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Approximately 5 Hours
Hirado, an island in the northwestern Nagasaki Prefecture, lies slightly off the beaten track.
A 50-minute panoramic drive by coach brings you to the truss-suspension Hirado Bridge, spanning the channel at about 100 feet above the sea. Take photos here.
Next, re-board your coach for the drive to the Dutch Trading Post, established in 1609. This was the base of operations of the Dutch East India Company in Japan. The building you see today is a warehouse originally constructed in 1639 and reconstructed in 2011, as close to the original design as possible. It perfectly exhibits the facility's original Dutch architecture of interlocking stone blocks supported by large, exposed wooden beams. The structure is capped by a Japanese-style tile roof, just like the original. It is quite fascinating.
Next, head to St Francis Xavier Memorial Church, built in 1952, lost to a fire in 1991, and reconstructed in 1998. Tour the modern and artistically-designed interior of the church. Its first floor houses a museum that exhibits Christian paintings, statues, medallions, clothing and other religious items, as well as old maps depicting the development of Christianity in Japan and showing the route of Xavier's travels.
Hirado Castle was built in 1707 by the Lord Matsuura Takashi. The castle was built on top of a small, rounded mountain. The building supposedly had a structure heavily influenced by the Yamaga-ryu, whose school-of-war strategy was highly regarded. It fell into disrepair after the Samurai class dissipated in the latter half of the 19th century. The present donjon was reconstructed in 1962. The beautiful three-tiered, five-storied donjon was built as if overlooking the ocean, and a large amount of information relating to the castle is exhibited inside.
Wear comfortable walking shoes.
The path to the church is uneven and there are quite a few steps to negotiate