Glover park
NAGASAKI (on the west side of Kyushu) is home to 440,000 people and has more old European-style building than anywhere else in Japan. A charming place with a long, colorful history, it is unfortunate that it is known mainly as the site of an atom bomb explosion. It is difficult to find traces of the atomic bombing. Street car service for the city started up three months after the blast.

Nagasaki has traditionally been one of Japan's most prosperous commercial cities but the industries that thrived there — shipbuilding, fishing, and coal mining — are all dying. It remains at the heart of a large agricultural area and has grown as a tourist attraction since Japan's first seaborne airport was opened nearby in 1975. As a port city, has long East-West connection and its centuries-old culture remains a fusion of Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese and Chinese traditions.

Nagasaki is relatively small and hemmed in by steep mountains. The main downtown area is around the train station and the few flat areas around Nagasaki Harbor. The fringes of the cities, mostly residential areas climb up steep slopes. At various locations around the harbor are large ship building facilities. Nagasaki doesn’t have a subway system. It is liked to the rest of Japan by the JR train system, which also serves as commuter train but mostly it services by trams and buses. The trams are kind of cool, they cost ¥120 per ride but sometimes are pretty crowded.

Tourist Information: Nagasaki is fairly concentrated and easy to get around in on foot. There are two main tourist area: 1) along the coast and around the old European-influenced part of town and 2) around the atomic museum. Some parts of town are quite hilly with some steep slopes. The main tourist office (Tel. 0958-23-3631) is in JR Nagasaki station. Trams: Nagasaki has a tram system that charges ¥100 per ride and ¥500 for a one day pass. Trams are easy to use and one of the easiest ways of getting around. Buses are available but are more difficult to use. There is no subway and train service is limited. Nagasaki Tram Map: Urban Rail Entertainment The main shopping and entertainment areas are the Maruyama district and Hamano-machi arcade. There is a small Chinatown.

Websites:Nagasaki city tourism guide Nagasaki city tourism guide Nagasaki Prefecture site Maps and Brochures: ; Nagasaki City Map PDF; Hotel Websites: Nagasaki Prefecture site Welcome to Nagasaki Nagasaki city tourism guide Nagasaki city tourism guide Ryokan and Minshuku Japanese Guest Houses Japanese Guest Houses Budget Accommodation: Japan Youth Hostels Japan Youth Hostels Check Lonely Planet books

Getting There: Nagasaki is accessible by air and by bus and by train from Tokyo (11 hours) and Osaka (7 hours) and other Japanese cities. Nagasaki International Airport is located on Omura Island and connected to the mainland by the Mishima Ouhashi bridge. Limousine buses and ferries provide transportation to the Nagasaki Train Station. Nagasaki Airport is a 110-minute flight from Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Nagasaki’s city center is 40 minutes from the airport by bus. Long-distance buses are available at the train station.The shinkansen ends in Fukuoka-Hakata. The fastest train from there is the limited express. Work is being done on a shinkansen bullet train line to Nagasaki but that is still some years away. Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

History of Nagasaki

17th century Nagasaki
The setting for the famous opera “Madam Butterfly”, Nagasaki was only place in Japan that was open to the West during nearly 300 years of isolation between the early-1600s and the late-1800s. Used first by the Portuguese, beginning in 1571, and later by the Dutch, its was the arrival point in Japan for Christianity, Christian culture and Western technologies like shipbuilding, mining, printing, photography, medicine and railway transportation.

Nagasaki was small and insignificant when Portuguese traders first arrived but after that it became a port of call not only for Portuguese ships, but also Spanish and Dutch ones. The city was the only port kept open to the outside world between the mid-17th and mid-19th centuries, when Japan was governed by the shogun's isolationist policies. Spain's “Manila Galleons” that traveled between Asia and Acapulco between 1568 and 1815 sometimes included a stop in Nagasaki. During most of the period of isolation Nagasaki's foreign population was restricted to Dejima, a 130-acre artificial island built in 1634. Deijima today is no longer an island but it does contain few old relics (a Dutch sundial and couple of European cannons). See Below

Nagasaki was also an important Christian center. The Jesuit, St. Francis Xavier, who played a major role introducing Christianity all over Asia, arrived in Nagasaki in 1549. For a time Nagasaki was known as “Small Rome in Japan.” In 1597, 26 Catholics, including six foreigners and a 12-year-old Japanese boy were crucified as a result of a decrees against Christianity passed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. All 26 became saints.

Andrew Bender wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “East-West exchange here dates to the 1540s, when Portuguese explorers and Catholic missionaries (including St. Francis Xavier) appeared on the shores of Nagasaki prefecture. They brought with them firearms, Christianity, and other ways deemed harmful to Japanese social order. Then in 1641, the shogun, or chief military ruler, expelled all foreigners from Japan and closed the island nation to the rest of the world. [Source: Andrew Bender, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2013]

“The sole exception: A Dutch trading post was allowed to remain on a man-made island in Nagasaki Bay. The Dutch were deemed more about trade than colonization, and their Calvinist faith less activist than Catholicism. The island provided a trickle of Western culture into the city that lasted until 1859 when Japan tentatively reopened to the outside world. That history left Nagasaki a uniquely cosmopolitan ethos that pervades today.

After Japan opened more ports beginning in the 1850s — including Yokohama near Tokyo and Hakodate on Hokkaido — traders from other countries began to setting up offices and warehouses around Nagasaki harbor and built houses in the nearby hills. Madame Butterfly began as a novel by John Luther Long published in 1898 and later was turned into an opera by Puccini In July 1982, Nagasaki experienced a flood that killed nearly 300 people. Major landmarks such as the Meganebashi Bridge were washed away. Busy restaurants were inundated with 2.2 meters of water.

Sights in Nagasaki

Sights in Nagasaki include Our Catholic Church, the oldest wooden Gothic building Japan; Glover Mansion, a 19th century residence owned by a British merchant; and Sofukuji Temple, a 17th century Chinese-style building with a gate and a main hall designated as National Treasures. Some Chinese temples can be found in Chinatown and European buildings are concentrated between the coast and Glover Park. In the central part city is the reconstructed Uragami Cathedral. The originally, built by a French missionary with help from Japanese Christians, by the atomic bomb dropped on August 9, 1945,

Fukusai-jin Zen Temple is shaped like a turtle and contains an 18-meter-high figure of the goddess Kannon. Inside is a pendulum that shows the rotation of the earth on its axis. There are also numerous other shrines, temples, gardens, museums and old mansions owned by European and Japanese merchants. Jurokuban Museum is housed in a 19th century mansion and contains old clocks, telescopes and other antiques. Reproductions show what the city used to look like. There are good views from 322-meter-high Mt. Inasa-yama, which can be reached by cable car.

Chinatown in Nagasaki is about two blocks long and overpriced and touristy. The main snack that is offered is a fatty piece of pork stuffed into a sort of soft bun sandwich. It is tasty and is sold between $2.50 and $3.50 by a number of vendors. There are also a dozen or so Chinese restaurants and souvenir shops that sell Chinese sweets, panda key chains, butterfly-bottom shirts and the like.

The Dutch Slopes between Chinatown and Glover Gardens is a pleasant place to stroll around even though some of the flagstoned streets are quite steep. There are many old Western-style houses that have been converted to this or that. Several allow you to take a look inside and have small museums. Glover Gardens is nice enough. It covers a large portion of hillside and has grassy areas, tree, bushes and gardens and offers nice views of the harbor. Nicer views can be had for free by walking about a half kilometer up a path from the upper entrance of Clover Park to an observatory on the top of small mountain. One can also drive to this observatory. The night time views of a lit up Nagasaki are especially good, there are also good nighttime views from the observatory reached by the ropeway (cable car) on the other side of the harbor.

Site of Martyrdom is a spot on hill where 26 Catholics were crucified in 1597. A memorial and museum with Christian relics was built in 1962 to mark the 100th anniversary of their canonization.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (next to Nagasaki Seaside Park) is housed a modernist Kengo Kuma and Nihon Sekkei-designed structure. Opened in 2005, it is intended to be a “breathing museum”, inhaling what surrounds its and exhaling collective output and new ideas. The enormous yet elegant glass and stone building is surrounded by a moat connected to the sea. Location: 2-1 Dejima-machi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki 850-0862, Tel: +81-95-833-2110


Until the 1850s, non-Japanese in Nagasaki were restricted to Dejima, a 130-acre artificial island built in 1634 in Nagasaki. The first occupants were Portuguese who built homes and warehouses and still had enough room left over to graze sheep and cattle. In 1639, the Portuguese were kicked out and replaced by the Dutch, who, with the exception of a few Korean envoys and shipwrecked whalers, were the only non-Japanese who entered Japan for the next 200 years. Dejima Island has long been absorbed by Nagasaki city and has not been an island for centuries. On Dejima (Deshima)is a scale model of the quarters where representatives of the Dutch East India Company once lived. The Dejima museum may be closed.

Andrew Bender wrote in the Los Angeles Times: ““The biggest difference between my first and subsequent trips was the painstaking reconstruction of the former island trading post, Dejima, into a 3.8-acre village. Collectively, the hybrid Dutch-Japanese buildings, opened to visitors in 2006, feels analogous to a compact Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. If you've read David Mitchell’s novel "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet," set on Dejima, the surroundings will seem familiar. [Source: Andrew Bender, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2013]

“Among the 17 buildings restored to date, I was especially taken with the residence of the chief factor (station chief), which combines Japanese elements, such as tatami mat flooring, with Western, such as wallpaper, a pool table and a large dining room with an Oriental carpet, table and chairs (Japanese at the time would have sat on tatami).. Former warehouses and officers' quarters are dramatically lighted with exhibits about the trading post, which brought me back to my third-grade fascination with explorers. The perilous, triangular trade route circulated blue-and-white pottery from Japan, spices and exotic textiles from India, and technology such as globes, medicines and photography from Europe.

memorial to Nagasaki saints

Visiting Nagasaki

Andrew Bender wrote in the Los Angeles Times: :On my first trip to Nagasaki, just out of college, I knew what most of the world knows: An atomic bomb fell here on August 9, 1945, bringing World War II to a close. It wasn't until my second visit, more than 20 years later on a guidebook assignment, that I realized how much I had missed. Although the A-bomb is rightfully front and center for overseas visitors, the Japanese concept of the city is very different. As Japan’s westernmost major port, it was the nation’s first landing spot for Catholic missionaries and martyrs; red-bearded, waistcoated, fancy-hatted traders; and exotic foods borne by trade winds. For two centuries it was the sole point of encounter between Japan and the outside world. That all makes Nagasaki one of Japan’s most compelling destinations. By my reckoning, were it not for its remote location Nagasaki would be one of the nation’s most-visited cities. [Source: Andrew Bender, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2013]

“On a hill near Nagasaki Station, a monument pays tribute to the martyrdom of 26 Christians in the military crackdown of 1597. Although the shogun banned Christianity in the 17th century, many Christians continued to practice in secret; some worshipers kept statues of Maria Kannon, combining imagery of the Virgin Mary with Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy, in hopes of eluding authorities looking for Christian icons.

After Japan opened more ports beginning in the 1850s (including Yokohama near Tokyo and Hakodate, on the northern island of Hokkaido), traders from other countries began to set up shop around Nagasaki harbor. Today, many of their homes and warehouses have been relocated, rebuilt and fitted with period artifacts in the rambling hillside park called Glover Garden. South of the city center, it’s named for Thomas Glover (1838-1911), a Scottish trader who, among other accomplishments, built Japan’s first railway. If you've toured historic homes in New England, the Victorian architecture and design will feel familiar, but I'm always struck by how the Japanese ooh and ahh (or, rather, eiiiii and haaaa).. It made sense when I realized how otherworldly this furniture and furnishings were for Japan at the time.

“I also found captivating the views from Glover Garden across the busy shipyards in the harbor to the city below and the gumdrop-shaped hills surrounding it. There’s also a statue of Madama Butterfly in Glover Garden in tribute to the novel and Puccini opera set in Nagasaki, and a museum filled with videos and objects used in the city’s annual Kunchi Festival (October 7-9), in which colorful dragons and tall floats parade through the streets. The Dutch Slopes, a 10-minute walk away, show other homes in their original locations and now house old-school museums of photography and archaeology.”

Nagasaki and the Atomic Bomb

Nagasaki is known mostly as the place where a second atom bomb was dropped on Japan on August 9, 1945. On August the 10,000-pound Fat Man plutonium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki at 11:02am August 9th. It exploded 1,650 feet above the ground, produced a blast almost twice as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb (the equivalent of 22,000 tons of TNT). A Fat Man bomb was exploded in the first nuclear test on July 16, 1945. A third was waiting to be used if necessary.

The Nagasaki bomb was dropped from a B-29 flown by Maj. Charles Sweeney. It was exploded over the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the Far East. About one-third of the city was leveled. Steep fills limited the damage primarily to the Urakami valley. About 35,000 people were killed instantly and another 35,000 died over the next few months. Many others were critically injured. The victims included 250 Allied prisoners of war. One survivor from Nagasaki said, "May body seemed all black; everything seemed dark...I thought, 'The world is ending.'" There were also reports of blackened horses standing in instant death.

Unlike Hiroshima, which had major military installations and little of historical value, Nagasaki had few military targets but many old Christian-European monuments (ground zero was right above the largest Christian church in Japan). Many parts of the city were spared because they were shielded from the blast by mountains and hills.

Nagasaki was originally the secondary target and the only reason it was bombed was that primary target was covered in clouds. The plane flew over the main target, Kokura (present-day Kitakyushu) three times without finding a target before take off for Nagasaki, which was not far away. Nagasaki was also covered but clouds but a gap opened up and the Mitsubishi Arms Work was sighted and became the target. After the bomb was dropped the plane flew to Okinawa, its tanks almost empty of fuel.

Riding in plane behind the plane carrying the Nagasaki bomb, William T. Lawrence wrote of the New York Times on August 9, 1945: "The winds of destiny seemed to favor certain Japanese cities...We circled about them again and again and found no opening in the ick umbrella of clouds that covered them. Destiny chose Nagasaki as the ultimate target." The Peace Park and the Statue of Peace, at the core site of the bombing, are memorials to the devastation. See World War II, History.

Places in Nagasaki Related to the Atomic Bomb

Hypocentre Park contains a black stone column that marks the place where the Nagasaki atom bomb exploded. Nearby is a section of the wall of the original Urakami Cathedral. A replacement was built in 1959. Urakami, the district that was at the epicenter, is now a suburb that looks like any other in Japan.

Nagasaki Peace Park (north of Hypocentre Park) is laid out near ground zero to commemorate its destruction by atom bomb. The Nagasaki Peace Statue looks like something from the Soviet Union.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (near Nagasaki Peace Park) is a $62 million complex with relics and photos from the bombing, displays describing Japanese atrocities in World War II and videos of Koreans and Western POWs explaining how the were brought to Japan as forced laborers. Japan has been criticized for not owning up to its aggressive past, but this museum show very clearly the Japanese were both aggressors and victims.

The museum opened in 1996. It also has exhibits on the effects of radiation, histories of the global peace and anti-nuclear movements and testimonies of victims of the Ronneburg uranium mine in Germany, the Bikini Atoll test site in the Pacific and the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan.

Other Atomic Bomb Sites in Nagasaki: Nagasaki doesn't have a hallmark memorial building like the Hiroshima dome but it does have several small sites which can be visited. A map of them can be obtained from the Nagasaki municipal office. Most are within walking distance of the tram stations.

The sites include the rebuilt Urakami Cathedral, an air raid shelter at a primary school, Nyokodo (a house 500 meters from ground zero belonging to doctor who helped many victim in spite of his injuries), a bomb-damaged stone gate at the former Nagasaki Medical College and the one-legged torii gate, remains of shrine gate 800 meters from ground zero.

Meiji Era Industrialization in the Fukuoka Area: UNESCO World Heritage Site

“Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2015. According to UNESCO: “The site encompasses a series of twenty three component parts, mainly located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, through the development of the iron and steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. The site illustrates the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions. The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation. [Source: UNESCO ]

Area 6: Nagasaki: Nagasaki shipyard facilities, coal mining islands and associated sites:
Nagasaki, Nagasaki Kosuge Slip Dock completed in 1868, Historic Site
Kosuge Ship Repair Dock
Mitsubishi No.3 Dry Dock completed in 1905
Mitsubishi Senshokaku Guest House completed in 1904
Mitsubishi Giant Cantilever Crane set up in 1909
Hammer Head Crane, Mitsubishi,
Mitsubishi Former Pattern Shopcompleted in 1898
Takashima Coal Mine, started excavation in 1868, Municipal and Historic Site
Hashima coal mine, started excavation in 1870, Historic Site
Glover House and Office erected in 1863; Important Cultural Property. [Source: Wikipedia]

“A series of industrial heritage sites, focused mainly on the Kyushu-Yamaguchi region of south-west of Japan, represent the first successful transfer of industrialization from the West to a non-Western nation. The rapid industrialization that Japan achieved from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century was founded on iron and steel, shipbuilding and coal mining, particularly to meet defence needs. The sites in the series reflect the three phases of this rapid industrialisation achieved over a short space of just over fifty years between 1850s and 1910.

“The first phase in the pre-Meiji Bakumatsu isolation period, at the end of Shogun era in the 1850s and early 1860s, was a period of experimentation in iron making and shipbuilding. Prompted by the need to improve the defences of the nation and particularly its sea-going defences in response to foreign threats, industrialisation was developed by local clans through second hand knowledge, based mostly on Western textbooks, and copying Western examples, combined with traditional craft skills. Ultimately most were unsuccessful. Nevertheless this approach marked a substantial move from the isolationism of the Edo period, and in part prompted the Meiji Restoration.

“The second phase from the 1860s accelerated by the new Meiji Era, involved the importation of Western technology and the expertise to operate it; while the third and final phase in the late Meiji period (between 1890 to 1910), was full-blown local industrialization achieved with newly-acquired Japanese expertise and through the active adaptation of Western technology to best suit Japanese needs and social traditions, on Japan’s own terms. Western technology was adapted to local needs and local materials and organised by local engineers and supervisors.

The 23 components are in 11 sites within 8 discrete areas. Six of the eight areas are in the south-west of the country, with one in the central part and one in the northern part of the central island. Collectively the sites are an outstanding reflection of the way Japan moved from a clan based society to a major industrial society with innovative approaches to adapting western technology in response to local needs and profoundly influenced the wider development of East Asia. After 1910, many sites later became fully fledged industrial complexes, some of which are still in operation or are part of operational sites.

“The Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution illustrate the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Western Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adopted and progressively adapted to satisfy specific domestic needs and social traditions, thus enabling Japan to become a world-ranking industrial nation by the early 20th century. The sites collectively represents an exceptional interchange of industrial ideas, know-how and equipment, that resulted, within a short space of time, in an unprecedented emergence of autonomous industrial development in the field of heavy industry which had profound impact on East Asia.

“The technological ensemble of key industrial sites of iron and steel, shipbuilding and coal mining is testimony to Japan’s unique achievement in world history as the first non-Western country to successfully industrialize. Viewed as an Asian cultural response to Western industrial values, the ensemble is an outstanding technological ensemble of industrial sites that reflected the rapid and distinctive industrialisation of Japan based on local innovation and adaptation of Western technology.”

The boat trip to Gunkanjima and some of the ferries pass by some the sites, which are also visible from bridges and high points around Nagasaki.Hisashi Kiyooka wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “Right after we departed the port, I got an up-close look at the Giant Cantilever Crane at Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Completed in 1909, the 62-meter-high crane is still operating and is part of the industrial revolution sites. “It’s the crane that loaded cannons onto the battleship Musashi, which was constructed here,” said Dotoku Sakamoto, 60, a local guide and former island resident. [Source:Hisashi Kiyooka. Yomiuri Shimbun, September 28, 2014]

Gunkanjima (“Battleship Island”)

Gunkanjima (off the coast of Nagasaki City) is an island with an abandoned city that rises from the azure waters that surround it. The real name of the island is Hashima (shima means island). It has been nicknamed Gunkanjima (literally “battleship island”), because its looks a Japanese battleship, especially when viewed from afar at sea,

Gunkanjima is part of the “Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining”, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2015. It is listed as the Hashima coal mine, which started excavation in 1870. The site also made a brief appearance in the 2012 James Bond movie “Skyfall.”

Gunkanjima represents the Meiji Industrial Revolution. A coalmining town since the 19th century, it features dense clusters of concrete towers that housed workers — homes which were abandoned in 1974 after the mines closed. Off-limits to the public for decades, the island can now be visited as bart of a boat tour. Come check out the eerie atmosphere of this abandoned industrial site in person. At the mainland Gunkanjima Digital Museum you can also safely explore the places on island you are now allowed to go to. English audio guides are available for both boat tours and the digital museum. Location: Tokiwa terminal building 102, 1-60 Tokiwa-machi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki; Websites: Universal Workers – The Gunkanjima Concierge Company

On his visit, Hisashi Kiyooka wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “ The island once flourished thanks to its undersea coal mining industry. As many as 5,300 people lived on the small island at one point, but it became completely deserted after the coal mines closed in 1974. Today, visitors can reach the island by taking a commercial tour boat. I wouldn’t be able to land there, though, because the boat terminal on the island was damaged by Typhoon No. 8. But I decided to take the boat ride anyway, thinking I would just sail around the island. [Source: Hisashi Kiyooka. Yomiuri Shimbun, September 28, 2014]

“After cruising for about 40 minutes, the island came into view. Upon spotting it, my fellow passengers let out an excited cheer. Many of them were young people, likely participants in the recent boom of visiting ruins. I could see trees growing between the dreary concrete buildings that once served as apartment complexes and schools. I felt puzzled, thinking the island must have had no greenery when people lived there. “It probably looks like ruins to you, but to me, it’s my hometown,” Dotoku Sakamoto, 60, a local guide and former island resident, said toward the end of his talk. Quietly, he added, “So I hope you don’t see it only for sightseeing pleasure, but understand that the place that you’re from could just as easily meet the same fate.” The about 20 passengers grew silent for a moment, then gave a big round of applause.”

Places Near Nagasaki

Nagasaki Prefecture covers 4,132 square kilometers (1,595 square miles), is home to about 1.38 million people and has a population density of 333 people per square kilometer. Nagasaki city is the capital and largest city, with about 430,000 people. The westernmost prefecture of the Japanese archipelago, Nagasaki Prefecture is on Kyushu island faces China across the East China Sea and has four districts and 21 municipalities. It is about 750 kilometers east of Shanghai.

Sasebo (80 kilometers from Nagasaki) is a city with about 250,000 people and a large U.S. Navy, with an accompanying Japanese navay facility. The Japanese has a base during World War II. After the end of the war, part of the base facilities were taken over by the United States Navy, forming U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo. Some parts of the base are shared with the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Several large American ships, helicopters and a fairly large American community are based there. The city is famous for Sasebo burgers.

Saikai National Park (west of Nagasaki) features beautiful islands, splendid bays and beds of cultured pearls. The town of Sasebo is a starting point for boat trips to the islands Website: Government National Park Site National Parks of Japan

Kujukushima Islands (near Sasebo) lies in Saikai National Park. It’s name literally means 99 islands but there are actually more than 200 of them scattered along the coastline. Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort offers kayaking trips and island cruises in a boat. The islands and green and beautiful and the seas are generally calm. The clear blue waters here were featured in the opening scene of “The Last Samurai”. Pearl Sea Resort: Address: 1008 Kashimae-cho, Sasebo-shi, Nagasaki Website:

Hirado (west of Nagasaki) was many centuries the main port for foreign trade. Beginning in 1550 it was used by the Portuguese. From the early 17th century to the mid 19th century is was used by the Dutch. There are cultural relics from this period. Hirado Castle in Kameoka Park was restored in 1962. The top floor of the three-level ferro-concrete donjon offers outstanding views of the city and sea.

Tsushima Island (between the Japanese mainland and the Korean Peninsula, in Nagasaki Prefecture) is an island of the Japanese archipelago situated in-between the Tsushima Strait and Korea Strait. It has a very ancoent history and is the home of the tsushima yamaneko is a wildcat indigenous to It has a pale yellow body marked by leopard-like patterns, weighs three to five kilograms and is 50 to 60 centimeters from the tips of its tail to its nose. There numbers of decimated by loss of habitat die to development and struck by vehicles. There are believed to be to be only 80 to 110 left in the wild. A few more are in zoos,. A captive breeding program at the Fukuoka Zoo in Fukuoka had managed to produce a couple of offspring.

Nagasaki Biopark

Nagasaki Biopark (between Nagasaki and Sasebo, about an hour drive from each place) is a fun animal park famous of its tapir, capybara baths and lemurs that climb around in the trees with nothing to keep them from escaping. It is possible to relax with and feed the capybaras. The capybara’s open-air bath is a winter tradition in Biopark. It is very popular in Japan and broadcast on television every year. Capybaras hail from the Amazon. When it gets cold for them in winter in Japan, they love bath. The "Capybara's citrus bath” is held in the winter solstice in line with a Japanese customs to take a bath with large citrus fruits on that day.

The animal at the Nagasaki Biopark re not 'on display' like in a zoo. Instead they are allowed to roam around their designated area and visitors are allowed to approach very close and even touch some of the animals. The park is designed to replicate as closely as possible the environment and ecosystem of the animals’s home region and in places there are no barriers between the animals and people. Among the rules are: 1) Don't give anything other than food sold inside the park to animals. 2) Don't try to pet or hold animals if they resist. They are wild animals and might bite when upset. 3) Please wash your hands after you touch animals.

Nagasaki Biopark covers about 300,000 square meters and has about 2,000 animals from 200 species living among about 30,000 plants of 1,000 species). In the Pond of "Totora" (Map Number 1) you can see Common Crane, Duck, Egyptian Goose, Toulouse Goose, White Pelican, White Stork,. At the Inca Hill of "Espacio" (Map Number 2) there are Blue-And-Yellow Macaw, Llama, Patagonian Mara, Pony. The Flower Dome (Map Number 3) hosts Flying Fox, Amazilia hummingbird, Yellow Pond Turtle, Yellow-Margined Box Turtle, White-lipped Python, Common Tiger, Striped Blue Crow and Tree Nymph Butterfly

In Amazon Dome (Map Number 4) there are Squirrel Monkey, Two-Toed Sloth, Alligator Snapping Turtle, Toad-Headed Turtle. "Soushi" falls and Pond of flamingoes (Map Number 5) has American Beaver, Caribbean Flamingo, Chilean Flamingo, European Flamingo, Andes square. In Rocky mountain of llamas (Map Number 6) you can see Blue-And-Yellow Macaw, Black-Tailed Prairie Dog, Alpaca, Red-And-Green Macaw, Japanese "Shiba" Goat, Llama, Egyptian Goose, African Spurred Tortoise and Aldabra Giant Tortoise.

The Pond of capybaras and Islet of capuchins (Map Number 7) features a Brazilian Tapir, Capybara, Tufted Capuchin, Egyptian Goose, Rocky garden of cactuses (Map Number 8) Oriental Small-clawed Otter, Ringtailed Coati, Striped Skunk and Malayan Tapir. The Hill of raccoons and lesser pandas (Map Number 9) has Alpaca, Japanese "Shiba" Goat, Lesser Panda, Meerkat, Racoon, Red-Eared Slider, Reeve'S Pond Turtle. At the Slope of Giraffe (Map Number 10) are Chapman's Zebra, Giraffe, Malayan Porcupine, Ostrich. In the Hill of kangaroos and Woods of squirrel monkeys (Map Number 11) you can find Black Lemur, Corriedale Sheep, Grey Kangaroo, Squirrel Monkey, Indian Peafowl, Laughing Kookaburra. The Pond of hippos and Islet of lemurs (Map Number 12) features Black Lemur, Hippopotamus, Ring-Tailed Lemur, Egyptian Goose.

At the Pet Animal World "PAW" — the main place to touch small animals (Map Number A) — are Cavy, Cavy (Tidi) , Chinchilla, Ferret, Rabbit, Call Duck, Common Marmoset, Degu, Flemish Giant, Hedgehog, House Mouse, Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec, Grey Parrot, Umbrella Cockatoo, Amazona Oratrix, Barn Owl, Blue-headed Parrot, Magellan Horned Owl, Scarlet Macaw, Green Iguana, Oustalet's Chameleon, Mexican Kingsnake, Red-footed tortoise, Tokay Gecko, Indian Star Tortoise, Leopard Gecko, Green Tree Python, Corn Snake, Asian Tortoise, In the Insectarium are Hercules Beetle, Golden Stag Beetle, Giraffe Stag Beetle, Neptunus Beetle, Lamprima and Rainbow Beetle

Huis Ten Bosch

Huis Ten Bosch (an hour from Nagasaki near the town of Sasebo) is a reproduction of a 17th century Dutch town. Not only is it the forth largest theme park in Japan after Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Japan and DisneySea, it is also one of the most technologically-advanced and environmentally friendly tourist attractions ever conceived. It opened in 1992 and was popular for a while but crumbled under debt burden of $2 billion declared bankruptcy in 2003. It then reinvented itself as a resort aimed at families on multi-day visits by renovating spas and restaurants and offering cruises, The number of visitors, especially families, has increased in recent years. It now welcomes over 2 million visitors a year.

Covering 158 hectares, Huis Ten Bosch (pronounced "house-ten-bosh," meaning "House in the Woods") bills itself as a Dutch-themed "ecocity," with a computer-controlled energy conservation system and waste recycling program. Like much of Holland, Huis ten Bosch is built on land reclaimed from the sea. Dutch engineers were brought in to help set up dikes and four miles canals. Over ten million bricks were brought from Holland to make the buildings look authentic.

Among the brick lanes are replicas of the Dutch royal family residence, houses for ordinary people, working businesses, eight resort hotels, windmills, a castle with one million flowers, a museum of art, a museum of history, shops and restaurants that serve things like poffertjes (tiny pancakes), a forest park, porcelain museum and interactive media shows and computer-driven dioramas that produce lightning storms and threatening waves. The park is particularly attractive during the spring tulip festival when more than 1 million tulips are in bloom.

Of particular interest are Mysterious Escher building, which shows a 3-D movie using MC Escher's graphics, the Horizon Theater, which bring to life a sea-themed fairy tale, a tall ship museum and 105-meter replica of the Domotoren, Holland's tallest church tower, complete with a high-speed elevator and viewing platform. An entrance "passport " for the park cost ¥3,900 yen. A Prince 10 passport which provides entrance to three of four of the main attractions is ¥4,800. A King 30 passport which provides entrance to all the main attractions is ¥6,200. Website: Huis ten Bosch site Huis ten Bosch site

Japan’s Hidden Christians

Edo-period Christian
writing box
The Goto Islands, Ikitsukishima Island and Sotomecho — all near Nagasaki — are home to the last remaining thousand or so Hidden Christians, whose ancestors practiced Christianity when the religion was outlawed between 1614 and 1873. The number of Hidden Christians shrunk from 30,000 after World War II to around about 1,000 on Ikitsukishima Island, 10 on the Goto Islands, and around 100 in Sotomecho, Ikitsukishima Island. Few young people are interested in the religion and there is a danger that Hidden Christianity might die out. They only people interested in learning the old chants and practices are academics.

Certain Shinto and Buddhist practices entered the Hidden Christian religion as a sort of camouflage at a time when Christians were sometimes executed for their beliefs. Hidden Christians, for example, used a “magic mirrors” that usually projected an image of Buddhas but when held up to light in a certain way projected shadows of a cross.

Hidden Christians considered themselves different from other Christians. They have two kinds of funerals: one Buddhist in nature and the another Christian. Group members recite traditional liturgies, named “orasho” (from the Latin world oratia), that have been passed down orally from generation to generation for so long many people no longer know what the words mean.

Christian Sites and Churches in the Nagasaki Area

Oura Cathedral
Nagasaki Prefecture is home to 15 percent of the Christians in Japan and most of the churches in Japan built before World War II.. Nagasaki was the focal point of Christianity after the arrival of Europeans in the beginning in the 16th century. Churches today are an important part of the daily lives of Christians living on the Goto islands, a chain of about 140 islands located about 100 kilometers west of Nagasaki City. There are about 130 churches in the Nagasaki area, including the rebuilt Urakami Cathedral. The atomic bomb exploded almost directly over the original.

The five locations in Nagasaki Prefecture, visited by Martin Scorsese when making the movie "Silence" were : 1) Tomogi Village (Sotome Town), 2) Nagasaki City, 3) the Shimabara Peninsula, 4) Hirado City, and 5) the Goto Islands. Based on Endo Shusaku’s novel, the film depicts how Japanese Christians survived the prohibition of Christianity which started in 1587. Scorcese started his trip at the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum near JR Nagasaki Station. Oura Cathedral, the oldest church in Japan, is a short tram ride away. Buses to Sotome, Shimabara, Hirado area depart from the station and ferries from Nagasaki Port to the Goto Islands. Nagasaki Region Information CentreT has information on the Hidden Christians' story: Address: 2F Dejima-Wharf 1-1-205 Dejima-machi, Nagasaki-shi,; Nagasaki Prefecture Tourism Association

Oura Cathedral (Nagasaki) is the oldest church in Japan and has been designated a national treasure. It was built in 1864 and altered in 1879. The Statue if the Blessed Virgin at the main entrance was sent to celebrate the revelation if believers. Urakami Cathedral was rebuilt in 1958 Statues of angels burned b the atomic bombing stand in front of the church. Other churches in the Nagasaki area include Tabira Catholic Church in Hirado City.

Shimabara-hanto Peninsula (south of Nagasaki) is where Japanese Christians rose up in revolt against the Japanese Shogunate in 1638, resulting in the suppression of Christianity in Japan. The force of 37,000 or so peasant Christians made their last stand against 120,00-member Shogun's army around Haro-jo castle. Little remains of the castle today. Getting There: Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

Hisashi Kiyooka wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “The museum at the ruins of Santo Domingo Church was very quiet. Here, stone pavements and drainage ways remain centuries after the church was destroyed under the 1614 ban on Christianity issued by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa government. Verified through the research and excavations by archaeologists, they are all that is left of the churches built before the ban. In its exhibition room, I saw rows of roof tiles bearing the image of a cross with a fleur-de-lis design, which resembles a blooming flower, on each of the cross’ four tips. I thought they deserved to be included in the World Heritage site application, but unfortunately they weren’t. [Source: Hisashi Kiyooka. Yomiuri Shimbun, September 28, 2014]

Sotome district (an hour’s drive from Nagasaki) is the home of one of Japan’s highest concentrations of Christians. Kiyooka wrote”“To learn more about Christianity’s local history, I went to Kirishitan no Sato (Home to Christian people) in the Sotome district early the next morning. When I arrived at Shitsu Church, one of the churches in the UNESCO bid, I could hear the sound of voices performing a solemn song. The church was built by the French priest Marc Marie de Rotz in 1882 and has served as a place of worship to this day. As I didn’t want to disturb their Mass, I left and came back to the church a while later. Wataru Takahashi, 71, who lives nearby, guided me around. “When I was a child, we sat on our knees on the wooden floor during Mass,” Takahashi said. Today, congregants sit on wooden chairs.

“Many residents of the Sotome district became devoted Christians under the influence of Omura Sumitada, a Kirishitan daimyo (a feudal lord who was a Christian), in the 16th century. Despite the Tokugawa government’s severe repression of Christianity throughout the Edo period (1603-1867), people here secretly practiced the Western religion. Sotome Rekishi Minzoku Shiryokan, a nearby museum dedicated to local history and folklore, displays rosaries and various other relics from the period. What was most visually striking were the fumie, plates with crucifixes or other Christian symbols on them, which authorities would order suspected Christians to step on.”

Nagasaki Area Hidden Christian Sites: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. According to UNESCO: “Located in the Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures in the northwestern part of Kyushu Island of the Japanese Archipelago, the ‘Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region’ is a serial property comprising 12 components, made up of ten villages, one castle remains, and one cathedral dating from between the 17th and 19th centuries. They reflect the era of prohibition of the Christian faith, as well as the revitalization of Christian communities after the official lifting of the prohibition in 1873. Hidden Christians survived as communities that formed small villages sited along the seacoast or on remote islands to which Hidden Christians migrated during the ban on Christianity.

”Hidden Christians gave rise to a distinctive religious tradition that was seemingly vernacular yet which maintained the essence of Christianity, and they survived continuing their faith over the ensuing two centuries. These sites bear bear unique testimony to a distinctive religious tradition nurtured by Hidden Christians who secretly transmitted their faith in Christianity during the time of prohibition spanning more than two centuries in Japan, from the 17th to the 19th century.

”Each component of the property maintains a high degree of authenticity based on the attributes selected according to its nature. The villages possess a high degree of authenticity based on their attributes of ‘form and design’, ‘use and function’, ‘traditions, techniques and management systems’, ‘location and setting’, and ‘spirit and feeling’. The component, ‘Remains of Hara Castle’, has lost its authenticity related to ‘use and function’, as it is an archaeological site, but it retains a high degree of authenticity in regard to the other attributes. Oura Cathedral and the Egami Church in Egami Village on Naru Island possess a high degree of authenticity in terms of ‘materials and substance’ in addition to the other attributes as they are architectural works.

The components, when they were built, their location, and material
1) Oura Cathedral, built in 1864, Nagasaki, Brick, National Treasure
2) Kuroshima Church, built in 1902, Sasebo, Brick, Important Cultural Property
3) Former Gorin Church, built in 1881, Gotō, Wood, Important Cultural Property
4) Kashiragashima Church, built in 1919, Shinkamigotō, Stone, Important Cultural Property
5) Tabira Church, built in 1917/8, Hirado, Brick, No Entry
6) Shitsu Church, built in 1882, Nagasaki, Brick
7) Ono Church, built in 1893, Nagasaki, Stone, Important Cultural Property
8) Former Nokubi Church and related remains, built in 1908, Ojika, Brick
9) Egami Church, built in 1917/8, Gotō, Wood, Important Cultural Property
10) Hara Castle remains, Minamishimabara, Historic Site
11) Hinoe Castle remains, Minamishimabara, Not Entry
12) Hirado Island’s sacred places and villages, Hirado, Nagasaki,, Important Cultural Landscape
13) Sakitsu Village in Amakusa, Amakusa, Kumamoto, Important Cultural Landscape [Source: Wikipedia

Goto Islands: the Hidden Christian Stronghold

There are 29 churches scattered around the Goto islands. Three-story Kuroshima Cathedral in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture is one of 17 brick churches in Japan, all in Kyushu. Another, Aosagaura Church is on Shinkami-Gotocho, one of the Goto Island. It is built of bright red bricks and was designed and built by Yosuke Tetsukawa. Kashiragashima in Shinkami-Gotocho is the only church built of stone in western Japan. It is made of stone that followers excavated from the surrounding area. The church now has only 15 elderly members who meet for Mass every second and forth Sunday of the month. Website: UNESCO Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region UNESCO .

Many of the sights in the Goto Islands have little to do with the Hidden Christians though. In Arakawa on Fukuejima you’ll find onsen and foot spas. Renovated old houses on Ojikajima are now used as inns and a restaurant. A traditional letterpress printing shop. Dozaki Cathedral and Takahama Beach, with its beautiful blue sea, a highlight of any trip to Fukuejima. You can also enjoy visiting local cafes, along with a new bakery in the Fuefuki area.

One traveler wrote: “I arrived at Fukuejima at 11:30 am on the morning jetfoil from Nagasaki Port. The journey takes one and a half hours. Upon arrival, I headed straight for the second-hand bookstore Hondoko Teruteru to meet the owner who would be my tour guide for the day. Our trip began with lunch at the Goto Cafe, which doubles up as Fukuejima’s most popular souvenir shop. Many of the dishes pay tribute to the island’s notable tourist attractions, so I ordered a ‘Lava Curry’ in homage to the Onidake volcano, washing it down with an ‘Osezaki Lighthouse Parfait.’ The parfait was particularly plentiful, full of sweet potato confectionery, a Fukuejima delicacy. On my way out, I stocked up on souvenirs, including cosmetics containing high-quality oils extracted from the island’s famous tsubaki flowers. [Source: JNTO]

“We set off for our next stop, the Kojushi Goto Tsubaki Bussankan, by car to observe some salt production techniques. Manufacturers obtain the mineral by boiling seawater in large pots on wood fires. They liken their efforts to creating works of art, explaining that it is necessary to keep a delicate balance of salty, bitter, sour, and sweet flavors to make the perfect salt. The resulting cubic or pyramidal crystals certainly looked as good as they tasted. With a little time to spare, we stopped by the stunning Kojushi beach to sample its golden sands glistening in the afternoon sunshine.

“Back on the road, we headed for Arakawa, a harbor town in the west of the Fukuejima that was once a lively port of call for fishing boats.Wandering around you still get a feel for its previous incarnation, the narrow alleyways are lined with retro signs of the businesses once popular with the fishermen. One of the town’s main draws is the hot springs. Drop-in facilities are available, in addition to the foot spas at the bus stop. Ready for some relaxation, we made use of the drop-in at the Takenoya Inn ryokan, which has been operating for over 100 years. All freshened up from my soak in the volcanic waters, I spent some time chatting with the old lady who helps run the inn before we went off to the day’s final destination, the Osezaki Lighthouse Observatory in Tamanoura. It is situated among 80 bays with their headlands protruding out to sea. From here the views of the island are mesmerizing. So much so, that I lost track of time until the darkness of night fell after sunset.

“The next day I traveled to Ojikajima by ferry. It’s a small island in the north of Goto that can be cycled around in a day. Fuefuki, the gateway to this remote outpost, is composed of a fishing port surrounded by a village. It is the ideal size to be explored on foot, so my morning started with a walking adventure on narrow alleyways, accessible from Fuefuki Hon-dori street.” Later I toured the island on an electric bike, “taking in the red stones and sand of the Akahama coast, and the tunnel-shaped pine forest called Hime-no-matsubara, before finally returning to the rental shop in Fuefuki to drop off my bike. Getting There: Ferries depart for the Goto Islands from Nagasaki Port and Sasebo Port. Direct flights from Nagasaki Airport and Fukuoka Airport to Fukuejima are also available. By fast boat to Fukuejima: 90 minutes from Nagasaki Port. By fast boat to Ojikajima : 90 minutes from Sasebo Port.

Image Sources: 1) map Japanese Guest Houses 2) 3) Ray Kinnane 4) 5) Fukuoka City Tourism 6) Association for the Promotion of Traditional Crafts Industries in Japan 7) Wikipedia, 8) 10), 11), 12), 13) 14) Nagasaki City Tourism, 9) Gensuikan, 15), 16), 17), 18) 19) 20) Kumamoto Prefecture tourism, 21) Aso Disater Prevention, 22), 23) Hotel Club Travel Club, 24) Joel Swagman Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization),, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Ministry of the Environment, UNESCO, Japan Guide website, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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