The Omura area consists of two towns, Higashi Sonogi and Omura.
Higashi Sonogi Town
With just a short 25 minute train ride north, the quaint sounds of Omura city become overpowered by the chirps of crickets, the sighs of the breeze that come off the bay, and the laughing of elderly women gossiping about their day. This is where the town of Higashi Sonogi lays. While still technically being a part of the Omura district, Higashi Sonogi has its own special identity and unique features that sets it apart from any other town in Nagasaki prefecture. Whether it’s honing your photography skills at our famous Chiwata Station, or hiking through nature towards our Ryuutosen waterfalls, you will find that there is always something to do in this small area.
Higashi Sonogi is located about 45 minutes south of Sasebo city and Nagasaki city is about an hour and 20 minutes away. If you’re looking for a much bigger city, Fukuoka (the biggest city in Kyushu) is only a 2 hour bus ride away. Being this interconnected in the heart of Nagasaki prefecture makes meeting with other ALTs and going to events fairly easy!
Higashi Sonogi is indeed a small town but it has all the essentials you need to get by. It has two supermarkets, and two convenient stores on either side of the town. There are restaurants scattered around town that offer an array of food. We even have a couple of cute cafes were you can enjoy studying Japanese, or reading. Because the town is so small you really get to have an authentic experience living in Japan. You get to make real relationships with your coworkers, students, and BOE that other ALTs in the prefecture might not get. Don’t be surprised if someone gives you a bag of sweet potatoes or two freshly caught fish out of the blue, because people are just that kind around here.
Lying between the hulking green mountains and calm blue waters of the bay, it’s fair to say Omura (literally, Big Village!) is blessed with a pretty fantastic location. The misty mountains of Kurogi feel like they should be teeming with dragons (for all you Pokemon GO fans, this sadly isn’t true), and sunsets over the bay honestly rival any you’ll find around the world.
Omura is a perfect compromise in so many ways. An hour on the train to Nagasaki, or 2 hours by bus to Fukuoka, big cities are easy to reach. Yet it’s also far enough away to have its’ own distinctly local vibe and even its own slang!
In terms of size, Omura is also a perfect balance of bustling and quaint – big enough to have all the shops, amenities and facilities you need, yet small enough to have a friendly local feel. Its almost impossible to make a trip to Uniqlo or Aeon Shopping Centre without getting a cheerful ‘Hello!’ from someone (whether you know them or not!), and after a lung busting night of high quality (ahem!) karaoke in a friendly local bar, there is always the option of a sneaky Big Mac on the way home… Or, if the packed and raucous bars are not to your liking, it’s only a short trip up to the serene waterfalls and firefly lit rice paddies of the surrounding countryside.
You are never far from a tiny family run restaurant, a good quality flat white or a well-stocked supermarket, and whichever one you end up in, the staff will know you by name. Whoever said compromise was bad?!
As a city, Omura has an interesting and distinctive history. 400 years ago, it was the local seat of power, with a mighty castle and traditional samurai houses that you can still see today. The castle ruins lie in Omura Park, whose 2000 unique Omura-zakura trees make it one of the top 100 places for viewing cherry blossoms across the whole of Japan. And if you are planning a hanami party, why not stock up on Omura-zushi? Yes, there is a particular type of sushi from Omura that is served up all over Japan.
In fact, Omura is very much a food lovers town, and not just because of the huge quantity of great places to eat. The city is full of shops selling local fruit, vegetables and fish, and if you are lucky you may even get to try your hand at harvesting, picking, catching or making some of these wonderful treats.
For more information on Omura – including restaurant recommendations and a beautiful poem written by an Omura alt – please check out the power point below, put together with love by the Omura alts themselves.