gives the impression of being underwater and allows to watch submarine life to the closest.
- Cruises in the archipelago, mainly on board of two pirate ships : the Pearl Queen and the Mirai. The cruise lasts about fifty minutes with departures almost every hour. From July to October, you can also board for a sunset cruise. Other courses are available, such as the relaxing cruise aboard a smaller boat, and yacht or sea kayak rental.
There is a total number of eight different viewpoints to get a panorama on the whole of Kujukushima Islands. Five of these observatories are in the southern part, about 15 to 30 minutes by car 🚙 from Sasebo downtown:
- Tenkaiho, the most popular and the southernmost one;
- Funakoshi, the lowest one, but accessible to wheelchairs;
- Yumihari-dake, at 364 meters high, for a full panorama on both the city and the sea;
- Udogoe, mid-height on the side of the Yumiari-dake, with a view on the Pearl Sea Resort;
- Ishidake, at 191 meters high, for a view on the archipelago at the end of a forestry path. The place was also a shooting set for the movie The Last Samurai (2003).
The three other observatories are in the northern part of the Kujukushima Islands:
- Nagushiyama Koen, at 234 meters of altitude;
- Takashima Ban-dake with a view on Hirado and Goto Islands.
Kujukushima Islands and Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort are a nice getaway for friends or family outings, of an easy access from Sasebo and offer a complete change of landscape when arriving from the big city.