Nagasaki is an attractive port city on the island of Kyushu, its proximity to the mainland made it an important trading city for centuries. During the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) its man made island of Dejima was the only city place in Japan where foreigners were allowed to reside. It has also long been a stronghold of Catholicism. Today Nagasaki is chiefly remembered around the world for being the second city after Hiroshima to have a nuclear bomb dropped on it. Like Hiroshima it has a peace park which is though not quite as well known as it Hiroshima counterpart. On top of that it has a host of beautiful old or rebuilt buildings. A major site these days is the abandoned island of Gunkanjima which featured prominently in the recent James Bond movie Skyfall. It is also notable for Chinese and Dutch influence.
How to get there
From Tokyo you can take the Shinkansen to Fukuoka and then transfer to JR Kamome limited express to Nagasaki. The trip takes over 7 hours and costs about 25.000 Yen. You can also fly in from Haneda airport for anything between 15.000-35.000 Yen. We do however recommend the train.
Things to see and do
You will probably want to see the Nagasaki peace park which commemorates the victims of the atomic bomb. There, a large peace statue can be found as well as a host of other memorials. To get there you take tram line 1 or 3 from Nagasaki station.
From there an excellent idea is to head out to Mount Inasa which offers an excellent view of the entire city, a company named Nagasaki Ropeway offers the easiest way to get to the top. When on top you will find an excellent observation spot, the scenery is especially wonderful during nighttime.
For temples, Nagasaki has it´s share f them, by now you might have seen quite a few and thus perhaps the most interesting one is the (relatively rare in Japan) Confucius temple dedicated to the Chinese sage, the temple was built by the Chinese residents of Nagasaki and as such remind one of Chinese temples more than it does of Japanese temples. It is also a museum of Chinese history. To get there you take tram number 5 to Ouratenshudo-shita.” Tickets are 500 Yen. Another temple, also influenced by China is the Sofukuji, built in 1629 by Chinese residents eager to follow the then latest fashion from Beijing the temple looks distinctively Chinese despite being a Japanese Zen Buddhism temple. To get there you take tram number 1 or 3 and get out at Shokakuji-Shita station. Tickets are 300 Yen.
Like Yokohama, Nagasaki has a Chinatown, (Shinchi Chukagai in Japanese), in fact it is the oldest Chinatown in Japan, established during the early Tokugawa era it has been a part of Nagasaki ever since. The Nagasaki Chinatown has a host of excellent restaurants, the most famous dish being the local champon and Sara Udon. You should not leave Nagasaki without tasting it. Take tram 1 or 5 to Tsukimachi to get there.
Teramachi (temple town) does, as the name implies have a host of temples, when warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi was remodelling Kyoto during the late 1500s he moved a host of temple to the city. Many of them still stand there making a visit there well worth the visit.
Another interesting building, and an excellent example of Nagasaki´s history as a port for foreigners is the Oura Catholic Church, the church was build in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate by the many foreigners then present in the city. It is also the first Western building in the country to receive the accreditation of a national treasure. It is a 5 minutes walk from the Ouratenshudo-shita station on tram line 5. Entry to the church proper is 300 Yen. To see a little more of the history of the West in Japan head out to Dejima the former artificial island where Dutch merchants used to live during the Tokugawa era, the island has actually now been connected with the rest of the city but there are plans to make it into an island again. Among sites there you can see a few rebuilt houses and a minuture model of how Deijima used to look during the Tokugawa period. To get there simply take tram number 1 to Deijima station. For those who cant get enough of Holand then the Dutch Slopes (Oranda-Zaka) neighborhood where Dutch merchants used to live in the 19th century should be of interest.. This neighbourhood is quite picturesque, you can get there by taking tram number 5 to Shiminbyoin-mae station.
A trip to Nagasaki should not be considered complete until you go to the ghost island of Gunkanjima, a site in the James Bond movie Skyfall.
The islands used to serve as a cola mine and had more than 5000 residents living on this small island. To accommodate people, every spot has to be utilized, as a result it sort of resembels a battleship, Gunkanjima means battleship island in Japanese, the actual name of the island is Hashima. Mining was done there for over 100 years until it was abandoned in 1974. Today visiting the island is fascinating as it is a very modern looking ghost town.
A host of companies operate ferry tours to the island, one of them is for example Nagasaki Port Ferry Terminal near the Ohato tram stop. Often companies sell guided tours there which typically last a few hours, prices tend to be around 4000 Yen for such tours.,
All in all, Nagasaki offers a surprising variety of attractions, we especially recommend Gunkanjima, the view from mount Inasa and the Nagasaki peace park for those on a hurry.