Nagasaki: Fish-shaped bus shelters now Instagram hot spots

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bus shelter designed in the image of two marbled rockfish is seen in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture.

SAIKAI, Nagasaki — Fish-shaped bus shelters have begun making waves as cute Instagram-worthy spots on Kakinoura Island in northwestern Kyushu.

The island, which is off the west coast of Nagasaki Prefecture and is one of islands that are connected to Kyushu by a series of bridges, was incorporated into the city of Saikai in 2005. The aesthetic fish-shaped shelters were created at four bus stops in the late 1990s prior to the area being annexed.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Subtle heart shapes are part of the artwork decorating a bus shelter.

Social media users are also discussing the heart shapes that are sometimes subtly hidden in the shelter artwork. There are even posts saying, “If you find them all, your wishes might come true,” but it is not clear how the heart shapes became part of the equation.

The original design for the shelters included no such game-like plans, according to a city office official, who said, “I guess it was probably a playful idea on the part of the builder.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bus shelter created in the image of a sea bream

The bus shelters were supposed to be made in the image of marbled rockfish, something for which the city is well-known. However, one location has a shelter that resembles a sea bream — the reason for this is also a mystery.

Whatever the reason, these somewhat cryptic tidbits seem to be part of why the shelters play the role of pic-bait. Despite their distance from Kyushu — about 80 minutes by car from Nagasaki City and about 60 minutes from Sasebo — the shelters reel in a steady stream of tourists, who travel to see the constructs and stand in front of them to take photos.

The city government is intent on promoting the area, gaining confidence from the opening of the Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen Line in September.