Plan your route and tour this fascinating city!
Nagasaki sightseeing is varied and fascinating.If I had to choose one city in Kyushu you MUST visit I would have to say Nagasaki. With a Portuguese and Dutch heritage providing a distinct and fascinating history...there is much of interest in this city.
Devastated by the Atomic bomb at the end of World War 11 one of the main attractions today is the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park. This bomb was bigger than that dropped on Hiroshima and the damage widespread.
Nagasaki Sightseeing Attractions
Atomic Bomb Museum
A major Nagasaki sightseeing attraction, this is a must visit. While sad..... it is an important reminder of the importance of trying to maintain peace and understanding amongst peoples of the world. The museum is very well presented .Displays, stories, photos, remnants, and the history are all here...
Heiwa-Koen – Peace Park
A place to reflect, with its fountain, and huge statue built in 1955, ten years after the bombing. The raised arm points to the threat of nuclear weapons, and the outstretched arm is a symbol of peace.
Folk Art Gallery - located behind the Atomic Bomb Museum
Not one of the major Nagasaki sightseeing places it is for those interested in old artifacts, costumes and a replica room, as well as an art gallery.
Spectacle Bridge- Megane-bashi
Japan’s oldest stone arch bridge built in 1634, Spectacle Bridge.......so called because of the perfect circular reflection created by the arches, looking like a pair of spectacles. This beautiful old bridge spans a small river with fish, walking paths and stepping stones across the river.
Teramachi - Temple Row
There are many shrines and temples you could visit in Nagasaki .As you walk between Kofukuji Temple – established by a Chinese priest in 1623,to Sofukuji Temple... there are many small temples you can stop to look at along the route.
Founded by Chinese residents in 1629 it is a rare example of Ming architecture with a Ming Gate. Two of its structures are National Treasures. Set on the side of a hill, this is a lovely temple to include in your Nagasaki sightseeing itinerary with its pink wash and colourful details. It has a huge bell, and cauldron and a real Chinese atmosphere .....it is quite different in style to usual Japanese temples. The gardens, graves and general atmosphere made it a worthwhile choice, if you want to visit just one temple.
One of the " must visit" Nagasaki sighting attractions, this beautiful hillside garden was a merchant settlement started when Thomas Glover built his home there in 1863. With stunning city views across the harbour to the Mitsubishi Docks, the different houses are wonderfully elegant, with wide verandahs overlooking beautiful gardens.
Many were built during the Meiji era and they have a distinctive air of affluence and gentility. Historic monuments include a statue of Madame Butterfly and her creator Puccini.......it is from here that the story was set.
The oldest sago palm in Japan along with many others equally impressive in size, are dotted throughout the subtropical gardens. You need half a day to wander Glover Gardens and the surrounding area.
Oura Catholic Church
Located on the walkway below Glover Gardens, the cobble street is lined with interesting shops with bric a brac, crafts, restaurants and more. A Confucian Shrine and Museum of Chinese History is also found here.
Nearby is Hollander Slope......while listed in all the Nagasaki sightseeing brochures it is somewhat over hyped. It is a historic pathway of flagstones by the university.
Rebuilt after the bomb, this cathedral was originally built and finished in 1925, and has a very European style.
Dejima Dutch Village
Very near the Dejima waterfront, this historic village is one of the most poplar Nagasaki sightseeing destinations. Recently restored........ this village is quite different to anything else I have seen in Japan.
Dejima was originally a man-made island to house and isolate the Christian Portuguese, having banned Christianity.Once the Portuguese were banned from Japan, Dejima was briefly uninhabited until it became an important trading Dutch trading post. Dejima was the only wondow the western world for over 200 years until 1857, when Japan came out of isolation from the rest of the world.
The Dutch influence is strong in Nagasaki and the village is like a living museum with houses, store rooms, warehouses, displays, miniatures of old villages, video shows etc.
At one stage this village was the only contact Japan had with the European world, trading Japanese crafts. Being restored to give young Japanese a knowledge of their history, you can tour the buildings and get a real feel for the historic contribution the Dutch made to this city and Japan as a whole.
Nagasaki or Shinchi China Town
China Town is easy to slot in with your walking tour or is a short walk from the "Tsukimachi" tram stop on the tram lines 1 and 5. Crossing the bridge we walked through the main street ...the brightly coloured yellow lanterns overhead giving us no illusions as to where we might be!
If you are looking for a Chinese meal, there were plenty of choices.It is here the Chinese influenced Nagasaki food specialties Sara Udon and Champon originated.
Originally a settlement for coalmining....... this tiny island with derelict buildings, and an eerie ambiance was vacated in 1974.Named Battleship Island due to its appearance in the distance resembling a battleship, we actually had some difficulty finding out the story of the island.
Only very recently opened as a Nagasaki sightseeing tourist attraction, you can take a Nagasaki Bay Cruise on the Marbella out to the island. This gives you a chance to see the harbour and was a pleasant two hours to rest the weary feet!
The commentary was in Japanese, but it was a worthwhile trip. You can read the history of Battleship Island here.
Mount Inasa-Mari Lookout – Ropeway – Fuchi-Jinja Shrine
Planning our arrival to get both day and night views we found we could catch either a No 3 or 4 bus from near the wharf to the foot of the Ropeway up to Inasa-Mari Lookout. From here we climbed the steep steps up through Fuchi-Jinja Shrine to the gondola. Taken up 333 metres to the top of Inasa Mari, we climbed the lookout tower from where we enjoyed spectacular 360 degree views of the city. One side populated with buildings, the other.......... a green oasis of forest and sea.I can recommend this spectacular Nagasaki sightseeing experience!
Waiting for the sunset, the mist eerily rolled in! However, we enjoyed a pleasant meal in the Hikari restaurant on the 2nd floor, looking out over the city and watched as the lights came on. Eventually the mist cleared allowing us a view of Nagasaki in all its guises.......... from daylight to sparkling night.
Eating in Nagasaki
We were happy to wander the 5 minutes from our hotel to the Dejima Wharf area and eat al fresco on the harbour’s edge.
Groups were sharing a wide variety of meals and drinks, bands played for special guests, and the waterfront was alive with people enjoying the atmosphere with friends and family.
Nagasaki has a few food specialties.......
Champon – is more like a Chinese dish.......a soupy bowl of meat or shellfish, vegetables and ramen noodles. I found it a little bland after our Japanese meals.
Sara Udon is the stir fried equivalent.
Shippoku-ryoriWe were unable to try this banquet style meal for minimum 4 people.It is influenced by Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese cuisine.
Castella is a very famous cake from this area based on the castilla or pound cake originating in Portugal. It is found in many shops beautifully packaged ready for Japanese tourists to take home as omiyagi – (gifts).
Karasumi – dried mullet roe is another area specialty.
For a cheap meal I can recommend the sushi train just up from the wharf.
Cheap and delicious we enjoyed not only the excellent freshly made sushi,. But the fresh fruit salads that came out.......at only 150yen.(About $2)
Nagasaki Annual Festivals
Try and include a festival in your Nagasaki sightseeing if you are lucky enough to be in the city at the right time.
Nagasaki Lantern Festival – January-February – More than 15,000 lanterns adorn the city as it celebrates the city’s Chinese history.
Nagasaki Tall Ships Festival - April – has a port entry parade with ships from around Japan and internationally participating.
Kite Flying Festival – April-May
Peiron Chinese style boat races – June-July
Nagasaki Harbour Fetival – Late July
Gion Festival – July 23-28
Chinese Bon Festival – July26th-28th
Spirit Boat Procession –15th August – Spirit boats are carried to the harbour accompanied by gongs and firecrackers.
Kunchi Festival – October – This is a 3 day event with a range of colourful floats and displays.Taken-gei bamboo pole acrobatics – October 14,15
Comfort Hotel, Nagasaki
This hotel was the find of our trip. Booking it on the internet at an excellent discounted price($7,500 Y a night including breakfast) we had a Queen sized bed which is unusual in a business hotel like this. The room was small, but we had everything we needed. Downstairs we made frequent forays to the coffee machine! The internet is free in your room, or downstairs in reception. The location could not be bettered for Nagasaki sightseeing expeditions! You are quite literally a 3-4 minute walk to Dejima Wharf, the department stores, bus and tram stops which take you around the city. I highly recommend this Hotel and their helpful staff.
Nagasaki Sightseeing Transport
Trams run a series of routes between the many sightseeing attractions.
You can get a Nagasaki sightseeing Day Tram Pass for 500 yen. However, we found as many things were close together it was just as cheap to pay the 100 yen fare each time ( you can also ask for transfers we discovered)as we barely had time to get around enough places to use the 500 yens worth of tram travel.
You can walk a route that takes you to many places without using transport.
Buses are also excellent. It pays to ask an English speaking person at the hotel reception what bus numbers you need to look out for.
While Nagasaki is more of a tourist city than many in Kyushu, English is not that widely spoken. However........we found people incredibly helpful in Kyushu, as they are in Japan generally. Many would actually back track to take you to your destination..........or set you on your way. We had several very helpful people to thank!
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