Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nagasaki

Friday 12 October - Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki, like Hiroshima, is a symbol of the horrors of war. On the island of Kyushu, it also offers charm.  Hills surround the bay.  Diamond Princess was built here and the city is the setting for Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly". 

The ship docked just below Glover Mansion & Gardens, the former home of the Scottish founder of Mitsubishi

We had visited Nagasaki in 2008 when we saw the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Museum and many of the other attractions including Glover Gardens, Oura Catholic Church, Shimabara, and Arita.

The port is in walking distance of the city and is well served by trams.  We caught a tram, then another before alighting in search of Mt Inasa – an 1,100 feet high vantage point to the west of the port.  It is reached by cable car once you get to the bottom station, or you can drive to the top.

Les was our guide today and, after alighting from the tram, we turned left confident that the station was not that far away.  Wrong - the map needed to be turned 180 degrees! 

So we walked up gently sloping hills and stairs past neighbourhood houses, and shrines in search of the river we needed to cross before we were told/realised that we were on the wrong hill/side of the main road!

Nevertheless the walk was very interesting and the bonus was that we saw the site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan.

We were not that far from the main road so we jaywalked across the road (causing two trams either side of us to slow!), off on a side road, across rail tracks (causing a train to slow because of our presence!), across the river and up to the base station of the cable car.  At the top there were magnicient views of the harbour, the sea and Nagasaki itself.  We pinpointed Glover Gardens (eventually) and the Peace Statue & Museum.

Down again to re-cross the river and rail tracks near Urakami railway station.  We decided to catch another tram downtown and alighted.  We paused to get our bearings and were approached by a man seeking to help.  We said we were OK but then asked him about restaurants.  He led us to a restaurant in the next street which we entered up the stairs.  The waitress could not speak much English and the menu was only in Japanese, so her husband/chef/owner appeared to explain and we sat down to a lovely meal of grilled fish on rice, accompanied by pickles, pods of peas and other delicacies.  The tea was gone in no time and the meal was delicious. 

We obtained directions for shopping and the owner came downstairs with us to point the way.  Across the road and a block away was the canal with coy/carp and turtles and we set off to walk down five bridges.  The second one was the Spectacles Bridge.  A school class walked by saying ‘hello’ in English.  At another we were approached by two lots of school children and asked to take their photos.  At another, two local ladies approached and we chatted.  It turned out they were Jehovah’s Witness Bible students and sure enough not far away were two Japanese men on bicycles distinctively JW.

A block away from the canal was a gigantic mall running in four directions.  We inspected three of the wings and then re-boarded the tram to the dock using our all day pass.  We took it to the terminus and back one stop to walk back to the ship.  Joy spied another store and made some purchases.  Then at the dock there were tourist stalls – and free Wi-Fi !  Strangely, the ship’s satellite internet is not accessible or turned off when in Japanese waters due to local regulations. 

Back on board, we were entertained by a local high school brass band and dancers as we eventually sailed away.  Earlier in the afternoon, there had been an Official Welcome and an abridged performance of Madam Butterfly (Opela).

We had an early night after dinner, putting our clocks back an hour (as it turned out, 24 hours in advance!).

A great day!!

See our Nagasaki photos

[posted approaching Shanghai)
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