Gotō Islands

Coordinates: 32°54′N 129°03′E / 32.90°N 129.05°E / 32.90; 129.05
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Gotō Islands
Native name:
Goto Islands in relation to Nagasaki Prefecture
LocationSea of Japan
Coordinates32°54′N 129°03′E / 32.90°N 129.05°E / 32.90; 129.05
Total islands140
Major islandsFukue Island, Hisaka Island, Naru Island, Wakamatsu Island, Nakadōri Island
Population76,311 (2005)
Additional information
Time zone

The Gotō Islands (五島列島, Gotō-rettō, literally: "five-island archipelago") are Japanese islands in the Sea of Japan.[1][2] They are part of Nagasaki Prefecture.[3]


Relief Map
Scenery of the Goto Islands

There are 140 islands, including five main ones: Fukue Island (福江島, Fukue-jima), Hisaka Island (久賀島, Hisaka-jima), Naru Island (奈留島, Naru-shima), Wakamatsu Island (若松島, Wakamatsu-jima), and Nakadōri Island (中通島, Nakadōri-jima).[4] The northernmost island is Ukujima.

The group of islands runs approximately 85 km (53 mi) from Osezaki Lighthouse, Fukue Island to Tsuwazaki Lighthouse, Nakadōri Island. Its center is near Naru Island at about 32°49′N 128°56′E / 32.817°N 128.933°E / 32.817; 128.933.

To the north is Tsushima Island in the Tsushima Strait and to the east is Kyūshū and the rest of Nagasaki Prefecture. It is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the port of Nagasaki. The Tsushima Current (a branch of the Kuroshio) passes around the islands.

The southern of the two principal islands, Fukue, measures approximately 25 kilometres (16 miles) north-to-south by 25 kilometres (16 miles) east-to-west; the northern, Nakadōri Island, measures approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) north-to-south by 30 kilometres (19 miles) east-to-west at its widest point. Most of Nakadōri Island, however, is quite narrow, measuring less than 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) wide for much of its length. Some dome-shaped hills command the old castle town of Fukue. The islands are highly cultivated; deer and other game abound, and trout are plentiful in the mountain streams.[5]

As a result of a merger on August 1, 2004, the city of Gotō was established. It occupies Fukue, Hisaka, and Naru islands, and seven inhabited ones. The town of Shin-Kamigotō, itself the product of a simultaneous, separate merger in 2004, occupies Nakadōri and Wakamatsu islands, two of the five main islands of the Gotō archipelago, in addition to the small inhabited islands of Arifuku, Kashiragashima, Hinoshima, Ryōzegaura, and Kirinoko and a great number of uninhabited islets.

The small island of Kabajima is east of Hisaka Island and northeast of Fukue Island.[6] It belongs to Gotō City.


Dōzaki church

In 2005, there were 76,311 inhabitants on the islands.[citation needed]

An important historical element is the roots of Christianity in Japan within the islands. Some of the inhabitants are descended from Christians of the Catholic Church ("Kakure Kirishitan"), who came to their faith upon the introduction of Christianity to Japan via Portuguese missionaries in the late 16th century. These Japanese were many times persecuted and tortured by the Japanese shogunates for their beliefs, all the way into the early Meiji period.[7] Until recently[when?] Hanare Kirishitans still lived there; the majority either returned to Catholicism after it was legalized in the 19th century or reverted to earlier practices. The islands have numerous Catholic churches, the oldest and most famous of which is Dōzaki church, built in 1868 and located about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of Fukue port. The islands are part of the Archdiocese of Nagasaki.


Marine products, such as oysters and sea urchins, are the main products of the island. The natural camellia oil of Fukuejima is famous in Japan for cosmetic use. Kankoro Mochi is a confectionery and tokusanhin of the Goto Islands made from sliced, sundried sweet potato combined with mochi.


Fukue City is a typical jokamachi in Japan, but the most interesting point is that the old castle in Fukue (called Ishida Castle) was built last in Japanese history. The year after the castle was completed, Japan opened their nation because of the Meiji Restoration. Today, the castle is used as the Goto high school and is contributing to the education of young Goto natives. Most of the castle area inside the stone walls are opened for public,. One can be able to see even the school grounds (which is also old castle heritage) if they ask for permission from the school administration office.


The Gotō-Fukue Airport (FUJ/RJFE)[8] is on Fukue Island.

Ferry services from Nagasaki and Sasebo are offered by Kyusyu Shosen Co. Ltd. Both standard ferry and hydrofoil services operate.

There are also regular bus services on Fukue island.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wang, Pinxian; Li, Qianyu; Li, Chun-Feng (2014-06-07). Geology of the China Seas. Elsevier. pp. 500–501. ISBN 978-0-444-59394-8.
  2. ^ International Hydrographic Organization: Limits of Oceans and Seals (Special Publication No. 23), 3. Auflage 1953, S. 31. Aufgerufen am 19.11.2023
  3. ^ Teikoku's Complete Atlas of Japan, Teikoku-Shoin Co., Ltd., ISBN 4-8071-0004-1.
  4. ^ "Nagasaki, Unzen, Goto Islands, Iki and Tsushima" (PDF). Japan National Tourist Organization. 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  5. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Goto Islands". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 277.
  6. ^ Map of Goto Islands showing Kabashima at env.go.jap Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 2013-4-30.
  7. ^ Kakure Kirishtan
  8. ^ "Airport". Archived from the original on 2015-11-08. Retrieved 2005-04-14.

External links[edit]