Date of Travel: 13/02/2012
The worst feeling you can have while on holiday is to wake up to the sound of heavy rain pelting against the window. And that was exactly what we got on what was really the only day throughout the whole trip that there was really bad weather. It was somewhat fitting too, as we were heading to Nagasaki Peace Park. For those who are unaware, Nagasaki was one of the two cities in Japan that was hit by an atomic bomb at the end of the World War 2. I acknowledge that Japanese soldiers did many horrible things during the war, but the effect of the A-bomb is something that should not be inflicted on anyone. Thousands of innocent civilians suffered while those in power were left unaffected. Bearing witness to the monstrosity of war and nuclear arms, Nagasaki and Hiroshima are now aiming to discourage other countries and cities around the world to stop nuclear testing, and are trying to promote world peace. Sadly, they have been largely unsuccessful. Prior to the trip, J.C. and I folded a thousand cranes together, which we aim to leave at the Peace Park in memory of those lives lost and for future peace.
The main Peace Park grounds featured about a dozen sculptures and displays from countries around the world, also hoping for peace in the future. The rain enhanced the gloominess of the area, and quite frankly I felt very uneasy walking around. We managed to find a sheltered area next to the Peace Statue to hang the cranes. It was quite touching to see the amount of other cranes which other visitors had left.
After spending some additional time walking around the park, we headed off towards the Atomic Bomb Museum which was located nearby. Many interesting displays made out of a thousand cranes were showcased at the front foyer of the museum. As mentioned previously, it was nice seeing others showing their support for Nagasaki.
Inside the museum were displays showcasing the horrors of the atomic bomb. Due to sensitivity of these displays, I had purposely refrained from taking any pictures/videos here (I think I would not have been allowed to anyway). Next to the museum is the Peace Memorial Hall for the atomic bomb victims. The remembrance hall was recently constructed between 2000-2002, and was absolutely beautiful. It was a nice way to pay tribute to those unfortunate souls who lost their lives in this tragic event.
There was a small park just outside the museum which we wandered around in for a while. The sadness seeping through the atmosphere definitely made us very uncomfortable. After taking a few photos, we stopped by a convenience store to buy a late lunch then headed off to Sofukuji temple for a change in scenery.
As Nagasaki is located close to China, the design of its temples are heavily influenced by Chinese style temples. This was apparent at Sofukuji where, unlike the simplicity in the architecture of temples in Kyoto, its exterior is pained in red, and the arrangement of the roof tiles and columns gave it a rough feel. There was also a distinct lack of a proper garden which we so often saw at various temples back in Kansai. At the back of the temple was a graveyard, which was hauntingly beautiful with its many gravestones covered in moss. There was also a reasonable view from the graveyard at the city.
Our next stop was the Confucious Shrine. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we reached it. We then decided to head over to Chinatown (one of three within Japan, the other two are located in Yokohama and Kobe) instead for a quick stroll. There was nothing really special about the place, though it was quite late when we arrived so many of its shops were already closed. Brownie did spot on a map that there was also a monument to the 26 Martyrs of Japan near the JR station, and so we stopped by there as well. There wasn’t a whole lot to see here either, though the first and only church I had come across on this trip was located nearby.
After such a gloomy day, we headed back to the JR station to have some dinner and do some window shopping among a more lively and upbeat atmosphere. Afterwards, we headed back to our accommodation to do some laundry as we won’t get a good chance to do so for almost a week. While waiting for the laundry to dry, we headed over to the Megane (spectacles) bridge. The reason why this bridge was called as such was that the reflection of the bridge on the water, combined with the bridge itself, made it look like a pair of glasses. It is a pretty bridge, especially at night. After our laundry was done, we headed back to our accommodation and started packing. We had a very early start the next day, so we hit the sack shortly after.
One day Nagasaki tram pass – 500 yen [purchased from Nagasaki station]
Nagasaki International Hostel Akari – 2,900 yen
Breakfast from convenience store – 372 yen [Pokari sweat, chocolate melon bun and onigiri]
Lunch from convenience store near Peace Park – 408 yen [Yakisoba, Okonomiyaki and Nikuman]
Dinner at Hamburger and Steak Blues Kitchen at JR Nagasaki station – 1,974 yen [New York steak set]
Drink while waiting for laundry to dry – 120 yen
Umbrella – 450 yen
TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
7,224 yen (358,405 yen total)