<Sasebo – Huis ten Bosch Area>

Sasebo Spinning Tops(Sasebogoma)

07Oct 2015 tomocchi

Hello, it’s Tomocchi☆



This time I’ll be introducing Japanese spinning tops (koma)!

When it comes to spinning tops, I bet many people in Japan most associate them with the New Year’s Festival.

Did you play with tops when you were a child?



I heard that there was a toy which defies convention that has existed a long time in Sasebo called a Sasebo Spinning Top (Sasebogoma). I visited a store in Sasebo that has been in operation for three generations called the “Sasebo Spinning Top Shop” (Sasebogomahonpo).





These days, it’s the Yamamoto family that makes the tops there.

When I visited, I talked with the mother and daughter of the family and they taught me how to spin their tops.





Sasebo Spinning tops are “Fighting Tops.”

With a special shout you fling the top to the ground and it’s meant to bash your opponent’s top away or maybe even break it!




But wait, isn’t she holding the top the wrong way around?

Yes, she is. Sasebo Spinning Tops are wound and thrown in the exact opposite way to usual!



Point the tip upwards and from this upside-down position you fiercely sling the top to the ground. You can search the world over and this is the only place you’ll find spinning tops like this☆



Driven into the tip of the spinning top there’s a sharp piece of metal called a ken.

Not only do Sasebo Spinning Tops spin for a long time but since they are meant to “fight” with other tops they are made to be very strong and sturdy.





Another one of their peculiar characteristics is that they are shaped like Chinese scallions (rakkyou).

The vibrant colors of the tops are said to be influenced by the five elements in Chinese cosmology (Inyougogyousetu) which uses the 5 colors: green, red, yellow, white, and black.

These five colors are supposedly meant to represent “the world” or “the universe” ☆






At the Sasebo Spinning Top Shop you can even paint your own original top (1,900 yen, including materials, before tax).

When I visited the shop, these unique and multi-colored tops made by guests were lined up on display!



Painting your own top is very popular with tourists as well as members of the military stationed in Sasebo who remark that it’s “a very Japanese experience.”

Lately many Americans living in Sasebo bring their Japanese friends to the shop. What a funny spin on what you might expect (lol).





In the display corner, aside from just orthodox spinning tops there are also Christmas ornaments, dolls for display, and other seasonal items that are great as gifts.

By the way, custom-made spinning tops start at 4,000 yen.



This shop also handles a great variety of spinning tops with prices from 886 yen all the way up to 50,000 yen.

Wouldn’t you like to recapture that feeling of childhood and play with a Sasebo Spinning Top?





Also, check out the actual building of the Sasebo Spinning Top Shop☆

The uniquely designed exterior looks like a Sasebo Spinning Top!

Even from far away you can immediately tell what it is☆

It’s located in the center of Sasebo near “Yonka-cho Arcade.”





Sasebo Spinning Top Shop (Sasebogomahonpo)

Address: 9-13 Shimanji-cho, Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture.

  • Reservation required for spinning top decoration (1,900 yen, tax not included).
  • For more information please contact us.





All aboard the Mirai, the new Kujukushima ‘Pirate’ Cruiser!

22Apr 2015 tomocchi

On April 1st, a new ‘pirate ship’ excursion boat, the Mirai, made its debut at the Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort in Sasebo City!




‘Mirai’ means ‘future’ in Japanese, and the environmentally-friendly vessel is Japan’s first electric-powered excursion boat. A boat for the future! (o゚∀゚o)

The Mirai has been launched to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Saikai National Park.





We boarded the boat without delay via the jetty, and set off on our voyage. The trip lasts for about 50 minutes, and we were feeling pretty excited (o゚∀゚o)

The exterior of the Mirai was apparently based on the shape of a pirate’s hat.



This pirate’s hat used to be kept on the Mirai’s predecessor, the Kaiou, and has been passed on to the new ship.





Why not put on the hat and try out the pirate’s life for yourself?






Inside the ship, there are lots of original goods that can only be bought on board!

These T-shirts decorated with a skull mark are just right for the warmer weather that’s on its way!!





The ceiling decoration is based on the rippling surface of the waters around Kujukushima, making the interior feel bright and pleasant ☆






The design of this cabin has an antique charm. The seats have just the right amount of spring to them, to make relaxation easy.






Raising a gentle spray in its wake, the boat sails onwards ☆





Hard to starboard!!  (o゚∀゚o)
I soon felt like a pirate and was looking out for an opportunity to spin the ship’s wheel ☆




The boat slips through perilous narrow gaps with ease!
This is Matsurajima, something of a symbol of the Kujukushima islands.
This deep inlet shaped like starfish was supposedly the site of a battle waged by the feudal lord of the Matsura Domain.

This must have been a great spot to hide away from enemies!





The water is so clear that you can easily see the outline of the island below the surface!

These emerald-green depths are surely not an everyday sight! It feels like quite a special occasion.

As the boat sailed along, uniquely-shaped islands popped up before us one after another.



The dynamic scenery of the Kujukushima area is often used for location shooting for movies.

In fact, Kujukushima was even used in the 2003 movie The Last Samurai.  (o゚∀゚o)






The square rafts are for oyster production while the round ones are for pearl culture.

The marine environment of Kujukushima’s complex coastline is rich with plankton.

The oysters eat this plankton, producing high quality meat and pearls.





The ship is fully equipped with an elevator and so on, making it accessible for wheelchair users and those with strollers.

10 out of 10 for barrier-free access!!





Back at the jetty at the end of our voyage.
Our extraordinary 50-minute journey on the pirate ship was such a luxurious experience!♪




The color of the sea seems to change through the seasons, making the Kujukushima area beautiful at any time of year, but this season is surely the best for enjoying the salty air as you sail along.

What are you waiting for? Jump aboard and take a cruise around the islands of Kujukushima. (o^─^o)





Cruises are also available on the Pearl Queen, built in the image of a queen of the seas ☆






Kujukushima Pirate Boat, the Mirai


Adults: ¥1400 (group: ¥1200 per person)

Children: ¥700 (group: ¥600 per person)

NB. Group fare applies to groups of 15 or more.


Departure times

11:30, 13:30, 14:30


Sailing time

About 50 minutes



200 passengers


For more information, please see the website:





Huis Ten Bosch

24Sep 2014 shamoji

Huis Ten Boschは楽しかった。家族の良い思いでとなりました。有り難うございました。

Our family was able to enjoy Huis Ten Bosch. Thank you for the good memories!



Kujukushima Zoological and Botanical Garden – “Mori Kirara”

27Mar 2014 tomocchi

This is the Kujukushima Zoological and Botanical Garden in SaseboCity, also known as “Mori Kirara”.



The botanical garden began as a rose garden and then was combined with a zoo to make this ‘zoological and botanical garden’, where you can see a wide variety of animals, from large ones like elephants and lions to small ones like raccoons and squirrel monkeys. (o^∇^o)ノ



Ah, here’s Hanako, an Indian elephant. Hello Hanako!!



The bars of the enclosure are low, so there is a very open atmosphere, and you can get right up close to the animals!



Hanako was born in about 1971, and her favorite food is strawberries.

In contrast to her large build, her love of strawberries makes her seem quite girlish! ♪



Next to the elephant enclosure is the lion pen. This one was fast asleep.



It looks just like a pet cat sleeping!
On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, feeding time is held at 11:45 am.

Then you can really see the lion’s full power as it lunges for the food!!



The Asian black bear



The bear often comes over to where the visitors are and shows off its adorable expression.



This is the year of the horse, and the zoo is home to the Taishuh, a native breed of horse from Tsushima island ♪
On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, it is possible to try riding the Taishuh.



Ah ha! What’s this?



If you look closely, can you see the monkey bars?

That’s right! This is the Monkey Zone!
This area was built for the monkeys to show off their skills, scaling tall trees and swinging from branch to branch.

I was enchanted by the agility of the monkeys, swinging with ease along the poles.



This one crossed over with its child! They reached the island and settled down together to bask in the sun ^^



I just can’t resist baby animals and parent-child pairs… I totally melted!!



There are lots of events on weekends where you can interact with the animals, and in January, a new penguin house was opened – Mori Kirara is going from strength to strength! Don’t miss it! ♪




Kujukushima Zoological and Botanical Garden – “Mori Kirara”

Address: 2172 Funakoshicho, Sasebo City

Tel: 0956-28-0011

Opening hours: 9:00 – 17:15 (last entry at 16:45)

Admission: Adults ¥800, Children (age 4 to end of Junior High School) ¥200

Check out the Mori Kirara Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sasebo.morikirara


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Exploring the Backstreets of Nakaoyama, Hasami

14Feb 2014 tomocchi

Today we are in Nakaoyama, in Hasami-cho, where you can still find many of the Hasami-Yaki potteries.

Let’s take a walk with one of the Hasami Tourism Volunteer Guides, and look around Nakaoyama.




We’ll start from the viewpoint at the top of Nakaoyama ☆


From here you can get a panoramic view of Nakaoyama, including the impressive brick chimneys that dot the town.



The charming brick chimneys date from the Taisho Period (1912-1926) when they were used for the coal-fired kilns.

These days, many are no longer in use, but they are preserved as a scenic asset of the town.



Take a look at the back of the viewpoint’s stone monument!

There’s pottery embedded in it!



Some of the pieces of china were made as far back as theEdo(1603-1868) and Taisho Periods, and are apparently worth quite a lot of money.

The ones where the colours have faded a little are the antiques.



Pottery has been made in Nakaoyama since the Edo Period.
Large kilns were built, and ceramic wares from Hasami were shipped not only around Japan but also overseas.



Now all that is left of the potteries that have closed down are the chimneys.



We’ve arrived at Nakaoyama Community Centre.



You can look around the gallery of ceramics made in Nakaoyama and buy something that catches your eye.



Although it varies between potteries, the majority are not always open to visitors, so it’s best to visit the Community Centre.



The porcelain tiles on the tops of walls might catch your eye. The potteries divided the work between them and each made some of the tiles, so the pattern on every tile is different. 



This is Touzan Shrine. It’s only a small shrine, but inside there are paintings on the ceiling which were made by a ceramics painter! 



We would have walked straight past if it hadn’t been for the guide informing us!







A pleasant stroll around a town where a certain nostalgia floats in the air, along with the history of pottery manufacture.

On the second Saturday of every month, volunteer guides lead a walking tour of the potteries and backstreets of Nakaoyama.




In addition to the sites introduced in this article, you can make special visits to some of the potteries.
For February and March, the tours are planned for Saturday February 8th, and Saturday March 8th.
Reservations are required, so make sure to book in time! (^^)/






Nakaoyama Potteries & Backstreets Tour

Date: Second Saturday of every month
Start time: 13:30(the tour takes about 1.5 hours)

Cost: 500 yen (includes a snack)
Enquiries: Hasami-cho Tourism Association
Tel: 0956-85-2290