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Nagasaki - 22 Must-Visit Destinations

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Located in Kyushu, Nagasaki Prefecture is famous for its exotic, international atmosphere, whose origins can be traced in the history of this port city. This article features the major sightseeing destinations in Nagasaki.

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What to Visit in Nagasaki: 22 Sightseeing Destinations

Nagasaki Prefecture is located in the northwest area of the Kyushu region. Nagasaki is famous for its exotic cityscape, influenced by both the Eastern and Western cultures. Along with Hiroshima, it is also known as a city devastated by an atomic bomb during the Second World War.

There are historic places all over the prefecture, and this article will pick up the must-visit spots.

1. Dejima

Nagasaki points of interest

During the years Japan limited its trade with other countries, Dejima was the only place that foreigners were allowed to stay. It was an artificial island built in 1636, but now it is connected to the surrounding areas.

In modern Dejima, the original buildings have been reconstructed. In those days, Dutch merchants used to enjoy a Western lifestyle in Japanese housing, and such scenery is also authentically re-created here. Visitors can change into kimono and take a walk, enjoy dining, or browse the souvenir shops handling items that can be bought only at Dejima.

For further information, please read A Stroll Through Dejima - Where Japanese And Dutch Culture Coexist.

2. Glover Garden

Nagasaki points of interest

The Glover Garden is located on a hilltop in the southern area of Nagasaki City. The Glover Residence, formerly owned by the Scottish merchant Thomas Glover, was built in the late 19th century, and has been designated a World Heritage site. The exotic setting has become popular as a place to enjoy the beautiful flowers, and more than million tourists visit every year.

There are six historic buildings on the grounds, including the former Ringer Residence and the former Alt Residence. Some of the buildings were even relocated from other areas in Nagasaki. Visitors can enjoy the seasonal flowers in the garden, or take in the view of Nagasaki City and Port. They can also enjoy various events, or have their photographs taken in period clothing.

Although the Glover Garden sits at the top of a hill, it is equipped with escalators and elevators, so the facilities can be reached by everyone.

To learn more about this spot, please take a look at Discover Nagasaki's International History At Glover Garden.

3. Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown

Nagasaki points of interest

Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown, along with Yokohama and Kobe, is one of the three Chinatowns in Japan. Chinese-style gates stand at the four cardinal points, and Chinese restaurants and souvenir shops line up the streets.

Visitors should try champon (noodles with seafood, vegetables, and meat), which originated from this Chinatown and spread all over Japan, and sara-udon (thin udon noodles served on a saucer, topped with vegetables, meat and seafood), a local specialty. Be sure to taste these Nagasaki-style Chinese dishes which are made noodles, fresh seafood and vegetables.

The Nagasaki Lantern Festival is held here every winter for two weeks and attracts over a million visitors. Over 15 thousand colorful lanterns adorn the city center, and Chinese lion and dragon dance events are also held through the festival.

4. Peace Park

Nagasaki points of interest

Nagasaki Peace Park is located to the north of the place where the atomic bomb exploded. The park was created in hopes that peace prevails on earth, and to pledge that such a tragedy would not be repeated.

The Peace Statue in this park stands at 9.7 meters in height. Both hands of the statue have their own meaning, as the right hand pointing to the sky represents the threat of atomic weapons, and the left hand pointing toward the horizon represents peace. The eyes of the statue are closed lightly, in prayer for the atomic bomb victims.

Fountain of Peace, a circular fountain built in memory of the victims who died in search of water, is another feature of this park.

5. One-Legged Torii Arch at Sanno Shrine

Sanno Shrine in Nagasaki City is famous for its one-legged torii arch.

There were four torii arches at this shrine, located about 900 meters from the atomic bomb hypo-center, but only the ni-no-torii (*1), damaged and standing on a single pillar, remains. In 2013, this torii was appointed as a Registered Monument by the Japanese Government.

A camphor tree in the shrine grounds was also burned by the atomic bomb blast, but somehow managed to survive. This tree is regarded as a symbol of revival by the citizens.

*1 Ni-no-torii: The second torii in the shrine grounds.

6. Oura Church

Nagasaki points of interest

Oura Church, built in 1865, is Japan's oldest Gothic-style church. It was constructed under the guidance of a French priest, and has an attractive white exterior.

The official name of this church is The Church of 26 Martyrs, as it is dedicated to the 26 saints executed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It is also famous for the discovery of the kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christian followers), who confessed their beliefs at this church.

The church is adorned with beautiful stained glass. The original, the oldest of its kind in Japan, was destroyed by the atomic bomb blast, and the current stained glass was made by the Roger Trading in Paris.

7. Chinzei Taisha Suwa Shrine

Nagasaki points of interest

Chinzei Taisha Suwa Shrine was rebuilt in 1625, after being burnt down.

It is said that the shrine grounds have mystical powers. The legend goes that Gan-kake Komainu (lion-dog statues who will grant your wishes), which dot the grounds, help to bring couples together, and help students to pass entrance examinations. If you wish to stop smoking or drinking, they will also be of help, so many people visit this shrine. There is also a Komainu Well, where it is believed that if you wash money with the water, its value will double, and that drinking the water helps women with their childbirth.

For further information, please read Nagasaki - See The Lion-Dogs At Chinzei Taisha Suwa Shrine.

8. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

The museum displays materials not only about the aftermath, but also about how the bombing was organized, the history of nuclear weapons, the reconstruction of Nagasaki City and the hope towards a world without nuclear weapons.

The basement floor video room shows an animation with English subtitles about the citizens being exposed to radiation at the time, and a documentary about the history of nuclear weapons testing. The museum offers an opportunity for the younger generation to learn about nuclear weapons, and also about peace.

9. Oranda Zaka

Nagasaki points of interest

Nagasaki citizens used to call all the non-Japanese people "Oranda-san" (Dutch people), and the slopes near the foreign settlement came to be called a "slope where the Oranda-san walks," so they were named Oranda Zaka (Dutch Slope). With the Western-style residence around this area, visitors may feel like they've wandered into another country.

Kassui Zaka, located near Kassui Gakuin school grounds, and the slope near Jokoiin Temple, are currently called Oranda Zaka. It might be fun to think about its history while taking a walk.

10. Nagasaki Confucian Shrine

This shrine was built in 1893 by Chinese residents in Japan, with the support of the Chinese government, to worship Confucius, the founder of Confucianism. The colorful architecture is built in traditional Chinese style, with such features as the Hekisui Bridge and the Gimon Gate at the entrance.

The Historical Museum of China is also located at the shrine, displaying valuable materials. Please note that taking photographs is prohibited in the second and third floors of the museum.

11. Nabekanmuriyama Park

From the second gate of Glover Garden, it takes about ten minutes on foot to reach Nabekanmuriyama (Mount Nabekanmuri), which rises 169 meters above sea level. The view of the city and port of Nagasaki from the park observatory is breathtaking. The nighttime view was chosen as one of the New Three Best Nightscapes in the World, and is certainly worth a look.

During the day, the Glover Residence, Gunkanjima and the five component sites of a World Heritage (Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution) site can be seen from the observatory. If you plan to visit the park, be sure to wear shoes that are fit for an uphill climb.

12. Mount Inasa

Nagasaki points of interest

Mount Inasa, rising above 333 meters above sea level, offers a panoramic view similar to Nabekanmuriyama Park. The nighttime view is praised as the "ten million dollar nightscape," and this spot is popular with couples for its romantic scenery. On a clear day, Unzen, Amakusa and even the Goto Archipelago can be seen from here.

Visitors can walk, use the ropeway, or drive up to the mountaintop. Please note that a parking fee is required.

13. Megane-Bashi

Nagasaki points of interest

This arch stone bridge, the first of its kind in Japan, spans the Nakajima River and is called Megane-Bashi (spectacles bridge), as the arch reflected on the river surface resembles a pair of spectacles.

Also, there are twenty heart-shaped stones embedded in the embankment. It is said that if you take a photograph with these stones in the background, your wish for love will be granted, so this area has become very popular.

14. Ryoma-dori

Nagasaki points of interest

Ryoma-dori is a route dotted with stone steps that starts from a path between Jinsoji and Zenrinji temples, through Teramachi-dori past Kameyama Shachu Memorial, ending at Kazagashira Park.

The route is named after Sakamoto Ryoma, a popular figure in Japanese history and one of the heroes that contributed to the revolution that took place in the late Edo Period.

Ryoma, along with his colleagues, often walked this route, and the citizens of Nagasaki started to call it Ryoma-dori. A statue is set along the route, where many visitors stop by to take photographs.

15. Siebold Memorial Museum

Nagasaki points of interest

This museum was built in honor of Philipp Siebold, who taught Rangaku (studies of Western sciences in the Edo period, using the Dutch language) at Nagasaki. The red brick building is built in the style of Siebold's house in Leiden, Holland.

Precious materials about Siebold's life, and various items he used at the time are displayed in this museum. It might take at least an hour to study the displays carefully.

16. Huis Ten Bosch

Nagasaki points of interest

Huis Ten Bosch, located in Sasebo, is a Dutch cityscape theme park. This is the largest theme park in Japan, welcoming the visitors with seasonal flowers.

There are also 44 pavilions offering all kinds of games, so it is fit for all members of the family. Live performances are regularly held, and some shows even draw a small crowd, so don't miss them.

The park is illuminated in the nighttime, and the visitors can enjoy the castle, rows of houses, flowers and canals bathed in beautiful lighting.

17. Gunkanjima

Nagasaki points of interest

Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) is a nickname for Hashima. This island was developed for coal-mining in 1870, and there were more than 5,000 people living here at its peak period. But once oil became the main energy source, the mine was closed in 1974, and the island became deserted.

A tour of Gunkanjima, where the participants can see the prototype of the Japanese high-rise concrete apartment buildings and the mining facilities has become popular, and more than 800,000 people have visited this island. In July of 2015, Gunkanjima was designated as a component site of a World Heritage (Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution) site.

For further information, please read The Filming Location Of "Attack On Titan"! Gunkanjima, Nagasaki.

18. Tenkaiho

From this observatory in Sasebo, visitors can enjoy the view of the Kujuku-shima (Ninety-nine Islands). The sunset view is also spectacular.

The Kujuku-shima actually consists of 208 islands, spreading northward from the outskirts of Sasebo Port. The density of the islands is the highest in Japan. The visitors can also enjoy the view of colza flowers in spring, and cosmos flowers in autumn. The observatory is equipped with a parking lot.

19. Hirado Dutch Trading Post

This facility, a re-creation of a building built in 1609, displays historical materials and also hosts various events. Originally built by the East India Company, it was destroyed in 1640, during the days when Christianity was banned in Japan.

Nautical instruments and items of daily use are displayed, along with pictures and books which describes how the people lived in those days. Workshops and public screenings are also held at this facility.

20. Unzen Onsen

Nagasaki points of interest

This onsen (hot spring) contains sulfur and has a high acidic quality. It is said to be effective for skin diseases in general, with a beautifying effect. Although there are various lodging facilities and sightseeing spots in the area, don't miss the museum displaying the vidro (a small bottle-shaped glass toy), and the yu-senbei workshop, where the participants can make Japanese rice crackers using the hot springs waters.

The area called Unzen Jigoku (Unzen Hell) is filled with steam and the smell of sulfur. A footbath and a communal bath is located in this area. Visitors can also take a stroll in the woods nearby.

21. Misojien

Misojien is a garden in Unzen City, about 25,000 square meters in size, and famous for its autumn leaves. The trees are spread out vertically, so the visitors can enjoy the leaves changing colors over a long period of time. The autumn leaves usually start in October. As the timing changes slightly every year, it would be best to check the information in advance. The trees are illuminated in nighttime, creating a fantastic sight not to be missed.

22. Goto Archipelago

Nagasaki points of interest

The Goto Archipelago, which consists of more than 140 islands, is located 100 kilometers west of Nagasaki Port. During the days Christianity was banned in Japan, many hidden Christian followers relocated to these islands, and churches were built after the ban was lifted. These houses of prayer played an important part in history, and have become one of the highlights of this area.

The clear blue tropical ocean surrounding the islands, and various parks in the rich natural environment are also a part of the appeals of Goto Archipelago.

Enjoy Your Trip to Nagasaki!

All the places introduced above are the major sightseeing destinations in Nagasaki. The area has many other charms waiting to be discovered! We hope our guide to Nagasaki will be of help when you visit this region.

All the information above is current as of March 2017, and was gathered from official websites. Please keep in mind that they are subject to change.

Written by

The MATCHA editorial department. Our articles feature useful travel information for visitors to Japan, from how-to guides to recommended places to visit.

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