Nagasaki, Japan: A Time Never Forgotten

A thing or two about Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki Definition

Nagasaki is one of the main tourist destinations of Japan’s Island called Kyushu. It is a special place in the country because it is famous for its historical, western architecture. It is one of the only places in Japan that had a rich community of western immigrants due to the influx of Portuguese and Dutch migrants before the 19th century. What is also special about this place is that it is home to a number of Catholic and Christian Churches in the country.

Nagasaki Map

A great way to get around Nagasaki is through their vast transport systems. There are bus systems, train lines and more. Among the popular train stations in Nagasaki are the JR Nagasaki Station, JR Huis Ten Bosch, and the JR Sasebo Station.

It is one of Japan’s most popular port cities, thus there are also ferries and boat transfers available that would take any traveler from the mainland of Nagasaki to surrounding islands like the Battleship Island and the like. It is a popular summer destination due to its beaches and seafood.

Nagasaki Travel: Things to do in Nagasaki

Atomic Bomb Museum

One fateful day in August of 1945, Nagasaki was bombed just three days after Hiroshima was attacked. The bombing has killed more than 70,000 people almost immediately with thousands more that suffered from wounds, trauma, and emotional damage due to the bombing. These include women and children, civilians who were innocent from the pains and horrors of war.

The Atomic bomb museum was built as a memoir to all the lives that were lost. It exhibits reproductions of artifacts that have been collected after the attack – personal belongings, broken articles, and more. They also present literature and other media that show the history of the war and the bombing. The museum also shows how Nagasaki flourished once again after the war.

Nagasaki Peace Park

As a commemoration of the war and the bombing that happened in 1945, a park was built by the local government of Nagasaki. This park was built for individuals who survived the war or who lost family members and loved ones during the war as a space to immortalize and memorialize all that has been lost. 

Interestingly enough, at the center of the park is a black pillar that marks the epicenter of the atomic bomb explosion. Surrounding it are markers as well that lists the name of all the individuals that have lost their lives.

Mount Inasa

Mount Inasa is the highest peak of Nagasaki and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of the region, towering a total of 333 meters. Found close to the Nagasaki city center, it features an observation platform that provides an impressive view of the city. Atop the mountain, visitors can get a majestic 360 view of the entire city. At the top, it shows the skyline of the city which is most beautiful at night.

Most visitors enjoy going to this attraction during the afternoons because of the enjoyable sight of the city changing between day and night. Other than that, there is also an enjoyable cable car ride that will feature all the beautiful sights throughout Nagasaki – the mountainside, the river, and the city.

Glover Garden

One of the most popular open-air museums in the country, this place exhibits mansions that have been in Japan since the 19th century. These mansions are not like any other homes for nobility in Japan, they feature western architecture. These houses used to be homes of 19th-century Western merchants that have lived in Japan, these people came from places such as Scotland, New York, Britain, and more. The main highlight of this tourist attraction is the home of Thomas Glover that features a nice garden that gives an impressive panoramic view of the city of Nagasaki.

Confucius Shrine

Prior to the Second World War and the awful history of the Atomic Bombing, Nagasaki was a bustling commercial city. It is known as one of the largest ports in the country and was opened to foreign traders. Today, there are still a few historical ports in the area which are open for tourists. 

Along with commerce, Nagasaki also became a center for migration. There are thousands of Chinese nationals that have migrated to Japan through the years and the first few generations made sure to make their history known. They have built a temple at the center of what is known as the Nagasaki Chinatown to commemorate the Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

To this day, it houses the historical Museum of China which features the influences the foreign culture had to the locals. Although the temple is not as large as the others found in different parts of the country, it is still a symbol of the history of the Chinese people in Nagasaki.

Oura Cathedral

This is one of the very few Catholic Churches in all of Japan. It was built in the 1800s by French missionaries. To date, it is the oldest wooden church with gothic architecture in the entire country. This particular church, according to its historical literature, was built to honor and memorialize the 26 martyrs who were executed on Nishizaka Hill. In 2016, it was considered as a Minor Basilica because of its impressive historical value. It is also currently considered as a national treasure in Japan.

What is interesting about this Cathedral is that it was built in the mid-1800s, just a short while after the seclusion period of Japan. One of the main reasons why Japan closed its borders to foreign traders and merchants is to avoid the influence of foreign culture on their government, culture, and ways of life. The construction of the Oura Cathedral just proves one thing - It goes to show that the spread of Western faith is inevitable in the country.

Nagasaki Geisha

Interestingly enough, many of the most famous Geisha cultures in the earlier times came from Nagasaki. The majority of the famous Geisha quarters during the earlier times came from the prefecture, among the most popular came from the Nagasaki Kenban. This is a group of the finest, first-class traditional Geisha entertainers and artists. They are all well-trained singers and dancers. They are also great in playing traditional Japanese instruments like the Shamisen.

Nagasaki Eats: Must-Eats in Nagasaki

Famous Nagasaki Food

The best things to eat in Nagasaki would be seafood. This place is a popular hub for finding the freshest treasures from the sea. Being near to the coast, a number of tourists visit this region just for the sushi, Sashimi, and Seafood platters they could offer. During the summer time, during the months of June and July, a lot of travelers enjoy the sea. At this time as well, seasonal seafood are at their peak and are most affordable.  For those who love desserts, the months of March and April are the best for the specialized cherry blossom flavored goodies that range from cakes, ice cream, and more.

Famous Nagasaki Drinks

Among the most popular drinks from Nagasaki would be their rice wines and rice drinks known as Ginjo. These are special brews of pure rice fermented alcoholic beverages. Nothing beats the warm feeling given by a nice shot of rice wine during a cold December or January day.

Nagasaki During the WW2: The Nagasaki Bombing

Nagasaki Before and After the Bombing

At the time before Nagasaki and Hiroshima were bombed, the Western Axis forces have started to dwindle down. With the combined powers of the Soviet, the US, and Britain, the forces of Hitler in the west has started to slow down leading to their eventual surrender. At this time, there were ongoing plans about the Pacific War – or the eventual invasion of Japan.

Based on their analyses, it would cost more money, more men, and more casualties if people would be sent to the Pacific to fight the Japanese army. And so, the Allied forces need to find a way to combat Japan and end the war sooner.

According to some historical reports, it was US President Truman along with other allied forces that decided to drop a bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a warning to the Japanese army. Prior these events, in July of 1945, it has been said that there are various warnings under the Potsdam declaration that if Japan does not surrender, there will be consequences in the form of utter destruction.

What gave the people a fright is the fact that nobody expected Nagasaki to be a target after the bombing of Hiroshima. Furthermore, nobody expected that US President Truman will send another bomb after seeing the devastation the first bomb has caused to innocent civilians.

At the time, all there is to know about the atomic bomb remained merely theoretical. There had been testing on how to detonate these war equipment but there was no concrete picture of how much destruction it can do.

Six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan officially surrendered which has effectively put an end to the Second World War. However, the wounds from the war particularly the bombing will never be forgotten.

Nagasaki Death Toll

The horrors of war are never easy to take in. Some say that death in war is inevitable, but others believe that there are much better ways to deal with conflict other than war. Despite all these disputes, there is nothing else that can be done as what has occurred can never be erased in history.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are among the most horrific incidents during the Second World War, along with concentration camps in the west and other atrocities in the Pacific. The death toll reached a whopping 150,000 lives in Hiroshima alone. In Nagasaki, the total number of lives lost reached about 80,000. This number does not include the lives of individuals which were lost years later due to side effects of radiation exposure.

For the majority, the question of the necessity of the bombing still remains to this day. Universities all over the world have discussed the consequences of the bombing more than half a century after the events, there are still debates on the subject on different topics. These include what could have happened if they did not send a bomb to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Another popular topic for debate is if the bombing was necessary.

Nagasaki Today: Half a century after the war

The question in a lot of people’s minds is – why didn’t the Japanese fight back the Americans after the bombing? Maybe they wanted to but there were more pressing matters to be concerned about. At that point, hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost to the war. The Japanese had very little resources left and might not be enough to fight Western superpowers single-handedly.

After the war and the bombing, the US was quick to help out Japan. They ensured that they had talks and discussions on peace. What is interesting is that there are reports that a number of Japanese army units did not surrender until more than two months after the Emperor surrendered.

From 1945, Japan was reconstructed. They were under the rule of the Allied forces for over five years. The United States ensured that they helped Japan in rehabilitating their state. They offered to help in economic, political, military and even social reforms.

They had projects to ensure new educational systems for the children. There are also livelihood projects for families. The constitution of Japan underwent major reforms, making it more favorable for the masses. The Imperial family has lost their full control of the government but maintained their diplomatic and social roles to the people.

At first, the Japanese were not in favor of the change, however, they soon realized the benefits of this new Japan. Soon, the Japanese started to pick up from their losses and rebuild. They are now among the most powerful countries in the world to this day.