Nagasaki is located on the Kyushu Island of Japan. It can be easily accessed by a domestic flight from Tokyo and other Cities, or if you are traveling down from Hiroshima or Fukuoka, you can reach Nagasaki by bullet train.
Reaching Nagasaki, you immediately feel that something is different from other Cities of Japan. Maybe this is because there was been a lot of European influence to Nagasaki, or maybe because it is a little more isolated that other areas of Japan.
Either which way, Nagasaki is a welcome contrast to some of the highly crowded tourist destinations of Japan. In the Cruise Season months, there are large Cruise Ships coming into Nagasaki which bring many Overseas Visitors, but you still don’t feel that you are crowded.
Arriving into Nagasaki from Osaka, I took the local bus from the airport to central Nagasaki. As Nagasaki is a harbor city, no better place to have lunch than on the waterfront watching the ferries and other boats departing and arriving into Nagasaki. (Please just watch out for the eagles that fly above and try to come and take food out of your hands).
After lunch, I took the retro style tram 20 minutes from central Nagaski to the Atomic Bomb area.
Many Japanese Students will come to the Atomic Bomb Archive museum also, and it was no exception today. The Atomic Bomb Archive museum is very impressive, and you must make the effort to see. Walk approx.. 2 minutes from main entrance down the stairs, to the location where the Bomb actually exploded. Made into a small park, and still have a small area with buried rice bowls, cooking utensils, etc in the earth (covered by glass window to see in). This small park was where the old Urakami Cathedral was and still can see one last pillar standing. Walk again for approx.. 5 minutes to the Peace Park with the Peace Statue. A large park and again many buses of students. The fountain there is important as people wanted to drink water, but the water was all oil after the bombing.
Next port of call was the Suwa Shrine. Compared to Kyoto and Aichi Prefecture, there are not so many Shrines and Temples in Nagasaki. However, the Suwa Shrine is a shrine with connection to the Imperial Family. Located high, there were maybe 200 stairs to get to the main shrine.
After mastering the local Trams, I was heading back South and stopped at the Spectacle Bridge. It is a double arched bridge and a symbol of Nagasaki. Again many students and they try to find a heart shaped rock in the rock wall. Some very nice cafes and eating places around this area.
Nagasaki also has the third largest China Town which is walking distance from the Bridge.
Slowly getting towards my Hotel for tonight, I walked the winding roads of the Hollander slopes, and this finally got me to the World Heritage Site of Oura Cathedral (The best example of a Hidden Christian Church in Nagasaki City). Admission to the Cathedral is a must, and you can be close to some very interesting architecture with the Rib Volt ceiling (or Bat Ceiling) as they are arched like the wings. No photos inside the church as it is a worship place. However, the Stained glass windows a great and with the evening sun the windows where reflected on the walls of the church The small museum attached to the Church is very informative and doesn’t take too much time to see.
For some reason there again were many students walking past the Oura Church, so I decided to follow. This took me to Glover park street and in 3 minutes can see the Oura Cathedral. A large park with several European houses included. The major one is Glover Residence, but was under construction to make it earthquake proof. Roofs are interested as western house but has the Japanese Style tiles. Being elevated, Glover Park may offer the best views of Nagasaki harbor?
One of my main goals of coming to Nagasaki, was to also visit the Goto Islands, some 1 hours 45 minutes from Nagasaki Harbor. I took the fast ferry which needs to be pre-booked) and after arriving met my Guide for the day along with several other Japanese visitors. My Guide was not a Hidden Christian himself, but many of the Guides are. Goto Islands is now a Unesco World Heritage Site, and as it is an isolated island, this is where the hidden Christians came to hide from the Samurai, Shogun and Shinto religion believers when Japan banned Christianity in the early 1600’s. This is an island with approx. 10000 people and approx 70% of the population are still Christians.
There was a lot of torture to the Christians of the past, and the island shows you exactly what was done to these followers and how they continued in secret. Today was a day to relax, take in several World Heritage Churches and enjoy the amazing Natural Atmosphere. The architecture of the Churches was done by Tetsukawa Yosuke and the arched roof is very European, but not in a Gothic sense. And then the Guide started to sing in them, the acoustics were incredible.
Goto Reto Islands feel like an entirely different Country from Japan, and the water that surrounds the island is an emerald blue that I have not seen before. Apparently the beaches here get really busy in the Summer, with a whole 20 people ! coming to the beach each day. If you want a beach to yourself, this may be the location.
Goto Reto Islands have some of the most delicious fish and seafood possible imaginable, and the Goto Udon Noodles are famous throughout Japan. An interesting fact is that the famous Shiseido Cosmetic Company come to Goto Reto Island every year to hand pick camellia-seed oil which is used in the products. After a day at Goto Island, I returned to Nagaskai for one more night at a hotel, and then returned to Osaka the following day but the Bullet Train which in total took about 5 hours.