When you think of Japan, what springs to mind is succulent sushi, bright neon lights, samurai swords, Tokyo high-rise and kinky manga. What does not immediate spring to mind is a quiet, seaside port; a sleepy fishing village that could best be described as a one-horse kind of town. But nevertheless, this is where I found myself on my recent travels in Japan – the tiny town of Mogi, about 10 km from central Nagasaki.
After a few days in Nagasaki, seeing the historical sights and eating our way through China town, we were moving on to the seaside ‘island’ of Amakusa, known for its part in the Shimabara Rebellion and for dolphin watching cruises. By train, this change of location would require several hours of travel in order to loop up from Nagasaki to Saga and then all the way back down through Kumamoto to get across to Amakusa. Or, we could take the boat from Mogi Port. You can guess which option we chose.
Sadly for us, an unforeseen storm cancelled all the boats and we had to postpone travel by one day, but we did eventually get across to Amakusa. That’s the unreliable nature of sea-travel for you! The public bus from Nagasaki Station down to Mogi took less than an hour – a winding route up through the twisting hills and then back down again towards the sea, and the dusty little town of Mogi with little more to it than the port. Not exactly a major tourist destination, but an unusual and interesting place to find yourself in!
Near to the ferry terminal was the Iwaoshima Shrine; just a pretty little torii with forest behind, out of which giant kites (of the bird variety) were constantly circling at a speed just a little too fast for me to capture the perfect picture of them.
The boat from Mogi to Tomioka (a small peninsula jutting out from Reihoku Town, at the northern end of Amakusa) runs about 4 times a day, and with a capacity for transporting only about 50 passengers at a time, we were eager to book tickets in advance, just in case the ferry filled up, what with it being the busy Obon period. However, while arriving to the Mogi port, two things became instantly apparent: 1. There was almost no-one else there and 2. The lady at the desk had absolutely no idea who I was, despite the fact I had reserved tickets in advance and that (I’m guessing) they don’t see foreigners in that area every day of the week. But perhaps our plan to book ahead was not so laughable – as it was time to board, the port suddenly filled with people and the boat reached its capacity. The crossing took around an hour and cost about 2,000 Yen per person. Sailing out through the open ocean, I found the journey a little rough and stomach-churning, but it wasn’t too bad really… though the teenaged boy sitting next to me who was throwing up into a black bin-liner probably wouldn’t agree.
So while there is really very little to say about Mogi, it was nice to spend an hour chilling out somewhere so different from the big, bustling Japanese cities that we know so well. A charming, sleepy little place, and of course, despite the storm-induced setback, a much more convenient way to hop over from Nagasaki to Amakusa. If the idea of this peaceful place has captured your heart, then follow the link below to take a look at these historic photographs of Mogi Road from before the 1900’s – the hundred years or so since these were taken have truly altered it very little at all.