Sasebo has many attractions and wonderful places to go see, but today I went to Kujukushima and took a ride on the pirate-themed ship, mirai. This is Japan’s first electrically driven boat! There is also another boat to choose from called the “Pearl Queen”, but this one obviously caught my eye.
Kujukushima stands for “99 Islands”, however, there are around 208 islands within this area. Each island has its own shape and characteristics to them. These islands can be found in Sasebo, which is located in Western Nagasaki. Kujukushima Islands stretch along a distance of 25 kilometers and make up part of Saikai National Park. Saikai National Park became Japan’s 18th national park on March 16, 1955. Many of the nature found here is untouched and beautiful to look at. This park was created to help preserve marine life in the area, and before WWll, going to this area was strictly prohibited as it was such a strategic point for Japan’s navy. Now we are able to come and see it in all its beauty!
On Board the Mirai
While touring on the boat, there will be Japanese and English audio talking about some of the more interesting islands, or what to look out for. Stepping into this boat transformed me from a traveler to a pirate! Much of the boat is fitted with the pirate theme, and has a lot of room to explore. Inside, there is the main area leading from the entrance, but follow the stairs to the second floor and there are two rooms at opposite ends of one another.
One room gives a great view of the back of the ship. Here our skeleton friend can be seen enjoying himself. You can also put on a pirate hat and sit next to him for some funny pictures! I enjoyed this lounge area the most, as it was really cozy and quiet. The windows in this room also wrap around, giving a good, unobstructed view of the islands. The best spot to sit here is the area closest to the back windows. These seats feel like I was sitting right on the edge of the boat!
The room in the front has a small concession area to buy snacks or drinks while aboard the ship. From the front lounge, we were also able to take a door outside, and have even more unique views! The great thing about this tour is that you will be able to walk around most places on the boat.
On the ship, there is also an open deck, where we are able to walk from the front to rear of the boat. This is the best place to stay if you would like to have the full experience of this tour. They also have a “crow’s nest” which you can take some stairs up and observe the islands from a higher point of view. Doing this does give a different perspective. The islands are typically small, with not much height, so going up in the crow’s nest allowed me to see the islands from a different angle. I loved the sensation of swaying back and forth with the waves and the smell of the crisp ocean water!
This cruise will take you on a 50 minute path winding in and out of various islands in Kujukushima. With the wind blowing and beautiful water, this is such an enjoyable experience. Many of the islands are uninhabited. This maintains the beauty of the area, with plentiful sea life and nature surrounding you. The captains of the ship were also able to get us really close to the islands. Seeing the islands from afar at observatories is an absolutely worthwhile experience, but it is just as fun to get close up and see the islands for myself!
One of the highlights of the tour was when we had to take a U-turn to make our way back to land. We entered a small cove and were able to see a few of the islands more clearly. It was like the island was welcoming us in. The sensation of drifting along the ocean was surprisingly enjoyable. The boat also offers many sightseeing telescopes that allowed us to see each individual island more clearly.
The boat is also handicap accessible, with great care given to those who might be unable to take a cruise otherwise. This tour is for everyone and the people in charge of this attraction are welcoming and trying to make sure you have a great experience.
The port to this adventure also allows those who wish, with the opportunity to take small kayaks, or go on smaller boats. This will allow people to get even closer to the many islands of Kujukushima. After finishing your cruise, there are many small shops and restaurants to take a rest at after a long day! There is a Japanese-style restaurant, ramen shop, Sasebo Burger (a very popular burger shop in Sasebo), and many more options to choose from.
I highly recommend anyone to take the boat tour if you are in the area. I was able to get the tickets for half-off from ticket machines that can be found inside any convenience store, so if you are able to, I would recommend taking a quick stop to save a few extra dollars if you would like!