Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Travel Guide: Nagasaki

I was in Kyushu for a couple of days, I decided to add Nagasaki to my itinerary. The city was one of the sites where the Americans dropped the atom bomb. Decades later, only museums, statues and preserved ruins were left as reminders of that infamous day. Now, the once ravaged metropolis is like any other bustling and vibrant city I've been to.


Things to Do in Nagasaki





The city is a good place to get lost in, but it's also easy to navigate because it isn't as big as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and other famous cities in Japan. I also liked how the old structures mixed with the new ones, and even the industrial feel of Nagasaki.

Oura Church

The Tokugawa Shogunate continued to ban Christianity that Hideyoshi Toyotomi implemented. The seclusion policy of 1639 led to the removal of missionaries from Japan. The opening of the country during the Bakumatsu Era paved the way for the establishment of a new foreign settlement in Nagasaki. In 1864, the construction of Oura Church finished, allowing residents to worship and even preach the gospel.

Its official name was Church of the Twenty Six Martyrs of Japan to commemorate the martyrdom of 26 saints executed on Nishizaka Hill during the height of the Christianity ban. Oura Church is the oldest surviving church in the country and has a distinctly Gothic style that represents the Middle Ages of Europe.



Dutch Slope

Nagasaki has a number of slopes because of homes built on the sides of mountains. In 1858, when Japan opened its borders to foreigners, many Europeans and Americans lived in the city. These residents lied in the Minami-Yamate and Higashi-Yamate parts of Dejima and Oura Ward. These became residential zones that represent self-governing sectors for foreigners that have extraterritorial rights.


Higashi-Yamate is one of the most famous areas within the Dutch Slope. The assembly hall of the country’s first Protestant Anglican Church was established in the area in 1862. The citizens of Nagasaki during that epoch called Westerners ‘Dutch-san’; the slopes where these foreigners made their way up for church service was then known as ‘Oranda-zaka’ or simply Dutch Slope.

Glover Garden

The Glover Garden is one of the remnants of the industrialists that made Nagasaki into a modern metropolis. The Ringer House, Alt House and Glover Residence are the places of note in the garden and are national cultural properties. These houses of traders, their interiors and exteriors, have been preserved and restored to take visitors back in time.







The Glover Residence is one of the country’s oldest remaining wooden Western-style residences. It is the home of Scottish, Thomas Blake Glover who was a trader that helped usher in the industrialization and modernization of Japan.



The Hypocenter Park and Atom Bomb Museum

The Atom Bomb Museum and Hypocenter Park serve as a reminder and warning against the threat of nuclear warfare. The park is the location where the bomb exploded, killing thousands instantly. The museum has displays and short videos of the aftermath caused by the bombing. You get to see and read stories of survivors and how the event changed their life forever.






These are only some of the places you get to see and discover while in Nagasaki; the city has plenty to offer the intrepid wanderer who wants to know a different side of Japan. It has culture, history and noteworthy attractions to add to your itinerary whenever you’re in the region.

Peace Park

This is a park commemorating the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II. Built in 1955 near the center of the explosion, the centerpiece of the park is the Peace Statute created by Seibo Kitamura. The sculpture carries different meanings from its face to its hand gestures. The right hand points to the threat of atomic weapons while the left hand is a symbol of peace. The face represents grace and its eyes offer prayers for the victims.





Mount Inasa Viewing Deck

Nagasaki is a booming and vibrant city that has recovered from tragedies that struck it over the centuries. It is a bustling port metropolis that has everything a tourist needs. It is an experience to explore all the city has to offer during the day, but it is another thing to see the buildings and the harbor below light up the night sky.





The ride up Mount Inasa to the viewpoint will slowly reveal the galaxy-like lights of the city below. Your last stop is a cylindrical tower that provides you with 360-degree views. Make this your last thing to do before leaving the city as it will provide you with a memorable reminder of Nagasaki.

Kofukuji Temple 

Nagasaki has a handful of temples one of the most well-known is Kofukuji. Around 1600, the city turned into an international metropolis that specialized in trade. Because of this, the number of Chinese among the traders spiked. The Buddhists among them constructed temples, one of which was Kofukuji. This temple is one of the oldest in the country, with its establishment dating to as far back as 1620. Devotees visited Kofukuji to pray for peace for the deceased and a safe journey on sea. 



Dejima

Nagasaki was a major port where trade took place with Portugal, with this came the increasing number of following of Christianity in Japan during the mid 1500s. The Christian’s rising numbers and unity became a formidable threat to the shogunate. In 634, the government had an artificial island, Dejima, built over two years to control the Portuguese and prevent the spread of the religion. Soon after, the foreigners were expelled and for two centuries Japan restricted its contact and communication with the rest of the world. During that time, only the Danish remained loyal to the shogunate, once they gained the trust of the government, a trading firm from Holland moved to Dejima.




During Sakoku, the Danish were the only Western trading partner of the country. Dejima played an important role in the development of Japan as a base for the exchange of art, culture and finance. Fast forward to today, it’s no longer as glorious and important, but it makes for a good attraction that takes you back in time.

Travel Tips

The best way to see the sites of Nagasaki is by riding the tram; they are efficient and take you on loops around the city. To save money, buy the day pass which costs Y500, this allows you to explore the metropolis regardless of the distance. From the stations, you can easily walk to the museum, park or any other attraction. Also, ask for a coupon that has discounts to some of the city’s attractions, this saves you money as well. I stayed in Akari Hostel, and they immediately mentioned the day pass and the coupon for attractions. Two full days is enough to see the main attractions of Nagasaki at a leisurely pace.

You have plenty of options from fast food to local fare in Nagasaki, it has an eclectic mix of restaurants to choose from. There are also shops that sell trinkets, clothes and others if you want to go shopping. Approximately you’d spend P2500 per day including transportation and food, if you stay at hostels, eat at local restaurants or just convenience stores. This part of Japan is relatively cheap compared to big cities like Tokyo.



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