Beauty and The Beast

Nagasaki, Japan


We were docked in Nagasaki by about 730 and we left the ship at around 9. First impressions were of a modern, attractive city set in a wonderful, natural harbour surrounded by green hills and islets. We heard that the best way to get around was to used the trams and we bought a day pass to facilitate this. It cost about £4.
Our first call was to be the cablecar to Mt. Inasa, a viewpoint on the oppositie side of the harbour and for this we took a taxi. The sky was completely blue and clear at this point and the sun was really warm. The cable car ride was only about 5 minutes from a garden environment at the base to the observatory at the top. The cable car cabin was very stylish and apparently designed by a Japanee designer who has done work for Porsche. From the observatory the views in all directions were stunning. The blue water of the harbour, green of the hills and the town spread below us. It is apparently even more spectacular by night and Nagasaki has been named in the top 5 night time panoramas in the world. We shall see tonight maybe!
The cherry blossom has started to come out but is not in full bloom here, but enough to see how lovely it will soon be. The magnolia trees are also in full bloom.
Nagasaki is of course famous for being the second city to receive an atomic bomb at the end of WW2. After the observatory we picked up the tram system and rode to the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace park which has been established at ground zero where the bomb hit on the 9th August 1945 at 1102 am. The actual ground zero is a moving little park full of different memorials from different organisations. The museum is extremely interesting and informative. You enter down a winding stairway that counts back in time to 11am on the 9th August 1945. Then you enter into a simulation of some of the ruins of Nagasaki: twisted girders, part of the wall of the Cathedral, a felled water tower, twisted, melted pylons and in the background are movie screens projecting film of Nagasaki before the bomb exploded and the aftermath, a thriving city one minute and a desolate wasteland the next. There are then exhibit halls that show the effects of the heat flash, the burning, the radiation. This was very moving and quite distressing. Everything within 3.5 kilometres was eradicated. There are sections of wall and wood that have the shadows of things burned into them: a man with a ladder, leaves, washing on a line. The actual things were vaporised, only these strange shadows remain. The pictures of the burn victims were awful. The raison de’etre of the museum is to prevent a further nuclear war. It was sobering to reflect that the bomb that devastated the city was enormous in size – they called it Fat Man – but today we have weapons many times more powerful that would sit in a suitcase.
After that we caught the tram back to the centre of town and browsed around the shops and arcades there. Bob and I wanted a sushi lunch and we found a reasonable place to eat. Great lunch for about £7 per head. Not the best sushi ever, but in all honesty there were very few to choose from. Noodles, ramen and teppanyaki seem more popular here.
Our final stop was Glover Garden, an area of botanical gardens on a hillside above the cruise port where the rich foreign merchants lived in the 1800s and early 1900s. Glover was a Scottish merchant who lived in Nagasaki and built the original house (still there). His wife was said to be the inspiration for Madam Butterfly which is set in Nagasaki. It’s a lovely garden with the historic, wooden houses set amongst the trees and shrubs. More cherry trees, magnolias, spring flowers and budding azaleas and rhodadendrons here. We walked down through it and through the rather quaint hill of shops that le d back to the ship. It reminded me somewhat of The Rocks area of Sydney.
Back on board we went straight to the theatre for a special event. The Captain and leading officers were being presented with gifts by the Nagasaki Tourist board and giving gifts in return plus there was a special performance of some of the arias from Madam Butterfly. The singing and costumes was spectacular and it was a thrill to see it in the setting.
After a rest we returned to the downtown area of Nagasaki and found a traditional restaurant for dinner. One of the ones with little private dining rooms with rush matting and cushions on the floor. We ordered reasonably blindly again and ended up with a plate of mixed sashimi (great), mixed skewers of grilled meats (average) and a bowl of udon noodles with an egg sauce (hmmm not totally my thing). We also managed to pick the only place in Nagasaki that didnt have wifi so we had to go somewhere afterwards to get some so we could call the girls.
Ended up in McDonald’s!!!!! Did I mention I have a stinking cold? Again! Thanks Bob!

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