Updated: Aug 6, 2019
A port city which played a notable role in foreign trading over the centuries; and the 2nd city devastated by the Atomic bomb in 1945.
Owing to its tram lines and churches, Nagasaki looks more like a European enclave rather than your regular Japanese city. Particularly because during the Tokugawa Era, its harbor was welcoming foreigners such as the Dutch and the Portuguese while the rest of the country was isolated. These same foreign traders were not only diligent in buying and selling their goods, but also very much active in converting the locals to Christianity.
Nagasaki is often visited after Fukuoka. For ease of travel and the flexibility to stop anywhere, we recommend renting a car; but if it’s not an option, you can easily get in the city via trains and buses.
Read our Japan Car rental Guide. (to be published soon)
The JR trains operate between Hakata station and Nagasaki station in 2 hours with the limited express, and 4-5 hours with the local train (including one train transfer)
Fare: ¥4190 limited express
Fare: ¥2810 local train
Kyushu Rail Pass can be considered if travelling to different cities in Kyushu. The highway buses leave every 15min from Hakata station or Tenjin bus center. And travel time takes about 2.5hrs.
9.30AM NAGASAKI PEACE PARK
The Desire for World Peace
Start your day in a solemn and tranquil space. Wander through the complex and appreciate each monument dedicated to the commemoration of the second world war and its gruesome mark in Nagasaki.
A black monolith marks the epicenter of the atomic explosion.
The iconic peace statue: its right hand symbolizing the threat of nuclear warfare, its left hand desiring a world governed by peace.
This fountain is dedicated to all those who died desperately yearning for water.
Getting around: Navigate the city by tram and by walking.
1DAY tram pass ¥500 (not valid 24hrs but only on date of purchase)
Ramen with Chinese Roots
Head over to Horaiken Bekkan (宝来軒別館) and fill up your belly with Champon—a noodle dish composed of pork, seafood, veggies, and a rich pork-bone broth. What was originally created for Chinese exchange students has now become a staple of Nagasaki.
Indeed a satisfying dish made to boost your spirit and energy levels after a long, gloomy walk in the Peace park.
1PM SANNO SHRINE
There are a number of special Toriis around Japan, but this one marking Sanno Shrine is noteworthy because it has survived the atomic bombing.
Even though half of it is gone, the other half continues to support and keep the gate upright.
When you get to the main shrine, you’ll see two ancient-looking trees looming ahead, they could pass for normal old trees, but once you look closer, you'll notice some debris from the atomic blast.
Stay here for a bit, sit under these trees and appreciate their resilience.
2PM MEGANE BRIDGE
Oldest Stone Arch-bridge
Meganebashi is one of the many stone arch bridges spanning the Nakashima river. Spend your afternoon snapping photos along the boulevard. Some say you could find heart-shaped stones within Meganebashi's embankment. Indulge yourself and search for them, once you spot one you may wish for lasting love. Of course, the more you find the luckier you are.
For the Sweet Tooth, From the Portuguese
Once you've got your love life settled and all your sweet-nothings declared. Walk southward to find Bunmeido, a specialty chain since the dawn of the 20th century—for another sweet treat.
Feast your eyes on all the sugary goodness every health-freak warns you from.
Go on and order one piece or one dozen of Castella cake.
You can go to the original shop near Ohato tram station for more eye-feasting.
The Chinese’ Home Away from Home
A good way to burn all that sugar from Bunmeido is a stroll in this atmospheric, history-rich neighborhood of Japan’s oldest Chinatown.
Enter the narrow lanes and Chinese-style temples and buildings.
Watch some ojii-sans while their afternoon away playing board games.
5.30PM SARA UDON
Crispy Noodles Under a Pile of Veggies
Another Chinese inspired dish to try out in Nagasaki, and you’re already in the best location to grab one for dinner.
Where the Dutch Roamed Freely
Remember when we said Japan was all closed off except for the Nagasaki port? Well they still had to build this fan-shaped island in the middle of the city to ensure the 'no foreign contact’ rule. The westerners, the Dutch in particular, made this their happy place from the 1640’s to the 1850’s. Trading silk and sugar, and everything in between.
This small piece of land has a very intriguing history, certainly worth a read.
12PM DUTCH SLOPE
Where Every Westerner is Dutch
At the end of the Tokugawa Era, Japan had withdrawn its strict policy against foreigners. Giving westerners the chance to live and settle in Nagasaki.
The Dutch slope isn't the only slope in the city given its hilly terrain, but it's the only one named after a European nationality.
You see, for the old citizens of Nagasaki, every westerner is a 'Dutch-san’. The Dutch-sans used to traverse a specific path towards Higashi-Yamate, Japan's first Protestant Church, for their Sunday service. Hence, the path came to be called Dutch Slope.
1.30PM OURA CHURCH
To Honor 26 Martyrs
There are a lot of firsts and oldests in Nagasaki, and this church is one of them.
Designed by 2 French priests and reminiscent of Europe's Middle Ages, visitors can't help but say it’s an out-of-place architecture. But as we already mentioned, this isn't your typical Japanese destination.
2.30PM GLOVER GARDEN
Coffee Spot in the Midst of Flowers
Although you might think Nagasaki is a scarred city, countless of sights oozing with opulence do abound.
Glover garden is one such sight. In this compound, you can feel how the rich and influential foreign traders lived their lives in old Nagasaki. Their wealth is still evident once you enter the well-preserved buildings and rooms.
Roam around, admire the blooming flowers, then enjoy a panoramic view of Mt. Inasa and the harbor while having an afternoon snack in their café.
4.30PM MT. INASA
The 10 Million Dollar View
The only way to cap off your Nagasaki trip is to get bedazzled by the night city view offered by Mt. Inasa's summit.
There is a restaurant and bar on the 2nd floor of the observation deck. Sit by the windows and continue to be enthralled by the cityscape.