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We are going to Nagasaki in March on a cruise for one day. Does anyone have any advice for what to see and do in 24 hours? We have been told there are great hot baths nearby and would be grateful for any 'must do' things people can recommend.
This week's question:
Nagasaki is a great little town to visit for 24 hours. There are plenty of small scale tourist attractions within an easy walk, or pleasant tram ride, around the town. There are indeed some great hot springs to visit relatively nearby, the most famous being those at Unzen
, a volcanic mountain range which can be reached by hire car in about two hours and probably two and half by local bus. I wouldn't really recommend going to these if you only have 24 hours here though. I think you'd probably be better off exploring the town itself.
Firstly take a stroll along Dejima wharf
, a delightful marina development that has a few cafes and restaurants with tables outside. I recommend an espresso at the Attic Cafe. From here, it is a short stroll to the historical Dejima Island, a reconstructed living museum of the tiny gated Dutch traded community which was Japan's only contact to the outside world during its long self-enforced period of international isolation (1633-1853). Next, you can wander along to the old Chinatown district, a pleasant and colourful relic of another of Nagasaki's historical international connections. Stop here for a bowl of "Nagasaki champon", a famous local dish based on Chinese noodles.
You should not visit Nagasaki, of course, without considering the city's terrible recent history and the Atomic Bomb Museum
and related peace gardens should certainly be part of your schedule. Not an easy experience, but a very necessary one if you are to fully appreciate the city.
Finally, you can hop on a tram to the other side of town and visit the hugely popular "Glover Gardens
"; a collection of Meiji era (1868-1912) foreigner's houses set in beautiful gardens with panoramic views of the city. The main attraction here being the house of Thomas Glover (1838-1911), a Scottish trader who established his home and business in the city, and is credited with helping the country industrialise during the Meiji era, founding many famous companies along the way.
My main advice is to take advantage of the great public transport system and really get out and wander through the town, there's something noteworthy to see on almost every corner.Richard Culleton
Nagasaki is a compact city that is easy to walk around but also has an excellent tram system. Single journeys are Yen 100. Day passes, at Yen 600, are cheap but as the city is so compact you may find you never make even six journeys on a single day.
Stroll around Tojin-machi, the old China Town (as opposed to the nearby current China town). Tojin-machi has a distinctly different atmosphere. From here hilly paths, through old residential neighbourhoods, will take you to Glover Gardens. Enter the gardens using the elevator that deposits you conveniently at the top gate.
The Glover Gardens is a collection of C19 houses of European and American traders on a site overlooking Nagasaki inlet. It sounds a bit cheesy but is, in fact, a pleasant place to stroll around. In the grounds is a good coffee shop with views over the inlet. There is also a good short film on the main, local festival, Kunchi. It is shown in a building near the main exit.
For those who like modern art and architecture the new Nagasaki Modern Art Museum is well worth a visit. The museum is situated in newly laid gardens on the inlet. Across the waters are shipyards that provide an interesting contrast.
Dejima was the site where Dutch traders were restricted to during Japan's long period of seclusion from the rest of the world. The buildings have been recreated and these, along with informative displays, provide a very good idea of what life was like. Siebold was a doctor with the Dutch on Dejima and he made an extensive study of the Japanese flora. A museum in the city is dedicated to his work in Japan.
The Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
is a very good museum describing the history of this interesting city. The museum is on the site of what was the official residence of the Shogun's representative and governor of the city. The major portion of the residence has also been recreated.
Regular boat excursions around the inlet are available during the day and evening.
The Peace Park, atomic bomb museum and Urakami Church
, which was close to the epicenter, provide an interesting, if solemn, use of time.
A tourist information office is located in Nagasaki Station.Paul Christie
24 hours being quite short, and Kyushu's transportation system mostly bus based, I would focus on seeing a few Nagasaki sites and a trip to Unzen, which is a great place to go to an onsen (bath). The Nagasaki sites are pretty unique in Japan, with main highlights being the Dutch slope / Glover area, (colonial houses from when Nagasaki and Kobe were pretty much the only ports in Japan allowing trade with the Dutch and Chinese), an ancient Chinatown area and, more involving, the atomic bomb site / memorial.
Buses to Unzen and back leave from the Nagasaki central bus station, and there are a few a day. Upon arrival, ask the person in the bus terminal for the return buses' schedule. It takes roughly two hours to get there from Nagasaki and has some of the best sulphur bath water in Japan along with the eerie steaming "jigoku" hells
, a wasteland of steam and boiling pits where Christians were once martyred. Unzen offers an easily walkable jigoku tour and many options for bathing, onsen hopping and staying a night, the best bet being to go for a place offering a traditional inn (ryokan) feel, which might be a little pricey but worth it. Be sure to try the "onsen tamago", eggs hard boiled in the springs sulphuric water.
I would strongly recommend any (or all) of the following to do in and
around Nagasaki in 24 hours:
1) Take the ropeway up to the top of Mount Inasa
for a spectacular
spring view of the city and the sea beyond!
2) Wander down to one of the waterfront restaurants and try someNagasaki Champon
(spicy Korean-style noodles) washed down with a giant
frothy tankard of Japanese lager or three.
3) Visit the atomic bomb museum for a fairly balanced account of what
happened to the city and its people, one morning in August, 1945.
4) Revitalise your bodies and zone out your minds in the aptly-named"Obama Onsen"
, supposedly 'The hottest hot spa in Japan!' Just don't
forget to wash yourself before you get in.
Dr Philip Sawkins
Nagasaki is a beautiful city to visit and one of the more "international" cities on Kyushu. 24 hours should be more than enough time to have a good explore.
On my list of "must-see" places within the city include the Peace Museum
(a very peaceful space, where you can learn more about the causes and effects of the nuclear bomb there) and the Peace Garden (if only for the bizarre 30 foot sky blue statue, meant as a memorial to peace). You can still see some sights of the old city from before the bombing, including "Meganebashi" (Spectacles Bridge), bridging the canal/river winding out of the downtown area. There is a large and vibrant Chinese community within Nagasaki and the Chinatown area is also worth visiting.
I'd also suggest a visit to the old Dutch quarter, Dejima, also located in the downtown area, as well as the beautiful and newly built docklands area.
For an overview of the city, either make your way up the hills behind the hotels opposite the station, or catch a bus from outside the train station to Mt Inasa, where there is a spectacular panoramic view of the city (as an added bonus, the zipline up the hill is pretty terrifying).
If you have time to get a little way out of town, head south towards Shimabara - some of the most unspoilt and beautiful beaches in Kyushu.
Have a good trip, and it's also worth checking up on local festivals while you're out here - the Nagasaki Lantern festival is held around this time of year, although I can't remember offhand the precise date...
Best wishes,Hannah Millinship
Nagasaki is one of Japan's loveliest towns and tremendously rich in
history. With only 24 hours, I wouldn't even think about leaving the
town. Though the focus used to be on reconciliation after the war,
this has shifted within the past decade to emphasize its role as an
international port from 17th century to 19th century. Dejima (the man-made island where the Dutch lived) has been reconstructed and in the town there
are five Chinese-style temples (and the former Chinese residential
There are also sites relating to the Christian community, the Glover Garden from the late 19th century (associated with Madame Butterfly), and the Peace Park. Together with a new museum, a series of walking tours was designed in 2006 and you should be able to get information from the tourist office
I was there for four days and I had a local taking me about which helped. Things you should do are:
1. Eat the local food- a hybrid of Japanese and Chinese
2. Go to the bomb museum for an understanding of American brutality
3. Visit Chinatown and follow the beautiful river with amazing stone bridges
4. Visit the cool Taoist temples and the Dutch fort
5. I did the cruise and it was good. Mitsubishi factory area, where the Americans were supposed to drop the bomb but missed is impressive, as is the peace bridge.
6. The tourist office sells cool food items
Good luck!Edward Coombes
Nagasaki is a stunning city. Of course it has its downsides, like they eat whale meat, but Madame Butterfly comes from here too. Read up on the history of Nagasaki as this was the only place in Japan where Japanese could make contact and trade with foreigners.
Amazingly a Scotsman; Thomas Glover, modernized Japan in the late 19th century introducing coal mining, the railway, electricity and even beer! Glover Hill in Nagasaki is named after him where his house and gardens are preserved. In Nagasaki there are beautiful temples, great antique shops, even Castella, a Japanese version of a Portuguese sponge cake from the 16th century.
However in Nagasaki you must go to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. It is harrowing as you would expect, but if you visit Nagasaki it is almost your duty as a human being to visit.Stephen
It might seem strange to suggest you start by getting back on a boat, but the island of Iojima
is a 20-minute ferry ride from the downtown Ohato ferry terminal. A short walk from where the ferry arrives is the Yasuragi Iojima onsen, a traditional bathhouse with a range of different styles and temperatures of bath. Sitting in a sunken hinoki (Japanese cypress) bathtub filled with steaming spring water, looking out over the sea is something that you’re unlikely to forget. Japanese spas are quite different from Western ones, so it’s a good idea to read up about onsen etiquette before you go. The ticket for the onsen is extremely cheap- less than 1000 yen, including the return ferry ticket, and can be bought in the Ohato ferry terminal.
Back in Nagasaki City, across the road from the Ohato terminal is Dejima Island
(now surrounded by reclaimed land), which once served as the ‘gateway’ to Japan. While the rest of the country was closed to foreigners until 1853, merchants, traders and prostitutes conducted their business on the tiny island. Nowadays, the original wooden buildings on Dejima have been rebuilt, giving visitors an idea of what life must have been like for the earliest European settlers (smelly, cramped and exposed to the elements).
Another historical site that you should visit is the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park. Although many of the tourists visiting Nagasaki will be familiar with the basic timeline of events surrounding the bombing, the museum uses found objects and photographs to show the impact of the blast on individual residents and families. Exhibits include collections of items recovered in the aftermath of the explosion, such as scorched children’s lunch tins and partially destroyed house facades. Although I would recommend it as a ‘must see’, visiting the museum is emotionally draining.
An alternative smaller museum that deals with the impact of the bombing is the Nagai Takashi Memorial Museum. Takashi Nagai was a doctor who worked in Nagasaki with bomb victims, before dying of leukaemia as a result of exposure to radiation. His living quarters have been preserved along with some of his handwritten records including a letter from Helen Keller. This small museum brims with evidence of one man’s personal response to the tragedy in a way the main bomb museum obviously cannot.
Despite recommending the above historical sites, I think the most pleasurable thing to do in Nagasaki, and the best way to get to see the city, is to jump off the tram when a neighbourhood catches your eye and explore. My favourite area was around Suwa-Machi (Kokkaido-Mae tram stop), one of the older districts. Here you can find Megane-Bashi, a double-arch bridge that is said to resemble a pair of spectacles at high tide (and is the oldest stone bridge in Japan), and Tera-Machi, a winding street lined with wooden temples. Behind the temples the crowded cemeteries roll up the hillside into the forest, and snakes can occasionally be found basking on the gravel pathways.
Exploring the narrow streets between Tera-Machi and the river is a great way to spend the afternoon. Nagasaki is a city of quiet beauty, and as you make your way on foot through the old, cluttered neighbourhoods you can discover tiny shops hidden on residential roads selling handmade clothes, second-hand kimonos, mysterious vegetables and castella cake, a local delicacy. This area is peppered with cafes, so is the perfect place to stop for a rest. There are traditional Japanese teashops, French patisseries (Nagasaki takes its French cakes quite seriously) and coffee shops with an infatuation with sleek Scandinavian design. Don’t worry about getting lost while wandering; if you lose your way just head towards the distant rumble of the streetcar.
If you only have one evening in Nagasaki, then one of the best places for dinner is at Dejima Wharf. Along the boardwalk there is a range of restaurants, from Japanese fare to Italian and Chinese. If the evening isn’t too cool then you can sit outside at a table overlooking the bay; during the colder months the restaurants normally provide blankets to wrap up in if you’re determined to get a table with a good view. These restaurants may seem a little touristy, but their location is unbeatable.
To end the day with a panorama of the whole city, head up to Mount Inasa. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi to the ropeway station, and then a cable car to the hilltop. From the viewing platform at the summit you can see Nagasaki stretching away from the bay, along the narrow valleys between the wooded hilltops, threaded with rivers and canals.
If you have any energy left then the best place to get a drink is in Shianbashi entertainment district, a maze of narrow alleys lined with bolthole drinking establishments. Although the smaller bars will only have drink menus in Japanese, the staff are generally friendly and patient, and the word ‘beer’ is the same in Japanese! One tip for drinking in Japan: avoid anywhere with the word ‘Snack’ in the name, unless you want to pay for the privilege of having a hostess sitting at your table.Brody