Saturday, 9 October 2010

Japan! Part 2 - Nagasaki

We got up at 9am on our first morning in Japan and headed off to the train station. We had bought 3 day JR rail passes just for the northern Kyushu island area which allowed us to take pretty much any train we wanted except for the fastest bullet trains. However, there aren't any bullet train lines in that part of Japan so that was no hassle. The Japan Rail passes give foreigners a good deal on the price of rail travel which apparently is exorbitantly expensive usually. You can only buy the rail passes if you're in a country other than Japan and if you don't live in Japan though so it's no good for folk who live there. We caught an express train to Nagasaki and it looked pretty cool even though it wasn't a bullet train. We grabbed some breakfast from the station. I got some delicious bakery stuff that was filled with ham and cheese and unlike Korean 'bakeries' (Paris Baguette, Tous les Jours) the food actually seemed to be based on French cooking rather than being a bizarre assimilation (sugary garlic bread is a Korean bakery standard). Rowan got a bento box with rice, veg and a piece of salmon in it, a good cheap Japanese take out meal.

The express train to Nagasaki. It looked as cool on the inside as it did on the outside, with big comfy chairs and wooden floor boards.

Rowan's bento box. The strange looking vegetable is a lotus root.

The views from the train were lovely, rice paddies, small villages and rugged mountains . The colours were really vivid. We arrived in Nagasaki around 1pm and caught a tram to the Peace Park, a memorial park on the site where the second atomic bomb landed on 9 August 1945. Then we visited the Atomic Bomb Museum It was an interesting, thought provoking museum but of course it was extremely sad and some of the exhibits and photos were really painful to look at.

The simple black memorial plinth in the Peace Park. It was placed in the exact spot where the bomb exploded. The park was very peaceful, leafy and green. It was hard to connect this with the photos of devastation in the museum.

Part of the Urakami cathedral that was mostly destroyed in the explosion. This is one of the few remaining parts. At the time of the bombing it was the largest Catholic church in the East. Ironically, the US Air Force managed to score a near direct hit on the church, killing over 20 people who were gathered inside for a service.

Another memorial statue in the Peace Park, commemorating the 75,000 people who died in the atomic explosion.

A river running through the Peace Park. Scientists originally predicted that nothing would be able to grow here for at least 70 years so the Peace Park is really very special.

This lady was selling ice cream on the edge of the Peace Park, near a Nagasaki tow-path.

The light and airy atrium in the centre of the museum.

This clock is an exhibit in the museum. It's bent hands are stuck forever at 11.02am, the time when the bomb exploded over Nagasaki.

After the museum we caught a tram back to the train station and took a walk around some of the many temples in Nagasaki. There were too many to mention individually but they were all very beautiful.

Trams in Nagasaki.

Fukusai-ji Kannon temple is in the form of a huge turtle with a 18m high figure of the goddess Kannon standing on its back.

Close up of the Kannon goddess statue.

Rowan walking down Temple Row (Tera-Machi), a famous road filled with temples in Nagasaki.

One of the many temples on Tera-Machi.

Dragon detail from one of Nagasaki's temples.

A stone carving on the Tera-Machi.

These two funny little guys (note the giant balls) were outside a temple on Tera-Machi.

A Dutch house in Nagasaki. Nagasaki was one of the first cities in Japan to start trading with the West and there was a Dutch trading post in Nagasaki from the mid 17th century to 1855 that was the only point of contact between Japan and the rest of the world.

Rowan got this picture of crazy car parking Japanese style. Basically, you park your car on a metal platform and then it's rotated up and away like it's on a giant ferris wheel and is kept moving within the huge multi storey building, presumably until you want to get it back again.

After looking round the temple row we looped through the centre of town, past the harbour and then made our way back to the station. We picked up some delicious takoyaki (octopus balls) and ate them on the train back to Fukuoka. We wanted to get back to the hostel in good time as we planned to make a stupidly early start to get to Mount Aso, a huge volcanic crater that contains an active volcano, the next day. Unfortunately , this meant we didn't get to try any Nagasaki champon (the local ramen dish made with pork, octopus, squid, fish patties and vegetables) but I suppose you can't do everything!

Nagasaki harbour at sunset.


  1. They have those parking garages here in Korea too.

  2. we have them in Prague as