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Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki (長崎) is the capital of Nagasaki prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

Under the national isolation policy of the Tokugawa shogunate, Nagasaki harbor was the only harbor to which entry of foreign ships was permitted. Even today, Nagasaki shows the influence of many cultures such as Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese.
On 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing a total of over 100,000 people. Six days later Japan surrendered, officially ending World War II.

Nagasaki has the typical humid subtropical climate of Kyūshū and Honshū, characterized by mild winters and long, hot, and humid summers. Apart from Kanazawa and Shizuoka, it is the wettest sizeable city in Japan and indeed all of temperate Eurasia. In the summer, the combination of persistent heat and high humidity results in... Read more

Nagasaki, Japan

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Nagasaki (長崎) is the capital of Nagasaki prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

Under the national isolation policy of the Tokugawa shogunate, Nagasaki harbor was the only harbor to which entry of foreign ships was permitted. Even today, Nagasaki shows the influence of many cultures such as Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese.
On 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing a total of over 100,000 people. Six days later Japan surrendered, officially ending World War II.

Nagasaki has the typical humid subtropical climate of Kyūshū and Honshū, characterized by mild winters and long, hot, and humid summers. Apart from Kanazawa and Shizuoka, it is the wettest sizeable city in Japan and indeed all of temperate Eurasia. In the summer, the combination of persistent heat and high humidity results in unpleasant conditions, with wet-bulb temperatures sometimes reaching 26 °C (79 °F). In the winter, however, Nagasaki is drier and sunnier than Gotō to the west, and temperatures are slightly milder than further inland in Kyūshū.


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Nagasaki, Japan: Port Information


Cruise ships dock at Matsugae Pier. Cruise terminal has a post office, currency exchange, and tourist information booth.
The terminal is close to the city center – you can easily get there on foot.
There is a tram stop near the terminal. Taxis are also available.

Get around Nagasaki, Japan


Trams (路面電車 romen densha or チンチン電車 "chin-chin densha") connect most of Nagasaki; they run about every ten to fifteen minutes during the day. The most frequently used lines will be the red (3) and blue (1); the blue and red lines run on the same track from the northern end of Nagasaki as far as the Nagasaki train station, where they split. The blue line continues to the You-me Plaza shopping mall, Dejima, and later the downtown shopping arcade. These tickets can only be acquired if you get off at the Tsuki Machi stop. You can save money if you're doing a lot of travel by purchasing a daily pass for the streetcars which you can purchase at the Tourist Information Center at Nagasaki Station, or most major hotels.

Buses also run through much of Nagasaki, including places that aren't served by the streetcars.

It should be mentioned that the street cars stop running around 11 PM, and most bus service also has downtime at night. This can come as a rude awakening if you go out in Shianbashi, only to find that you have to stay until 6 AM for the first running densha. For the adventurous, it takes about an hour to walk from Shianbashi to Sumiyoshi. This timeframe is heavily dependent on how fast you walk, and what kind of night out you experienced.

 

What to see in Nagasaki, Japan


Nagasaki's tourism association coordinates a discount card for foreign tourists, applicable at many popular sites like Glover Garden, Dejima, and the ropeway to Mount Inasa. The card can be obtained from many hotels in the city. A multi-lingual call center can also answer tourism-related questions in English, Chinese, or Korean: +81-95-825-5175, 08:00-20:00 365 days a year. Save some paper by using their collection of electronic pamphlets (PDF) for several attractions.

  • Glover Garden (5 min by foot from tram stop Oura-tenshudo-shita of tram line 5 (destination 石橋 ishibashi)). 8 AM-6 PM. This is a pleasant collection of relocated European style homes built for foreign traders and diplomats when Japan was opened to the world after the Meiji Restoration of the mid 19th century. It also offers a great view of Nagasaki harbor. 
  • Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan. A monument and a museum stand on the site where 20 Japanese Christians and six European missionaries were crucified in 1597. These martyrs were canonized as saints in 1862. This site is also closest to Nagasaki Station; about 10 minutes on foot.
  • Inasayama (稲佐山) (take a bus from Nagasaki Station, or by streetcar to Takaramachi Station, or by bus or taxi to Fuchi Shrine Station). When the weather is clear, this mountaintop offers a full 360-degree view of Nagasaki City and harbor and is a must-see site. The nighttime view of the city is called the "10 Million Dollar View" and ranked as one of the best 3 city night views in Japan. There is no entrance fee or hours, but there are limits on transportation there. Access is either by car, taxi, bus, ropeway, or a combination. The easiest is all the way up by car or taxi. Or there is a bus that goes up part way and requires a 15-minute walk up to the summit. A third way is by ropeway between 09:00-22:00. To get to the ropeway station, walk five minutes from the Takaramachi streetcar stop, or take a bus or taxi to Fuchi Shrine Station and walk 2 minutes.
  • Koshibyo Confucius Shrine (a few minutes by foot from the streetcar No. 5 line's Ouratenshudo-shita stop). 08:30-17:00. This is the only Confucius Shrine the Chinese built outside of China and was constructed in 1893. It also has a large Chinese history museum behind it. It is often neglected and overlooked by many travel books and tourists but has a gorgeous and bright appearance that is truly worth a visit.
  • Sofuku-ji. 8 AM-5 PM. Constructed in 1629 by Chinese residents of Nagasaki, this temple is one of the best examples of Ming Dynasty architecture in the world. Even in China itself, there are few surviving structures that display Ming Dynasty architecture as well as Sofuku-ji.
  • Oura Catholic Church. Built in 1864 by French missionaries, it is the oldest remaining church in Japan. While not used as a church now, it still offers a look at 19th Century worship after Japan repealed its ban on Christianity.
  • Urakami Cathedral. Rebuilt after its destruction in the atomic bombing, Urakami Cathedral was once the largest church in Asia.
  • Atomic Bomb Museum (5 minutes by foot from tram stop Hamaguchi-machi of tram line 1 or 3 (destination 赤迫 akasako)). 8:30 AM-5:30 PM. A well-done commemoration of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. At the far end of the museum tour, you will find a powerful argument against nuclear proliferation, outlined in several well-designed exhibits. Buy yourself some ice cream after you leave - you'll need it. 
  • Dejima (Site of the Former Dutch Factory) (出島) (near Nagasaki Port Terminal, Dejima stop on the blue number 1 tram). 8 AM-5 PM - entrance closes at 4:40 PM. Japan's sole port open to Western trade for over 200 years, Dejima Island was built to keep the West out-of-contact with the local populace in order to prevent the spread of Christianity. While only a few pieces of the original building foundations remain, the buildings have been recreated according to what we know about them, and you can walk inside their warehouses, quarters, kitchen, and other rooms. Dejima Wharf was built for commemorating the exchange between Japan and Netherlands for 400 years. There are 20 shops including restaurants. You can eat lunch or dinner watching the sea.
  • Shinchi Chinatown (a few minutes walk south of Tsukimachi street car station), fax: +81 95-822-6540. From the 15th to the 19th centuries Chinese traders and sailors called this area home and it is the oldest Chinatown in Japan. Four narrow streets come together to a central intersection, with several restaurants and shops contributing their part to Nagasaki's unique character.
  • Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium. A surprisingly entertaining and informative aquarium located about 30 min by bus from Nagasaki station. A 12-m deep tank dominates the entryway. You can observe a variety of penguins from the vantage of underwater. A number of other aquaria contain many species of fish and invertebrates found locally, as well as a huge tank containing giant catfish (pla bluk) from the Mekong River in Thailand. The building is adjacent to a delightful sandy beach that could make a day with kids full and exciting. 
  • Suwa Shrine, 18-15 Kaminishiyama-machi (5-minute walk from Suwa-Jinja-mae Station on the Nagasaki Electric Tramway), ☎ +81 95-824-0445. The primary site of Nagasaki's annual Kunchi festival, the shrine's expansive grounds situated on the Tamazono mountainside offer a panoramic view of the city, amusing lion-dog guardian statues, and ceiling paintings by 75 artists. Free.
  • Kofuku-ji (about 8 minutes on foot from the Kokaido-mae streetcar stop), ☎ +81 95-822-1076, fax: +81 95-827-2726, e-mail: kofukuji@bg.mbn.or.jp. 8 AM-5 PM. This was the first Obaku Zen temple in Japan, established around 1620, and Nagasaki residents often call it the "red temple." It was used by many Chinese for over 3 centuries and is one of the few historical places to escape damage from the atomic bombing.
  • Oka Masaharu Memorial Nagasaki Peace Museum. Tu-Su 9 AM-5 PM. One of the few places in Japan where the war crimes of the Japanese army during the Second World War are documented. Another focus of the exhibition lies on the foreign victims of the atomic bomb and their struggle for recognition and compensation. The Museum is located close to the central train station and just next to the memorial for the "26 Saints of Japan." No English explanation (just a few paragraphs on a leaflet at the entrance).
  • Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. 8:30 AM-7 PM. 
  • Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum. 10 AM-8 PM. Beautiful new building (featured in Architecture Week) that often has touring exhibits from around the world. Fees are required for temporary exhibits.
  • Fukusai-ji, 2-56 Chikugo-machi. 8 AM-4 PM. An Ōbaku Zen temple in Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan. Its honorary sangō prefix is Bunshizan (分紫山?). Founded in 1628 and later destroyed in 1945, Fukusai-ji has since been reconstructed in the shape of a turtle with an 18-meter high aluminum alloy statue of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of compassion. The interior is famous for the 25-meter Foucault Pendulum which swings over the remains of 16,500 Japanese killed during World War II. 

What to do in Nagasaki, Japan


  • Gunkanjima (Hashima), Tokiwa Terminal, 長崎県長崎市常盤町1-60常盤ターミナルビル102号 (Take number 5 (green) tram toward Ishibashi to Ourakaigan-Dori stop, walk 1 minute toward the water), ☎ +81 95-8959300, e-mail: reservation@gunkanjima-concierge.com. 09:00 - 18:00. Gunkanjima (lit. "Battleship Island") is a small island completely covered in the ruins of a mining city, abandoned since 1974. Once the most densely populated place on earth, it's now a ghost town, showing the decay of what society leaves behind. Gunkanjima is about 15 km away from Nagasaki and is reachable as a part of organized boat tours since 2009. It takes its name from actually looking like a battleship from a distance. The tour includes a brief video presentation prior to embarkation, and a guided walk on the island. Explanations are in Japanese and headsets are available (free of charge) with an English recording. Upon return, the boat will circle allowing passengers sitting on either side to take photos. The full tour takes about 170 minutes and starts twice daily, at 10:10 and 13:30. It can be booked and paid in advance online, or on-site up to an hour beforehand. Be aware that due to the precarious nature of the Gunkanjima dock, these tours are canceled frequently for bad weather. For those of you thinking of jumping the fence and having a free saunter, think again, as all patrons are not only forced to sign a very specific no-fence-jumping waiver but have to wear the same list of said rules around their necks at all times. There is a memorial to the many Korean workers who lost their lives to the mines of this island as a result of the forced labor programs during Japan's occupation of Korea. This was recently a dramatic film location for the James Bond film 'Skyfall.'
  • Lantern Festival Lunar New Year (mid Jan-mid Feb). Held by Nagasaki's Chinese community, large lanterns are displayed on street corners and in the shopping arcades. Venture through Chinatown or along the river in the evening to see some of the 20,000+ lanterns displayed in the city. Many of the lanterns are shaped like animals or figures from Chinese mythology, and the major lantern every year represents the corresponding zodiac animal (e.g., 2008 featured rats, 2007 featured pigs, etc.).
  • O-Kunchi, the city's biggest and one of Japan's more popular festivals, takes place October 7-9th annually. This festival, based around the descent of the city's patron kami(神)from their home high up in the Suwa Shrine, features choreographed routines with giant, cumbersome floats, sake, and a general feeling of celebration. Finding food will not be a problem during O-Kunchi, as the streets are lined with thousands of vendors hawking takoyaki, yakitori, and grilled corn on the cob.
  • Although all of Japan celebrates O-Bon in August, Nagasaki puts a unique and deafening spin on the day of ancestor worship. Head down to the harbor for the main festivities, which involve far more alcohol and fireworks than is generally considered safe.
  • A quick boat ride to Iojima is the easiest way to get to a beach. The boat ticket allows a visit to the hot springs in the hotel on Iojima so that visitors can wash up.
  • A quick jaunt into Shianbashi, or Shianbash for short, is a must when you visit Nagasaki. This area of Nagasaki exudes debauchery, full of numerous Snacks (not to be confused with a snack bar) and drinking establishments.
  • If you happen to be in Nagasaki between March and June, you can take a walk with Saruku-Chan. More commonly known as Saruku-Haku, these guided tours allow the Sarukist to experience the history of Nagasaki in a very unique way, by walking it! Available with orators teaching in either Japanese and English, these walks are quite the learning experience. They require a bit of multitasking: one must be able to listen, walk and look at the same time. The course sizes range from just a few miles to a monstrous 13-mile jaunt.

What to eat and drink in Nagasaki, Japan


Eat

Nagasaki's most famous dish is champon (ちゃんぽん), which is a hearty dish of noodles in a pork-based broth, filled with vegetables, bacon, shrimp, squid, and scallops.

Saraudon (皿うどん) is another popular dish that combines the meat, seafood, vegetables, and sauce of champon, but serves it on a plate, or 'sara,' over crispy dry fried noodles.

For Nagasaki's most well-known champon and saraudon restaurants, it is best to head into Chinatown (blue streetcar to the Tsuki-machi stop). While you're there, try out some of the fantastic street food, such as kakuni-manju (marinated braised pork cutlet served in a steamed bun), ebichiriman (shrimp fried in chili sauce, again served in a steamed bun), and marakao (steamed pound cake, usually available in chocolate and chestnut flavors).

Castella (カステラ) is a sponge cake that was originally brought by the Portuguese; it has assumed a distinctly light Japanese flavor and texture over the centuries, and now one can find it in flavors such as honey, chestnut, and green tea. Head to the Dutch Slope (オランダ坂) on any day of the week to sample castella for free from one of the many vendors.

Chawan mushi, a steamed egg custard, savory instead of sweet and filled with meat, fish, and mushrooms, is also famous.

Another Nagasaki dish is Turkish Rice (トルコライス toruko raisu), named after the country. It consists of a pork cutlet, dry curry mixed into rice, and a small serving of spaghetti, all on the same plate. Tsuru-chan (ツル茶ん), Aburayamachi 2-47, tel. +81 95-824-2679. Established in 1925, this is the original and perhaps still the best Turkish Rice joint and one of Japan's first cafes. Open 9 AM to 10 PM every day.

Drink

The worthwhile trip to the top of Glover Garden also yields another point of interest: the oldest Western-style restaurant in Japan, the Tenjin Coffeehouse. The stop in is worth it to see their impressive Dutch coffee-making equipment.

Shopping in Nagasaki, Japan


  • Youme Saito, 10-1 Motofunamachi, ☎ +81 95-823-3131. Located next to Dejima Wharf in downtown Nagasaki, this multistory shopping plaza offers a range of stores and services, including a Starbucks, travel agent, a grocery store in the basement, and of course, a grand selection of clothing stores. The grocery store, in particular, has a good selection of foreign imports and cheese compared to other supermarkets. The Kinokuniya bookstore on the fourth floor carries a small selection of English-language books. Next to Kinokuniya is also a food court with multiple selections. Youme Saito is easily accessed by taking the blue streetcar line to the Ohato stop.
  • Nishi-Hamanomachi. Also from the blue line, you can access this enormous covered arcade from up to four streetcar stops, the easiest of which are the ones marked "Hamanomachi." There is a proliferation of restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, hair salons, and multi-level electronics stores.
  • Chitosepia, 5-1 Chitosemachi, ☎ +81 95-842-6001. At the Chitose-machi tram stop, with several clothes stores on the second and first floor as well as an arcade on the second floor. This can be a good place to start shopping. Several restaurants are in the basement as well as a grocery store. The restaurants include Japanese food, a curry restaurant, and an Italian restaurant. One recommendation for a cheap and tasty pick-me-up snack is the Hearth Brown patisserie on the lower level Also one of the restaurants here serves Turkish rice (toruko-raisu).
  • Seiyu, 1-6-10 Hayama, ☎ +81 95-857-1155. Beyond the reach of the Nagasaki trams, so take a bus, is the shopping center of Seiyu. With a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop and a McDonald's in front, it is hard to miss. With almost anything anyone could want, from bookstore to clothing stores to electronic stores, Seiyu has it all, though in a slightly inconvenient place.
  • AMU Plaza. At the Nagasaki station tram stop is Amyu (AMU) Plaza and with a multitude of stores to see in the plaza and several stores around the plaza that might interest people, including a bookshop and an arcade. The bookstore contains a small but serviceable selection of English-language books as well. Inside the plaza is 3 stories of shopping extravaganza, there are clothes, books, and electronic stores all around. There are several restaurants on the bottom and top floors of the building as well as an area for people to buy Nagasaki related knick-knacks and souvenirs. There is also an import store called Dragon Deli on the bottom floor where one can find soda that isn't readily available in the rest of Nagasaki, like Dr. Pepper and A&W Cream Soda. Amu Plaza is more expensive than YouMe Saito.

Safety in Nagasaki, Japan


Japan is probably one of the safest countries in the world, with crime rates significantly lower than that of most Western countries.
Street crime is extremely rare, even late at night.  Of course, little crime does not mean no crime, and it is no excuse to ditch your common sense. Women traveling alone should take care as they would in their home countries and should never hitchhike alone.
Pickpocketing does sometimes happen so you should take your usual precautions in crowded places.

Japan has two emergency numbers. To call the police in an emergency, dial 110 (百十番 hyakutoban). To call for an ambulance or fire truck, dial 119 (a reversal of the US 911). In Tokyo, the police have an English helpline (03-3501-0110), available Monday through Friday except on holidays 08:30-17:15.

Language spoken in Nagasaki, Japan


The National language of Japan is Japanese, although Japan has no Official Language. Most Japanese under 40 have studied English for at least 6 years, but the instruction tends to focus on formal grammar and writing rather than actual conversation. As a result, outside of major tourist attractions and establishments that cater specifically to foreigners, it is rare to find people who are conversant in English. Reading and writing tend to come much better though, and many younger Japanese are able to understand a great deal of written English despite not being able to speak it. English and Chinese are often spoken by some clerks in establishments such as major stores. If lost, it can be practical to write out a question on paper in simple words and give it to someone young, preferably high school or college students, who will likely be able to point you in the right direction. It can also be helpful to carry a hotel business card or matchbook with you, to show a taxi driver or someone if you lose your way. Take comfort in the fact that many Japanese will go to extraordinary lengths to understand what you want and to help you, and try to pick up at least basic greetings and thank yous to put people at ease. Google Translate isn't perfect, but it can definitely help you if you are stuck in a situation where there is not enough to communicate. The app isn't great at reading text using the camera, but typing in a simple message can work.

LOCAL TIME

1:52 pm
June 18, 2019
Asia/Tokyo

CURRENT WEATHER

20.11 °C / 68.198 °F
light rain
Wed

21.68 °C/71 °F
sky is clear
Thu

23.44 °C/74 °F
broken clouds
Fri

22.87 °C/73 °F
overcast clouds
Sat

20.86 °C/70 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

JPY

1 USD = 0 JPY
1 EUR = 0 JPY
1 GBP = 0 JPY
1 AUD = 0 JPY
1 CAD = 0 JPY

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