Nagasaki is a neatly arranged port city nestled along the historic island of Kyushu and dubbed as the major capital of the Nagasaki Prefecture. As one of Japan’s closest port urban areas to the Asian terrain, Nagasaki has assumed a significant part in international trade exchanges for a long time and was the most imperative channel for trading and one of the few ports open to confined quantities of remote dealers amid Japan’s time of disengagement. In later history, Nagasaki was turned into the second city after Hiroshima (3 days after, in August 9, 1945) to be decimated by a nuclear bomb before the end of World War II.
The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum in comparison with the museum of Hiroshima is much smaller, more personal, and really touching. The park and the memorial site there are intimate and beautiful. Once you get here, few words are needed and the images alone tell the entire story. The tour of the museum clearly shows what misery bombs are and what war brings with it. Everything can be seen very well and explained perfectly. This is a must see for every generation, to learn and comprehend what really happened on that fateful day in 1945 at the city of Nagasaki.
When To Go:
With a normal temperature of around 20°c as the year progressed, Nagasaki climate is a city blessed with a unique atmosphere. The winter months that begin from December until February bring the coldest climate. Around this time, the temperature for the most part drops to somewhere around 5°c and 10°c amid the day. The season of summer begins in the month of June all the way to the first week of September. It is usually described by hot temperatures of around 29°c, and random times of high precipitation. The city is generally characterized by two seasons; summer and winter.
The hot and stormy period in the middle of June until August is the city’s most uncomfortable time to visit the city. Frequent guests to the city can attest to the fact that the best time to visit is around the months of January and February. The celebrated Lantern Festival is held amid these months, as indicated by the lunar schedule.
The hot and stormy season (June to August) also brings in a considerable amount of rain, so if guests prefer to go around explorers the city amid this period, bring cotton garments to battle the hotness, and a downpour layer and umbrella or raincoat. The cooler climate in Nagasaki doesn’t typically bring snowfall, yet bringing thick clothing in the middle of November and April is highly suggested.
Explore a city that is rich with history and learn from its lessons as you visit these important attractions and top things to do while in the city of Nagasaki…
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum along with its Peace Memorial is a must to visit. You will find several memorials donated by many countries with the Japanese to commemorate the atomic bomb on Nagasaki; the bomb that was not supposed to fall in Nagasaki if only the Americans had listened to the Japanese. In the park, you can also meet the last survivor of the disaster at the monument with four straight images. The man will tell modest narration about his experiences. It is a heartfelt story from the bottom of his heart with the intention to make everyone aware never to wage war anywhere.
It is a commemorative place that is less ambitious in scope than in Hiroshima. But the museum is impressive by the details that you see. The memorial is worth a visit, it is firm but not excessively or sensationalistic and simply tells the reality of what transpired here 70 years ago. Although smaller than that of Hiroshima, it is a museum that is evocative and full of memories, testimonies and well organized exhibits. First, you go to the rooms where there are ruins of buildings with a clever play of alternation between night and day, it is quite remarkable.
The exhibits and the testimony of the survivors are like a punch in the stomach. All these exhibitions are accompanied by explanations in English. Another note- worthy feature is the recreation of the children’s school. Even if it’s small, your attention will be captured by the explanation of the students and the teachers. It makes everyone understand from an early age, the brutality that war can cause.
The museum is a great place of peace and reflection in Nagasaki. It is found at the foot of a small hill that can be reached by any bus since it is on the main street of Nagasaki. You pay a pittance to enter. It is located beside the Peace Park with many significant monuments and where there is a special space dedicated to children who flew to the sky like birds. Because of what happened during the war, it has a remarkable exhibition of artifacts and period photos. It is neat and well-kept in the details and very explanations for each piece. It has an amazing reconstruction of the “Fat Man” that marked forever the history of this city. The ticket price is worth the visit.
Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims
The Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is a place of silence in memory of the casualties of the worst man-made tragedy in world history. It stands right next to the Atomic Bomb Museum. Do not miss a visit to the basement part of the memorial where you will find a quiet lounge with 12 pillars of light that represent peace, a perfect place to meditate and pray for the victims. In the living room of the 12 columns is placed the names of all the victims. Upon entrance, you must trace a path to follow that explains (in English and Japanese) the phases and the data of the event leading all the way up to the main hall, it is really touching.
Apart from the impressive memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb, the terror and the impact of nuclear war are shown in the attached exhibit. You get an idea of the suffering of the victims, the dramatic effects of the bomb on the city’s life and how the recent developments in atomic bombs are represented in today’s technology. It’s frightening to know how many nuclear weapons exist in our day and age. The visit to the Memorial Hall belongs to the “must” program for a visit to Japan.
It is a memorable place that holds historical moments of the tragedy of the Japanese people as a result of the atomic bombing of the United States in 1945. At this point, it is worth considering in silence to honor the memory of all the victims. The site does not have a lot to see, but it is a beautiful tribute to the victims of war and it is difficult not to be moved while being there.
Nagasaki Peace Park
The Nagasaki Peace Park is only a short walk from the tram stop called the “Matsuyamamachi”. It is a park dedicated to peace, (the south portion of the park is the hypocenter of the bomb, beside the museum and memorial hall in memory of the victims). It can be accessed by a staircase to the south, past a fountain roundabout as you enter the square where commemorative ceremonies are performed every year. You can spend some time and meditate on peace while visiting this park. At the entrance there is a gigantic statue of peace and once you reach the ground zero, you must offer a silent moment of prayer for the victims.
It is a stunning park where the home sculpture is inspiring. The Peace Park of Nagasaki is a quiet and peaceful place. It has beautiful small sculptures – gifts from different countries, including the USSR and the GDR. Next to it is the epicenter of the park where the bomb fell and the museum. It is easily accessible by tram in just 8 stops from the train / railway station. It offers good views of the city and great beds of flowers to admire; and a very nice park with explanation of each culture in English which is more convenient to understand. In this area you will be spoiled for choices of places to see because it is located between the Cathedral and the esplanade.
Hypocenter of Atomic Bombing
The Hypocenter of Atomic Bombing shows the remnants of a cathedral and one or two statues left behind after the bombing. You can spend a quiet meditation in this lovely park. There are some volunteers/survivors that may be on hand to tell you what happened from the rest of the cathedral.
Often referred to as “Point 0” or “Ground Zero”, it is a moving place where the actual atomic bomb (code name: Fat Man) dropped vertically and exploded washing away and affecting all forms of life in Nagasaki City. It was strong, shocking, and the scenes may have changed but the atmosphere is a bit eerie and silent, standing like a mute witness to a gruesome time in Japan’s history.
5,000 people lived on this island mine which is now owned by the huge Japanese firm of Mitsubishi but only one hectare is open for tours and exploration. Here remain the concrete buildings that stand facing the sea of the Hashima Island. The tour is mainly by boat and on a marked route that is a little away from the main structures. But the beautiful pictures are guaranteed!
The excursion is best availed with a Gunkanjima (a local from Hashima Island) concierge or tour company. First, you are given a booklet in English, which is well done and quite detailed.
Then, you must board the boat that will tour the island. You can take the seats on the upper deck to make good pictures (if it’s not too crowded). Crossing the port is already quite a trip. On the island, you can go around and take more photos. The different explanations about life on the island are interesting. But unfortunately, you may land only on a small part that is accessible. The access to the residential buildings is unfortunately not possible. It provides a pleasant stroll and a good way to spend the rest of the afternoon while in Nagasaki.
The best time to climb Mt. Inasa is before the sunset, so you can see the city with the light of day then onwards to its night view; the cable car ride is short, but you need a quick walk to get there. The observatory is located on the summit of Mount Inasa and from the roof of the deck you can enjoy a magnificent view of Nagasaki. If you arrive at night, you can see a city teeming with lights, but if you look to the south and west you can see the hills that turn brown and the red-orange sky at sunset which is simply wonderful.
To reach Mount Inasa; get off at the tram stop of “Takaramachi” (blue or red line) and then proceed to the west, across the bridge over the creek and go right (there are signs) look for the Shinto temple Fuchi and there you can access the cable car. Do not miss the dinner with a view of the majestic landscape while enjoying the typical gastronomy of Nagasaki where Udon is the famous order and for dessert, most guests will prefer to have a Castella (a local sponge cake that is very yummy).
The Glover Garden offers a relaxing walk along large manicured lawns surrounded by excellent villas and well preserved houses. You can spend some time for contemplation on this quiet and serene place in Nagasaki. The Gardens of Glover helps everyone to have an image of Japan at the end of 800 and presents the enterprising men who found in this part of the world a fertile ground for their business.
It is an open-air museum with an interesting garden with well-placed plants and flowers and an adjacent café that serves the best pastries in this part of Nagasaki. It is possible to take pictures in the costumes of the 19th century in the park area that gets overcrowded every weekend. You can wander through the “old” houses of Europeans; see the situation and photos of those who lived there once. It has excellent views of the port with different height points and an interesting all original architecture.
Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
If you like to see a bunch of penguins, or your kids want to watch a unique penguin show while in Nagasaki, then a visit to the Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium is a must. It is one of the most visited animal parks in the city. Here you will see 8 of the 18 World Wide Arte penguins. One of the latest penguins is just 30 cm and so cute. The aquarium is right in Nagasaki city, but it takes about 20 minutes by car from the city center. The required entrance fee is 500 yen for adults and you have to pay for parking.
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum
The Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum is a beautiful building made of glass and wood located near the bay and garden along the harbor. The rich collection of Spanish art lover Japan constitutes the bulk of the permanent collection. You will discover tables of pre Renaissance era up to the present.
You can also have the chance to see an art exhibition dedicated to the work of Ikuo Hirayama, a Nihonga painter who died in 2009. Most of his paintings were inspired by Buddhism, his travels, or simply about his native village on the sea interior of Japan. His evocation of the atomic bomb is also very touching.
Spectacles Bridge (Meganebashi)
The Spectacles Bridge (Meganebashi) is a striking black stone bridge formed in the shape of an eyeglass which comes like a pair of eyes reflecting in the water. If it’s summer, the reflection is not optimal. But the place is pleasant and there are several old bridges on this small river. Parallel to the street, you can find a row of small houses with traditional shops and with no less than 12 preserved temples of the bomb and well crafted.
There is not much to see here in this old bridge that was built more in European style rather than Japanese, but it is interesting for some good photography; and a beautiful night view with the illuminations.
Nagasaki Seaside Park
The Nagasaki Seaside Park is a haven of peace with great views of the harbor. As you walk along its promenade area, you will see a vast expanse of grass on which you can lie down and relax while overlooking the bay and the suspension bridge. When night falls, the city lights make the city more vibrant and captivating. If you come during spring time season, the presence of the cherry blossoms make the park more enticing and elegant looking.
The history of Dejima and the role of the Dutch in Japan and the rest of the world are impressive and you can see how adventurous the people of Nagasaki have been. It is a nice part of the city with historical buildings and the harbor with lovely restaurants. There is also a film showing that is also spoken in Dutch but translated in Japanese and English. It is an artificial island with 13,000 mt. sq. fan-shaped structures. The construction started in 1634 and completed in 1636. The Dejima wharf is something you certainly should not skip while you’re on tour of Nagasaki.
For an exciting holiday and a chance to have a glimpse of Japan’s interesting history, a visit to Nagasaki is a must. You will not only learn about what war can do but also admire the dignity and perseverance of its people to stand up and go on despite the devastating effects of the atomic bomb in their city. Next to Hiroshima, the city is a shining example of why war must never happen again anywhere else in the world.