The Traveler’s Guide to the Nagasaki Area: 2020 Edition

Nagasaki was once the only port in Japan open to the West during the Edo period. The city has a deep history, from the tragic events surrounding Christianity to the devastating impact of the atomic bomb during World War II.

But Nagasaki is more than just the sum of its histories. In the summer, there are gorgeous oceans and islands to explore, plus a tranquil atmosphere reminiscent of ancient Japan. This guide will take you through Nagasaki’s numerous World Heritage Sites and must-see places.

  • 01

    Getting to Nagasaki

    Nagasaki is located in the far western corner of the Japanese archipelago, and you travel there via plane to Nagasaki Airport. From the airport, it’s a 40-minute bus ride into Nagasaki city.

    If you’re traveling by bullet train, then take the Limited Express Kamome train from Hakata Station in Fukuoka.

    However, Nagasaki is an oddly-shaped prefecture, so consider where you want to go before you decide on a transportation method.

    Getting to Nagasaki

    Getting to Nagasaki

  • 02

    Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum

    During the Edo period, Nagasaki was the sole port open to international trade. In the northern part of the city, you’ll find the Nagasaki Peace Park, situated in the historical blast radius of the atomic bomb. The park is divided into several zones, including the Zone of Hopes, the Zone of Prayers, and the Zone of Study. There’s also the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and you can learn about the somber history of the area.

    About 1 km from the Peace Park, or 15 minutes on foot, you’ll find the One-Legged Torii of Sanno Shrine. Half of the torii gate was destroyed in the atomic blast, but one side still remains. Even now, it continues to speak about the violence of the impact of the atomic bomb.

    Nagasaki Peace Park

    Nagasaki Peace Park

    Nagasaki Peace Park

    Nagasaki Peace Park

    Atomic Bomb Museum

    Atomic Bomb Museum

    สวนสันติภาพ
    place
    จังหวัดนางาซากิ
  • 03

    Urakami Cathedral

    As Nagasaki was the only port open to the West, it’s a city with a deep history surrounding Christianity.

    Right next to the Hypocenter Cenotaph is the Urakami Cathedral Ruins, a structure that once boasted a unique blending of East and West. Just 500 meters away the Urakami Cathedral was completely destroyed in the atomic blast. Part of the building was transported here, where it was recreated in 1959. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region.

    Urakami Cathedral

    Urakami Cathedral

    โบสถ์อุราคามิ
    rating

    4.0

    รีวิว 385
    place
    Nagasaki Pref. Nagasakishi Motomachi 1-79
    phone
    0958441777
  • 04

    Gunkanjima Cruise

    Gunkanjima is a small island 18 km out of Nagasaki Port. The island measures only 160 meters from east to west and 480 meters north to south, and its formal name is Hashima. Back in its heyday, it had the highest population density in the world! You won’t believe that during its coal mining period, this tiny island housed over 5,000 people.

    Since its designation as a World Heritage Site, tours providing access to the island have been very popular. Even if conditions prevent the ferry from landing on Gunkanjima, don’t give up yet. There’s the Gunkanjima Digital Museum near Oura Cathedral stop on the Nagasaki Electric Tramway. Built-in 2015, the museum has interactive exhibits utilizing VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality), which let you experience Gunkanjima like you’re really there! Don a pair of high-tech hololens goggles to get a fun and informative lesson on what life was like on the island back during the coal mining days.

    Gunkanjima

    Gunkanjima

    Gunkanjima Digital Museum

    Gunkanjima Digital Museum

    เกาะกุงกันจิมะ
    place
    Nagasaki Pref. Nagasakishi Takashimamachi Hashima
  • 05

    Dejima

    Dejima was the only place during Sakoku (the isolation of Japan) where people could interact with foreign culture. The wall stretching along the river is a remnant of the Dejima of old. The river served as a separation between Dejima, where the Dutch merchants lived, and the rest of Japan, and it was treated as a foreign country. Now Dejima is connected to the mainland by reclaimed land, but you can still see rows of buildings that recall Dejima’s unique history.

    Dejima

    Dejima

    Dejima

    Dejima

  • 06

    Nagasaki Lantern Festival at Confucius Shrine and Chinatown

    Nagasaki is home to the only Chinese-style Confucius shrine in Japan, as well as Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown, one of the country’s three largest Chinatowns. The area’s history began at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate when many Chinese migrated to Shinchi.

    The Nagasaki Lantern Festival is held on the Lunar New Year, which is usually sometime in February. After sundown, Chinatown is illuminated by over 15,000 lanterns. The entire area comes alive with the lanterns’ ethereal light, making for a wonderful night to remember.

    Confucius Shrine

    Confucius Shrine

    Nagasaki Lantern Festival at Chinatown

    Nagasaki Lantern Festival at Chinatown

  • 07

    Mount Inasa

    The nighttime landscape of Nagasaki is known as the “10 Million Dollar View,” and in 2012 it was designated as one of The World’s New Top Three Night Views. A popular destination to see the gorgeous stretch of city night lights is the Mt. Inasa Observation Platform, accessible by ropeway. From the all-glass ropeway cars to the 360-degree view observation deck, it’s a breathtaking sight to behold.

    Mount Inasa

    Mount Inasa

    Mount Inasa

    Mount Inasa

    Mt. Inasa
    place
    Nagasaki Pref. Nagasakishi Inasamachi
  • 08

    Glover Garden and Dutch Slope

    The Former Glover House was the home of Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant who was active during the late shogunate era and early Meiji Restoration period. The house is one of three Western-style residences in Japan that’s designated as an Important Cultural Property. It also earns the special distinction as a World Heritage Site, garnering it a fair amount of attention as one of Nagasaki’s most famous tourist spots.

    The house and garden are immaculately kept, and visitors can wander through the open-air museum to get a sense of what the wealthy merchants lived like in the era. Not to be forgotten are the garden’s excellent views of the harbor and city beyond. It’s one of Nagasaki’s can’t-miss tourist sites.

    Glover Garden

    Glover Garden

    Glover Garden

    Glover Garden

    คัตสึด้ง สาขาโฮเซนจิโยโกโจ
    rating

    4.0

    รีวิว 2016
    place
    จังหวัดนางาซากิเมืองนางาซากิมินามียามาเตะมาจิ8-1
    phone
    0958228223
  • 09

    Ikeshima

    There’s an island in Nagasaki Prefecture that remained open all the way until 2001, long after Gunkanjima had closed. That island’s name is Ikeshima. The remains of apartments and thermal power stations leftover from the island’s glory days are now important Industrial Heritage artifacts.

    You can access the tourist island via a ferry from Oseto Port, which takes around 40 minutes. It’s a small island that’s only 4 km around, so renting a bike is the preferred mode of transportation.

    Tours that let you ride in a minecart and simulate what it would be like to operate coal mining equipment are always popular.

    Ikeshima

    Ikeshima

    池島
    place
    長崎県長崎市池島町
    no image
  • 10

    Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

    Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium breeds the most penguins in the world, and it also has a great variety of penguins. There are only penguins here, but the Aquarium offers a unique experience to watch them swim freely. “With Penguins on the Beach” is the seafront part of the Nature Zone where you can see penguins right up close as they wander and swim around. It’s a rare chance to experience their delightfulness firsthand.

    Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

    Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

    Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

    Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

    คัตสึด้ง สาขาโฮเซนจิโยโกโจ
    place
    จังหวัดนางาซากิเมืองนางาซากิชุคุมาจิ3-16
    phone
    0958383131
  • 11

    Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo

    Huis Ten Bosch is a theme park modeled after Holland during the Middle Ages. Inside you’ll find tons of fun to be had, including an Adventure Park and Thriller City. It’s a park for all ages.

    There are three hotels directly managed by the park, and one of them is located inside the park, letting you enjoy the amusements at your leisure. Huis Ten Bosch is an amusement park known for its beauty, offering special illuminations and seasonal flowers.

    Huis Ten Bosch

    Huis Ten Bosch

    Huis Ten Bosch

    Huis Ten Bosch

    Huis Ten Bosch

    Huis Ten Bosch

    สวนสนุกเฮาส์เทนบอช
    place
    Nagasaki Pref. Saseboshi Huis Ten Bosch Town 1-1
    phone
    0570064110
  • 12

    Gotō Islands

    The Gotō Islands were once the settlement for the “Hidden Christians” of Japan, during the time when the country outlawed Christianity. On the islands, there are several churches that have been designated as World Heritage Sites as part of Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region.

    The Gotō Islands consist of 140 islands, both large and small about 100 km to the west of Nagasaki and Kyushu. Expect an environment full of gorgeous sea views and natural vistas sure to please. The starting point for your journey to the islands is Nagasaki Port, where you’ll take the ferry to Fukue Port in the Gotō Islands. It takes around 3 hours to get there on the ferry, but the jetfoil will get you there in about an hour and a half if you prefer to get there a little quicker.

    Gotō Islands

    Gotō Islands

    Read more:Churches of the Goto Islands

    五島列島
    place
    兵庫県姫路市南町5 モルティ姫路
    phone
    0792228887
    no image
  • 13

    Unzen Jigoku

    Unzen Onsen is a hot spring nestled 700 meters high in the mountains of Japan’s first national park. The name Unzen Jigoku, or Unzen Hell, comes from the acrid smell of sulfur and the constant shroud of water vapor that encompasses the area. Now a collection of inns and hotels surround Unzen Jigoku to form a massive hot spring district. You can ride the Unzen Ropeway for magnificent sky views of the scenery, almost like you’re walking on air.

    Unzen Jigoku

    Unzen Jigoku

    คัตสึด้ง สาขาโฮเซนจิโยโกโจ
    rating

    4.0

    รีวิว 522
    place
    จังหวัดนางาซากิเมืองอุนเซ็นโอบะม่าโจอุนเซ็น320
    phone
    0957733434
  • 14

    Kujūku Islands in Sasebo

    North of Sasebo, in the 25 km of the sea until you arrive at Hirado, lies the Rias Coast and a complex assortment of 208 islands. These colorful scatterings of land are called the Kujūku Islands, and they make for breathtaking natural scenes. Only 4 of the islands are inhabited, and almost the entire area was designated as Saikai National Park in 1955. Over 80 percent of the 288.5 km coastal line is preserved as a national park, protecting its natural beauty. The ve/rdant greenery of the islands amid the azure blues of the sea and skies are a wonderful sight, but the sunsets alone are worth the trip.

    Kujūku Islands in Sasebo

    Kujūku Islands in Sasebo

    หมู่เกาะคุจูคุชิมะ
    place
    จังหวัดนางาซากิเมืองซาเซโบะ
    phone
    0956226630
  • 15

    Hasami in Higashisonogi

    Hasami is a town that boasts over 400 years of traditional porcelain crafting, called hasamiyaki. Recently, hasamiyaki has gained a lot of attention from young people and international customers for its modern design style and expert use of colors. So while you’re visiting Nagasaki, you can go straight to the source.

    In Hasami, you’ll find the Maruhiro store, which is the brand that started the hasamiyaki boom. The town is also home to many stylish galleries/workshops specializing in the town’s famous porcelain ware. It’s the perfect place for a great souvenir or gift.

    Hasami in Higashisonogi

    Hasami in Higashisonogi

    Maruhiro
    place
    Nagasaki Pref. Higashisonogigunhasamichou Isekigou 255
    phone
    0956854531
  • 16

    Iki Island

    It’s not commonly known that there’s an uninhabited island in the northernmost area of Iki. The island’s name is Tatsunoshima, and it’s great for a little private adventure.
    You can get there on the ferry from Katsumoto Port, and it’s only about a 10-minute ride over. All you need is 30 to 40 minutes to look around, and you can say you’ve had an uninhabited island exploration in just around 1 hour of your time.

    Iki Island

    Iki Island

    Iki Island

    Iki Island

    เกาะอิคิชิมะ
    place
    จังหวัดนางาซากิเมืองอิกิ
    phone
    0920473700
  • 17

    Nagasaki Local Delicacies

    First up for local flavors is Champon. This noodle dish is made by frying seafood, pork, and vegetables in lard, then boiling the mixture with noodles in a chicken and pork bone broth.
    Nagasaki Castella is a sponge cake that speaks of Nagasaki’s international history. It’s based on the Portuguese sweet Pão de Castela but comes in all types of varieties now.
    Lastly is Toruko Rice, which is a lovely combination of rice pilaf, pork cutlet, curry sauce, and Neapolitan-style spaghetti all piled on the same plate. You’re welcome.

    Champon

    Champon

    Nagasaki Castella

    Nagasaki Castella

    Toruko Rice

    Toruko Rice

  • 18

    Nagasaki Kunchi Festival

    Nagasaki Kunchi is a festival held at Suwa Shrine that has roots going back 400 years. There are three major Kunchi festivals: Nagasaki Kunchi, Hakata Okuchi, and Saga Karatsu Kunchi. The festivals are a colorful celebration that incorporate Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese culture. Nagasaki Kunchi is held three days every year from October 7th to 9th, and the entire city erupts with lively performances and impressive floats. If you’re in town, you can’t miss it.

    Suwa Shrine

    Suwa Shrine

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