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Sasebo

Views From The Last Samurai and Juicy Burgers

Sasebo: Views From The Last Samurai and Juicy Burgers

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Nagasaki Prefecture is filled with amazing places. While passing by to visit other areas you might overlook the city of Sasebo, but give it one day and it will delight you with superb food, breathtaking views and hidden wonders.

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The Sasebo area is famous for Kujukushima, a group of 208 mostly uninhabited islands. Sasebo has three main observation decks from which you can enjoy views of these green specks of land: Tenkaiho (in the picture below), Ishidake and Yumihari. The view from Ishidake was featured in the 2003 film The Last Samurai. Yumihari also offers a view of the city of Sasebo, particularly beautiful at night (picture above).

Gaze at the beautiful sea

The Sasebo area is famous for Kujukushima, a group of 208 mostly uninhabited islands. Sasebo has three main observation decks from which you can enjoy views of these green specks of land: Tenkaiho (in the picture below), Ishidake and Yumihari. The view from Ishidake was featured in the 2003 film The Last Samurai. Yumihari also offers a view of the city of Sasebo, particularly beautiful at night (picture above).

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A popular sweet from these parts is the Kujukushima senpei, a hexagonal caramelized cookie. Peanuts are added to resemble the many islands of Kujukushima.

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Around the city

One of the first landmarks you'll run across after exiting the train station is the Miura Catholic Church. Perched on an elevated platform directly overlooking the street, this church miraculously survived the air raids that destroyed most of the city during the Pacific War. Like the other churches of Nagasaki, it serves as a reminder of the many Christians that resided in the area.

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Local life in Sasebo revolves around the Sasebo Yonkacho Shotengai, a covered shopping arcade that stretches through the city. It has a local feel and it's lined with many shops and restaurants where you can find all your daily necessities.

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Exploring the eastern side of Yonkacho you will find two more shopping streets: Kyomachi-dori and Tunnel Yokocho, a quaint market street where vendors sell fresh products to the locals.

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Make sure you check in at Sasebo Top, a workshop producing Sasebo's unique and colorful spinning tops. Wooden spinning tops are common in Japan, but this round shape is unique to Sasebo. The people running the workshop are extremely nice and will teach you top spinning techniques. Upon reservation, you can also learn how to paint your own spinning top.

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Sasebo top eats

Sasebo proudly boasts a very unusual traditional dish: the Sasebo burger. The city hosts a U.S. Navy base, and Japanese cooks first started making burgers to appeal to the hungry marines. Nowadays Sasebo burger has become a revered specialty and the Sasebo Burger Association was created to certify official burger shops. Grab one of the free burger maps that can be found all over the city and choose the most yummy-looking joint. You won't be disappointed.

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On the western side of Yonkacho shopping street is where most restaurants and bars are located. The area comes to life at night, with many western-friendly establishments affectionately called ‘gaikokujin bar' (foreigners bar), as well as some jazz bars. Another delicious specialty of Sasebo that can be found here is lemon steak, a juicy steak topped with lemon sauce and fresh lemons. Head over to Lemoned Raymond for an unforgettable steak set including a steak on a hot plate that cooks at your table, salad, soup, and Sasebo-grown rice.

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From Sasebo Port you can take a cruise through the islands of Kujukushima, on both a regular boat and a pirate boat. From here you can also get to the Goto Islands, an archipelago famous as a hiding place for persecuted Christians when Christianity was banned in Japan.

Sasebo is surely worth a visit. Head over to the Japanese city of burgers and treat yourself to some juicy meat, stunning sceneries and bustling nightlife.

Laura Loss

Laura Loss

Laura is a Tokyo-based freelance writer, photographer and translator from northern Italy. She has a passion for craft beer, Japanese traditional instruments and discovering places that are off the beaten path.

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