Nagasaki (home of big thunder)

Trip Start Nov 10, 2008
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Trip End May 09, 2009


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Flag of Japan  , Kyushu-Okinawa,
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Once again, we stocked up on our complementary breakfast at Hotel Active! which would keep us going most of the day. Got packed and checked out, then headed to the station for our next stop at Nagasaki.

Took the train from Hiroshima to Hakata, then from there a swish local express (leather seats) to Nagasaki. We had been told to give our hostel a ring when we got to the station and they would come and pick us up, so not one to turn down a free lift, I gave them a call. Unfortunately, the person who picked up spoke no English and my terribly basic Japanese only told them 'hello' and 'my name is Chris'. Eventually I was put onto the daughter of the owner who spoke English and we managed to agree that they'd come and get us.

The Nagasaki bomb, detonated at 11:02am about 500m above the city, on 9
August 1945. Around 80,000 people were killed by the bomb and a third
of the city was destroyed.

We soon headed back out to the Peace Park which is close to the hypocentre of the explosion. It had a fountain there which sprayed water to look like wings and a bronze Peace Statue. Around this area were other statues donated from countries supporting the cause of peace that the park is a testimony to. Unfortunately, it looked like the area wasn't as cared for as the Hiroshima memorials, which kind of put a dampener on the sights, although their meaning still struck home.

From here we had a glimpse of Urakami Cathedral, which was rebuilt following the bombing and was the largest cathedral in Asia. We then headed down to the hypocentre itself which is marked by a tall black monolith and a part of the original Urakami Cathedral wall.

Then headed to Nagasaki station and had a buffet tea which was quite interesting as we had to guess what the food was!

27/11/08
Started the day by walking to the reconstructed Urakami Cathedral. Outside were some of the statues and parts of the wall from the original Cathedral that 'survived' the bombing. Inside the Cathedral there were blue stained glass windows and some religious murals, it was a bit odd walking in a Cathedral listening to organ music in Japan!

Next we went to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb museum. This was a much more visual museum than Hiroshima's, but aside from the specifics it had a lot of the same information as the other museum. It explained the history of the day, the after effects on the city and its people, the current nuclear situation and their hopes for the future. What was quite interesting (and harrowing) was seeing some of the film footage from the day of the bomb exploding.

From the museum we then went up the hill to the Memorial Hall. This had a huge round pond on the surface with water spilling over the side and two pillars of glass sticking out of it. At night the pond is lit up with 70,000 lights for all of the victims. The hall itself sits underneath the pond and we walked through some dimly lit corridors which are to help you clear your mind before entering the hall itself, there were little fountains dotted around but apart from the water it was very quiet. The Hall of Remembrance has pillars of light down the centre and from here you could see up and through the pond on the surface. At the front of the hall is a pillar with some shelves which contain the names of all the victims of the bombing.

After this we walked towards Nagasaki city centre and saw the statue to the 26 martyrs. We also saw Fukusai-ji Kannon, an enormous statue on the back of a turtle that is a Chinese place of worship. Further round the hill from here was Shofuku-ji, which wasn't destroyed in the bombing as it sits around the hill from the detonation point, from above this temple you got some interesting views over Nagasaki. Then the heavens opened and we legged it to the station for cover (I'm glad I had my waterproof!).

Went to a Chinese restaurant for tea and then headed back to the hostel. During the night there was the most enormous thunder-clap I have ever heard and it shook the building twice!!! After seeing so much about nuclear bombings all day, I was a bit worried for a moment!

Chris and Kate
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