Known as the place to see one of Japan’s three best night views, the Mount Inasa Observatory should feature on any Nagasaki itinerary. Often accessed by the Nagasaki Ropeway, it’s a relatively short journey to see a breathtaking display of twinkling lights blanketed over the city. Having heard the term “10 million dollar view” bandied about, I was keen to see what that really looked like. Though I haven’t seen the other prized views—Mount Hakodate in Hokkaido and Mount Rokko in Kobe—I can confidently say that this is my number 1 night view in Japan! 

What’s on Mount Inasa? 

To get the famed “10 million dollar” view, you’ll need to ascend Mount Inasa, or Inasayama, a 333m high mountain west of Nagasaki’s city centre. The lofty summit is the perfect spot for the local television and radio antennas, but also for an observation deck. There, you can enjoy 360-degree views of Nagasaki and, on a clear day, you can even see as far as the Goto Islands or Unzen. For those looking to observe in style, there is a restaurant on the second floor (Hikari no Restaurant) where you can enjoy the views over a plate of Turkish Rice or a glass of sparkling.  

Just below the summit, you’ll find ‘Inasayama Park.’ Featuring gardens and play equipment, it’s a popular daytime attraction—particularly during Azalea season. This is also the location of the large “Hillside” parking lot and the new (Feb 2020) slope car station. It’s only 75m downhill from the summit so it’s possible to walk between the two or catch the new slope car. 

A glittering vista

Those 10 million dollar night views

While the daytime vistas are extraordinary, the real show-stopper here is the night view. I waited two days for the weather to clear up and when it was finally OK, I checked my weather app once more for good measure and set off on the tram. Though there are various ways to access the summit (details later), I opted for the gondola on the Nagasaki Ropeway. Once we were all packed in, everybody jostled towards the windows with their camera phones at the ready. The doors closed and the gondola kicked into gear, then everybody went silent for its smooth 5-minute ascent. 

Emerging at the summit, I walked through the colour changing ‘tunnel of light’ and past the giant antennas to arrive at the observatory. The open-air rooftop was buzzing with couples on dates and groups of friends getting pictures under the clouded moon.  

Tunnel of light
Night view from Mount Inasa in Nagasaki
Night view from Mount Inasa in Nagasaki
Mount Inasa Observatory  in Nagasaki

Shoring up to the barrier, I stood and took in the city I’d been exploring for days. The hillside houses I’d coveted blanketed the landscape like glittery lava flowing to the bay. Those waters I’d cruised on my way to Gunkanjima, now inky black and reflective. A city made up of shapes and colours, too many to count. 

Night view from Mount Inasa in Nagasaki

Getting there from Nagasaki Station

By Car or Taxi 

A taxi can drop you at the base of Mount Inasa where you can catch the ropeway, or up at the summit itself. The ride takes 10-15 minutes and would cost roughly 2,000 yen each way from Nagasaki Station. 

If you’re driving, it’s possible to park at the summit in a small paid parking lot for 40 cars. However, this is closed on weekends and around major holidays. In this case, you could park at the larger (and free) “Hillside” parking lot which is a 15-20 minute walk downhill, or 8 minutes by slope car. There is also parking at the base, near Fuchi Shrine Ropeway Station. 

By Bus

From Nagasaki Station, catch Bus No. 5 (bound for Inasayama) and ride until the end, Inasayama Bus Stop. This has you placed up the mountain near Inasayama Park which is ever so slightly downhill from the summit. You can walk the gentle incline for 15 minutes to reach the observatory or take the new 8 minute “Slope Car” which runs every 20 minutes from Inasayama Nakaboshi Station and is a ~500yen round trip. 

Alternatively, buses No. 3 and 4 (bound for Shimoohashi, Oehara, Aikawa) will drop you near the Fuchi Shrine Ropeway Station at the base.   

By Tram / Ropeway

From Nagasaki Station, take tram 1 or 3 to Takaramachi (6 minutes) and walk 14 minutes to Fuchi Shrine Ropeway Station. Note: it is a little dark here when walking at night.

Fuchi Shrine Ropeway Station
Fuchi Shrine Ropeway Station
Souvenirs at the ‘Fuchi Shrine’ Ropeway Station

From here you can buy a ticket for the ropeway which will be over 1,000yen return for adults. The gondolas depart every 20 minutes and take 5 minutes to ascend the 1,090m cable.  

More access information can be found here

Name: Mount Inasayama Observatory
Open: 8:00 am until 10:00 pm
URL: website

Post by Japan Journeys.