Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki is a Japanese port of  longstanding.  It is also a highly industrial area which made it one of the chosen targets in 1945 for the use of atomic attacks. It was a plutonium bomb that was dropped here on August 9, 1945.  That event is commemorated by a Peace Park and a  museum.  The bomb blast was limited somewhat by the shape of the harbour area and though 70,000 people perished and many hundreds of thousands were injured or left homeless, much of the historical city survived its effects.  The Portuguese landed here in 1543 and various Europeans traded here over the centuries.  Missionaries came and Christianity spread here and by 1588 there was a large following. However, the Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi thought it was coming too quickly and fearing the influence of foreigners, restricted missionaries and then ordered public execution of 26 Nagasaki believers.  This is commemorated by a Memorial to 26 Martyrs.  The city still contains many temples and a number of excellent museums.  It would take several days to see everything here.  Our excellent tour guide on the ship gave us some ideas on how best to spend our time depending on our interests.  I purchased a day pass for the tram and set out for the Peace Park and Atomic Museum.  The Park contains many statues donated by other countries  and has as the main feature, The Statue of Peace (photo). Nearby is the Hypocentre park with a black obelisk denoting “ground zero” (photo).  Nearby are the remains of the Urakami Cathedral (photo).  The museum is small but gives a straightforward history of the dropping of the bomb and its aftermath. In photos, a video and with actual artefacts, it depicts what the bomb did to people, buildings and vegetation. My next stop was the Martyrs memorial (photo). I then walked to the very modern Fukusaji Temple (photo) and  the ancient Shofukuji Temple (photo).  The Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture was the next stop.  This is a very modern museum in a building that is in the style of an old castle (photo).  It contains some actual artefacts, a large collection of blue and white Nagasaki porcelain which when exported to Europe in the Middle Ages  was the inspiration for European pottery makers such as Delft (photo), and the reconstruction of the Nagasaki Magistrate`s Office (2 photos). It surprised me how modern this Office appears – many Japanese homes today would have rooms that do not look much different. Following the museum I went to the Suwa Shrine set up high on a hill. I walked quite a ways up the hill and had a lunch of soba noodles in an old tea room which was said to have been there from 1875.  After lunch I walked a ways and saw the main part of the shrine (photo), but on  realizing that it went a considerable way further up the hill, decided that I would not continue. I then went by tram to another area with many temples. I visited only one, the Kofukuji Zen Temple, a nationally designated important property.  It dates to around 1620 when merchants from China`s Ming dynasty began to arrive in Nagasaki and a Chinese priest established a shrine to pray for safety in the perilous sea journey (2 photos.) The area also had some interesting stone bridges notably one called the Spectacles Bridge after its appearance similar to a pair of eye glasses.  Built in 1634, it is Japan`s oldest arch shaped stone bridge (photo).  I then happened on to a long shopping street which extended into a large covered mall which I followed to the end, though not without making some purchases. On the way back to the ship to drop off my parcels, I took a picture of this interesting old Dutch building (photo).    I finished off the day firstly, with a visit to the Nagasaki Prefecture Art Museum though I was disappointed that it did not have too many Japanese artists represented, and secondly to the Confucian Shrine (photo).  The latter is also  a small historical museum of China.  There are many more temples and museums to be seen in Nagasaki as well as the Glover Garden that contains nine historical western style houses. Unfortunately, one day is simply not enough time to see everything in this beautiful city.  Our next stop is Shanghai.

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