Kyushu Trip 2014 Pt I: Nagasaki (Urakami Area)

When thinking of Nagasaki first thoughts sadly but inevitably turn to the atomic bomb that was dropped on the place on August 9th, 1945. The ideal place to start our Kyushu adventure then was in Urukami; the hypocentre of the explosion which was a grave reminder of the past. First things first though and some food at Nagasaki station which the area is famed for. Kakuni manjyu is basically a bun with a very fatty chunk of cooked pork inside it and was so delicious that I went back for a second one despite its price being a little steep at 360 yen a pop.

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With full stomachs we took the tram up to Matsuyama-Machi beginning at the Hypocentre Park which is the point where the atomic bomb exploded at an altitude of 500m. There are a few bomb-blasted relics, monuments, paper cranes and so on in the spacious concrete park situated alongside the Urakami River.

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Its probably quite sad that the events at the start of last years movie, ‘The Wolverine‘  (where Logan is held in a Japanese POW camp near Nagasaki and protects an officer named Yashida from the blast) heightened my interest in learning more details of the city’s destruction and loss of human life. What is perhaps more surprising is that Japan’s 15 years of military aggression prior to 1945 is actually referred to and there is even an apology on a plaque to the thousands of Korean labourers who also lost their lives.

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The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (below) was next and, like the one in Hiroshima (which we visited a year ago), was a chilling reminder at times of how atomic bombing can cause such devastation. Some of the relics, informative materials and photographs depicting the tragedy were fascinating viewing for me albeit a bit depressing of course.

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The Peace Park (below) is a short walk from the museum and has the Fountain of Peace (shaped like a dove’s wings) and the Peace Statue with its flat outstretched left hand symbolising eternal peace. The right hand points to the sky to represent nuclear threat.

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From there we walked on to a couple of spots which were basically just photo stops. First up was Urakami Cathedral (below) which is a replica of the original that was of course destroyed by the bomb at 11.02am on that fateful day in 1945.

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A 15 minute walk down the road is Sanno-jinja Shrine (below) which is more commonly known as one-legged torii (gate) following the loss of its other one during the blast.

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In my mind I thought doing all the aforementioned sights in one afternoon following an early flight that morning would be enough. However, as sunset was an hour later than I thought (7pm in Nagasaki) we decided to do one final sight whilst in the vicinity. We took the ropeway up to Mt Inasa observation platform for a view (below) which is considered to be one of the three best night views in the world.

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Whilst up there I thought it might be nice to enjoy the view from the restaurant with its amazing views. The prices were fairly reasonable too so we had a couple of similar Nagasaki food dishes; beef steak turkey rice (Nagasaki beef steak, pilaff, spaghetti and salad) and turkey rice (pork cutlet, pilaff , spaghetti and salad) of which the latter is pictured below.

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That wasn’t the end of the local cuisine for us though as we popped into a very local place near our hotel and had chanpon (below) which is perhaps the most famous of Nagasaki’s dishes.

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Champon is the local ramen speciality consisting of octopus, squid, kamaboko (white and pink fish-based patty), pork and vegetables in a white, salt-based broth. It only cost us 600 yen each and was the perfect way to fill up for the night and cross off another must-do item from our list.

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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