Nagasaki Prefecture

Last updated
Nagasaki Prefecture

Japanese transcription(s)
   Japanese 長崎県
   Rōmaji Nagasaki-ken
Flag of Nagasaki Prefecture.svg
Emblem of Nagasaki Prefecture.svg
Map of Japan with highlight on 42 Nagasaki prefecture.svg
CountryFlag of Japan.svg  Japan
Region Kyushu
Island Kyushu
Capital Nagasaki
Subdivisions Districts: 4, Municipalities: 21
   Governor Hōdō Nakamura
  Total4,130.88 km2 (1,594.94 sq mi)
Area rank 37th
 (June 1, 2020)
  Rank 27th
  Density320/km2 (820/sq mi)
ISO 3166 code JP-42
Bird Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata)
FlowerUnzentsutsuji ( Rhododendron  serpyllifolium)
Tree Sawara (Chamaecyparis pisifera)

Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県, Nagasaki-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Kyūshū. Nagasaki Prefecture has a population of 1,314,078 (1 June 2020) and has a geographic area of 4,130 km2 (1,594 sq mi). Nagasaki Prefecture borders Saga Prefecture to the northeast.


Nagasaki is the capital and largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture, with other major cities including Sasebo, Isahaya, and Ōmura. Nagasaki Prefecture is located in western Kyūshū with a territory consisting of many mainland peninsulas centered around Ōmura Bay, as well as islands and archipelagos including Tsushima and Iki in the Korea Strait and the Gotō Islands in the East China Sea. Nagasaki Prefecture is known for its century-long trading history with the Europeans and as the sole place of direct trade and exchange between Japan and the outside world during the Sakoku period. Nagasaki Prefecture is home to several of the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Nagasaki Prefecture was created by merging of the western half of the former province of Hizen with the island provinces of Tsushima and Iki. [1] Facing China and Korea, the region around Hirado was a traditional center for traders and pirates.

Kuichi Uchida's image of Nagasaki in 1872 Kuichi Uchida View of Nagasaki Japan 1872 Hand-colored Vintage Albumen Print.jpg
Kuichi Uchida's image of Nagasaki in 1872

During the 16th century, Catholic missionaries and traders from Portugal arrived and became active in Hirado and Nagasaki, which became a major center for foreign trade. After being given free rein in Oda Nobunaga's period, the missionaries were forced out little by little, until finally, in the Tokugawa era, Christianity was banned under the Sakoku national isolation policy: Japanese foreign trade was restricted to Chinese and Dutch traders based at Dejima in Nagasaki. However, Kirishitan (Japanese Christian) worship continued underground. These Kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christians) were tried at every step, forced to step on fumi-e ("trample pictures", images of the Virgin Mary and saints) to prove that they were non-Christian. With the banishment of all Catholic missionaries, traders from Catholic countries were also forced out of the country. Along with them, their children, half Japanese and half European, were forced to leave. The majority was sent to Jagatara (Jakarta) and are still remembered by the locals as the people who wrote the poignant letters which were smuggled across the sea to their homeland.

Today, Nagasaki has prominent Catholic churches, and the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region, have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Nagasaki Prefect Office, Meiji Period Prefect Office Nagasaki.jpg
Nagasaki Prefect Office, Meiji Period

During the Meiji Restoration, Nagasaki and Sasebo became major ports for foreign trade, and eventually major military bases and shipbuilding centers for the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries up to World War II. On August 9, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, which destroyed all buildings in a 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) radius from the point of impact and extensively damaged other parts of the city. Roughly 39,000 people were killed, including 27,778 Japanese munitions workers, 2,000 Korean forced workers, and 150 Japanese soldiers. About 68-80% of the industrial production was destroyed to the point it would not recover for months or at least a year.

Nagasaki Prefecture contains many areas prone to heavy rain and landslide damage. In July 1957, mainly in the Isahaya area, damage from heavy rains, flooding and landslides lead to a death toll of 586, with 136 people missing and 3,860 injured. In July 1982, typhoon damage in the Nagasaki area lead to 299 fatalities, according to a report by the Japanese government.[ citation needed ]


Nagasaki borders Saga Prefecture on the east, and is otherwise surrounded by water, including Ariake Bay, the Tsushima Straits (far from Busan and South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea), and the East China Sea. It also includes a large number of islands such as Tsushima, Iki and Goto. Most of the prefecture is near the coast and there are a number of ports such as Nagasaki and a United States Navy base at Sasebo.

As of 1 April 2014, 18% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Saikai and Unzen-Amakusa National Parks; Genkai and Iki-Tsushima Quasi-National Parks; and Hokushō, Nishi Sonogi Hantō, Nomo Hantō, Ōmurawan, Shimabara Hantō, and Taradake Prefectural Natural Parks. [2]


Map of Nagasaki Prefecture
City Town Map of Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Map of Nagasaki Prefecture
     City     Town
Night view of Nagasaki City Nagasaki City view from Mt Inasa04s.jpg
Night view of Nagasaki City
Sasebo Nishi-Kyushu Exp Sasebo Chuo IC 2011.JPG
Shimabara 140321 A view from Shimabara Castle Shimabara Nagasaki pref Japan04s3.jpg

Thirteen cities are located in Nagasaki Prefecture:

NameArea (km2)PopulationMap
Rōmaji Kanji
Flag of Goto, Nagasaki.svg Gotō 五島市420.8137,775 Goto in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Hirado, Nagasaki.svg Hirado 平戸市235.6331,192 Hirado in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Iki, Nagasaki.svg Iki 壱岐市138.5728,008 Iki in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Isahaya, Nagasaki.svg Isahaya 諫早市341.79135,546 Isahaya in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Matsuura nagasaki.JPG Matsuura 松浦市130.3723,566 Matsuura in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Minamishimabara, Nagasaki.svg Minamishimabara 南島原市169.8945,465 Minamishimabara in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Nagasaki, Nagasaki.svg Nagasaki (capital)長崎市240.71407,624 Nagasaki in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Omura, Nagasaki.svg Ōmura 大村市126.3495,146 Omura in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Saikai Nagasaki.svg Saikai 西海市242.0128,815 Saikai in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Sasebo, Nagasaki.svg Sasebo 佐世保市426.06247,739 Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Shimabara, Nagasaki.svg Shimabara 島原市82.7744,936 Shimabara in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tsushima, Nagasaki.svg Tsushima 対馬市708.6131,550 Tsushima in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Unzen Nagasaki.JPG Unzen 雲仙市206.9242,457 Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg


These are the towns and villages of each district:

NameArea (km2)PopulationDistrictTypeMap
Rōmaji Kanji
Flag of Hasami Nagasaki.png Hasami 波佐見町5614,940 Higashisonogi District Town Hasami in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Higashisonogi Nagasaki.JPG Higashisonogi 東彼杵町74.298,175 Higashisonogi District Town Higashisonogi in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of kawatana Nagasaki.JPG Kawatana 川棚町74.259,219 Higashisonogi District Town Kawatana in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Nagayo Nagasaki.JPG Nagayo 長与町28.8142,570 Nishisonogi District Town Nagayo in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Ojika Nagasaki.JPG Ojika 小値賀町25.462,588 Kitamatsuura District Town Ojika in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Saza Nagasaki.png Saza 佐々町32.313,825 Kitamatsuura District Town Saza in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Shinkamigoto Nagasaki.JPG Shin-Kamigotō 新上五島町213.9819,886 Minami-Matsuura District Town Shinkamigoto in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Togitsu Nagasaki.JPG Togitsu 時津町20.7330,084 Nishisonogi District Town Togitsu in Nagasaki Prefecture Ja.svg


The following municipalities have been dissolved since the year 2000.



Religious denominations in the Nagasaki Prefecture (1996) [3]

  Pure Land Buddhism (19.5%)
  Zen Buddhism (3.6%)
  Tendai or Shingon Buddhism (4.9%)
  Soka Gakkai (3%)
  Nichiren Buddhism (5.1%)
  Other Buddhist schools (3%)
  Christianity (5.1%)
  Shinto sects (2%)
  Folk Shinto or no religion (53.8%)

Nagasaki is the most Christianized area in Japan with Roman Catholic missions having been established there as early as the 16th century. Shusaku Endo's novel Silence draws from the oral history of the local Christian (Kirishitan) communities, both Kakure Kirishitan and Hanare Kirishitan.

As of 2002, there are 68,617 Catholics in Nagasaki Prefecture, accounting for 4.52 percent of the population of the prefecture.


Transcosmos Stadium Nagasaki in Isahaya. Nagasaki Athletic Stadium1.JPG
Transcosmos Stadium Nagasaki in Isahaya.

The city has one football team, V-Varen Nagasaki, which plays in the J2 League.

The Nagasaki Saints of the former Shikoku-Kyūshū Island League made Nagasaki Prefecture their home prior to their dissolving.


View of Osezaki Lighthouse on Fukue Island Osezaki lighthouse.jpg
View of Osezaki Lighthouse on Fukue Island
Grave of William Adams in Hirado MiuraAnjinNoHaka.jpg
Grave of William Adams in Hirado
Shimabara Castle Shimabara Castle Tower 20090906.jpg
Shimabara Castle
Sofuku-ji Obaku Zen temple in Nagasaki Nagasaki Sofukuji M5533.jpg
Sōfuku-ji Ōbaku Zen temple in Nagasaki
Kujuku Islands in Sasebo Sasebo99IslandsSunset2A.jpg
Kujūku Islands in Sasebo





Expressways and toll roads

  • Nagasaki Expressway
  • West Kyushu Expressway
  • Nagasaki Dejima Road
  • Kawahira Toll Road
  • Kunimi Toll Road
  • Kawahira Toll Road

National highways




The current governor of Nagasaki is former vice-governor Hōdō Nakamura. First elected in 2010 to succeed Genjirō Kaneko, he was reelected for a second term in 2014.

The prefectural assembly of Nagasaki has a regular membership of 46, elected in 16 electoral districts in unified regional elections (last round: 2011). As of April 2014, the LDP-led caucus has 23 members, the DPJ-SDP-led caucus 17.

In the National Diet, Nagasaki is represented by four directly elected members of the House of Representatives and two (one per ordinary election) of the House of Councillors. After the most recent national elections of 2010, 2012 and 2013, Nagasaki sends an all-LDP delegation to the Diet (excluding members who lost election in Nagasaki districts, but were elected to the proportional representation segment of the House of Representatives in the Kyūshū block).


  1. Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" in p. 780 , p. 780, at Google Books.
  2. "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  3. Religion in Japan by prefecture, 1996. English language bar table.

Related Research Articles

Amakusa Group of islands

Amakusa (天草), which means "Heaven's Grass," is a series of islands off the west coast of Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan.

Nagasaki Core city in Kyushu, Japan

Nagasaki is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan.

Gotō Islands

The Gotō Islands are Japanese islands in the East China Sea, off the western coast of Kyūshū. They are part of Nagasaki Prefecture.

Iki, Nagasaki City in Kyushu, Japan

Iki is a city on the island of Iki, in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. As of June 2013, the city has an estimated population of 28,008 and a population density of 202 persons per km2. The total area is 138.57 km2.

Tsushima, Nagasaki City in Kyushu, Japan

Tsushima is an island city grouped in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. It is the only city of Tsushima Subprefecture and it encompasses all of Tsushima Island Archipelago, which lies in the Tsushima Strait north of Nagasaki on the western side of Kyushu, the southernmost mainland island of Japan. As of March 2017, the city has an estimated population of 31,550 and a population density of 45 persons per km2. Its total area is 708.61 km2, 17.3% of the area of Nagasaki Prefecture.

Ikitsuki, Nagasaki Former municipality in Kyushu, Japan

Ikitsuki was a town on the island of the same name located in Kitamatsuura District, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

Tsushima Island Island in Nagasaki, Japan

Tsushima Island is an island of the Japanese archipelago situated in-between the Tsushima Strait and Korea Strait, approximately halfway between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula. The main island of Tsushima, once a single island, was divided into two in 1671 by the Ōfunakoshiseto canal and into three in 1900 by the Manzekiseto canal. These canals were driven through isthmuses in the center of the island, forming "North Tsushima Island" (Kamino-shima) and "South Tsushima Island" (Shimono-shima). Tsushima also incorporates over 100 smaller islands, many tiny. The name Tsushima generally refers to all the islands of the Tsushima archipelago collectively. Administratively, Tsushima Island is in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Iki Island

Iki Island, or the Iki Archipelago, is an archipelago in the Tsushima Strait, which is administered as the city of Iki in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. The islands have a total area of 138.46 square kilometres (53.46 sq mi) with a total population of 28,008. Only four (4) of the twenty-three (23) named islands are permanently inhabited. Together with the neighboring islands of Tsushima, they are collectively within the borders of the Iki–Tsushima Quasi-National Park.

<i>Kakure Kirishitan</i> Japanese Christians who went into hiding during the repressive Edo Period (1603-1868)

Kakure Kirishitan is a modern term for a member of the Catholic Church in Japan that went underground at the start of the Edo period in the early 17th century.

Saikai National Park

Saikai National Park is a marine national park located in Nagasaki prefecture of northwest Kyūshū, Japan. It consists of the coastal regions of Matsuura Peninsula, extending northward from the port city of Sasebo and encompasses the Kujūku Islands, with over 200 islands to the west, Hirado Peninsula further west, and the coastlines of the Gotō Islands to the far west.

Sasebo Core city in Kyushu, Japan

Sasebo is a core city located in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. It is also the second largest city in Nagasaki Prefecture, after its capital, Nagasaki. As of 1 June 2019, the city has an estimated population of 247,739 and a population density of 581 persons per km2. The total area is 426.06 km2 (165 sq mi).

Matsura Takanobu

Matsura Takanobu or Taqua Nombo was a 16th-century Japanese samurai and 25th hereditary lord of the Matsura clan of Hirado. He was one of the most powerful feudal lords of Kyūshū and one of the first to allow trading with Europeans, particularly the Portuguese, through whom he amassed great profits in the import of western firearms. He was also an early host and patron to the Jesuits, who he hoped would help secure an increase in trade with the Portuguese and other European traders.

Kitamatsuura Peninsula is a peninsula located in northwest Kyūshū, projecting northwest from an imaginary line drawn between Imari in Saga Prefecture and Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. The peninsula is bounded by the East China Sea on the west and southwest, and by the Sea of Japan on the north. Most of the peninsula is within the boundaries of the city of Hirado and Nagasaki Prefecture. The general area of and near the peninsula is commonly called the Hokushō Region.

Christian missionaries arrived with Francis Xavier and the Jesuits in the 1540s and briefly flourished, with over 100,000 converts, including many daimyōs in Kyushu. It soon met resistance from the highest office holders of Japan. Emperor Ogimachi issued edicts to ban Catholicism in 1565 and 1568, but to little effect. Beginning in 1587 with imperial regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi's ban on Jesuit missionaries, Christianity was repressed as a threat to national unity. After the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity in 1620 it ceased to exist publicly. Many Catholics went underground, becoming hidden Christians, while others lost their lives. Only after the Meiji Restoration was Christianity re-established in Japan.

Naru Island (Japan)

Naru Island is one of the Gotō Islands in Japan. It is part of the city of Gotō in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Politics of Nagasaki, as in all prefectures of Japan, takes place in the framework of local autonomy that is guaranteed by the Constitution and laid out in the Local Autonomy Law. The administration is headed by a governor directly elected by the people every four years in first-past-the-post elections. Legislation, the budget and the approval of personnel appointments, including the vice governor, are handled by the prefectural assembly that is directly elected by the people every four years by single-non transferable vote.

Hichiku dialect

The Hichiku dialect is a group of the Japanese dialects spoken in western Kyushu. The name Hichiku (肥筑) is constructed by extracting a representative kanji from Hizen (前), Higo (後), Chikuzen (前) and Chikugo (後), names of old provinces in there.

Hario Island

Hario Island (針尾島), is a large island located in the mouth of Ōmura Bay, part of the Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. It is the 7th largest and 6th most populous island of the islands in Nagasaki Prefecture. The island, 33.16 km² in area, had 9767 inhabitants as of 2015. The island is dominated by the Citrus unshiu plantations. The island access is by road and rail transport from the mainland of Kyushu through seven bridges linking it to Sasebo and Saikai cities. The main access routes are Japan National Route 202 and Japan National Route 205.


Yokoseura (横瀬浦) is a port located at the northern tip of the Nishisonogi Peninsula on the Japanese island of Kyushu, administratively under Saikai city, Nagasaki Prefecture. It was developed as an entrepot by the Portuguese in 1562 with the permission of the local lord Ōmura Sumitada, but was burned down a year later during a rebellion against Sumitada.


Coordinates: 32°58′N129°48′E / 32.967°N 129.800°E / 32.967; 129.800