Ikitsuki Island Museum Shima no Yakata 平戸市生月町博物館 島の館
The Ikitsuki Island Museum Shima no Yakata on the small island of Ikitsuki, just across the bridge from Hirado Island in Nagasaki Prefecture is definitely worth a visit if you are touring this beautiful area of Kyushu.
The Ikitsuki Island Museum Shima no Yakata is dedicated mainly to the whaling industry in the area during the Edo Period (1603-1868) but also contains exhibits from the "Hidden Christian" culture practiced in the region as well as local farming and traditional festival dances.
There is also a quirky section of stuffed fish, produced by the islanders since 1989. There are presently about 400 fish from 250 different species on display, attached to the ceiling by wires in a special room.
Coastal whaling in certain defined areas (Shimonoseki, Wakayama and Taiji in present day Wakayama Prefecture, for example) was practiced throughout the Edo Period in Japan (certainly not everywhere on Japan's long coastline) and the museum's main emphasis is on the Masutomi group of whalers, who hunted whales in Nagasaki's coastal waters for their meat and oil, which was used for bug control on the area's rice fields.
Dioramas, paintings, photographs and original objects from the whaling industry including harpoons, nets, cleavers, knives, ropes and a complete whale skeleton are displayed to give an excellent impression of what life must have been like for the whalers and their cetacean prey.
A large whale penis and vagina are also preserved in tanks and canned whalemeat is on sale in the museum's gift shop.
The Hidden Christian section of the museum contains a small, wooden chapel, illustrated bibles, vestments, stained glass windows, crosses and other artefacts used in this specialized version of Christianity, as the local believers strived to practice Christianity, while keeping it secret and hidden from the authorities.
Being denounced as a Christian could lead to death as in the case of the 70 people executed on Neshiko Beach on Hirado in 1635. A video installation explains the history of the "Kakure Kirishitan" in Kyushu.
Access - how to get to the Ikitsuki Island Museum Shima no Yakata
Ikitsuki Island Museum Shima no Yakata
Tel: 0950 53 3000
Admission: 500 yen
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
The museum is located close to the Ikitsuki Bridge (incidently the longest continuous truss bridge in the world, which has beautiful views of the sea and coastline. The museum is close to Ikitsuki Daigyoran Kannon Statue the largest bronze statue in Japan at 18m in height.