The port city of Nagasaki (長崎市) in the west of Japan is one of the country’s most enjoyable destinations. Unfortunately, many tourists skip this city and choose to visit Hiroshima to learn more about the consequences of the atomic bomb. But a visit to Nagasaki is more than just a sad history about nuclear warfare. Have you become curious and do you want to know more about this city? Read on and discover it in this Nagasaki travel guide.
What would you like to know about Nagasaki, Japan?
- History – 5 historical facts – Did you know…?
- Sightseeing – What to do in Nagasaki?
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
History – 5 facts about Nagasaki – Did you know…?
- In 1543 the Portuguese came ashore in the vicinity of Nagasaki to trade and spread the Christian faith?
- On 5 February 1597, 26 martyrs of the Christian faith were crucified? The rulers of Japan wanted to eliminate the growing influence of Roman Catholic faith because it was a threat to the Japanese culture.
- From 1641 to 1868, the Netherlands was the only European country allowed to trade with Japan from the island of Dejima?
- It was actually the intention to drop an atomic bomb on the city of Kokura? Because of the thick cloud cover over that city, the American chose Nagasaki to be the new destination (where it was also very cloudy…)
- Nagasaki, but also Hiroshima were restored 10 years after the disaster with the atomic bomb?
Sightseeing – What to do in Nagasaki?
How much time do you need to explore Nagasaki? To be honest, I spent a whole day just for the historical sites about the atomic bomb. But there is so much more to see in and around Nagasaki, you can easily spend 3 or 4 days here. Below you will find a few sights you should not miss.
The Atomic Bomb Trail: Of course, Nagasaki is marked by the terrible disaster that took place over the city on 9 August 1945: the explosion of the atomic bomb. The stories are impressive and tell exactly why something like this should never happen again. Click on the link in the title for more information about the trail and history of the atomic bomb.
Glover’s Garden (グラバー園): In the centre of the city you can find the residence of Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911). This Scottish gentleman went to Nagasaki and was an important person in the industrialisation of Japan. From his residence he had a beautiful view of the city’s harbour. His house looks very British and today it is a museum about his life and influence in Nagasaki.
Dejima (出島): For centuries, Dejima or Deshima was the only gateway between the rest of the world and closed Japan. Only the Chinese and the Dutch, who stayed on this island, were allowed to trade in Japan. Nowadays, Dejima is a museum and gives a good insight into how the Dutch lived on the island for over 200 years.
Huis ten Bosch (ハウステンボス) : To the north of Nagasaki is a theme park named Huis ten Bosch. It is named after the well-known palace in The Hague (The Netherlands), but the Japanese have turned it into a miniature Netherlands. Everywhere you walk, you recognise famous Dutch buildings, such as the Amsterdam canal houses, the Dom tower in Utrecht and, of course, the palace Huis ten Bosch. Bizarre, but fun!
Gunkanjima (端島): This island is also called Hashima and is situated 15 kilometres from Nagasaki. Today it is a ghost island, but from 1810 to 1974 coal was mined here. At the peak of coal mining around 1960, 5,200 people lived here and it was one of the most densely populated places on earth. Since 2015 it has been on the Unesco World Heritage List and you can only visit it on a guided tour.
Travel tip: For a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings, go to Mount Inasa (稲佐山公園). You can go up with the Nagasaki Ropeway and on top of the mountain there is a park, a temple and a beautiful view of the city and it’s area.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Nagasaki?
Are you looking for a budget accommodation in Nagasaki? Then book a room at Hostel Casa Noda. This hostel is located less than 400 metres walking distance from the city’s train station and the staff is extremely friendly. Furthermore, the rooms are nice and spacious and there is a common area where you can meet people. Finally, it is located in the city centre within walking distance of Dejima and Glover’s Garden.
Transport – How to get to Nagasaki?
Nagasaki has an airport called Nagasaki Airport, but this is mainly used for domestic flights. If you are planning to travel from Tokyo to this port city, go by plane. The Shinkansen and partly the regular train will take at least 7 hours. For transport in the city, you can use the tram lines. It is easy to take a tram from Nagasaki’s main train station to the places where the atomic bomb exploded, 2 km north of the centre.
Next destination in Japan?
Are you ready for your next destination in Japan? From Nagasaki I left for Fukuoka in the north. But if you have time, it is a good plan to discover the rest of the island Kyushu.
Do you have any tips and ideas for the Nagasaki Travel Guide? Please feel free to leave a message below.