Nagasaki Must-Sees – I Got 6 Recommendations For Ya

Hey, squad-fam! I’ve been watching a few historical biographies on people who have promoted peace post World War II. (In particular, NHK’s “Houses for Peace” video on Floyd Schmoe is absolutely heartwarming and worth the read.) So this time, I went through some old pictures of when my host family graciously took me on a trip to Nagasaki, and I figured I’d dedicate this blog post to Nagasaki; things to see and do in this historic, beautiful city.

1. Huis Ten Bosch
Huis Ten Bosch is a huge amusement park, but first and foremost, rather than go for the rides and amusements, I’d say it’s well worth the visit to see the massive tulips gardens and Dutch-inspired landscaping when the season is right. When I visited, I ate lots of castella cake (famous to Nagasaki), saw some performers and magicians, and saw some and went to a bunch of different events, too. At the time, they were doing a One Piece special, which is an anime that’s apparently still very popular in Japan.

2. Glover Garden
After Huis Ten Bosch, we said goodbye to Sasebo and then headed to Nagasaki city to do more sightseeing. The first thing we checked out was Glover Garden. Glover Garden is dedicated to Thomas Glover, a Scottish merchant and shipbuilder. The architecture there was heavily inspired by the West, and it almost made me feel nostalgic looking around at the different residences-turned-museum.

Nagasaki’s really cool in the way that it became home to one of Japan’s first ports that accepted imports and exports from other countries. And so it was really neat to see “Japan’s first bowling alley” or “Japan’s first tennis court” and other influences that would not have occurred if Japan hadn’t opened it’s doors when Commodore Perry made them in the 1800’s.

3. Oura Roman Catholic Church
Another interesting side-trip I requested we make was to Nagasaki’s Oura Roman Catholic Church, Japan’s oldest church and first western-styled building built shortly after the Nagasaki port was opened. There’s not a whole lot to say, other than it was definitely worth the visit, and absolutely beautiful! (Note: Pictures were not allowed inside the building, so unfortunately, the only thing I can provide is this official link: https://nagasaki-oura-church.jp/

4. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
Visiting the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum was a very surreal, yet very concrete and almost oppressive experience. I took my time here, reading, learning, and ultimately failing to even fathom such destruction and pain caused by war. The photos and videos were informative but very painful to see (could not stomach the medical videos of radioactivity treatment).

5. Peace Park
I said many prayers to the victims and for peace, and then me and my host family headed to the beautiful Peace Park to get eased and to visit the infamous Peace Park statue. The statue’s pose, I learned, has meaning: the right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons, the left hand symbolizes eternal peace, the mild faces symbolizes grace and prayer for the victims, and the folded leg and extended left leg symbolize meditation and the initiative to stand up and help other people of the world.

When I had gone to Nagasaki, spring was in full swing; the cherry blossoms were in full bloom there, so I got to take some lovely pics of my first Spring in Japan! I learned that Nagasaki is a generally rainy place, so a lot of my pictures were taken in the rain, too. :>

6. Dejima
Though this place isn’t as glamorous as the other five things I’ve listed above, for history buffs, I’d recommend Dejima since it was one of the only ports open that exchanged trade to other countries back during the Edo Period of Japan (roughly 1600s – 1800s).

Maybe this is all conjecture, but when you think about it, Japan’s still a baby country when it comes to globalization, given the fact that it’s only had its doors open to foreigners these past 400-ish years. Though a lot has changed since then, Dejima, I felt, has preserved a lot of its old-school charm.

Advertisements

3 Places Worth Chillin’ At in Kamakura

I’ve noticed that the Kanagawa prefecture holds some of my favorite chill places in Japan so far. It’s close to the ocean, so the atmosphere is fantastic and it usually smells pretty nice, too… Unless you’re on a crowded train on your way to Kamakura. Then it doesn’t smell that good. 😀

So yes, it was very crowded! But like Danielles do, I took a walk off the beaten paths, while also getting a lot of temple/shrine seeing along the way.

1) Hansobo (Chill Level = SUUUUPER Chill)
First I stopped by Kenchoji, one of Japan’s five big Zen temples started by the Hojo clan. This temple was absolutely beautiful and included a garden tour and indoor tour to boot. But what really stood out for me was nearing the end of the temple to Hansobo, a small shrine tucked up in the mountains. The forest mountains and pathways were all lined up with trees, and the steps to get to the top were very steep, proving to be quite the trek. But the view and peacefulness made it all worth it.

2) Tsurugaoka-Hachimganu (Chill Level = Only Somewhat Chill)
Then it was back down and through Kenchoji to my next temple, Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu. This temple seemed to be the tourist’s favorite, as it was packed with people. As in, there were waiting lines to climb up the steps to the temple, and there were lines to get into the temple, and if you wanted to go into the museum part, you’d have to stand in another line for that. No thank you, said Danielle, and so she took her camera and wandered off someplace else.

BUT! The surrounding area to this temple was very nice and proved to be excellent for walking around and taking in your own sights. Another cool thing about this temple was – with people, comes food – all the candy and sweet stalls they had. I got myself a strawberry candy before taking off.

3) Kotokuin Great Buddha (Pretty Chill)
I walked around the shopping streets of Kamakura for a while (always gotta buy a souvenir) before making my way to Kamakura’s Kotokuin Great Buddha. I guess a first-time visitor to Kamakura can’t NOT visit this statue. It was – again – very packed with people (guess I picked a popular sight-seeing day), but again, once you got out to the gardens, bought your charms, and took your pictures with the statue, it really became a nice place to relax.

Next time I get the chance to visit Kamakura (or Kanagawa, at least), I’d love to see the summertime hydrangeas. I’m told that if I go around the rainy season, a lot of the temples there have really pretty hydrangeas in bloom. And I am all about that kinda life.

Lake Chuzenjiko and Nikko

DSCN6614
06/20/2015

One of my most memorable “hitori tabi” (lone travel) during the last few weeks of my year-long internship at LEX was when I decided to take a long-anticipated trip to Lake Chuzenji and Nikko in the Tochigi Prefecture.

Let me just say, it is definitely a trip worth taking, if you’re ever in the Tokyo-area and want a close-enough trip off the beaten path. 10/10 TRUE GORGEOUSNESS.

Nikko’s Toshogu Shrine is the infamous mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate that lasted for over 250 years in Japan. It was definitely a lavish sort of shrine; highly detailed in design, colorful, and really covered a lot of ground. I did quite a bit of walking around there, and I have a feeling that I still didn’t explore everything the shrine had to offer 100%.

Mainly because Danielle wanted to check out a different part of the Toshigi Prefecture.

Predictably, Danielle thought the popular Toshogu Shrine was beautiful, and the trip to Nikko was definitely well worth it. But she thought the less-populated Chuzenjiko was prettier. :>

I love a harbor town, and the smells and sounds of water. Had fun relaxing and watching the sunset at the lake. Though you can’t really see the sunset in Japan, what with the mountains and buildings blocking the sky (not as open as it is back at home in the USA). But I felt right at home at Chuzenji.

I heard that Nikko even has a fireworks event for the summertime, which, I’ll bet, is absolutely gorgeous. Again, if you’re in the area, check it, but that’s a trip I have yet to take. BUCKETLIST.