As I may have already mentioned once or twice, I really enjoyed the town of Nagasaki. The combination of the nice people, great weather and interesting sites made it just an awesome place to visit in Kyushu. I was only there for a day and a half, but here are some things I did that are worth checking out if you’re ever in town.
1) Glover Garden
Glover Garden is a beautiful spot that overlooks the Nagasaki harbor. It was named after the merchant Thomas Glover who moved there from Scotland in the mid 1800s. Nagasaki was brimming with foreign merchants as was a free trade port. In addition to having stunning scenic views and beautiful flowers, the garden also has preserved old merchant homes on the property. The hike up to garden from the port is also a cute old shopping street.
Japan’s oldest Chinatown is located right here in Nagasaki. It was created as early as the 17th century due to the trading that was done with China. It’s not a particularly large Chinatown, but it does have many good restaurants, including some great spots to eat the delicious local dish, champon.
3) Meganebashi (Spectacles Bridge)
The Nakajima River runs right through the center of Nagasaki City and is definitely what makes the area so beautiful. It is dotted with many stone bridges, the most famous one being Meganebashi, also known as Spectacles Bridge because the reflection of the bridge in the river makes it look like a pair of spectacles. When I was in town, the weather was amazing and you could find many people sitting by it and enjoying the day with friends. By Meganebashi you can find many giant koi fish that are very used to people and will follow you around begging for food. This bridge was just a few minutes away from my hostel so I spent a lot of time here and loved it.
4) Kazagashira Park
I couldn’t make it to the infamous battleship island (more on that below), so on Wednesday morning I decided to hike up a mountain to see Kazagashira Park instead. I wasn’t at all prepared for just how many steps were involved to get there, so the hike up did prove to be quite a workout. But when I did (finally) make it up there, I was rewarded by a fantastic view of the city from the observatory deck, as well as the many beautiful cherry blossoms trees that were blooming. This place isn’t quite as popular as Mt. Inasa, but it is also a great treat if you are up for the hike.
5) Peace Park
On my last visit to Japan, I visited Hiroshima and saw their Peace Park and A-Bomb museum. In Nagasaki, I skipped the museum this time because of a lack of time, but did make it over the Peace Park as well as the hypocenter park a few hundred meters away. The Peace Park has some great statues and art pieces that were given from other countries, as well as a giant Peace statue as the main event. I first visited the Peace Park at night which was a mistake because the statues look haunting and I couldn’t help but feel that the many cats that roam in the area carried the souls of those who lost their lives that day. Take my advice and go during the day when its not so creepy.
Nagasaki has a very interesting history which includes a period of isolation where all international trade was stopped other than Chinese and Dutch trade. Dejima is a district that housed Dutch traders back in the 17th century – the Dutch traders were in fact kept isolated in that area. Most of the houses and werehouses there were built as replicas of what used to stand, but you can see the real stone foundation below which is pretty cool. Dejima used to be an island but other places have been built up around it starting in the 20th century.
1) Gunkanjima (Battleship Island)
I was really bummed when I found out that there weren’t any English tours available the day I wanted to go to Battleship Island (I’m kicking myself for not just tagging along with a Japanese tour.) Gunkanjima was essentially a large coal mine, and got its nickname because its 5,000 residents were all housed in tall buildings that all together resembled a large battleship. In the 70’s the mines were closed and everyone was forced to leave. Because of the typhoons that have hit, the buildings have since then started to fall apart – in fact, you can only visit the island as a tour group and can’t get too close to the buildings because they may collapse. It sounds so freakin’ cool, I am definitely going to make it over next time.
2) Mount Inasa
Who doesn’t love a good ropeway! Mount Inasa boasts the best panoramic views in Nagasaki, and you get to take a fun ropeway on your way to the top. At over 300 meters high, you can get a great view of the port and Nagasaki city. Also, Mount Inasa is known to be one of Japan’s top three best night views.
3) Penguin Aquarium
It’s a little bit of a trek since its outside Nagasaki City, but hello penguins that you can pet!? ‘Nuff said.