10 Places You Must Visit in Nagasaki City
Nagasaki city is located in Nagasaki Prefecture on the Kyushu island. It was the only port city in Japan used to trade with the Portuguese and Dutch from the 16th to the 19th century, during a time when Japan was in isolation. The city has a unique history and culture which is like no other prefecture; and here we'd like to introduce 10 places you definitely must visit when in Nagasaki.
1. Meganebashi Bridge (Spectacles Bridge)
Meganebashi Bridge was built in 1634 by a Chinese monk and is said to be the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan, and is considered one of the three most famous bridges in Japan. The name, which means Spectacles Bridge in English was given because its two arches and their reflection in the water creates the image of a pair of spectacles. If you walk along the river, you may be able to find a heart-shaped stone where you can make a wish for eternal love.
2. Dejima Dejima, which is an artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki, was a Dutch trading post back in 1641 to 1854. During most of the Edo period, the island was the only place where direct trade and exchange was possible between Japan and the outside world. In 1922, it was designated as a Japanese national historic site. The buildings consist mainly of residential quarters and warehouses.
3. The 26 Martyrs Museum and Monument
The 26 Martyrs Museum and Monument is dedicated to the twenty six Christians who were executed on Nishizaka Hill on 5 February 1597, where the museum was built on. Artifacts related to Christianity in Japan is displayed with English explanations, including the fumie or treading images. Every year from 1629 to 1857, Nagasaki residents were forced to go through a ritual of stepping on the fumie with images of Christ or Mary to prove they were not Christians.
4. Oura Cathedral Oura Cathedral is the oldest wooden church of Gothic architecture in Japan. It was built in 1864 by a French missionary and was dedicated to the 26 martyrs who had been executed on Nishizaka Hill. Oura Cathedral became famous worldwide as the church that discovered the "hidden followers" who had survived the religious persecution.
5. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
At 11:02 am on 9 August 1945, the explosion of an atomic bomb devastated Nagasaki. The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum was completed and opened in April 1996 as part of the 50th-anniversary projects and as a remembrance to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The museum covers the history of the event as a story, focusing on the attack and the history leading up to it. It also covers the history of nuclear weapons development and displays photographs, relics, and documents related to the bombing.
6. Nagasaki Peace Park
The Nagasaki Peace Park is a park established to commemorate the atomic bombing of Nagasaki city on 9 August 1945 during World War II, which destroyed almost the whole city and killed tens of thousands of people. You will find significant monuments such as the iconic Peace Statue, Peace Fountain, Hypocenter Cenotaph, and many others. An explanation to the Peace Statue is that the statue's right hand points to the air symbolizing the threat of nuclear weapons while the extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace.
7. Urakami Cathedral The Urakami Cathedral is a cathedral which was destroyed by the Nagasaki atomic bombing. Some stone saints and one of the church's original bell is left for display in front of the church. The original building construction started in 1895 on the very ground where the fumie interrogations had been carried out in an attempt to root out Christianity during the era when the religion was prohibited in Japan. The Christians of Urakami village thought it was an appropriate place to build a church considering their memory of the long persecution. The construction was completed in 1925; and before the bombing, it was the largest Christian structure in the Asia-Pacific region.
8. Gunkanjima (Battleship Island)
Gunkanjima or originally known as Hashima Island served as a coal mine city between 1887 to 1974, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island once had the highest population density in 1959 of 83,500 people/km². The island is a whole city on its own with apartment blocks, a school, kindergarten, hospital, town hall, community center, and entertainment facilities such as a clubhouse, cinema, communal bath, swimming pool, rooftop gardens, shops, and even a pachinko parlor. It was owned by Mitsubishi Corporation during the peak of the coal mining industry until it was handed over to Takashima town, then to Nagasaki city in 2002. And the island was officially opened to tourists in 2009. You could choose between the cruising tour or landing tour.
9. Mount Inasa Observatory
Mount Inasa is 333m high (the same height as Tokyo Tower) and located close to Nagasaki's city center. You definitely wouldn't want to miss a visit here to watch the sunset and night view, because the night view from the Mount Inasa Observatory is ranked as one of the three best night views in Japan! As long as the weather is good, the night view never disappoints.
10. Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in Japan, and used to be the home for many Chinese sailors and traders who trade goods with the Japanese from the 15th to 19th centuries. There's a variety of shops and restaurants for you to enjoy and also the best place to eat Nagasaki's famous Chinese-influenced dish called Champon.
There's more to see and experience than the 10 places introduced above. The most iconic places could be visited in a day, however if you could fit in around two to three days of stay in your travel plan, you'll be able to explore more!