Kazusa is a small town in Minami-Shimabara City of Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan. It is the southern most town on the Shimabara Peninsula. The current population is 7,747 according to Minami-shimabara's website.
On Google Maps, Kazusa is located on Lat: 32.62, Long: 130.16
Kazusa's beaches bring in people from all over the peninsula and Nagasaki. The two main beaches have a separate charm.
Maiahama is a popular beach for all ages. In the summer, beach goers range from grandparents and their grandchildren to college students on summer holiday. A convenience store is a minute walk from the sand and serves sunbathers, surfers, townies and vacationers 24 hours a day. The store sells everything from sunblock to rice balls. The chahan rice ball is particularly delicious.
Maiahama beach goers can also pay to enter a covered pavilion. The six hundred yen entrance fee also allows them use of a changing room and foot shower.
On the southern end of Maiahama, a harbor offers a popular fishing spot for townspeople and tourists. The harbor also runs dolphin watching tours. Prominent signs along the main road, highway 251, point motorists to the dolphin watching boat.
Nodahama is a 15 minute walk from Maiahama. This beach is generally less crowded. The low turnout on this beach can be attributed to its lack of convenient parking. The sand and scenery of this beach are comparable to Maiahama but has a larger forest area between the road and the sand. This makes this beach popular with campers. Nodahama provides more privacy as well and features a dirt and sand path through the narrow woods separating the beach from the road. Snack food and drinks are available across the street at the convenience store, The Daily Yamazaki
Nodahama also features an outcropping of volcanic rock where various sea creatures live. Noda beach-goers have even caught octopodes in these rocks.
Between the two beaches is a mountain formation called Iwado-san. This mountain is home to a cave shrine. Long ago, locals say, this cave was used by Christians to worship in secret. According to local historians, during the uprising in Shimabara, the local people chopped the heads off of statues at some of the shrines to use as weapons. Throughout the mountain, headless shrines can be spotted in the overgrowth.
Iwado is also home to a large Buddhist temple called Gankuji. Long ago when the temple was first constructed, monkeys inhabited Iwado. The Gankuji monks quickly felt a kinship with the Iwado monkeys. As the monks prayed and went about their daily chores, the monkeys watched and mimicked the monks. Soon man and monkey were praying together. One day a fisherman was casting at the base of Iwado. The monkeys were watching him closely. As the midday heat came to a boil the fisherman put down his pole and dove into the water. One of the monkeys came down and tried to do the same, but drowned. When the monks found out they walked up the mountain and built a small shrine for the monkey. The shrine is still visited today by the monks and tourists.
Kazusa is also the home of the very first printing press in all of Japan. A replica is on display in Kazusa Library.
Food and Drink Attractions
Kazusa has variety of restaurants and Izakayas. Sushi, sashimi and udon restaurants are a few minutes walk from the beach. Perhaps the most popular restaurant/Izakaya is the Maneki-neko, translated as The Welcoming Cat. The restaurant and bar feature a wide variety of food at a reasonable price.
Kaho is another popular restaurant featuring the finest Japanized chinese food. Given the popularity of Chinese food such as Champon and Saraudon in Nagasaki prefecture, the large 2 story building is usually packed.
Beer is served at most restaurants in Kazusa. In the summer a small tent sells beer and snowcones on the beach. However, there is only one bar in town. The Gaudi Bar is owned and operated by Mr. Hajime, a milk man during the day. The bar is quite small with about 8 stools and one table. The rest of the bar is filled with vinyl records. Mr. Hajime's musical tastes are eclectic, ranging from Frank Zappa to Ayako Hosakawa. He takes requests but usually enjoys showing patrons his new records. Mr. Hajime will mix any drink, though he may need some guidance, and will charge a flat rate when you leave. The rate varies according to how long patrons stay and the type of drinks they order. Generally, he charges a ridiculously low price.
Japanese Snaku's are also popular in Kazusa. Here, snaku patrons can be dulled by conversation with a mildly attractive over-the-hill Japanese woman. They charge about 3,000 yen for all-you-can-drink. But the drinks are generally watered down. Frequenting one particular snaku often enough usually yields a price drop to about 2,000 yen.
Kazusa is a great place to visit for those in Nagasaki. From Nagasaki city, Kazusa is a 2 hour drive. From Shimabara city, your feet can be in the sand in about 45 minutes. Buses are available from Isahaya and Shimabara.