Nagasaki can be a bit frustrating. I’ve found that the further from Tokyo you get, the tougher it gets from a non-Japanese speaker to get around. You don’t see many signs in English and things aren’t quite where you expect the to be.
Today, I traveled all over the city of Nagasaki. In spite of a few little scheduling snafus and moments of confusion, I got to see a great glimpse of a town that is often overshadowed by other cities in Japan, especially the city it is inexorably linked to in tragedy – Hiroshima.
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
Much like Hiroshima, Nagasaki has a park full of memorials to those who died as a result of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city. There is also a museum about the incident.
My first stop was to the hypocenter, the actual place where the bomb was dropped. It is a quiet, understated pocket of green in the town with a large pillar marking the location of the bomb blast.
I was interested to see that, much like Hiroshima, the Japanese people still visit this site often, leave flowers, and pray.
The museum itself if similar to that in Hiroshima, but with a slightly different focus. While the Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima focused very strongly on the effects of the bomb on the people, complete with many exhibits that are tough to look at, the museum in Nagasaki focuses more on the bomb itself and Japanese efforts towards disarmament.
This clock was frozen at 11:02 – the time the bomb hit Nagasaki.
The extent of the damage from the bomb.
Big Boy – the bomb dropped on Nagasaki – it was enormous!
Churches in Nagasaki
Unlike most of Japan, there are a decent number of Catholic Churches scattered throughout Nagasaki. Nagasaki, being a major trading post, attracted missionaries who converted several Japanese people to Christianity. The history of Christianity in Japan was very smooth – at one point, people in Japan were forced to trample on Christian items to prove that they weren’t Christian!
I visited two influential churches in the area.
This cathedral was only 500m from the hypocenter of the atomic bomb blast, and was predictably leveled.
In the picture to the left, you can see the the top of the bell tower that was blown off during the blast.
The partitioners wanted to rebuild the church in the location it formerly stood. There are several remenents of the old church scattered around the atomic bomb park and museum.
Ōura Church is a Catholic church that was built in 1863 to honor the “Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan”. These martyrs were Christians during a time of great persecution of Christianity. They were crucified for their beliefs.
This church was the first western building in Japan to recieve the designation of a “National Treasure”. I was able to walk around inside (no pictures allowed of course) and see it – it’s quite a nice church! There was also a museum off to the side that gave a brief history of the church and how Christianity came to be in Japan.
Time is running short until I have to go catch a plane so I will summarize the rest of the day…
I went by Glover Gardens, very close to Oura Church. These gardens featured some of the houses of the westerners who came to run trading and mining companies in Nagasaki. The gardens are on a hill overlooking the city and have an impressive view!
I then went up (view the ropeway this time!) to Mt. Inasa. This mountain has an observation platform at the top that features an amazing view of the valley floor below. I was able to watch day turn into night – a spectacular site!
I finished the day off with a delicious meal that some…unusual “corn”bread…
And a delicious raman meal, provided free by my hotel at night before going to bed! Sure beats the little packs of stuff you get at WalMart!