Nagasaki is similar to Hiroshima in the aspect of being nearly totally destroyed by an Atomic Bomb in August 1945. Even though a little harder to be reached if you only have limited time in Japan, Nagasaki offers history, Unesco World Heritage sites, as well as some very tasty local delicacies. If you want to get away from the crowded areas of Japan, and experience a city that the Japanese love to visit, Nagasaki is a great choice.
To access Nagasaki, a domestic flight maybe the best option, if you are coming from Tokyo or even Osaka. Or you can take the JR Kyushu Bullet train which links to the Kamome Rapid Train and can get you to Nagasaki from Osaka in approx.. 4.5 hours and Hiroshima in approx.. 3 hours.
Nagasaki still offers a city of the past, and is not overcrowded with Overseas Travelers. The local Children see Overseas Visitors as a treat and often will get the courage to say “hello” as they may have never talked to an Overseas Visitor. The City itself is a Harbor City and often receives large International Cruise ships, and as most harbor Cities are, Nagasaki also is built on many hills and slopes.
Nagasaki is important rich in history, and was the front runner when it came to letting Europeans into Japan for trade purposes. This was done by the movement of a very famous Japanese person called Sakamoto Ryoma. You can see several areas that have statues of him, as well as locations where he resided and related history. After Nagasaki was the first port to allow trade, there was a large influx of Dutch, European and Chinese people. This influence is seen all over Nagasaki. You can see the Hollander Slopes with many European Style homes, the Shinchi China Town as well as the many Catholic Churches. The Glover Park and old residence of Thomas Glover offers a panoramic view of Nagasaki harbor. Nagasaki, and Japan for that matter wouldn’t have Beer, if it wasn’t for Thomas Glover.
With the influx of Non-Japanese, the traditional religion of Japan, Shinto, was faced with the new introduction of Christianity. Japan was still ruled by the Shogun and Samurai, and banned Christianity in 1614. Any Japanese that was found praying to the Christian God, was executed or tortured. The practice of Christianity still continued but only in secret, and many Japanese moved to isolated areas or islands in Nagasaki to do so. Another superb area to visit while in Nagasaki, is the Goto-Reto Islands located approx.. 1 hour and 45 minutes from Nagasaki port. Solely for the purpose of being an area the “hidden Christians” retreated to and practiced Christianity in secret, the Goto-Reto Islands become an Unesco World Heritage Site in 2018. Learn the history and see the Churches that supported the “hidden Christians”, not to mention the beautiful water, beaches and nature of the Goto-Reto Islands.
Showing the world that war is not something that should be repeated, there is a stark message to be seen at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter and Archive museum in central Nagasaki. Less crowded than Hiroshima, you can take you time and let the tragedy sink in. The Archive Museum is somewhere all Japanese children will come to on a school trip during their educational years.
There are many Temples, Shrines and gardens to see in Nagasaki and the Harbor City offers a great change to the concrete jungles of larger Japanese Cities. It is the kind of city you want to come back to again.