The five main islands that give name to the archipielago are (from South to North):
- Fukue (福江島, Fukuejima). Biggest island both in extension and population.
- Hisaka (久賀島, Hisakajima).
- Naru (奈留島, Narushima).
- Wakamatsu (若松島, Wakamatsujima).
- Nakadori (中通島, Nakadorijima).
Fukue City in the island of the same name is the most populous, with over 10,000 inhabitants.
"Gotō" means "Five Islands".
When they started spreading Christianity in Japan, priests were particularly successful in Gotō. Even when a ban on religion entered in effect, many believers did not change their faith and continued worshipping secretly for two centuries. After the ban on Christianity was lifted on the 18th Century, many churches were constructed. They constitute one of the main attractions of Gotō, along with its beautiful nature and fresh produce, especially fish.
If you speak to older people, you may be able to hear a little of Gotō dialect.
It has some interesting variations not found in Nagasaki dialect, like:
-Min (水): water
-Min (右): right
-Min (耳): ear
-Gesakka (げさっか): vulgar or lewd person
-Baraka (ばらか): violent person, courage
-Bittsunmijoka (びっつんみじょか): cute, beautiful
The Loco shop specializes in T-shirts with Gotō-ben. It's at Ikedamachi 2-14, one minute left from the castle bridge.
You can get to Gotō by slow ferry, fast jet foil and airplane.
It takes 3 hr 30 min from Nagasaki to Fukue, but it also stops at other islands. The cost is ¥2280 for adults second class, one way. (You can only purchase a roundtrip if you depart from the islands.) Children pay half price.
As of April 2011, the normal times (except Obon in mid August and ship reparations in mid April) are:
Nagasaki Narao Fukue Naru Narao Nagasaki ------------------------------------------------ 07:40 → 08:50 11:40 08:00 → 11:30 12:30 13:30 16:20 12:10 14:55 16:15 → → 20:00 16:50 → 20:15
- Ships depart between 10 min (Naru, Narao) and 20 min (Fukue) after arriving.
- From April 6 to 16, there is no ship departing at 08:00 from Nagasaki.
There are also ships sailing to Kami-Gotō (north of the islands) from Sasebo. You can find their updated timetables in Japanese at their. homepage [dead link]
It takes 85 min. from Nagasaki to Fukue, and the cost is ¥6630 for adults, one way.
The time table varies depending on the season, from 2 sailings/day in February to 5-7 sailings/day in summer. The 07:40 and 11:30 sailings stay unchanged all year (except from Jan 7 to Feb 4t, which has 07:40 and 14:25). You can find their updated timetables in Japanese at their homepage [dead link].
In only 30 minutes you can fly with Oriental Air Bridge from Nagasaki to Fukue Airport for ¥11300, one way, and ¥19500, round trip. Flight schedule varies greatly depending on the dates (1 to 3 daily flights either way). Check their homepage (Japanese only).
While even Fukue City can get very dark at night due to no lighting, Gotō is as safe or more as the rest of Japan. Exercise basic caution and you´ll be fine.