Nagasaki - Port Guide
Where is the ship/how to get to the sights?
- Take the first green line tram, line 5, to Tsuki-Machi to switch trams. Stop number 31. Only costs 120 yen ($1.20 each way).
- Ask for a transfer ticket before leaving the tram here (it is free, and this is the only stop you can transfer at).
- Then take the blue line from there, (stop 31 Tsuki-Machi) to stop 20 Hamaguchi-Machi. This is the stop for the Atimic Bomb Museum, and is right next to the Memorial Hall and Peace Park too.
- If you are planning on more than one trip on the tram (as in, to the Museum area and then elsewhere before returning to the ship), then getting a day pass for the tram at 500 yen (about $5) is a good buy. You can buy this in the terminal outside the ship or on the tram itself. This will let you go anywhere in the city all day. You can get the tram map, like I put below, from the info booth Nagasaki transport in the terminal. The ladies there are very friendly and helpful, some speak English, and the maps make it very easy to use the transport. Only get the day pass if you will make more than 4 single trips on the tramcar, if not it is cheaper just to get 2 single tickets for 120 yen each ($2.40), which will last the day, with your transfers at Tsuki-Machi, to get from the ship side of the city to the Museums and that area and then back again.
Winter Oct-Feb cold 5-12 degrees Celsius, with snow possible Nov-Feb. Spring: Mar-May 10-18 degrees. Summer: 15-25 degrees. Rain possible year round.
Sights & Sites
- Atomic Bomb Museum – The museum is very interesting, only costs 200 yen, ($2) per person, and really worth seeing. It is very sad, as gives you a lot of information about the bombings and timelines and devastation of them, and the political happenings leading up to the bombings and is interesting to see from the Japanese side of things. The most impressive thing about this place is though, is that there is no anger here, no bitterness. It is there to document what happened to inspire us as humans to do better in the future and not repeat heinous mistakes like this again. Without blaming, it looks forward more than backwards, and focuses on continued peace for the future.
- The Memorial Hall – Free with your ticket to the Atomic Bomb Museum. The memorial hall is right beside the Atomic Bomb museum and I’d recommend it as definitely being worth a visit. It is free and can be walked into easily from the side entrance of the Atomic Bomb museum.
- The Peace Park – Free. This is only a few minutes walk from the museum, follow a map or ask someone for directions though as it can seem trickier to get to than it is. This park in my opinion, is beautiful and gives you hope and is inspiring. There are fountains in the shape of angel’s wings, and statues, and the main statue of peace, and the epicenter of where the bomb struck. There is nothing else at the epicenter, which I feel is fitting. It allows you to stand and merely contemplate the place and what happened. You then move onto the statue of Peace, which is beautiful. I’d recommend seeing this place last before taking the tramcar back as you will leave feeling happy and inspired. You can even sample local Nagasaki ice cream from an old lady vendor in the park, for about 60 cents. Very nice, traditional ice cream being sold there since 1900. (not the same lady I assume!).
- Glover Garden – This is near the ship and is beautiful, especially at sunset when I went. Gordon Glover commissioned it; a Scottish Industrialist who moved to Nagasaki and helped established trade. It is a very pretty garden where Japanese style mixes with western style gardens. It is situated on the hill above the ship, and gives lovely views of the city in the distance, as well as the port. Glover’s house is also worth looking in, inside the gardens. It costs 500 yen, about $5 and is worth the fee. You can enter either from the top of the gardens, which you can reach by stairs or by taking the lift (I’d recommend this option), or coming in from the bottom of the gardens and walking upwards through it.
- China Town – There are Chinatowns everywhere, even in Japan! The one in Nagasaki is full of life and delicious smells with tasty restaurants. You can walk to this from the ship in about 20 minutes or get off the tram here at the Chinatown stop.
- Sushi Bento Box Restaurant – There is a very nice, local sushi restaurant near the ship (10 mins walk away), with the lowered tables, and sitting on cushions. They have set menu bento box lunches for about 100 yen ($10), which include miso soup, rice, tempura vegetables or shrimp, meat, sushi. You can try local Sake, for about $5 for a bottle to share between two people. They don’t speak much English, but you can point at pictures on the menu.
- Sake stall on street by river side near ship – There were also locals in a stall giving samples of different types of Sake when we were there. For free. But you can give a donation if you like.
The main city area near the museums has main street shopping, while Chinatown is good for trinkets and is the best area for souvenirs. In the terminal right outside the ship there is a small market, with stalls selling some traditional Japanese things, like kimonos and jewelry boxes, and purses.
If you only have two hours
Glover Garden is very nice and is just a 5 minute walk from the ship for the lower level entrance. Allow 30-60 minutes to enjoy it fully. Cost is 500 yen, about $5. You can walk to Chinatown from the ship, and taste local food, or buy some souvenirs. You can go to the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park if you take a taxi, but wouldn’t make it there and back on the tram in 2 hours.
What is it known for?
The first trading port with the outside world out-with Japan for centuries and an important trading hub, Nagasaki is sadly now known most for the tragedy of the bombing here, right after Hiroshima, in the Second World War. Nagasaki isn’t bitter, and today focuses on peace and looks forward to peace and unity with other cultures, even the ones responsible for the death and destruction in the past. People here are friendly and the place feels very safe and has wonderful food.
Food & Drink
Having a passion for food, and Japanese food being one of my all time favourites, Nagasaki is one of my favourites. There are tiny family run restaurants which serve wonderful local food. Each place specializes in only one type of dish. You can find sashimi and sushi, or ramen, or meat dishes, but not all in the same place. Chinatown has tasty pork bun sandwiches with pulled pork enveloped in sweet bread. You can also get Nagasaki creamy ice cream which is famous in Japan for its flavor. Try the vanilla one for sale in the Peace Park, which is a Nagasaki institution. flavouried ice cream is available in Chinatown and is fantastic. My top pick here is a sushi bento box from tiny local restaurant. More about that in my Memorable Moment section.
Nagasaki is quite small so Wi-Fi isn’t everywhere. You can find it inside the museums, and in some restaurants and bars, but not too many. There is Wi-Fi in the terminal right outside the ship too, but how good it is depends on how many patrons it has of course.
You can exchange money in the terminal outside the ship, and in a couple of banks, but not many places. You don’t want ot send your time in Nagasaki trying to find a money change place, so I’d say if possible, do it beforehand or just suck up the slightly worse rates in the terminal exchange place.
Karen’s Top Tip
I would recommend the main things to see in Nagasaki to be; the Atomic Bomb Museum, the Memorial Hall for the bomb victims and the Peace Park, in that order. This order will get you through the sadness and out into hope, rather than the other way round, as I expect most people will be very emotional in the museum. The whole place focuses on moving forward and of peace and making that the priority, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
My experience here
I have had one full day in Nagasaki and two couple of hour stints.
The first time, I went to the Atomic Bomb Museum, which is, of course, incredibly sad. I learned here about the UK’s involvement through Churchill in the atrocities here, and being British, I felt ashamed. (There are other nationalities who will also be surprised to learn about their involvement too I am sure). However, this museum wasn’t built to guilt anyone about the deeds of people they didn’t know who lived decades ago, but to make sure people learn about what did happen and why something like this should never happen again, anywhere. From the museum, I went into the Memorial Hall, which is a beautiful, and haunting tribute to the victims of the bomb, from a very human viewpoint. Before you are permitted to go into the actual memorial hall (which I recommend, don’t just walk around the rest without seeing the main hall), you must go into a “cleansing room” to clear your mind and prepare your thoughts to be able to think about the victims. You will see 12 large pillars going up to the sky symbolizing the victims’ ascension to the heavens, and will see 27 shelves of 13 books each with the names of each victim written in them. It is very moving, but I think, a must see. Then we went to the Peace Park, which is located at ground zero of where the bomb hit. It is a lovely park filled with statues, fountains, and the actual ground zero spot is totally empty, for contemplation.
We then took the tram back to the ship area and found a lovely tiny restaurant with lowered tables and mats on the floor yu sit on, and we sampled tasty sushi bento boxes. We visited this same restaurant the other two visits we had to Nagasaki and made friends with the family and a local patron.
My Most Memorable Moment
I have two for this one: one happy, and one sad. First, the sad: Being inside the center of the Memorial Hall just looking in silence at the volume of books stacked up that are filled with the names of those lost. The total quiet of the room fills your soul, and you feel the magnitude of the tragedy. It is impossible not to feel heartbroken in this moment.
Second, the happy moment: Connecting with the family in the small restaurant. When we went back the second time and the local man bought us lunch for having tried to chat to him in our broken, not very good Japanese and the feeling of welcoming and genuine friendship from him, and connection to a stranger from such a different culture. And in the same restaurant, on our third visit there, when the grandmother presented us with sharing her birthday cakes, welcoming us into her private celebration as friends. Every time I think of this place and the family there, it melts my heart in the best possible way.
Nick and I adventuring all over Japan trying as many delicious Japanese dishes as possible.