Date of Travel: 12/02/2012
The day which I had been worried about the most has finally arrived. This was the start of a frantic stretch in our plan where we travel between 7 cities/towns in 8 days, and was the day we finally activate our JR pass. After sleeping in later than usual, we checked out of the hostel, went to Hakata station to activate the JR passes and reserve tickets to Nagasaki, then went and bought breakfast. Shortly after, we hopped on the train, and managed to arrive at Nagasaki shortly before noon. We immediately took a tram to reach our next accommodation – Nagasaki International Hostel Akari.
Our room at Akari was one of the most spacious of our trip. There was plenty of space to store our luggage, and there was also a bathroom and toilet ensuite. The staff were also among the friendliest we had encountered on our trip, which is saying a lot as almost every place we stayed had friendly staff. Akari Hostel is located along a section of the Nakashima River which featured almost dozen beautiful stone arch bridges. We definitely appreciated the lack of traffic in this area, unlike all our previous accommodations (though Sapporo wasn’t too bad).
We took a tram to the port, and located the Takashima Traffic Advisory group’s office. This is one of the few groups around Nagasaki that operated a ferry to reach Gunkanjima, which is a completely deserted mining town. As there was still time before the ferry, we went to grab some lunch from another convenience store (first time we had done so for lunch on this trip). We returned to the port, and hopped on the Black Diamond ferry. Though the ride to Gunkanjima was a tad pricey, the ferry ride alone offered great views of Nagasaki and its surroundings from the sea.
After about a 20 minute ride, we arrived at Gunkanjima island. The reinforced concrete buildings were in a worst state than I could have possibly imagined. The amount of corrosion and concrete spalling was fascinating, and the deserted buildings and the flying crows above made this place seem almost haunted. It felt like a zombie outbreak was about to happen at any moment! I was a bit disappointed that we only saw a small section of the island from behind the safety of railings, but with the state the buildings are in, I probably wouldn’t really want to be walking among them anyway! There are plenty of Haikyo adventurists who had taken amazing photos of the buildings online, so be sure to check those out.
Heading back towards Nagasaki, I glanced back at the island and understood why it was called Gunkanjima (Battleship Island). It was hard to imagine that the island was at one stage the most populated area in the world. Once we arrived back in Nagasaki, we took a few photos of the ferry along with its captain, then had a look around a nearby mall. There was also a Pachinko parlour which we decided to enter to have a look. The thick stench of cigarette smoke and the deafening noise made us turn around within a few seconds, with Brownie and J.C. yelling “what the hell was that?” I cannot imagine people spending hours in such parlours each day…
As it was too early for dinner, we decided to head up Mount Inasa to have a look around. As it was getting dark and we didn’t want to get too tired climbing up the mountain (it was just the start of our hectic stretch afterall), we took a cablecar to the top. There was a restaurant up the top which we decided to have dinner at. We sat at a counter next to the windows. While the food was average for its price, it was the view that made it all worthwhile.
The view from Mount Inasa was perhaps the best night view we had of the entire trip. Not only were we able to see Nagasaki city, but almost a full 360 degree view of other smaller towns. The dispersion of lights was amazing. Interestingly, a sign pointed out that the patches where there are no light resembles outline of some animals. I was able to visualize some of it, but many were too farfetched for me! As we had nothing planned after visiting the mountain, and that this frantic stretch in our schedule had just begun, we decided to call it a night early and headed back to out accommodation.
JR National 21 Day Pass – 57,700 yen
One day Nagasaki tram pass – 500 yen [purchased from Nagasaki station]
Nagasaki International Hostel Akari – 2,900 yen
Breakfast from convenience store near Hakata Station – 480 yen [Chocolate twist, curry bread and hotdog]
Lunch from Daily Yamazaki convenience store @ Motofunamachi – 295 yen [Teriyaki burger and Inari sushi]
Dinner at Hikari Restaurant @ Mount Inasa – 1,750 yen [Turkish rice, plum liquor and castella]
Souvenir from Mount Inasa – 420 yen [Mount Inasa magnet]
TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
11,845 yen excluding JR Pass, 69,545 yen including JR Pass (351,181 yen total)