This past weekend was a whirlwind of excitement with a pottery treasure hunt, a J-League soccer game and a concert. But before that, let’s jump back another week to the Saturday before, when I decided a visit to Nagasaki was overdue.
I had been wanting to go there for a while, and I wanted to try out my new camera, see how it would hold up (the battery lasted a little better than my phone battery, but I’ve since grabbed a second battery and an external charger, just in case). So around 10:30 in the morning, I hopped on the Limited Express Kamome and settled in. A brief aside here how much I love it that I can just grab a train to places like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It’s so wonderfully easy (if a bit pricey) to just grab a train and go find adventure. I enjoyed riding along the Ariake Sea, and the area around Nagasaki is lovely.
By just about 1 PM, I was there and ready to explore. Nagasaki is famously a port city, having been an entry poins for the Portuguese and Dutch to an otherwise isolated Japan. But I didn’t see one bit of the water, nope. I headed to the hills, literally. My clever plan had been to go find a statue of Sakamoto Ryouma located in Kazagashira Park, so I grabbed a tram (which I wish they had here in Fukuoka) and headed to the end of the line, Shokakuji, located right next to Shokakuji Temple. From there I wandered back across the tracks and spent quite a bit of time in the grounds for Yasaka and Seisui Shrines. It seems the latter must have something to do with childbirth or babies, because several were brought in while I was running around taking pictures outside, including a set of twins.
I took well over 100 pictures at the two shrines, and picked up a pair of ema (including the monkey one above; the other is a cute cat) and headed off to find Sofukuji Temple, known for its Chinese style. It was just a few minutes walk away, and when I finished snapping pics, I whipped out my phone to see if Google maps could direct me to Kazagashira Park. Google thought I should go straight up the hills behind the temple, but I balked, opting to walk a different route. Meanwhile, it was getting hotter and hotter, and I was grateful for the vending machines all over the place.
Walked past many more temples, but didn’t go in any others. Eventually realized I had no choice but to head up the hill in the heat. So up through the immense graveyard behind the temples I went, pausing about 2/3rds up to cool off with a soft drink (literally — I poured it over my head). I never did make it all the way up as another tourist who didn’t want to keep climbing stairs asked an older gentleman who was sweeping the stairs where we could find Ryouma … and he directed us to another well known statue. Of Ryouma’s boots. Not quite what I wanted, but it meant no more climbing, was technically Ryouma and afforded an amazing view down into Nagasaki.
Took some pics, and headed back down through the Teramachi district to head back to the station. A short tram ride later, headed into the AMU mall next to the station and looked for dinner, which ended up being grilled unagai (fresh water eel) over ride and kitsune udon. Perhaps not very Nagasaki, but tasty. A little before 6 PM, got back on the train and headed home.
Those few hours were just a taste, and I plan on going back to Nagasaki later this year when it is cooler, probably to spend a weekend. I want to see Dejima, Glover Garden, the Peace Park and China Town, at the very least.
My full gallery of pics can be seen here.