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41 Things to See When You Visit Tsushima, Japan

Act 1: Izuhara

 

(Click for Google Map: Points of Interest in ‘Izuhara’, Tsushima)

 

1. Supposed Location of First Battle with Mongols in Ghost of Tsushima

Komoda Beach Tsushima

GPS Coordinates (Decimal Degrees): 34.314805, 129.200672

According to the in-game map in Ghost of Tsushima, this remote and isolated beach is where the first disastrous battle against the Mongols takes place.  Lord Shimura is captured here by Khotun Khan, and Lady Masako‘s two sons area also killed here during the same battle.

However in real life, the Mongols landed simultaneously on multiple points (see #2).

 

2. Genkō Old Battlefield (“Komoda Beach/Komoda Town”)

(Note: The beach on which the first battle of Ghost of Tsushima takes place is significantly north of this location.  See # 1.)

The Genkō Old Battlefield, also called Komoda Beach in the game, has a shrine and memorial plaque dedicated to the battle that took place here when Mongolian landing forces were met by Japanese defenders.

On every second Sunday of November, many locals and tourists gather in a ceremony to remember those who died here that day in a ceremony replete with period regalia and samurai attire.

Located about 30 minutes west of Izuhara/Tsushima City, by car.  This is a must-see for fans of the game, should they decide to visit Tsushima.

 

3. Taishu Soba Takumi (Try some soba noodles for lunch)

Rumor has it that Tsushima is the home of the original soba noodles. Taishu Soba Takumi serves up cold or hot soba noodles with delicious tempura.

It is also possible to reserve a slot in their in-house “soba making experience” and make your own batch of soba under the supervision of a chef.  Premade soba noodles are also available for purchase.

Open 7 days a week for lunch, from 11 AM to 2:30 PM (last orders taken at 2 PM).

 

4. Firefly Viewing Point – Shitomi District, Izuhara Town (Tsushima City)

In Ghost of Tsushima, stunning swarms of fireflies are featured in a special side mission, “Spirit of Yarikawa’s Vegeance”.

In this mission, Jin Sakai acquires the mythical combat skill of the “Dance of Wrath” in a duel within a clearing filled with thousands of glowing fireflies.

In real life these fireflies can be seen around a riverbed on the Sasu River, several miles west from the outskirts of Izuhara City.

Night time tours/hikes are organized hosted by the Tsushima Nature and Wildlife Association, and participants are strongly warned against flash photography, loud noises and littering, as to not disturb the light-sensitive fireflies and the local residents.

Tsushima has 5 types of fireflies, and some of them are endemic to the island and cannot be found anywhere else. The local Sasu River Basin Firefly Protection Association works to ensure that this rare species is protected from harm.

Best seen during the months of June and July.

 

5. Tsushima City (Izuhara) & Izuhara Port Ferry Terminal

Also called Izuhara Town, Tsushima City is the main urban settlement on the island.  This is also the port-of-call for Ferries from neighboring Iki Island and the Japanese mainland.

This location is part of the so-called ‘Ariake Prefecture’ in Ghost of Tsushima, and is the rough location of one of the Survivor Camps.  If the fictional Ariake Lighthouse in the game existed in real life, it would tower high above on the hills overlooking the ferry terminal (image, center background).

 

6. Seizanji Temple

Situated just above the Izuhara City harbor, Seizanji Temple is a popular tourist destination and lodging option offering a beautiful and authentically traditional setting, and even offers free Zen meditation sessions in the morning.

This site was formerly used as a diplomatic house, and tours are open to the public for a fee.  This is a recommended place to stay if you visit Tsushima.

 

7. Ruins of Ofunae

Located a mile south of downtown Izuhara Port Ferry Terminal, the Ruins of Ofunae (in Izuharamachi Kuta) are the remains of a 17th Century Edo-period port.

The port is tidal, and the water recedes significantly as the tide goes out.

The site is a protected monument, and the foundational stone walls of the port remain.  It is framed by a thick growth of forest, giving this beautifully preserved historic area a timeless quality as though it were frozen in time.

 

8. Pub Chinguya & KiYo (Tsushima Burger)

A beloved local staple and popular with tourists, this burger joint serves something most Americans have probably never tried: the Tsushima Burger, which is a hamburger with squid and hijiki seaweed.

The flavor of the burgers is said to resemble the sauce of the Japanese dish ‘okonomiyaki’, which is a fried vegetable and seafood pancake with a special sauce.

For those with a curious or adventurous palette, this is a must-try while visiting Tsushima. Perhaps Anthony Bourdain might have approved if he had tried it – go there and try it to see if you think that’s true!

 

9. Nakarai Tosui Kan (半井桃水館) – Japanese Cultural Experiences

The Nakarai Tosuikan cultural center is built on the family compound of the Nakarai family, whose scion Tosui Nakarai was the teacher and mentor of Ichiyo Higuchi, a Meiji-era female novelist whose face adorns the 5,000 Yen note today.

This venue features an on-site restaurant featuring traditional Japanese cuisine, as well as cultural experiences such as a dressing up in kimonos, matcha tea preparation, and making genuine pearl accessories (reservations required).

Free entry. Open 9 AM – 6 PM. Closed Tuesdays.

https://www.tsushima-tosui.com/experience.html

 

10. Ruins of Kaneishi Castle

While Kaneishi Castle isn’t featured at all in Ghost of Tsushima, this place was the ancestral home and base of the real-life Sō clan.  This clan held power on Tsushima for many centuries since the middle ages, and prospered by monopolizing the trade between Joseon (Korea) and Japan.  The Shimura clan in the game is purely fictional, but like Lord Shimura, the head of the Sō clan at the time of the Mongol Invasions would have led the defense of Tsushima against the Mongols.

Today the site lies in ruins, but the restored and verdant garden and a reconstructed gatehouse are still attractions that are conveniently accessible from Izuhara.  This place is a must-see when you visit Tsushima, to get a sense of what it was like to be a feudal lord of the island (like Lord Shimura).

 

11. Banshoin Temple

Just above the ruins of Kaneishi Castle is the Banshoin Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple built in 1615.

This location is not featured in Ghost of Tsushima, but it is the site of the Sō Clan‘s ancestral cemetery, and there are a spectacular set of 132 stone steps called Hyakugangi that are lined with stone lanterns and covered by a tree canopy, creating a stunning atmosphere.

 

12. Azamoura Bay (Azamo Bay)

GPS Coordinates (Decimal Degrees): 34.1078171, 129.2097819

This is the location of the Azamo Bay settlement in Ghost of Tsushima, which was a Japanese village that the Mongols used as a major camp.

Just outside the tiny modern-day village of Azamo is the beautiful Takuzudama Shrine located just above mouth of the river estuary that flows into present-day Azamoura Bay.

 

13. Kouzaki Lighthouse

Kouzaki Lighthouse is the southernmost point on Tsushima, and can be reached from a trailhead on the outskirts of Azamo, just north of this location.

This location is not featured in Ghost of Tsushima, but it will give you an idea of what it must have been like to light the fires on top of the clifftop lighthouses in the game.

 

14. Cape Tsutsu (Aoi Village)

Near the location of the fictional coastal Aoi Village in Ghost of Tsushima, Cape Tsutsu features a plaque that shows the compass direction toward various offshore locations such as mainland Japan and Busan (South Korea).

Expect spectacular due south views of the open ocean here.

 

15. Fortress Kaneda Ruins (Kaneda Castle)

Now known as the Kaneda Fortress Ruins, this site was where Jin Sakai’s uncle Lord Shimura was held captive in Act 1 of Ghost of Tsushima, after his defeat and capture on Komoda Beach.

While the game map places the castle at the bottleneck leading to the isthmus that connects the player to the northern half of Tsushima, the real-life geography is different and the real Fortress Kaneda lies slightly west.

Enjoy stunning views of the coastline from this commanding point high above the entire island.

 

16. Mount Shiratake

Mount Shiratake is the highest peak on Tsushima, at 519 meters or 1702 feet.  It is surrounded by primeval forest which is unique in Japan for its mix of continental and Japanese flora.

The hiking trail to reach the top is 2.2 kilometers, or 1.4 miles. Enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of the entire island, as well as distant views of the shores of South Korea on a clear day.

Stand on the peak of Mount Shiratake and survey your entire domain, like Jin Sakai!

 

17. Tsushima Grand Hotel

The Tsushima Grand Hotel was built to accommodate the steady stream of visitors from South Korea, and boasts modern facilities and a commanding, panoramic view of the rugged coastline and ocean.

Featuring great ocean views, the hotel also features an on-site hot spring (onsen) bath house named Tama no yu Spa (see #18).

This is a comfortable and super-modern lodging option that is well-situated for exploring both the southern and northern parts of Tsushima (on separate days).

 

18. Tama no yu Spa

Located on-site at the Tsushima Grand hotel, Tama no yu Spa is a modern, natural spring-fed onsen facility that is located on an oceanfront bluff top with views of the sea.

After an active day of sightseeing, this the perfect place to unwind like Jin Sakai and refresh your mind, body, and spirit.

(Note: The spa is closed on Mondays.)

 

19. Kawachi Brewery

The only brewery on Tsushima, Kawachi Brewery produces unique varieties of sake and shochu on-site.

In-house tasting events are held regularly for guests, and are a great way to sample what’s on offer.

You can buy bottles of sake or shochu to drink during your stay on the island, or purchase gift sets to take home.

 

Check out the next page of our Tsushima travel guide for Act 2, Toyotama.

Jake Yu
Living in Southern California, Jacob is a Freelance Writer who struggles with the painful choice of either enjoying video games and watching anime (then writing about it) or enjoying the outdoors. He knows life could be worse, though.

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