asia · japan · nagasaki · Travel

Nippon over to Japan (Part 7: Nagasaki)

It was our seventh day in Japan and unfortunately it was time to say farewell to the nurturing glow of Tokyo.  For me and my mate Karl it was a quick shower, a swift bite to eat and then straight over to the JR railway station to board a Shinkansen to Nagasaki.  The journey took around 6 hours if I remember correctly, not bad to cover a good length of Japan, the scenery on the way isn’t half bad either.

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Riding the Shinkansen is an experience in itself, this was our first Shinkansen journey of many, it is such a pleasant way to travel, the carriage is so clean, the ride is so smooth, you can see the rapid speed displayed on a screen which was a constant 180mph, and you’ll never experience shouting or people generally being noisy, this is Japan after all, the most polite and reserved nation on the planet.  To this day I have never experienced a better way to travel, I’ve used the high speed rail in China a lot but it’s just not the same when you have people next to you spitting sunflower seeds onto the floor.

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On the 9th of August 1945, three days after Hiroshima was brought to its knees with the uranium bomb dubbed ‘Little Boy’, the USA with the consent of Great Britain dropped a plutonium implosion type bomb named ‘Fat Man’ on the city of Nagasaki.  It is estimated that up to 80,000 people lost their lives when the bomb hit Nagasaki, almost half of those died the instant the bomb hit, the rest died from the acute and chronic effects of the radiation emitted when the bomb was detonated.  When a nuclear bomb of this type is detonated, the heat produced in the epicentre of the blast is hotter than the surface of the sun for a few seconds.

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The bomb was aimed at the city’s central financial district which took a direct hit, most of what was in the bombs immediate vicinity was vaporised.  It’s quite unsettling to be standing in the site where thousands of people lost their lives and you’re staring at a structure which saw it all, and you can still see the damage that was caused during that historical moment in time.  War is a terrible thing, the people that suffer most are not the ones with ideas of world domination, they’re the normal citizens who are just pawns in a very sick game.  I’ll soon be moving on from the devastation that happened in Nagasaki and focussing on how it has rose from the ashes to become a very beautiful city.

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As the city has seen first hand the effects of nuclear weapons, it seems a very appropriate place to build a peace park and the Japanese did and it’s a beautiful thing to behold, both aesthetically and also because of the message it sends to the world.

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Although I loved Tokyo, it was nice to come to Nagasaki which is a real contrast compared to the hustle and bustle, the bright lights and sleepless nights of Tokyo.  The few days we had in Nagasaki were very pleasant, we experienced a very cool city, learned a lot about its history, ate local specialties but also had to cope with the hottest and most humid weather I have ever experienced.  As Nagasaki is way down south the temperatures are generally a fair bit hotter than Tokyo and Kyoto.  I remember one day in particular when we thought we were going to collapse, I’d never experienced heat like it.

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Nagasaki is a pretty sleepy city, it’s quiet, the climate is hot and humid in the summer but the air is fresh, the landscape is vibrant and green, people live life here at a much slower pace than those in the big cities like Tokyo and Yokohama.  The water is clean, people fish, they dip their feet into the river for a paddle, it’s a really nice way of life in Nagasaki.  If you are looking for somewhere to kick back and relax of a night, there are a few small bars but one I would recommend is called the Blue Note, they have a decent selection of Scotch, American and Japanese whiskies at a decent price and they have a nice selection of food similar to what you’d find in an izakaya.

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For something more substantial to eat, you have to try the the dish of Nagasaki, it’s called champon and it is the best noodle dish in the world, this is coming from someone who has lived in China.  As Nagasaki is a southern port, in the past it received a lot of immigration from the Chinese a lot of whom came over to study, not having the palate for Japanese food, they created their own kind of Chinese/Japanese fusion giving birth to champon.  It is made up of ramen noodles, and soup from frying pork, seafood and lard and then mixing it with broth made from bones.  It’s packed full of shredded cabbage, pickles, pork and seafood and it is absolutely phenomenal.  On of my favourite dishes from Japan.

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This just about covers Nagasaki, we were only there for a few days but I think experienced a lot of what the city had to offer, I really loved Nagasaki, it’s such a great place steeped in so much history.  It was absolutely obliterated when the nuclear bomb was dropped on it, but like a phoenix it has rose from the ashes and now it’s a beautiful vibrant city once more.

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One more image here, this is in the museum at the peace park.  It shows a clock that was partially destroyed when the nuclear bomb hit, the hands of the clock have remained in the same position, the exact time that the bomb was detonated.  It’s quite eerie to look at.  When those hands stopped, thousands of lives were lost in the blink of an eye.

Definitely going to bed now, goodnight 🙂

Matt

 

 

 

 

 

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