Nagasaki and the Westerners in Japan

こんばんは!

Last week was eventful. We went to see another Softbank Hawks game as the baseball season began and they won against Rakuten Eagles. We had so much fun at the game. On Thursday, we went to Hakata to get our shinkansen tickets for the weekend. After getting our tickets, we went to a close-by arcade and tried out a VR horror game. Later we explore the top of Amu Plaza, a shopping center at Hakata station, where there’s a rooftop garden and a shrine. The sun was setting and we got to see it hide behind the mountains.

Sunset

Nagasaki

I took the shinkansen from Hakata to Nagasaki with my four friends on Friday after our classes. The ride was a bit bumpier than it had been when we’d gone to Osaka in February, but the couple of hours passed fast while reading my book for Japanese literature in English translation final presentation. It was already dark when we got to Nagasaki. We took a tram to our airbnb and went to look for some food, excited for the next day. Nagasaki has a lot of hills as it’s surrounded by mountains.

View of Nagasaki from Glover Garden

Atomic Bomb Museum

The first place we went to on Saturday was the Atomic Bomb Museum and Memorial Hall. Nagasaki is a very historical city as it was a trading port for the Chinese and Westerners for hundreds of years (even before and during the seclusion, but only the Dutch were allowed in). More about it’s history can be read from the picture below. I think it is a short, but powerful presentation of Nagasaki’s history.

Nagasaki history

Nagasaki was the last city to suffer from atomic bombing during World War II. I didn’t take any more pictures in the museum as I don’t think they’d be able to convey the message of the museum. It is a place you have to see for yourself and I think everyone should see it. I remember writing about how sad I felt in Hiroshima Peace Park seeing those monuments telling the dark history, but bringing hope for a better future. In Hiroshima, I couldn’t visit the museum, because it had already closed its doors for the day. This time it was different.

In the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum you see what actually happened to the people of Nagasaki on that day. There are pictures of the scorched corpses and injuries on those who were left alive – for a few more years. There are objects and structures bent and melted. You can also see how the bomb affected the area further away from the epicenter. But the worst thing is the stories of those left alive watching their family members die. In Hiroshima, I just saw a glimpse and felt sad. In Nagasaki, I was numb. When I took my first steps into the museum I was about to cry, but after I continued further inside, all my emotions were on a standstill as I took in everything around me with careful observation. It was horrible, but I learned a lot and I’m glad I went there. I think it was an important experience.

Paper crane donation box

There is also a Memorial Hall in the same building, where you can go pay your respects to the victims of the A-bomb. There is a big hall with tall glass pillars and a tall cabinet holding the names of all the victims. When you’re in the room, facing the cabinet, you’re facing the epicenter of the bomb. There’s also a room where you can write your thoughts on World peace on a card you hang on the wall and make origami cranes as a way of expressing your respect and wish for World peace. Paper cranes are the symbol of a movement against nuclear weapons.

Peace Park

After the museum we headed to the Peace Park that holds all kinds of donated monuments. Many of the monuments had water bottles close to them. The victims of the A-bomb were said to usually ask for water, which is why it’s left like flowers next to the statues. The monument on the picture below is of the epicenter of the bomb. It is standing right where the bomb was dropped.

Monument presenting the epicenter of the A-bomb

The biggest statue in the Park is of a man holding his right hand up towards the sky and his left hand steady. The right hand symbolizes the threat of nuclear weapons and the left hand peace. His eyes are gently closed for the victims. Everything in the Park is beautiful and very meaningful. Today’s Nagasaki is a beautiful place, though the scars remain.

Peace statue

Dejima

The last place we visited on Saturday was Dejima, a small, fan-shaped, historical trading island in the heart of Nagasaki. Dejima was the place where Westerners were allowed to trade in Nagasaki and it housed a lot of Dutch throughout the centuries. It is a mixture of Western and Japanese architecture. Dejima is small, but it holds a lot of history, which makes it an interesting place to visit.

Streets of Dejima
A miniature of how Dejima used to be

Glover Garden

On Sunday, we went to see a Confucius shrine, but only one of us entered since we didn’t want to pay the entrance fee just to take pictures. There’s a lot of Chinese things in Nagasaki, even a China Town, where we ate on Saturday evening.

Next we went to see Oura Catholic Church, which is a very beautiful white church on a hill. Only one of us went in there too. Nagasaki once had the biggest Catholic Church in Eastern Asia, but it was destroyed by the A-bomb.

The Glover Garden was our last destination in Nagasaki. It holds Western merchants’ houses as small museums and the view from there is beautiful. The weather was warm for the whole weekend, perfect for walking around the garden.

Glover Garden

I’m glad I went to Nagasaki. It taught me a lot and I had a good time with my friends. I only have a month left here in Japan, which also means that I have to slowly start preparing for our finals. There’s still a lot to see and do.

また来週!