Any opportunity to travel is a good one. No matter what the weather or the circumstances, we try to get out to see something new every chance we get. With that being said, when Dom needed to travel south for work this past January (2019) we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to explore Nagasaki, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima. Knowing that we only have two years to see as much of Japan as possible, we find ourselves constantly scrambling to fit in more. There is just SO MUCH!

[ D A Y • 1 ] Zushi → Shin-Yokohama → Hakata →Nagasaki: St. Andrews Jigger Inn Pub Café

Mid-morning we trained up to Shin-Yokohama Station to purchase tickets at the JR Counter for our journey south. It was our first time on the mighty Shinkansen (yeah!), so we were a little nervous about the whole process. Why? I haven’t a clue, because honestly, it’s suuuuuppppeeeerrr easy. It’s as simple as finding the JR desk, telling the staff member where you want to go, purchasing the tickets and boom (!!) that’s it! Off you go!

Even with the crazy speed and efficiency of the Shinkansen, the local trains necessary to get to Nagasaki would make for a long travel day. Our itinerary was simple: Shin-Yokohama to Hakata (via Shinkansen, 4hrs 45min) and then Hakata to Nagasaki Station (via Nagasaki Express, 1hr 55min).

If you have never ridden the Shinkansen before, be prepared to bring some food along with you. Although some offer food/beverage service on board, others don’t. Our advice? Either eat before, try to snag some take out, pick up a bento, or find the nearest convenience store and grab something to eat and drink to bring along. After all, hungry kids are poor travel companions and ain’t nobody got time for crazy when you’re traversing the country for almost 7 hours.

Our crew had only ever indulged in the famous CoCo’s Curry once before, so we capitalized on the opportunity to fill up at the one right outside of Shin-Yokohama Station. Delicious!! We simply love CoCo’s and for a good number of reasons, too (see why below)! Bellies full, we picked up a couple drinks at the neighboring convenience store and then it was off to the platform.

For some reason I think both Dom and I had in our heads that the train would arrive early and stop for a prolonged period of time letting everyone get settled and then depart. This is most certainly not the case. In reality, you need to arrive to the platform a few minutes before the train is scheduled to arrive, be ready to board as soon as the train pulls up, hop on and away you go! The trains run on a pretty tight schedule. A couple of times we didn’t have enough time to hop into the correct car (the cars are specifically marked “reserved” and “non-reserved” and you may only sit in the type which is denoted on your ticket). So there we were with the train taking off (at what seemed like the speed of light) rolling down the aisle with our luggage…this is not the easiest way to do it and we don’t recommend it. So, pro tip: Make sure you are waiting in front of the correct car before the train pulls up! You’re welcome.

Anyway, the Shinkansen ride was better than we imagined it would be! Seats are similar to an airplane, but larger and there is ample leg room. There’s a fold down table, a beverage cart with some snacks available on board (most of the time), and a hook on the wall to hold your coat or a small bag. For the first half-hour I think we all just sat there stunned…we were movin’ so flipping fast! Miles, in particular, was on cloud 9 seeing how quickly the countryside was whizzing by our little window. Zooming through Japan at nearly 200 mph was a very cool experience indeed. Before we knew it, we arrived in Hakata and after a brief 22 minute layover, we transferred to the Nagasaki Express bound for…Nagasaki Station. Last stretch of the epic train travel day! This train ride (although not nearly as fast) was also very comfortable and if it wasn’t for our squirmy toddler I think both Dom and I would have fallen fast asleep.

We disembarked in Nagasaki, walked past the gorgeous holiday decorations, and headed to the APA Hotel Nagasaki Ekimae to check-in. The hotel’s location was perfection as it’s only 170m from the station, making for an easy walk with tired kiddos. I’ll admit we weren’t quite expecting the smallest room ever, but being a tight knit family we all piled into the double bed no problem taking on the Tetris Family Challenge (the kids thought this was hilarious once we showed them what Tetris was)! I mean a good location and for $47usd/night we will squeeze our tribe into just about anything!

Since the room was a bit claustrophobic (yes, it was really that small), we decided to get out for some fresh air. We walked over to Dejima Wharf to scope out a spot for dinner and to admire the lights (~15min walk from APA Hotel Nagasaki Ekimae). We meandered for a bit, before landing on St. Andrews Jigger Inn Pub Café at Dejima Terrace. Although the food was average they had some options for the kids and it was a good opportunity for us to try Turkish Rice, a Nagasaki specialty.

Overall assessment? Food and drinks were slightly overpriced, however it was in a really nice spot and service was fast. An interesting and somewhat peculiar band playing live music and a large screen showing old school Disney animations (i.e. Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland) on mute rounded out the experience. Didn’t take much for us all to fall fast asleep upon returning to the hotel; we were dog-tired!

Shinkansen Tips:

  • If you qualify for the JR Rail Pass and are planning on multiple destinations this is the way to go as you’ll save so much! Read all up on the Pass here! *Note: Since we currently reside in Japan; we do not qualify. But, if we did, we would have snatched these up for sure as they’re a phenomenal value!
  • We opted to purchase non-reserved seats for all of the train rides. These seats are less expensive, however you run the risk of 1.) not having a seat or 2.) not being able to sit with your party initially (well, that is until some people disembark the train and you can shift around a bit). Number 2 was our experience and it was a very small inconvenience. If redoing the experience we would still purchase “non-reserved” seats and saved the cash.
  • Make sure to be waiting in front of the correct train car before the train pulls up (i.e. “reserved” v. “non-reserved”).
  • Although food and beverages are sold on (most) Shinkansens, make sure to stock up on snacks at a convenience store beforehand as they’re usually a bit less expensive and you’ll have larger variety of options.
  • Children under age 6 can be lap children and thus don’t require a ticket translating to some serious savings! Our experience on all of the Shinkansen trains was that there were plenty of seats, so the kids each got their own seat, however we were prepared for them to be sitting on our laps.

CoCo’s Curry:

  • Hours: 1000 – 2300
  • Admission: All four of us ate for 2,300yen (very reasonable!)

Why Do We Love CoCo’s?

Our love of CoCo’s runs pretty deep because 1.) it’s fast and delish, 2.) English menus and kids menus are available, 3.) Ordering is easy (just ring the buzzer on the table when your ready), 4.) Child booster seats available, and 5.) water pitcher on table makes refills easy. They’ll leave the bill in a little clear holder on the table after your food has been delivered maximizing efficiency. Pay at register when you’re all done!

St. Andrews Jigger Inn Pub Café at Dejima Terrace:

  • Hours: 1030 – 2300
  • Admission:
    • Menu:
      • Dejima Rice: 1300yen
      • Turkish Rice: 1200yen (pictured above)
      • Hamburg Steak: 1000yen
      • Pasta of the Day: 900yen
      • Japanese Whiskey with Soda Water: 700yen (drinks range from 600 – 1200yen)

[ D A Y • 2 ] Nagasaki: 26 Martyrs Memorial, Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace Statue, Hypocenter Park, Spectacles Bridge, Nagasaki Ropeway, Shinchi Chinatown, Oura Cathedral, Glover House, Nagasaki → Sasebo

Alright, one full-day in Nagasaki! We slept in a smidge, checked out, and arranged for the hotel to store our bags for the day (free). After all, it was literally next door to the bus station where we would be departing from that evening. So leaving them here couldn’t have been more convenient.

Before coming here, neither of us realized the history that Nagasaki has with the Catholic Church. To learn more, we walked to the memorial that stands in memory of the 26 Martyrs. It was here on Nishizaka Hill on February 5, 1597 that 26 Catholics were executed in public, beginning what would eventually be a two century period of persecution. The memorial was constructed for the 100th anniversary of St. Paul Miki and the other 25 believers canonization.

From here, we continued on to the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims.  It was an absolutely picture perfect day, with warmer than usual temperatures, a piercing blue sky, and just the right amount of fluffy clouds drifting by. However, the tinge of sadness permeating through almost every place we visited was unmistakable (and frankly, appropriate). Peace Memorial Hall stands in remembrance of the tragedy that occurred when the atomic bomb exploded over the city at 1102 on August 9, 1945. Instantaneously, thousands of people were killed – many were simply vaporized without leaving a trace, others would die later from the trauma or radiation induced illness.

You have a couple options when exploring the hall depending on the amount of time you have, you can either complete the “short course” (~10 minutes) or the “Route for Remembrance” (~30 minutes). We chose the short-course based on our children’s attention spans, but also walked down into the Remembrance Hall and the Peace Information Center where the kids folded paper cranes (both of which were not part of the short course).

Hearts heavy, we walked to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum after to learn a bit more. This museum does an excellent job of taking you through the events that lead up to the horrific day as well as the aftermath that followed. The exhibit opens with the drop of the atomic bomb and a clock which is frozen in time. Photos of the city and its people are present and then…the mushroom cloud footage appears. As you continue to slowly move through the room, the story continues to unfold and the damage that was caused begins to be revealed.

Seeing actual artifacts, like a water tank from a local school, that had experienced the true destructive power of the weapon was heart-wrenching.  As you walk into the next room,  a life-sized model of “Fat Boy” is present. The photos are artifacts reminding you that atrocities like this don’t discriminate; everyone is affected. 73,884  people died, with another 74,909 sustaining injuries.

With our kids in tow, there was one picture in particular which will forever stand out in our minds. Near the end of the museum, there was a back and white photo of a boy, about 10 years old, carrying his little brother (likely 2 or 3 years old) in a carrier on his back. He was surrounded by burning fires, with debris scattered all about. As we read the caption, it was nearly impossible to hold back the tears. The newly orphaned boy was taking his deceased little bother to the mass grave for his body to be burned, stopping to give him one last goodbye.

Looking down to see our kids playing together, the image hit like a ton of bricks. Never again can the world let something like this happen. Miles sensed that something was wrong, and we did our best to explain things in a way he might understand. We are convinced that the reality of the world shouldn’t be kept from our kids, even at 5 years old, as long as it can be presented in an age appropriate way that allows them to understand and begin to learn from our past mistakes.

Before leaving, you get a glimpse into the history of nuclear weapon development and then the status of modern nuclear weapons as they have increased substantially in power while becoming smaller in size. The museum does a wonderful job in the focusing the end of the exhibit on the movement towards a world free of nuclear weapons. It’s incredibly well-done and we would most certainly highly recommend visiting.

In this same complex stands the Peace Statue, so we explored that after the exhibit. The kids needed some time outdoors and we needed some fresh air to lift our spirits. In 1955, this statue was erected to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the atomic bombing standing as a reminder for world peace. The statue’s right hand points towards the skies warning people of a nuclear threat, while the left hand stretches outwards symbolizing worldwide peace. The closed eyes symbolize a prayer for the victims of August 9th. One leg is folded to show meditation/reflection, while the other is planted – ready to take immediate action if needed. Powerful.

Hypocenter Park was also nearby so we ventured towards the monolith after. This is the ground zero and exact spot where the bomb exploded, 500m above. A small stone box in the front holds the names of the victims.

The kids had noticed the street car and had been begging to ride, so we thought we would take it down to Spectacles Bridge to exhale a bit. After all, it had been a pretty heavy morning. The streetcar has a flat fare (120yen/Adult, 60yen/Child, children under 6yo are free) and you’ll need to have exact change! The kids needed a break so we stopped at a nearby convenience store for some snacks and then found a very small playground next to the bridge. It’s amazing what a few small slides and a seesaw can do for their demeanor. We weren’t quite sure why Spectacles Bridges was named as such until we saw it – check out the photos and you’ll see what we mean.

One of the aspects about Nagasaki that we loved is how easy it was to get around on foot. With that being said, not every spot is easily reached by walking. From the bridge we strolled back to Nagasaki Station popping into the Visitor’s Center. Our goal was to get to the Nagasaki Ropeway to ride up to the summit of Mt. Inasa (a short bus ride away from the station). We have learned that sometimes when you visit the visitors’ center you can sometimes snag some small discounts and the ropeway fell under this as well. We bought tickets and then hopped on the bus for a short seven minute ride to the base of the ropeway. From Nagasaki Station you’ll walk to “Nagasaki Ekimae” bus stop where you’ll take Nagasaki Bus Route 3 or 4 to Shimoohashi/Koebaru/Aigawa and get off at Ropeway-Mae bus stop.

Although you can hike up to the top (which will take ~50min) and it would surely save you a few bucks, considering our short time in Nagasaki we were going for efficiency. The ride up to the top was ~5minutes, very comfortable, and not crowded at all. The ropeway car itself was stunning, as it was nearly entirely glass and had a very modern design. The 360 degree view from the 333m high mountaintop via the observation platform was pretty ridiculous, too. In fact, in 2012 the Nagasaki night view was selected as one of the 3 best night views in the world along with Hong Kong and Monaco. Additionally, in 2015 it was recognized as one of the best night views of Japan with Sapporo and Kobe. Although our plans didn’t align with us being able to cash in on those sought after evening lights we did get some pretty beautiful views at Glover Garden (more on that in a bit).

After taking in the city scapes, we headed back down and took bus #20  (you can also take bus #40) to Nagasaki Shinchi Terminal which was a ~17min transfer landing us in the oldest Chinatown in Japan. Consequently, this is also the same bus to take if you want to return to Nagasaki Station. Transfer time will be ~6min and fare will be 150yen/Adult if you choose to take that route (cost to get to Chinatown will cost just a smidge more at 160yen). Once in Chinatown, we meandered around a bit, grabbed a couple nikuman (pork buns) for the kids and finally found a restaurant that was open!

Although we weren’t famished, we wanted to try champon, a dish comprised of thick noodles, seafood, and vegetables. Initially inspired by a Chinese dish and a specialty of Nagasaki, it is made to be quick, cheap, and nourishing for students. We also ordered sesame and Chinese pork dumplings to try!

Of note, most restaurants in this area are typically only open from 1100 – 1500 and 1700 – 2100, so pickings were a tad slim when we landed here at 1530. We finally stumbled upon a place though and took a seat. People were nice, service was quick and food was good (although I still think we prefer ramen).

A full belly and a short walk later, we arrived at Oura Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral is the oldest wooden gothic style church in Japan, built in 1864 by a French missionary. Once established, it became a place of safety for the Christians who had survived in Nagasaki despite centuries of persecution. Seeing a Catholic Church of such significance in Japan was certainly unusual, and to be honest a breath of fresh air after 18 months of seeing (incredibly beautiful) shrines and temples.

Then it was a little ways farther before we reached out last stop of the day, the Glover House, for the Nagasaki Romantic Illumination in Glover Garden. Thomas Glover (1838 – 1911), a Scottish native, came to Japan in the mid-1800s after the country opened itself up to the world and is thought to have had a heavy contribution in the modernization of Japan. The gardens were the best way to end the day. Not crowded at all, good city views, beautiful sunset and great lights made this the perfect way to finish our exploration. With a beautiful cruise ship in port, and the sun slowly sinking down behind the beautiful mountains it was hard not to fall in love with Nagasaki.

It was getting late and we needed to head back to the hotel to pick up our bags and then meander next door to the bus terminal. Have we mentioned how much the hotel’s location rocked? We purchased tickets via an automated machine for Sasebo, waited a few minutes, boarded the bus when it pulled in and we were off (again). In this case, the bus was faster, more direct, and cheaper than the train – making it an easy choice.

Pro Tip: Purchasing more than one ticket at a time will yield a lower cost. A single adult ticket to Sasebo was 1550yen/each, however since we bought two tickets there was a bit of a discount resulting in a new total of 2550yen for 2 Adult fares. Save when you can!

Once in Sasebo we walked to the Quintessa Hotel and checked in. MUCH bigger room than the previous night. Between the double bed and pushing the captains chairs together we were able to make space for all four of us. We were living like Kings! Ha! Just kidding.

Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints:

  • Hours (museum): 0900 – 1700, Museum is closed December 31 – January 2
  • Admission: Entrance to the site of the monument and church is free. The museum costs 500 yen to enter.

Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims:

  • Hours:
    • May – August: 0830 – 1830
    • August 7 – 9: 0830 – 2000
    • September – April: 0830 – 1730
    • Closed December 29 – 31
  • Admission: Free

Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims Tip: There are two routes you can take at this stop.

  • The Short Course:
    • Time required: ~10min
    • Covers Memoir Exhibition: Passages from Survivors, Remembrance Hall
  • Route for Remembrance:
    • Time required: ~30min
    • Covers; Library, Rememberance Hall Anteroom, Rememberance Hall, Peace Information Center, Peace Information Center Corner

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum:

  • Hours: 0830 – 1730 (last admission at 1700), closes at 1830 from May – August (last admission at 1800), closed December 29 – 31
  • Admission: 200yen/Adult, 100yen/school children and students, free for children under elementary school age

Peace Statue:

  • Hours: 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Hypocenter Park:

  • Hours: 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Spectacles Bridge:

  • Hours: 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Nagasaki Ropeway:

  • Hours: 0900 – 2200 with the ropeway running every 15 – 20 minutes
  • Admission:
    • Roundtrip: 1230yen/Adult (980yen/Adult if purchased at the Nagasaki Station Visitor’s Center) , 920yen/Junior and Senior High School, 610yen/Children.
    • One way: 720yen/Adult, 510yen/Junior and Senior High School, 410yen/Children
  •  Parking: Free

Shinchi Chinatown:

  • Hours: Vary depending on shop/restaurant. The restaurant we ate at was open 1000 – 2100 (last order 2030).
  • Admission: Prices varied amongst restaurants. At a causal place, champion will run you ~880yen/bowl.

Oura Cathedral:

  • Hours: 0800 – 1800
  • Admission: 1000yen/Adult, 400yen/Child

Glover House:

  • Hours: 0800 – 1800 (until 2130 in summer and during peak seasons)
  • Admission: 610 yen/Adult
  • Nagasaki Romantic Illumination – Glover Garden Illumination
    • Through February 19th
    • 1700 – 2100 (until 2030 Nov 22 – Feb 4)
    • 30,000,000 LEDs
    • Admission: 610yen/Adult, 300yen/Senior high school students, 180yen/Junior high school students and elementary school students

[ D A Y • 3 ] Sasebo: Shimanose Park, Kujukishima Cruise, Honu Honu, Kujukushima Aquarium

Dom set off for work and the kid’s and I slept in a bit before getting ready to do a bit of exploration. We do a lot as a family, so whenever I have the chance to have a mommy + kiddos playdate it’s always kinda fun (although I usually return home super exhausted – single parenting is tough!). With bags packed and both children ready, the three of us headed out the door! Good morning, Sasebo! We walked from the hotel to Starbucks for a caffeine dose and for the kiddos to try the new Goma Goma scones (270yen/each) before heading across the street to Shimanose Park. Although small, the park gave me enough time to finish my coffee and the kids a chance to get some energy out.

Sufficiently exhausting Penny, she hopped in the carrier without a problem and we began the ~5k walk to Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort for the national aquatic park. The path is pretty straightforward, but the route really isn’t the most scenic with lots of cranes and many narrow sidewalk sections. So relaxing? Umm…no. About an hour later though (1300), we had arrived! Blue skies, sunshine, and beautiful boats – it was good to be out!

We bought tickets at the Kujukushima Cruise Terminal for the Mirari Cruise at 1330. Miles and Penny were super giddy as this specific ship somewhat resembles a pirate’s hat and what kid doesn’t want to ride something goofy like that?! We made our way on board and the kids and I waved as we pulled away from the dock. Gosh it was gorgeous out!

Pros: Seating indoors and outdoors, good views of the islands, a few snacks available on board, descriptions given during the cruise in English, good duration for an activity with young children, not crowded

Cons: A few sets of stairs and a stubborn toddler that thinks she can do #allthethings on her own which is never a winning mix

The kids loved sailing through the area enjoying the beautiful coastal landscape, which is popularly known as the most densely concentrated grouping of islands in Japan. Although “kujuku” literally means “ninety-nine,” in reality there are approximately 208 islands. Honestly, it’s one of the most picturesque bays we’ve ever laid eyes on – simply stunning.

50min later we arrived back at the port and both kids were insisting that they were “starving!” Dramatic much? So we stopped at the most convenient and perhaps kid-friendly joint in the area, Honu Honu. Situated across from the dock, it took next to no time to walk in and grab a table. This place is exactly what our crew needed. After policing Penny on the stairs throughout the cruise, it was nice to let her and Miles enjoy the play area for a bit without having to worry about her taking a massive tumble. Aaahhh…big exhale! Overall impression? The kids loved this spot, the food was pretty good AND it was almost empty! Neither Miles or Penny wanted to leave…until they realized we were going to the aquarium next door!

The aquarium, albeit small, was the perfect additional activity for the day. Fairly inexpensive and (again) not crowded at all allowing our kids the opportunity to run pretty freely from exhibit to exhibit and enjoy the sea life. In particular, they loved the sea turtles and the large aquarium that houses 13,000 creatures. Although the aquarium also boasts the largest jellyfish dome in Japan, it didn’t get nearly the same level of love from our little squishes despite the relaxing symphony music playing from the speakers.

Before departing for the day, Miles tried his hand at removing a pearl from an oyster. This was a great little teaching moment for us talking about how pearls form. He carried it with him for the rest of the trip (so proud of himself!) and even set it up in his room when we got home until…someone ate it (*side-eye Penny*). Luckily nothing too terrible happened, but Miles does ask what happened to the pearl from time to time still. We’ll eventually share the truth of the pearl’s demise…one day…. Oh, the adventures of parenthood!

Overall, taking your time, 1.5hours at this site is plenty. We walked to the Kujukushima Resort area because it was beautiful out and it didn’t save much time in transit had we used public transport (it would have saved ~22min had we used the bus). But sometimes you just need to get those steps in! If you’re interested in the bus option we have those details listed below! We left the area at 1700 and began walking back to the hotel with Dom meeting us after work along the way! We grabbed some takeout for dinner and enjoyed it all in room. The kids loved recounting the day’s adventures to Dom. Fun outing with our two cuties!!

Kujukushima Cruise Terminal for Mirari Cruise:

  • Admission: 1400yen/Adult, 700yen/Child (4yo and up), Children under 4yo are free
  • Hours:
    • Mirari Departs: 1130, 1330, 1430
    • Pearl Queen Departs: 1000, 1100, 1300, 1400, 1500

Honu Honu:

  • Hours: 1100 – 2300
  • Admission:
    • Menu (ordered):
      • Loco Moco: 980yen, Beef Curry: 780yen, French Fries: 500yen
      • Coffee & Espresso also available: 290 – 580yen (depending on beans and size)

Honu Honu Tip: This restaurant also has a specific diaper changing area!

Kujukushima Aquarium:

  • Hours:
    • 0900 – 1800 March to October (last admission 1730)
    • 0900 – 1700 November to February (last admission 1630)
  • Admission:
    • Regular tickets: 1440/Adult, 720yen/Child (4yo to middle school student)
    • Discounted tickets (show your ticket for the Cruise Ship and your discount will be applied): 1230yen/Adult, 620yen/preschool (total: 1850yen)

Kujukushima Aquarium Tips:

  • The Hands on Pearl Removal Corner costs 600yen/experience. Hours: 0930 – 1600 (March – October), 0930 – 1700 (November – February), takes about 5min
  • Dolphin Show: 1020, 1320, 1520 (everyday), located on 2F, duration is 15min

Express Fee Bus:

  • Admission: 260yen/Adult, 130yen/Elementary School Child and up (6yo and up)
  • Route is ~18min long
  • Route Busses run every 30min
    • From Sasebo Station: 0932, 1032, 1232, 1332, 1432, 1532
    • From Pearl Sea: 1003, 1103, 1303, 1403, 1503, 1603

[ D A Y • 4 ] Sasebo→ Nagasaki: BioPark → Sasebo

Rise and shine! Another mommy + kiddos date today as Dom had to head back to work. I knew going into the trip that relying on public transport would be challenging in this area of Japan, but in the effort to save a few bucks we chose to take the inconvenience and not rent a car. So that morning we headed out the door and walked to Sasebo Station bound for Huis Bosch Station via the Seaside Liner (280yen/each way). Once at Huis Bosch Station, we walked to Hotel Lorelei and waited for the Bio Park bus to pick us up in front of the hotel. Although you do have to make a reservation ahead of time for the shuttle ride, it is free! There were only two other people on the shuttle, so it’s probably not difficult to get a reservation last minute (we called the evening before). The time table for the shuttle pick ups to/from Hotel Lorelei to/from the Bio Park are available here, so check those out if you are in need of transport!

After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the Bio Park at 1330 (although we would have gotten here much quicker if we had had our own vehicle). We purchased tickets and then spent the next 3 hours walking around the park enjoying the animals. This was probably one of the best zoos we have visited in Japan due to its natural feel and the bigger enclosures. Additionally, it was not crowded and the kids had tons of opportunities to interact with animals. The park route is well-marked and self-explanatory making it easy to meander without getting lost. Miles lead the way!

Having enjoyed the park at a very relaxed pace, we departed the Bio Park on the last bus back to Hotel Lorelei at 1645, walked to Huis Bosch Station and then trained it back to Sasebo Station. It was a full day, and it would have been a heck of a lot more streamlined with a car – but it is certainly possible to do without one! We headed back to the hotel for one last night in Sasebo before departing early the next morning for our next (brief) stop…Fukuoka. I’m so happy to have these learning opportunities and adventures with the kids!

Bio Park:

  • Hours: 1000 – 1700 (last admission is 1600), no closing dates (including holidays)
  • Admission: 1700yen/Adult, 1100yen/Junior and High School Students (13 – 17yo), 800yen/Child (3 – 12yo), children under 3yo are free, US Navy stationed in Sasebo receive a 10% discount (this includes dependents)

That concludes the Nagasaki section of our trip, check out our next stops: Fukuoka and Hiroshima.

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