About Nagasaki City
Nagasaki was the only port in Japan open to international trade between the 17th and 19th centuries. China and the Netherlands were Japan’ s exclusive trading partners during these two centuries. You will see reminders of this period in the city’ s exotic townscape and numerous former foreign residences. Meanwhile, Nagasaki is a city with a tragic history. In spite of the brief spread of Christianity throughout the city, missionaries and followers were severely suppressed and persecuted. During World War Two, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The city has been a world leader in calling for peace ever since.
How to Get There
If you are traveling by air, Nagasaki Airport or nearby Fukuoka Airport are your best
options. You can book bus tickets from either one that will take you directly to the city of Nagasaki. Alternatively, you can catch the bullet train all the way from Tokyo—or major cities between—to Hakata Station in Fukuoka. From here you have two options: catch a bus or ride the JR Kamome Limited Express to Nagasaki Station.
Dejima was a fan-shaped artificial island of about 15,000 square meters built in 1636 under orders from the Tokugawa Shogunate to intern Portugese residents of Nagasaki and thus to prevent the spread of Christianity. The Portugese were expelled from Japan in 1639, leaving the island empty, but the Dutch East India Company factory in Hirado was transferred here in 1641 and for more than two subsequent centuries the island served as Japan’ s only link with Europe and gateway for Western technology and culture. The living quarters and warehouses of the Dutch factory employees studded the island, and open space was used to keep animals and cultivate various plants. Projects were launched in the late 19th century to reclaim land from Nagasaki Harbor and resulted in the loss of the island. In 1922, however, the Japanese government designated Dejima as a National Historic Site in view of the role it played in the modernization of Jagan and its status as an invaluable historical and cultural asset.
Walking around Dejima with Kimono
The origins of Nagasaki’ s Suwa Shrine can be traced back to the 1500s. Originally located at present day teramachi-dori (temple street), this shrine, together with other Buddhist and Shinto relics, was destroyed by the Christians. In an effort to revive the Shinto faith, Suwa Shrine was rebuilt in 1625 and relocated to its present location in 1648. The Nagasaki Kunchi Festival with over 380 years of history takes place here from October 7-9 annually and is one of the largest festivals in Japan.
Nagasaki Kunchi is a vibrant, energetic festival, celebrating the local deity worshipped at Suwa Shrine, with a history stretching back some 370 years.
The performances at this event, which have been designated as Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan, include not only Japanese folk dances but also vivid evidence of the longstanding intercultural exchange that Nagasaki is famous for, in the form of Chinese-influenced dragon dances, Western elements like the Dutch Ship and the Dutch Comedies, and many more. This Nagasaki festival is truly unique!
Nagasaki Lantern Festival
As this festival was started by the Chinese residents of Nagasaki in order to celebrate
Chinese New Year, it originated in the Shinchi Chinatown area of Nagasaki City. However, in 1994, it grew to become the “Nagasaki Lantern Festival” and is now a major seasonal tradition illuminating Nagasaki’s winter.
The Nagasaki Lantern Festival t akes place every year from the first day of the lunar
calendar (Chinese New Year) and lasts for 15 days. During this time, over 15,000 lanterns richly paint Nagasaki City, particularly in Shinchi Chinatown, Hamanomachi Arcade and Kankodori Street.
You will be fascinated by all the events, lights and colors of Nagasaki Lantern Festival.
Megane-bashi (Spectacles Bridge)
The Nakashima River runs through a series of picturesque 17th-century stone bridges.
Best-known is the double-arched Megane-bashi, or Spectacles Bridge, so called because the reflection of the arches in the water looks like a pair of eyeglasses. It was originally built in 1634, and was Japan’ s oldest stone bridge. Unfortunately it was washed away by floodwaters in the 1982 disaster which killed 299 people, but was later restored using the recovered stones.Try spotting a heart-shaped stone near to the bridge and make a wish for eternal love.