Travel Stories

A travel blog for a long-term expat, backpacker, traveler, ESL teacher, and photographer. 

Nagasaki

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Nagasaki is a beautiful little city in the Kyushu area of Japan. The name is quite infamous due to the atomic bomb explosion during the Second World War, and today, that fact alone is probably why the majority of tourists are drawn to it– including me. As a lover of the Second World War, Nagasaki is very interesting to me because of its museums dedicated to the remembrance of the bomb victims. Additionally, another point of interest is the Battleship Island, Hashima – an abandoned coal miners islands from the 1960s (this will be featured in a blog by itself). However, Nagasaki does have more to offer, one can find numerous exciting temples, gardens, a fish market, a marina, nightlife, and a chinatown inside Nagasaki proper. One can also try the famous Nagasaki Champon which is a noodle dish comprising of pork, seafood, and vegetables all of which are cooked with lard and pig bones. Lard? Who doesn’t like a hearty soup? It was delicious and I have been craving it ever since my trip! In addition, small traditionally styled tram system runs throughout the city. Near the downtown, one can find lots of small restaurants and shops as well. It had a fantastic atmosphere at night and there is supposedly a small geisha district – which, as we sort of assumed, translates to a sort of prostitution district (many fancy dressed women waiting on corners). Now, as mentioned above, the atom bomb museum was the one thing that drew me to Nagasaki. In the vicinity of the Atom Bomb Museum, one can find thousands of rainbow-colored origami cranes linked together. Strings upon strings of cranes are dangled from monuments and within numerous places inside and around the museum.  The exhibition inside the museum offers a unique glimpse into what life was like post-bomb. It is also located very close to the hypocenter of the bomb.  Inside the museum,. there was a section of a fence on display. The fence had a shadow cast onto it from nearby leaves during the time of the drop (the fence was probably in the hypocenter). (The science behind it can be found here. There were also many photos and stories of survivors from Korean survivors, Japanese survivors, and other POWs. There were stories of skin melting off and muscles behind exposed and numerous poems about that day. Additionally, there is a large collection of recorded memoirs that one can watch about the aftermath. Overall, I felt the museum was definitely presented in an unbiased way – especially compared to Tokyo’s War Museum. For example, displayed, was one POW from England who spoke about his support for the bomb because it may have saved thousands of people from more years of war regardless of being exposed to the radiation himself.

The city is probably my favorite that I have traveled to in Japan so far and thus, I highly recommend it. If you visit, I’d say most places are in walking distance in Nagasaki but if it is not, just hop on the tram for transportation. They offer two day tram passes which are great if you plan to see many different places in a limited amount of time. We stayed in a hostel here which made visiting Nagasaki more affordable as Japan is crazy expensive.