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Trekking, Cycling: A journey into the nature and culture of Hirado, the island where the Samurai first encountered Western culture

Trekking, Cycling: A journey into the nature and culture of Hirado, the island where the Samurai first encountered Western culture

Trip Overview

Hirado Island is an island in the western part of Kyushu. It is the 20th largest island in Japan. It is now connected to the mainland of Kyushu by a large suspension bridge. 
Hirado Island became the gateway to Japan from overseas during the global Age of Discovery, when Portuguese ships arrived in the 16th century. This was the very place where the Samurai first met the West. It can also be said to be the place where Western culture flowed into Japan and influenced Japanese culture. Hirado is a mysterious city with the typically Japanese-style Hirado Castle as its symbol, but with glimpses of a slightly Western style.
The whole island is mountainous and there is not much flat land. Hilly terrain extends directly to the coast. The people here used to use their wits to grow crops on the limited land available. Fishing is also thriving as there are good fishing grounds nearby due to the warm currents that run along the coast. This journey allows you to enjoy the unique lifestyle and nature of the people of Hirado.

●Area: Hirado City, Nagasaki Pref.
●Main Activity:
Climbing the World Natural Heritage Site Mt. Yasuman-dake and cycling around Ikitsuki Island
●Difficulty: 3
●3 nights, 4 days
 Day 1: Hirado City
 Day 2: Hirado City
 Day 3: Hirado City
●Guide: An English speaking guide
●PAX: Minimum 2/ Maximum 4
●Price: JPY 200,000-


・Trekking on Mt. Yasuman-dake, the spiritual home of the people
・Cycling around Ikitsuki Island, another island
・A real fishing experience and the authentic taste of fish

Day 1

The journey begins at Tabira Port on the western tip of Kyushu. Hirado Island is connected by a bridge, but this time you will cross by boat. This is because the boat ride will give you an insight into the topography and features of the island. After a brief explanation on the boat, you will land at Hirado Port. This is the center of the city of Hirado. You will then take a bicycle tour around the city. You will start with the symbolic Hirado Castle, which is located on a hill. From the top floor of the castle, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city, the mountains and the sea.
Afterwards, visit the Matsura Historical Museum. Here you can see the collection of the Matsura clan, which ruled Hirado. You will be able to see authentic armor, the symbol of the Samurai, as well as learn about the role played by Hirado historically. Hirado is also the place where Christianity, a Western culture, was introduced. In the city, you can see ancient Japanese Buddhist temples, but you can also see a Catholic church standing next to them. The activity for the day is cycling, a distance of 5.2km and a cycling time of around 40 minutes.

Day 2

On this day, you will climb the World Heritage-listed Mt. Yasuman-dake. First, cycle from the hotel to the trailhead, stopping at the Kawachi Pass on the way, where you can enjoy a 360° panoramic view. Also, take a look at the 'hot spring vending machine' where locals come to buy hot spring water. It is an unusual place. Afterwards, you will arrive at the Mt. Yasuman-dake trailhead, where the trekking begins.
Mt. Yasuman-dake is a mountain that has become a spiritual stronghold for local residents. Stone steps on the approach to the mountain were piled up to pay homage to the shrine at the top of the mountain. There is also a history of visits to the shrine by Christians-in-hiding under the guise of paying homage. From the summit, a wonderful view of the East China Sea can be seen.
From here, you can descend towards Kasuga Village, which is also designated as a World Heritage Site. Kasuga village has a magnificent view of the terraced rice paddies in the few flat areas of the Hirado region. After a break at a small arbor in one corner of the village, you return to the hotel by private car. The day's activities include cycling, approx. 8km (1 hour), and trekking, approx. 5.3km with an elevation gain of 350m. The trekking takes approx. 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Day 3

You will depart early in the morning and board an actual fishing boat. A fixed net is set in the blessed sea and you will experience pulling up the fish in it with the net. Once the fishing experience is over, you can taste the fish you have caught. This is your breakfast. The taste of freshly caught fish is exceptional. After breakfast, you will start cycling, but before that, you will prepare your own lunch. The menu is a local specialty, 'oshizushi (pressed Sushi)'.
The cycling course circles the neighboring island of Ikitsuki. The first half of the course is on the west side of the island. This is named 'Sunset Road' and takes you along a road with cliffs on the right and the sea on the left. The aim is to reach the Ohbae Lighthouse at the northern end of the island. The ride is a series of ups and downs.
After eating lunch at the Ohbae Lighthouse, you will then cycle along the eastern side of the island. The east side of the island is easier to live on as the mountains provide a wall, so most of the island's people live on this side. Here, you will stop at several points to learn more about the people's way of life, before reaching the goal at the southern end of the island. From the finish point, you will return to your hotel by private car. For dinner, let’s head into town. You will be taken to a pub (izakaya) loved by the locals. The activity of the day is cycling, a distance of approx. 30km, lasting approximately 5 hours.

Day 4

On this last day, you will have only one hands-on activity. The Portuguese ships arrived in Hirado in the 16th century, at which time sugar was also introduced to Japan from the West. In Hirado, sweets using sugar were made and are now famous confections. It is called "Casdoce”. You will make the "Casdoce" as hands-on activity. Afterwards, you return to Hirado Port by private car to end the tour. There will be no other activities on this day.

・Hirado Tourism Association
・Address: 776-6 Sakigatacho, Hirado-shi, Nagasaki-ken 859-5104, Japan
・Tel: +81-950-23-8600

Trekking and cycling at Mt. Yasumandake in Hirado, where samurai first interacted with the West

  • Trekking and cycling at Mt. Yasumandake in Hirado, where samurai first interacted with the West


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