Sightseeing in Nagasaki with my parents

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May 18th 2019
Published: May 18th 2019
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It was another bright and sunny day on 20 April. As we had planned travelling with trams, we bought one-day tickets.

Momument of the Twenty-Six Martyrs and Museum

My mother suggested that we should visit the site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints on the Nishizaka Park, which was just behind the bus terminal. Nagasaki is known as the city of Slope: we would have to walk uphill a bit to go to the destination. We remembered seeing the monument of Twenty-Six Martyrs shown on the NHK World’s programme. It was also interesting to see very ornate church spires of St John the Baptist Church behind the monument. There spires looked like spires of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

We found the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum behind the monument and visited there. We found a number of interesting exhibits of 26 Saints, documents, e.g. Francis Xavier’s handwritten letter and Julian Nakaura’s handwritten letter, hidden Christian’s prayer tools and artefacts which they secretly used to practise their true faith. Some of the 26 Martyrs were quite young, 14-19 years old. I admired their dignity and dedication towards their faith. We could feel the spirits of these martyrs in the room of Glory on the 1st floor, where the remains of them were laid to rest.

Dejima, Open Air Museum

Secondly, we took the tram to Dejima. Because of the recent year’s development work, a fan-shaped island, Dejima, has been demolished. However, Nagasaki was flourished as a hub of Christianity and a trading harbour between the 16th century and the beginning of the 19th century including Edo’s period’s seclusion period. Dejima acted as an indelible part of Japanese history and pioneering place in shaping modern Japanese history. Considering these reasons, with the basis of features of the original buildings in the 17th century, the city of Nagasaki has invested in reconstructing the Dejima on which the fan-shaped island was located.

We entered the open air museum of the Dejima. All the ushers were wearing traditional Japanese kimono clothes to match with atmosphere of the traditional Japanese houses. We were able to look round most of the exhibition rooms. English interpretations were given for each of the exhibited items; Mark was able to understand how the rooms were used and how each tool was used.

The purpose of constructing the Dejima was to prohibit the proselytizing of Christianity by the Portuguese. The Tokugawa Shogunate allowed the trading with only the Netherlands at Dejima during the entire 218 years of the national seclusion when all the other Japanese ports were closed to foreign ships. For a long time, Dejima was the Dutch merchants’ home, but they were constantly watched by operatives of the Shogunate. Nevertheless, they made huge profits with the trading.

Being the Dutch merchants’ home, we were shown the Japanese rooms furnished with Western furniture – beds, chairs and cupboards with blue-white porcelain. There were little waxworks of the custom house – both Japanese operatives and the Dutch people were weighing goods, reconstructed scales and the miniature work of the Dejima Island in the Dejima Open Air Museum. The exhibit items included pieces of broken but valuable porcelain, surgical tools, stones and wooden pieces used for constructing houses, all of which were excavated in the recent years.

Nagasaki is the origin of Castella cake, which was introduced by the Portuguese merchants in the 16th century and has been well liked by Japanese people. As well as the English guide book, I bought the plain castella cakes at the gift shop and tried it with Mark in the late afternoon.

Shinch Chinatown

Next, we headed for Shinchi China Town. It was just 100 metres away from the east exit of Dejima Museum. I’d heard this China Town had been recently renovated; the gate and all the restaurants façade looked newly painted and elaborately decorated. We decided to go to the big restaurant near the gate. The restaurant offered a wide variety of Chinese, Japanese and Western style dishes, but as we came to Nagasaki, we ordered Champon – one of the regional meals of Nagasaki. This ramen noodle dish was inspired by the cuisine of China and contained slices of pork, squid, octopus, kamaboko (fish cake), prawn and vegetables; stock made with chicken and pig bones. It was delicious.

Sofukuji Temple

My mother wanted to go to one of the arts & crafts shops near Shianbachi station. We were advised that Sofukuji temple wasn’t far away from the shop; we walked to the temple.

Sofukuji Temple was standing along the slope of a hill, and it a temple belonging to the Obaku school of Zen Buddhism. We paid for the admission (¥300) and went through the decorative gate, Ryugumon (Gate of the Dragon Palace), walked up the hillside, and walked round the buildings and inner grounds. Including the Ryugumon, all the buildings were constructed in a Chinese architectural style – wall and columns painted in red, attachments of dragons on the fringes, presence of Shaka and its disciples in the main hall – and the Masado (Hall of Bodhisattva) contained an image of the Goddess of the Seas, flanked by fierce guardians. It is a best example of Ming style Temple – it looked different from other shrines and temples in Japan.

Siebold Memorial Museum

After that, we went to Sofukuji tram station and moved to Shin Nakamachi-to go to Siebold Memorial Museum.

Following the visit to Botanical garden in Leiden, which was associated with Dr Philipp Franz von Siebold, we were interested in learning about him and decided to visit this museum.

After leaving the tram station, we followed signs marked on the pavements and found the site of Siebold Residence and Memorial Museum.

Dr Philipp Franz von Siebold is one of the well-known Dutch doctors in Japanese history and Siebold Memorial Museum is the tribute to his achievements in Japan and housed collections of documents, memorabilia and information panels with details of his activities and life story by date to date. He married to Japanese lady Taki and brought up Ine. He opened up the Narutaki-juku and taught medical science to doctors who came from other parts of Japan. Being acknowledged as a brilliant doctor, he even gained an opportunity to visit Edo and work with Shogunate’s officials. He met up with many doctors, scholars, exchanged knowledge and information with them, and received a lot of valuable gifts which would be use for his study of Japan. In 1828, a few years after his visit to Edo, Siebold incident happened: whilst under investigation, it was found that he had collected a number of items which were forbidden to take out from Edo – the map of Japan, clothes with Shogunate’s coat of arms. After a long interrogation, the people who had connections with Siebold were executed and he was expelled from Japan. Despite this incident, he really liked Japan. He wrote and published a lot of journals and books based on the collections of documents and of plants and sketches of animals. He came back to Japan in 1859, 30 years after he had expelled from Japan. He continued doing studies of Japan and wished to be buried in Japan. Furthermore, I learned that Siebold’s daughter Ine and his students became prominent doctors and mid-wife and contributed to development of medical science and diplomacy in Japan and in Europe.

The museum displayed encyclopaedias of Japanese plants and animals. He grew Japanese plants and trees after he had gone to his home and spread these features through European countries.

Suwa Jinja Shrine

It was mid afternoon when we finished looking round Siebold Museum. My parents decided to go back to the hotel; we decided to visit Suwa-jinja Shrine.

After leaving the subway connecting from Suwa Shrine station, we started climbing up the 277- stairs to the main shrine. We went through several torii gates standing on the landings between stone steps. As well as the main hall, there were other historic buildings – Suwa Chaya, which has been running as a café for more than 150 years; Saikan Suwa-so, distinctive wooden building completed in the 1920s, was once knows as best Japanese inn and used by the royal family and the celebrities. Suwa Shrine was established as a way of stopping and reverting the conversion to Christianity that was taking place in Nagasaki. In modern times, it remains an important and successful centre of the community. This shrine survived the atomic bomb of 9 August 1945 – it showed the power of the native Japanese kami as opposed to the imported Christian god. It has been home to many annual events – atomic bomb commemorative service, doll festival and Kunchi festival, and Yutake-Sai.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel. We tried the castella cake which I bought at Dejima Museum. Mark found it delicious and commented it is similar to the pound cake.

Night view, Inaseyama Mountain


It means 'Gate of Dragon Palace

It was still bright and sunny in the late afternoon. My mother asked the hotel’s receptionist to book the seats for the bus to go to Inaseyama Mountain. We went to the reception hall around 19:20 and got on the bus. This was a free shuttle bus which stopped at several major hotels on the way to the station for the ropeway of Inaseyama Mountain. There were a lot of people using the shuttle bus and the ropeway. We managed to go to the observatory. It was breezy and pretty clear evening; it offered beautiful night views of the Nagasaki city and harbour. I understood that this night view is one of the three best ones along with Rokkosan near Kobe and Hakodateyama Mountain in Hokkaido. We had to take the bus back to the hotel by the certain time; didn’t have the time to go to the restaurant within the observatory. We just spent approximately 30-45 minutes in the observatory and then went back to the hotel.

We decided to go to the Japanese seafood restaurant. Mark had tempura dishes and I had sashimi – raw cod dishes. The set menu included

Ming-style Temple, Nagasaki
rice, clear soup, pickles and egg tofu.

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Saikan Suwa soSaikan Suwa so
Saikan Suwa so

Built in the 1920s. Ran as a Japanese Inn - once used by the royal family and the celebrities.
My dinnerMy dinner
My dinner

Had a raw fish of cod, with rice, clear soup, pickles and egg tofu

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