Travel in Japan Nagasaki

Travel in Japan Nagasaki - All of Kyushu Island too is semi-tropical, lush green, and has beautiful beaches. Nagasaki is one of Japan`s most beautiful, interesting and of course, historic cities.

The people of Kyushu are more easy going than their counterparts in Honshu, Kyushu people brag. All in all it is a nice place to visit or live in, so I recommend travel in Japan Nagasaki!

A Few Days in Nagasaki

On the first day, I took the bullet train from Tokyo to Hakata, the southernmost city on the supertrain line. From there a regular express train took me the restof the way to Nagasaki, near the bottom of the rorschach-shaped island of Kyushu. Total time: eight hours to go 1000 kilometers.

by Richard Schwartz



Like Hiroshima, a traditional streetcar system steered the streets. I hopped on and started to get a feel for the city. Most importantly, I wanted to find a hotel before dark, and I was hoping the museum information desk could point the way.

Travel in Japan Nagasaki - Ground Zero

I approached Ground Zero and took note of the historical markers remembering the damage caused at 11:02AM on Aug. 9, 1945. One of the most distinctive was the One-legged Temple Gate. Every Shinto Temple has an entry framed by what looks like a huge Greek "pi" symbol, usually made of red-painted wood, but in this case made of stone. Only a few hundred metres from the blast, but partially sheltered by a hill, one of the uprights had fallen over, but the other half, including the crossbeam, had stayed up. They decided to leave it that way, as a symbol of the destructive power of the atom. Actually, to me it conveyed quite a different message: that it is possible to take a direct hit and survive. I doubt that's what they intended.

I got to the museum exactly as they closed, so I was on my own finding a hotel. Although one would think that the Peace Museum was a prime tourist spot, there was only one legitimate hotel anywhere in the vicinity, and it was charging 10,000 Yen (close enough to one hundred dollars), which was more than I wanted to spend. At the same time, by my count there were seven...how can I put this delicately?...of the kind of hotels thatcharge by the hour. (This is a booming trade here by the way. The economy is extremely adultery-friendly. Former U.S. President Clinton would think he'd died and gone to heaven). Rather than find out how they would react to a gaijin walking in by himself, I paid the extra and stayed at a swanky place.

On the Second Day After a good night's sleep, I hit the Nagasaki Peace Museum. It was very long on detail about the civilian population prior to the bomb, the readiness of Japanese leadership to surrender, and the ulterior motives of the Allies for dropping the bomb anyway. Of course the relics of the dead were horrific, but I felt they depended overmuch on the depictions of carnage to make their point. Some of the most touching reminders were the most understated.

For me the most powerful image was that of a man and his ladder, standing beside a wooden wall. It was far enough from the fireball that the wall could remain standing, but the intense heat had turned the wood black -- all except the shadow of the man and the ladder, which stood out in macabre negative. They had taken the brunt of the blast upon themselves, sheltering the part of the wall in their shadow and leaving an almost photographic record of their last moment on earth.

In general, it was much more militant than its counterpart in Hiroshima. It missed no chance to drive home the message "War bad. Atomic war badder" just in case we missed it. Almost missing was any acknowledgement of Japan's role in the war. I suspect many people have made this complaint, because there was a video display which seems to have been added as an after thought. On a small screen, the visitor is invited to sit through one of ten short films describing the history of the Pacific War.

Travel in Japan Nagasaki

I don't think I'm making too big a deal out of this when I say that the machine looked complicated and intimidating to the average museum patron, lessening the likelihood of a person actually sitting through all ten films. Having said that, however, I must say that I was impressed by the frankness shown in the films.

Travel in Japan Nagasaki

One admitted to the massacre of Nanking, a very sour point of contention in Japan, although it made no reference to how many fatalities were involved. Another admitted that Japan had used sex slaves for the troops (the controversial issue of "comfort women") and another, in one sentence, acknowledged that the attack on Pearl Harbor was what brought the United States into the war. Outside were the monuments commemorating the event itself. I know this sounds petty, but none of them had quite the simple majesty of the epicenter of Hiroshima. The keystone was a huge bronze sculpture of a seated man pointing to the sky, warning of the consequences of another bomb to fall. Not many people know -- I certainly didn't -- that many of the victims of the blast were Catholic. Nagasaki has a long history of Christianity, going back to a personal visit by St. Francis Xavier himself.

One of the many buildings to fall was Urakami Church, just as Mass was getting underway. Pope John Paul II came here a few years back -- they have photos up and a nice bronze bust. This was especially relevant to me and my large Catholic family I had a lot to think about, so I found a nice business hotel closer to the train station. On the Third Day I woke up bright and early on Sunday and looked out my hotel window at the cityscape sprawling up the side of the hill.

Travel in Japan Nagasaki - a beautiful harbor city

Nagasaki is a lot like Hong Kong: steep mountains sloping down to a well-protected bay. (Not that I've ever been to Hong Kong, but Nagasaki is the sort of place that would remind the sort of person who had been to Hong Kong of the sort of place that Hong Kong is.) Having run out of flat land along the harbor to build on, and not wanting to waste valuable real estate on the dead, the cemeteries have been built on the sides of these almost vertical hills.

Travel in Japan - Cleaning

Suddenly I saw smoke coming from several places. Thinking that a morning cremation was underway, I grabbed my camera and was out the door like a shot. I was wrong; family members were converging on the cemetery to clear the weeds and leaves, and that's what they were burning. Then they burned incense and left fresh flowers. Across Japan this is the time of the annual Festival of the Dead, so I wasn't surprised by this. They also set off firecrackers, which also makes sense given Nagasaki's strong Chinese influence.

As I mentioned, Nagasaki also was a hotbed of Catholicism, going back to St. Francis Xavier. Fearful of this cult preaching love and peace, a later leader rounded up 26 who would not recant and had them crucified on a hill within walking distance of my hotel. Three of them were just teenage boys. All 26 were later canonized.

Travel in Japan Nagasaki - The Catholics

For 200 years the Catholics were persecuted in the most vicious ways, including a yearly ritual of being forced to step on a Jesus medallion to prove that they weren't believers. Somehow, when a later, less xenophobic leadership opened the doors of the country, there were enough left that there seems to be a church on every hill; the oldest church in the city (not coincidentally, also the oldest in Japan) is so closely identified with the city that it appears on almost every souvenir keychain and ashtray.

In the afternoon I went up Mt. Inasa (333 meters) by cable car. Fantastic view.

Travel in Japan Nagasaki 2010



Lyanne Thomas takes a look at Travel in Japan Nagasaki

Nagasaki is indeed a busy city. One can travel by bus and overnight buses go to and from other cities in Kyushu and Honshu (the main island of Japan). The Holland overnight bus runs from Kyoto and Osaka Umeda to

Nagasaki City.

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