We left Tokyo at about 10.30am and took the first of three trains to Nagasaki. The journey took over 7.5 hours and we arrived at about 7pm. We had to take a tram to our hostel, which was fun, except there weren’t any English signs on it and from where we were standing, we couldn’t see the order of stops.
Anywho, we found it and after a short walk, found the Nagasaki Akari hostel. We were really excited because we’d booked a twin room, the first of the trip! However, when we got to our room…it was bunk beds again. Alas.
Much like Nikko, we’d been pre-warned that most restaurants close quite early so as soon as we arrived, we headed out for some food. One of Nagasaki’s specialities is Champon, a kind of ramen but with thicker udon noodles and a heck of a lot of other things in. We were recommended a Chinese restaurant that was a couple of minutes’ walk from the hostel, called Keikaen and as it was quite late, we were literally the only ones inside! There was a choice of seating, sitting on cushions at low tables or regular ones so of course, we opted for the low ones
There was very little English text in the menu so we basically pointed at pictures. Alex went for Special Champon, and I went for what I think was Chinese-style ramen. Both were delicious!
It was noticeably colder in Nagasaki than Tokyo, so the next day, we wrapped up and headed out to see the city. Our hostel was right on the river so we were able to walk to the famous Spectacles Bridge (Meganebashi), there were huge koi carp in the clear water!
You can buy a one day hop-on, hop-off tram pass for ¥500, which is much better value than paying ¥120 per journey. Our first stop was the Atomic Bomb museum and to be honest, I don’t think I was truly prepared for the atrocities I’d see and read about…one of the most haunting things for me was that as soon as you entered, you could hear ticking and see a clock, with the hands frozen eternally at 11.02.
Other household and personal items, crumpled parts of buildings and tattered pieces of clothing filled every area in the museum. Photos, videos, timelines and survivor accounts brought it all to harrowing reality.
We then walked the short distance to the hypocentre, where the bomb was dropped.
The black pillar marks the spot. Part of the Urakami Cathedral stood beside the hypo centre, moved from its place atop a hill nearby.
We walked up to where the new cathedral stands, before going to see the Peace Statue. The Peace Park was filled with statues donated from countries around the world in the shared hope for peace.
This is the peace statue. The right hand points towards where the bomb was dropped, the left hand points towards peace and the statue’s face prays deeply for the victims.
We stopped briefly for lunch and tried some well-known Japanese delicacies, okimomiyaki (a kind of omelette cooked on a hot plate with lots of different things like cabbage, ginger, onions and bacon in) and takoyaki. I wasn’t a huge fan of the takoyaki (fried balls of batter with octopus and other things in) but loved the okimomiyaki, even though apparently the best place to have it is in our next stop, Hiroshima – better try it again then!
We got back on the tram and headed to Glover Garden, towards the south of Nagasaki. The first place we visited was Ōura Church, also known as the Church of the 26 Japanese Martyrs.
Then we arrived at Glover Garden and after two really long upwards travelators…we made it to the top. Glover Garden is a park built for Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant who contributed to the modernisation of Japan in many fields, such as shipbuilding and coal mining. His house, the Glover Residence is the oldest Western-style house surviving in Japan and, being at the top of a huge hill, offers spectacular views of Nagasaki Port.
We were absolutely freezing by this point so headed back to the hostel to thaw out for a bit before eating a huge plate of delicious Tonkatsu Curry for dinner before having an early night before our trip to Hiroshima the next day.
Next stop, Hiroshima.
Laura and Alex