Tag Archives: Nagasaki

Must-See Sites in Nagasaki

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.

2) Chinatown

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.

6) Dejima

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.


Where I plan to go on my next visit:

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.

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Nagasaki

Japanese kid: Hello!
Me: Hello!
::Japanese kid continues to stare at me with a big grin::
Me: How are you?
Japanese kid: Happy!

Yeah, me too.

I friggin’ love Nagasaki. Last time I was here I remember saying if I could live anywhere in Japan I’d probably pick Kobe, but now Nagasaki is giving it a run for its money. I don’t know if it was because of the ridiculously warm weather, or the cute tram cars and the adorable stone bridges, or the fact that a cruise ship was docked and a ton of Euro foreigners speaking a jumble of different languages were walking around, but this town has just put me in the best mood ever.

I was sitting on the steps by Meganebashi  (also known as Spectacles Bridge) basking in the sun and enjoying watching some little kids unsuccessfully try to capture massive koi fish from the river. Every now and then someone would walk by and we’d exchange a friendly konnichiwa. The people here are so nice. Soo, nice. It’s like no one ever has a bad day. I sat with a big smile on my face people watching and simply enjoying the quiet.

And then I thought about how weird it is, that even though I claim to love NYC because it’s so fast and big and bustling, it’s the smaller cities that get me everytime when I travel. Why is that? Is it because I just need to unwind after being cooped up in Manhattan? I, like many others living there, have a love/hate relationship with NYC. I keep telling myself I’m ready to leave, but then I figure I can only move somewhere that’s bigger. Louder. With more stuff going on and more people. Ugh, just thinking about it right now is overwhelming. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I could be satisfied living in a smaller spot – I mean Nagasaki isn’t exactly the boonies or anything, but it seems to be a smaller city thats lively yet also personal. Oh Nagasaki, if you only knew the impact you’re having on me. The fact that you look absolutely radiant with the cherry blossoms blooming doesn’t hurt, either.

More on the amazing sites of Nagasaki to follow…

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Nagasaki Eats

I love Nagasaki! And it may be because FOOD is the way to my heart. The people of Nagasaki have been nothing but kind to me, saying a friendly hello and shoving food into my hands. And ohh, the food has been amazing – it was love at first bite. So before I get into all the other things that make Nagasaki so incredible, here are some awesome spots you must eat at when you’re here.

1) Log Kit – Sasebo Burger

So, Sasebo is a town outside of Nagasaki that is known for its burgers. It’s said to be Japan’s best burger becuase they’re grilled after you order and apparently the buns are homemade as well. Sasebo is about an hour and a half bus ride away and seeing as I didn’t have the time to go over there, Neetha told me about this gem of a burger shack that’s right outside of Nagasaki’s Chinatown. It’s a tiny spot, and I actually walked by it the first time even though I was intently looking for it. Luckily, everyone there is familiar with the place so if you can’t find it just put a pathetic lost foreigner face on like I do and sadly ask “sasebo?” They’ll point you in the right direction. The beef is yummy, the sauce they put on it is delicious, and the fun part comes in when the right way to eat the burger is to “smoosh” it. Seriously, the guy brought me my burger and said “smoooosh, ok?” Sure! The French fries are on point too, and with all the healthy sushi you’ve been eating you can chow down on this guilt-free.

2) Keikaen – Champon

Nagasaki is known for champon, a giant bowl of noodles and other seafood-y goodness. It reminded me of pho because of its size and that there was so much good stuff in there: pork, lots of seafood and veggies. My eyes grew large when I first saw the gigantic bowl that was all mine. This place is fancy but their champon price is right – under 800 yen for a bowl that will definitely fill you up.

3) Wakatakemaru – Conveyor Belt Sushi

Shout out to Hostel Akari for one badass neighborhood map of where to go and what to eat! Akari pointed me in the direction of this ultra-cheap conveyor belt sushi place located in the Hamanomachi Arcade. Every plate was a mere 110 yen each (two pieces to a plate.) What a freakin’ steal. And I’m guessing that this must be the norm for Nagasaki but I was also pleasantly surprised to find mussels in my miso soup. Win! A full dinner cost me only 500 yen, nom nom.

4) Kiitos – Coffee

It was a hot afternoon and I had been walking all over Nagasaki – by the way, who knew this town had so many stairs?! I was falling asleep on my short twenty minute tram rides and I knew I needed a pick me up and a chance to rest my weary legs. Well, Akari came to the rescue once again when it pointed me in the direction of an adorable coffee shop on the Naka Dori shopping street. Walk upstairs and you’re suddenly in bliss with calming music playing and Marimekko art everywhere. I was happy to see that they had cappuccinos and even happier when a deliciously frothy cappuccino appeared for me to nose-dive into. The ambiance of this place is great and the decor is simple yet chic – I could easily see this being a great coffee spot in the village. The owner of the cafe, Julie, started chatting with me and she is absolutely adorable. She’s from Nagasaki and fellas, if she’s not yet taken someone needs to go and swoop her up. Seriously. Also, when I told her I was heading to Fukuoka tonight she ran and gave me a bagel to eat on my trip. So, so sweet. Great food, wonderful people, and a delicious cappuccino: what more could a girl ask for!

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