Nagato (長門市) is a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Sea of Japan side and the most southwestern edge of the main island, Honshu, in Japan. As of April 2021, Nagato had a population of approximately 32,000 people.
Nagato is a rather isolated and far-flung destination, but those who take the time to go there will be highly rewarded. The city has some impressive sights including the Motonosumi Inari Shrine, one of the best in the Chūgoku Region, as well as the Omi Sea Alps, a little known yet very beautiful area of rugged coastline. There are also good hot springs in the city.
- Yamaguchi Ube Airport (UBJ) in Ube is the prefecture's largest airport, with regular flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo on JAL and ANA (about 90 minutes). From Ube, take a bus to Shin-Yamaguchi Station in Yamaguchi and connect via bus from there (see below).
Two rail lines go to Nagato, both by JR. The Mine Line is from the south, and the Sanin Main Line goes east and west through the city. The closest shinkansen station is Asa Station in Sanyo-Onoda, though only the Kodama trains which stop at every station go there.
There are local buses by Bocho bus and JR which go from Shin-Yamaguchi Station and Yamaguchi Station to neighboring Hagi. From there, by train it is about 40 minutes (¥510).
The main roads to get to Nagato include Rte 316 from the south, which mostly follwing the JR Mine Line, and from the east and west on Rte 191.
Taxis are readily available around Nagatoshi Station and the terminus of the JR Mine Line, Senzaki Station. But for seeing many or all of the sights listed below, a rental car is by far the most convenient and efficient way to get around. There is a rental car outlet near Senzaki Station. Trains are infrequent, with wait times around 1 hour at best, and 2-3 hours between trains around noontime.
For those not going too far, the city does have some bicycle rentals you can use (9AM-5:30PM), at a cost of ¥300 up to 4 hours, or ¥500 for the day. A ¥1000 deposit is required.
- Motonosumi Inari Shrine. This is one of the finest sights in the region, and for Inari Shrines, this place sits near the top of the list. There is a long 123 gate "tunnel of torii gates to ascend through, and you start at the bottom where the ocean meets the land. Another sight there is the 'Ryūgū Wave Splash', when the waves crash into the shoreline, making some large sea spray. Car recommended. Free. edit
- Omijima Sea Alps (青海島 海上アルプス), Ohibi Senzaki, Nagato, . One of the most beautiful areas of rugged coastline in the region, you can spend several hours here looking through the area. It is still one of the hidden jewels that few know about (so far), so you could have the place almost to yourself. Car recommended. Free. edit
- Senjojiki (千畳敷), . A beautiful grassy hilltop with fantastic views over the ocean. Also some camping available there. Close by is another nice sight, Sugamuta Park, with a large duck pond and in April, a field of blooming azaleas that is stunning. Free. edit
- Nagato Toy Museum (長門おもちゃ美術館), Senzaki, Nagato, ☎ 083-727-0337, . 10AM–4PM, Closed Thu. Especially made for small kids, this toy museum allows a lot of hands-on play with numerous toys, mostly wood block types. Also has ocean cruises made for kids for ¥500, with 3 departures per day (4 on weekends) and cosplay into captain's uniforms. ¥700. edit
- Higashi Ushitobata Rice Terraces (東後畑棚田), Yuyaushirobata, Nagato, . While next to nobody will accuse this place as having the finest terrace views in Japan, it still is very nice and there is a great view of the rice fields and ocean when the weather is good. Free. edit
- Poppy of the Village (楊貴妃の里), Kuzu-3539 Yuyamukatsukushimo, Nagato, . One of the last things you might to expect to see at a place like this is a Chinese style garden and terrace, but here is a memorial made for Yang Guifei, a famous 8th century Chinese imperial consort. You can see a large statue, water lily pond, and graveyard. Free. edit
- Whale Museum (くじら資料館 ''Kujira Shiryōkan''), 671-17 Kayoi, Nagato, ☎ 083-728-0756 (fax: 083-728-0756), . 9AM-4:30PM, Closed Tue. A small museum established in 1993 that shows the 320 year history of local whaling there. With old tools and instrument displays. ¥200. edit
- Ōmijima Sea Cruise (青海島観光汽船㈱), 4297-2 Senzaki, Nagato, ☎ 083-726-0834, . 8AM-5PM, Dec-Mar 9AM-4PM. Offers scenic cruises around the beautiful Omijima area, varying from 50-80 minutes long depending on the destinations. ¥1300-2200. edit
- Yumoto Chinsui (湯本枕水), 2294-1 Fukawayumoto, Nagato, ☎ 083-725-3211 (fax: 083-725-3214), . 3PM-8PM. Nagato has a number of great places for hot springs as well, and one of them is this luxury hotel. Day-use is in the afternoon, with both indoor and outdoor baths. There are overnight stays as well from ¥10,000. ¥750. edit
- Hotel Yokikan (楊貴館), 10130 Yuyaigami, Nagato, ☎ 083-732-1234 (fax: 083-732-1069), . 11AM-9PM. A hot spring resort with sweeping ocean views, the alkaline waters are said to be good for body aches, bruises, overexertion, etc. Also has overnight stays from ¥17,300. ¥1050. edit
Popular specialties in the area include fishcake, Senzaki squid, and several locally produced sweets.
The large majority of places to eat in Nagato are a couple of blocks west of Nagato Station, including several places for sushi, ramen, grilled meats, seafood, and yakitori places.
There are a couple of izakaya (bar and grills) in the Nagato-Yumoto hot spring area as well as many more near Nagato Station.
Those looking for cheap and simple accommodations, near Nagato Station is better. But for those with fatter wallets, 2 stations south near Nagato-Yumoto Station there are several hot spring resort hotels.
- Nagato Station Hotel (長門ステーションホテル), 911-118 Ekimae, Higashifukawa, Nagato, ☎ 083-722-0505, . Conveniently located 2-star hotel next to Nagato Station, with both Japanese and western style rooms. ¥4200~. edit
- Family Lodge Hatagoya Nagato (ファミリーロッジ旅籠屋・長門店), 801-22 Higashifukawa, Nagato (Close to Nagato Stn), ☎ 083-722-8855, . checkin: 15; checkout: 11. Offers 14 rooms with various sizes for solo travelers, couples, and families. With nice quiet rooms and the usual amenities. ¥4400~. edit
- Yoshigame Inn (吉亀旅館), 1934 Shomyoichi, Higashifukawa, Nagato (10 min walk SW of Nagato Stn), ☎ 083-722-2007. A traditional Japanese inn with a small garden and gourmet meals. edit
- Sea Breeze Plus 1987 (シーブリーズ+1987), 3994-3 Yuyamukatsukukami, Nagato, ☎ 083-734-0918, . Offers small but comfortable ocean side cottages and cabins. 3300~. edit
There are also some good oceanside campgrounds, particularly in the western part of the city, such as Odaohama campgrounds.
For the latest info on events and sights, contact the Nagato Tourism Association (長門市観光協会, Nagato Kankō Kyōkai) Tel. 083-723-1137, or see the Tourist Info Office near Senzaki Station at the Senzakicchen Bldg by the ocean.
- Yamaguchi City - A near rival capital to Kyoto in medieval times, with several temples and famous Sesshu gardens.
- Shimonoseki - Major city at the southern tip of Honshu, famous for its history, seaside, and deadly fugu puffer fish.
- Hagi - A small but beautiful castle town, with surreal temple graveyards and preserved districts from ages ago.
- Iwakuni - City near Miyajima in Hiroshima and with Japan's most beautiful old wooden bridge.
- Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park - See Japan's biggest and longest limestone cave, as well as its huge karst plateau.
- Tsuwano - Castle town with impressive red roofs, Christian martyr site, and traditional atmosphere.
- Kitakyushu - Fukuoka City's often ignored little sister, Kitakyushu has a more industrial flavor but has Kokura Castle, the stunning Sarakurayama mountain overlook, and Mojiko Retro area from over a century ago.