Tsushima Island: getting closer to South Korea

You can find the Tsushima Island between the Tsushima and Korea strait, although the island belongs to Japan it is actually closer to South Korea. The max length of Tsushima Island is about 70 km and width 15km, it is currently populated by 35,000 people.  This is the largest of Nagasaki’s islands and it is full of natural beauty as the area is almost completely covered by woods. Tsushima has a long and rich history and plays a big role in the relationship between Korea and Japan. The island also has its own airport that organizes daily flights to Nagasaki and Fukuoka, shuttle busses to and from the airport as well as other means of transportation. 

Where is Tsushima Island

Laying in the Genkai sea between South Korea and Kyushu, the beautiful Tsushima Island. Tsushima consists of two main islands as well as 100 smaller islands that can be accessed with airplanes, jetfoils, and ferries. The island is the closest Japanese territory to South Korea and it is said that on a clear day you can see the Busan city from the shore of Tsushima. Tsushima is almost fully covered by forests as well as rich in mountains such as Mt. Ohira, Yatate, Hokogatake, Koyasan, Ontake, and Gogen. Two main islands are known as Kamino-Shima and Shimono-Shima which are connected by the causeway and combination bridge.

The Tsushima city was founded in 2004 when the cities of Izuhara, Mitsushima, Toyotama, Mine, Kamigata, and Kamitsushima were merged together. There has been a long going territorial dispute between the two countries of to whom the island really belongs to, some South Koreans believe that historically Tsushima should belong to Korea, the dispute has continued for hundreds of years and finally, in 1974 the islands were finally reconfirmed as part of Japan. 

Things to do around the island

If you have reached the center of the Tsushima city head straight to the Information Center, if you have come by bus it will stop right in front of the center. The Information Center Furei Dokoro offers plenty of brochures and helpful guides on how to get around the island, event calendar as well as some books. Do not be worried as the information is mostly provided in English although the staff does not speak English fluently they are always happy to help however they can in order to attract more tourists in the future.

Visit the Kaneishi Castle grounds that are only 3 minutes away from the information center. The castle was built in the 1690s and it consists of gardens as well as a cemetery, today the castle no longer exists as it was destroyed but you can still find the beautiful gate that was built for the Soh Clan feudal lords. The Kaneishi cemetery was created after the death of the Soh Yoshitoshi in 1615 and if you wish to visit today you can walk up the stone stairs that are nestled between cedar trees.

If you wish to see some of the island’s treasures visit the Museum of Folklore and History, although the information is only in Japanese you can still check out some ancient maps, scroll paintings, and other artifacts.

Where to stay in Tsushima Island

Tsushima Seizanji – probably the most unique hotel experience on the island, this is not your typical hotel as it is located in currently active temple grounds. They provide breakfast, sento communal baths, stunning garden as well as wifi and parking.

Tokoyo Inn Tsushima Izuhara – one of the most modern hotels on the island, equipped with wifi, air conditioning, cleaning, and laundry services. This hotel has great value for money and it is popular amongst foreign visitors.

Hotel Belle Foret – has standard amenities and very warm and welcoming staff, it is very close to the center and has one of the highest ratings.

Daemado Hotel Hitakatsu – this hotel has possibly the most stunning view in all Tsushima, they excel in customer service, spotless rooms, and perfect location as it is right next to the tourism center.

If you are traveling on a budget check out:

Minshuku Nishidomari – this hotel has a shared kitchen and bathroom facilities as well as private parking. Those who stay at the Minskuku enjoy hiking, fishing as well as a beautiful view of the fishing port.

How to get there

Air – You can take a plane from Fukuoka, it will only take you 20 minutes to reach Tsushima Island, the ticket prices are anywhere from 60-100 Euros. The airport provides hourly shuttle busses that stop right outside of the Tsushima Information center. If you wish you can also take a taxi, it will take you to the city center in 20 minutes.

Ferries – take a ferry from Fukuoka Hakata Ferry Terminal to reach the Izuhara Port in Tsushima in 30 minutes or jetfoil from the Kyushu Yusen which will only take you 15 minutes.

Once you are there you should probably think about the ways of getting around the island, our suggestion is to rent a car from one of the providers at the airport – Toyota, Orix or Yoshinaga, please note that you must have a valid drivers license.