I remember how my high school commemorated the Hiroshima-Nagasaki nuclear attack every August, with a mass in our campus field and extensive history classes. St. Scho has always been like that, a bit too revolutionary for youngsters with no idea of the world at that time. I think this was my very first encounter of these two cities in Japan, made known by a tragic incident in 1945. My early exposure lead to a long-term thirst for knowledge and understanding.
Ever since then, I've been drawn to these places for its stories, just like visiting the 9/11 Memorial of New York, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and the Topography of Terror of Berlin. They'll call it "depressing", but there is also a lot to learn from the world's dark past ("never forget").
And like in any place, there is more to Nagasaki than being the last city in the world to experience a nuclear attack. After two nights in Fukuoka, we were on the road for 2 hours to get to our next stop: Nagasaki. Here are some of the places that you can visit when you find yourself on this non-touristy side of Japan.
Things To Do In Nagasaki
1) Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium - Seeing penguins in zoos is common, but it's my first time to see just penguins, wobbling adorably to the beach for a swim!
2) Nagasaki Dejima - Nagasaki's old town, they even have geisha shows. You'll see the Dutch influences in the houses and food on this place.
3) 26 Martyrs Museum - You'll find out how Filipinos and Christians are connected to the Japanese, and even see San Lorenzo Ruiz's statue by the entrance of the museum. I hope the tour that we had is a regular thing in the museum, and make sure to avail it for insider stories!
4) Nagasaki Peace Park + Hypocenter Park + Atomic Bomb Museum - very quiet and peaceful places that commemorate the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
5) Mt. Inasa Ropeway - One of the top 3 BEST night views in the world, along with Monaco and Hong Kong.
6) Nagasaki Chinatown - another un-Japanese side of Nagasaki--red lanterns, Chinese restaurants (we had dinner in Kyokaen), this is the oldest Chinatown in Japan.
Where To Stay in Nagasaki
We stayed for a night at the Ana Crowne Plaza Nagasaki. It is very near Glover Garden, a strip of shops, and about 3-minute walk to the streetcar station. It also has a kombini in the hotel, and breakfast is good.
Meanwhile, room is very spacious, and they even have an ANA Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage program, providing eye warmer, bath powder, and low-caffeine roasted green tea and mint green tea to their guests. Humidifiers and Pillow Menu are available upon request.
Traveling To And Around Nagasaki
Nagasaki does not have an international airport. We came from Fukuoka (entry point is Fukuoka Airport via Cebu Pacific Air) and reached Nagasaki with our tour bus at about 2 hours on the road. If you'll be doing this DIY, you can also take the train (JR) or highway bus (half the price of train) to Nagasaki.
Going around Nagasaki is easy with their aboveground tram system. You can avail a 1-day tram pass for 500 Yen at the Nagasaki Station for unlimited rides.
1) Nagasaki is a port city, they formerly played an important role in foreign trade. I like the view of the sea from the city, especially during sunset.
2) It is also easy to see Nagasaki's highlights in 2 full days, I think it's a perfect stop to include when you plan a Kyushu Island tour. If you have time constraints, then you can also visit Nagasaki as a day-trip, focusing only on Nagasaki Dejima, Nagasaki Peace Park and Hypocenter Park + sunset view from Mt. Inasa.
You can book our tour (Fukuoka-Nagasaki-Saga-Fukuoka) via this website: https://inbound.japan-tour.jp/en/. Name of our guide is Miki Ishida.
And lastly.... 3) As a port city and navy base, an interesting tidbit about Nagasaki for me is its foreign influences.
You'll see structures that are very European, Catholic Churches, even a tram system that I don't usually see in other Japanese cities. Some of their main dishes are not very Japanese too, like the Turkish Rice which is a plate filled with pilaf rice, spaghetti, and pork cutlet.
This quirk made Nagasaki so memorable, and even a place I'd like to go back to. Someday!
Special thanks to @astalavistaph, @thepoortraveler, @pinoyadventurista, @tricksterzph, Abi of @ourawesomeplanet, @_willflyforfood_, Lucky and Walter of @discoverMNL, @natepunzalan6, @teamoutoftown, and Erika Garcia, Aileen Dela Rosa, Ms. Len Borja, Michelle Lim, Miki-san, and Ishibashi San. Grateful to be part of this trip!
Cebu Pacific flies daily between Manila and Fukuoka, Japan, with fares starting at Php 3288.