Susan's Shanghai Blog - Week 97 (Nagasaki)

After our sumo tournament and evening dinner at the "stalls", the next morning we headed to Nagasaki via train. Nagasaki was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century and became the center of European influence from the 16th through the 19th centuries. The Portuguese were key in increasing contact and trade relations between Japan and the rest of the world, including China. China and Japan had alot of issues (and they still do) and the Portuguese served as an intermediary between the two. The little harbor village quickly grew into a diverse port city, and Portuguese products imported through Nagasaki were assimilated into popular Japanese culture. Tempura (which we think of as very Japanese) comes from a popular Portuguese recipe originally known as peixinho-da-horta, and takes its name from the Portuguese word, 'tempero'.

During the Meiji period, Nagasaki became a center of heavy industry with its main industry being ship-building. The dockyards were under the control of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which was one of the prime contractors for the Imperial Japanese Navy. This made it a target for bombing in World War II, which, as we all know, eventually occured.

The original target for the bomb (codenamed "Fat Man") was Kokura but as this was obscured by cloud on the day it was replaced by Nagasaki. The second atomic bomb (the first was detonated over Hiroshima a few days earlier), was dropped on August 9th, 1945 and detonated at about 1,500 feet above the Northern part of the city. The bomb was more powerful than the "Little Boy" bomb dropped over Hiroshima, but because of Nagasaki's more uneven terrain, there was less damage. Still, statistics say the death toll was in excess of 70,000 people. More on this later.

We had picked up the train tickets the day we arrived into Fukuoka and caught the 8:30am train to Nagasaki. It was an interesting train, as it had a nice wood floor, which we hadn't seen on other trains, and leather seats. The back of the seats even had this nice little pocket to pop your train ticket in.

A few pictures from the train, where you can see the mountains around. The city is at the head of a long bay which forms the best natural harbor on the island. The main commercial and residential area of the city lies on a small plain near the end of the bay. Two rivers divided by a mountain spur form the two main valleys in which the city lies. The train also goes by Omura Bay, where there were lots of little boats.

Our main mode of transportation around the city was the Electric Trams, which has been running trams there since 1915. They run 5 different lines. The signage is quite good, showing the names in both English and Japanese. The best way around town, especially with a one-day street car pass.

As I mentioned before, Nagasaki was not a primary target for the second bombing, but when the bomber (named Bockscar) got to Kokura, there was too much cloud cover to make the bombing there, and so they headed for their secondary target. There are a couple interesting points on this. An air raid alert was sounded in Nagasaki in 7:50, but the all clear was given at 8:30. They also did not sound another alarm when the two B-29's that were flying an hour ahead of the plane were spotted, assuming they were simply reconnaissance planes. The bomb was dropped at just after 11 in the morning and exploded 1,539 feet above the ground between two Mitsubishi military works factories. This is called the hypocenter. The radius of total destruction was about 1 mile, followed by fires across the northern portion of the city for about 2 miles.

The first stop was to the location of the hypocenter, and there are some pictures showing what was left at the center (pretty much, nothing). There is now a black granite monument and memorial at the hypocenter in a small park. There are concentric circles in the ground to clearly indicate the center.

There is also a memorial statue which shows the day and time of the bomb .. August 9th, 1945 at 11:02 in the morning. Interesting data point ... we were at the hypocenter memorial on a Sunday (the bomb dropped on a Sunday) and roughly the same time of the day.

More pictures of the area after the bomb, and then there was an area underground which had fragments of tiles and bottles that were buried.

Behind the hypocenter park is the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. The museum covers the history of the event, focusing on the attack and events leading up to it. It also covers the history of nuclear weapons development and displays photographs, relics, and documents related to the atomic bombing. They even have a display which shows the different parts of the bomb.

These are 6 melted bottles, found in the ruins of a store about 400 meters from the hypocenter. The bottles were melted together from the heat of the explosion.

Then a few shots from the front of the museum. One of them looks down onto the hypocenter (kinda hard to see)

And here we wanted to just take a few pictures of what the area looks like today. This is within 2 blocks of the hypocenter of the blast, so after the blast, nothing would have remained here. As you can see, it is built back up to be a normal-looking residental area.

Lunch was a bit interesting. It was a Sunday at a bit after noon, and things were quite deserted. It was really hard to even find a restaurant that was open up in the area of the museum and Peace Park. But we found this little tiny place (and I do mean tiny). Two japanese-style tables and 5 chairs at a counter was it. No English at all, so Tom went outside to the display case with the plastic food and pointed two different types of ramen, and that is how we ordered. A bit different than some of the other ramen's that we've had, but quite delicious.

There was a sign near this bridge that said that this was one of the few things to survive the blast.

And then up the hill to the Peace Park itself. It was established in 1955 near the hypocenter of the explosion. The Peace Statue is at the North end of the park and is 10 meters tall. It was created by a local sculptor. The statue's right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while the extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The mild face symbolizes divine grace and the gently closed eyes offer a prayer for the repose of the bomb victims' souls. The folded right leg and extended left leg signify both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world. Installed in front of the statue is a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who died in subsequent years.

The Fountain of Peace is on the south end of the park and was constructed in 1969. The design is supposed to be that of the wings of a dove, which represents peace. In 1978 the city of Nagasaki established a "Peace Symbols Zone" on both sides of the park and invited donations of monuments from countries round the world. There are multiple monuments (which I didn't take pictures of).

The park itself is up at the top of a hill. Once we came down the escalator to the bottom, we saw these holes. These were supposedly bomb shelters built into the hill.

More pictures of how the area looks today.

We then headed to the South part of the city, to Glover Garden. It is built on a hillside overlooking Nagasaki harbor. Thank goodness, there was a covered cable car that went to the top. From there, we had some great views of the harbor and city.

Glover Garden is a park built for Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant who contributed to the modernization of Japan in shipbuilding, coal mining, and other fields.

There is a retro photo studio there where you can rent "period clothing" and get a photo taken within the gardens. We caught a view of a few people in period dress heading to the photo studio.

This little white house is the former residence of British businessman Robert Walker's second son. It was originally built next to the Oura Catholic Church in the middle of the Meiji era. You can see Japanese architectural details such as the Japanese-style eaves coming out from the roof.

This is the former Nagasaki District Court President's official residence. It was constructed in 1883 and is the only remaining government building in Nagaski that was contructed in a Western style out side of the "foreign settlement area".

The Jiyu-Tei Restaurant, founded by Jokichi Kusano, opened in the end of the Edo period. It was located in front of the Irabayashi Shrine and was Japan's first Western-style restaurant. The 2nd floor of the building today houses a coffee shop, where Tom and I stopped for coffee and castella. Castella is a popular Japanese sponge cake and is a specialty of Nagasaki. It was brought to Nagasaki by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century.

This is the former Ringer home, built at the beginning of the Meiji era. The bungalow-style house has a veranda on three sides.

The Puccini opera, Madame Butterfly, was set in Nagasaki. There is a fountain where you have statues of Puccini and Tamaki Miura, who became world-famous for her role as Madame Butterly.

The former Glover house is the oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan, built in 1863.

Right outside of the garden is the Oura Roman Catholic Church, also known as the Church of the 26 Japanese Martyrs. It was built in 1853, shortly after the end of the Japanese government's Seclusion Policy. It is said to be the oldest church in Japan. It is white stuccoed brick with five aisles, vaulted ceilings, one octagonal tower, and stained glass windows imported from France.

The Nagasaki foreign settlement, sometimes called the Oura foreign settlement, was settled by foreigners when Japan opened to Western trade. The area was established by treaties between the West and Japan in the mid-to-late 1850s, and remained an important center of Western life in Japan until the outbreak of World War II. There are a set of buildings there that have a very distinctive Western style architecture.

Additional pictures of the city as the sun started going down.

Ironically, our hotel was directly across from the entrance to "Chinatown" in Nagasaki. It was home for many Chinese sailors and traders who trade goods with the Japanese from the 15th to 19th centuries. Strict rules were placed on these Chinese traders, forcing them to live in China Town, and preventing them from going outside the town at night. Any one found outside of the town at certain times were arrested by the local guard.

We headed out for dinner. We figured we would have a tough time on a Sunday night, and we were right. However, we found this restaurant up near the train station.

We continued our "traditional drinks" theme, with cold sake and a plum liquor drink.

We ended up having a set of small plates, including Soba noodles, yakitori, sashimi, and okonomiyaki.