Where to Go in Nagasaki?
No matter where you go in Nagasaki, the landmarks and locations worth checking out all have a connection to the city’s compelling past. On one side you will be reminded of the devastation and impact left by the atomic bomb, and on the other, you will be reminded of the city’s vibrant history as a trading post, the connection to the foreign world, and the importance of the city from the time of the first contact with Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.
National Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Museum
The Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Museum are located to the north of Nagasaki Station in Heiwamachi (Peace Town). As impactful as it maybe for some, this is the top must-visit destination in the city. The memorial and museum are in separate building but are connected by a tunnel making it easy to visit both places at once. The memorial side is marked by two towering glass pillars pointing toward the bomb’s epicenter. Inside the structure, you can get a close look at the glass chamber holding the names of the victims. On the museum side, visitors are given a detailed account of the events leading up to and following the dropping of the atomic bomb. Although the experience can be chilling, a stop here is invaluable.
Atomic Bomb Museum
In central Nagasaki, a short walk from the harbourfront lies Dejima. This artificial island was built in 1634 by local merchants. During the Edo Period is was first built to house Portuguese traders but used eventually by the Dutch as their trading post. It’s claim to fame is the fact that it was the only point in Japan where foreigners were allowed to live and trade. Not many of the original structures remain, but the faithfully constructed replicas provide a good testament of what life was like on this tiny island. Open from 8am to 6pm, the entrance fee is 510 yen for adults. This allows you access to the central road and the exhibits inside the houses.
Glover House is the former home of Thomas Blake Glover, a well-respected Scottish businessman in Nagasaki, recognised in history books for his great contribution to the modernization of Japan. You will find Glover House with its luscious gardens and scenic views of the harbour, in the Minami-Yamatemachi, to the south of the city. The main entrance is located on a slope next to Oura Church, but the whole complex is also accessible from the east side via the Glover Skyroad. On sunny days it pays to visit the house later in the afternoon to catch the alluring sunset.
Megane (Spectacles) Bridge
Built by a monk in the 17th century, Meganebashi (as it is known in Japanese) was designated as an Important Cultural Property as it is said to be the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan. Depending on the sunlight, the water reflection of the arches creates the impression of a pair of spectacles thus giving it its name. Besides admiring this effect, the bridge is great for people watching. You can also stroll along the river’s edge while admiring the carp in the water.
Gunkanjima or “Battleship Island” is the impressive remnant of the glory days of Nagasaki’s coal mining history. This abandoned island was once home to coal miners who lived there with their families, supporting a vibrant coal industry and a unique way of life. Although access to the island is strictly controlled by the government, part of it can be access on organized island tours. We highly recommend Gunkanjima Concierge, one of the few companies offering guided tours to the island, and the only one with service in English.
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