A friend and I decided we should take advantage of a long weekend and took a trip to Nagasaki Prefecture. We stopped by two cities in Nagasaki, Unzen and, of course, Nagasaki City.
Because of the holiday, we couldn’t find a hotel in Nagasaki city for the first night. No problem! We went to Unzen instead and I’m so happy we did. I didn’t know much about Unzen before my friend suggested we stay there the first night. Unzen is the name of a volcano about an hour from Nagasaki city. It’s known for the beautiful nature and lookout spots around the volcano as well as being a nice little onsen resort town.
Mt. Unzen First up was to visit Mt. Unzen. There is also a ropeway that will take you to the top. Unfortunately, we had misty weather that clouded a lot of the view. We figured it wasn’t worth the money to go up the ropeway to see more clouds. We just walked around the area and enjoyed the view the best we could.
Unzen Jigoku However, once we got to town, I felt like the poor weather added to the beautiful aesthetic. We visited the Unzen Jigoku (Unzen Hells). If there are hot springs that are too hot to bathe in, the Japanese refer to them as “Hells”. I visited the hells in Beppu before but the Hells in Unzen are much nicer. Not only is it free to walk around the Hells in Unzen (unlike Beppu), but the are also less commercialized. Unzen is all about the natural beauty and power they have. There is no need to dress it up or have little mascots or gimmicks surrounding them. It really speaks for itself.
Nagasaki city is the place most people want to stop by in Nagasaki Prefecture. The rich history is one of the reasons it’s such a well known place. It was the only way in or out during the isolation period and it was the victim of one of the atomic bombs that was dropped on Japan during WWII. It wasn’t intentional, but I basically spent all my time visiting various historical places around the city.
Glover Garden Glover Garden was the first stop on this unintentional exploration of Nagasaki’s history. It was a foreign residential area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since then, it has become an open air museum to the historical lifestyle of the Western merchants that once lived there. I felt like they did a great job at creating a fun step back in time. You can rent dresses from the time and I’d recommend trying the Dutch Coffee and a castella (a sponge cake famous in Nagasaki).
Dejima Dejima is the port that remained open during Japan’s isolation period. Of course, there are still boat in the harbour but it’s become more of a hangout spot. The boardwalk is lined with restaurants and there is a nice park at the one end.
Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum A trip to Nagasaki wouldn’t be complete without a stop to Nagasaki Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. While Glover Garden and Dejima remind people of the happy historical times of merchants, we can’t forget about the sad history of Nagasaki as well. Nagasaki was the victim of one of the atoms bomb dropped on Japan in WW2 (the other being Hiroshima). Both, the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum, are very humbling places to visit. I particularly liked how they organized the museum. They focused on the different affects of the bomb (sound, fire, and radiation) and promotes a nuclear weapon free world.
Mt. Inasa Taking a moment away from all the history that Nagasaki has, Mt. Inasa is the place to go to get a beautiful view over the city. Built up into the hills that surrounds it and you can get a good look over Nagasaki from the top of Mt. Inasa. There is a ropeway you can take up and down that will take you to the observation tower. The observation building is free so you just have to pay for the ropeway (or bus if you take that instead). I went after dark and there was quite a big crowd. While I usually try to avoid peak periods for attractions like this, at night the city can look like a sea of stars. It was worth waiting and fighting through the crowd.
Hashima Island Before leaving Nagasaki, I needed to check out Hashima Island. Located 20 minutes out of Nagasaki Harbour, it is nicknamed Gunkanjima or Battleship Island because it looks like a battleship from the side. In the 1950s, it was an overcrowded coal mine town. The island was abandoned after the mine closed which leaving the concrete buildings to deteriorate from the rough elements. I love abandoned places but unfortunately, most of the island’s building are deemed unsafe so you’re forced to admire from a far. There are a few viewing platforms you have to stick to. It’s an interesting place but I wish I could have entered the old buildings.
Nagasaki is a wonderful place of rich history and beautiful landscapes.
Have you been? What is your favourite part of Nagasaki?
xo Meggie Kay