Nagasaki (長崎) is the capital of Nagasaki prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. In 2020, Nagasaki had a population of approximately 408,000 people.
Under the national isolation policy of the Tokugawa shogunate, Nagasaki harbor was the only harbor to which entry of foreign ships was permitted. Even today, Nagasaki shows the influence of many cultures such as Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese. Further evidence of this is a robust Christian community in Nagasaki; the seasoned Japan traveler will be surprised by the plethora of churches in this unusually pious city.
On 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing a total of over 100,000 people. While visitors to Nagasaki should be mindful and respectful of terrible events of the war, they should also be aware that most Nagasaki natives don't even think twice about the bombing in their day to day lives. Visitors familiar with Hiroshima's expansive Peace Park will be surprised that memorials to Nagasaki's atomic tragedy are much smaller, understated, and dispersed throughout the town. While Hiroshima utterly transformed itself in the wake of the A-bomb, Nagasaki has gone the opposite route and reclaimed its pre-war identity as a culturally and religiously diverse port town, with a dash of Showa-era charm that your average ferro-concrete Japanese city could never hope to copy.
Nagasaki features the typical humid subtropical climate of Kyushu and it's the third rainiest city in Japan, (behind Shizuoka and Kanazawa). Winters are damp and moderately rainy (much like the rest of the country) and temperature readings usually range from 3°C to 10°C (38°F to 50°F), therefore one should bring some winter clothing especially for the night. Light frosts and sleet are possible (the average sleet/snowfall is 4cm (1.6 inches)), but heavy snowfalls are very rare. Recently, in January 24th 2016, Nagasaki picked up 17cm (6.7 inches) when a record breaking snowstorm struck southern Japan. The lowest recorded temperature is -5.2°C (22.6°F). Summers are milder than most of Kyushu with afternoon highs topping 32°C (90°F). Keep in mind that 628mm or 24 inches (!), fall from the beginning of June until the end of July, mostly as downpours, which in return leaves some room for the sun to come out for a few hours. Towards the end of the summer and beginning of autumn Nagasaki often gets affected by hurricanes, but very seldom cause extensive damage. Like cold waves, heat waves are rare as temperatures have never reached 38°C (100°F). Overall, it is generally agreed that the best time to visit the city is spring or the end of autumn, because the weather is good and the city looks lovely during the cherry tree blossoming and the autumn foliage.
Nagasaki has a small airport about an hour north of the city on an island in Omura bay, served by both of Japan's major air carriers. JAL and ANA offer nonstop flights from Haneda Airport in Tokyo and Osaka's Itami Airport. ANA also offers nonstops to Nagasaki from the Nagoya Centrair Airport and Naha Airport in Okinawa. In 2005, a new low-cost carrier, SNA (Skynet Asia Airways), began flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, providing cheaper tickets than major carriers. Starting in 2012, discount airline Peach offers flights to Kansai Airport in Osaka (KIX).
There are also nonstop international flights to Nagasaki from Shanghai (China Eastern Airlines) and Seoul (Korean Air), but these run much less frequently than the domestic flights.
Buses connect the airport to the Nagasaki train station and onward to Cocowalk mall (1 hour, ¥900).
In practice, Fukuoka serves as a useful secondary airport option, reachable by highway bus for ¥2500 in just over two hours (stopping only at the international terminal; a free airport shuttle circles around to the domestic.) Fukuoka offers access to many more international flights, as well as JetStar and Air Asia discount flights to Tokyo. The fastest and cheapest route between Nagasaki and Tokyo is the combination of highway bus and discount flight in Fukuoka.
JR Kyushu runs the Kamome (かもめ) Limited Express train service from Hakata station in Fukuoka once or twice every hour. The one-way ride takes about two hours and costs ¥4270 (adult, unreserved seat), although it's recommended to buy nimai-kippu (discount two tickets) for ¥6300 or yonmai-kippu (discount four tickets: recommended if two people travel) for ¥10,280 (¥5140 for round-trip per person). Kamome tickets are also much cheaper (actually economical compared to the highway bus) if purchased as an extension of a Shinkansen trip into Hakata from the north. That said, there really is no significant time savings in taking the bullet train part way from Hakata to Shin-Tosu, and then catch the Kamome train.
TIP: If you intend to travel on the Kamome line from anywhere North of Nagasaki try to reserve a window seat on the left side of the train car on your way down to Nagasaki and on the right side on a trip departing from the city. This will ensure that you that get a close-up view of the fantastic scenery as the train runs right next to the Ariake Sea coast line.
Connections to the Kamome can be made from the rest of the country via the Shinkansen (Hiroshima, 3 hrs; Okayama, 4 hrs; Osaka, 4½ hrs; Tokyo, 7 hrs).
From Kagoshima-Chuo Station in Kagoshima, Nagasaki can be reached via the Kyushu Shinkansen and Kamome in about 3 hours and 20 minutes.
You can travel overnight part way from Tokyo to Nagasaki, however you will have to take three trains: the 10 PM Sunrise Seto/Sunrise Izumo overnight service to Okayama, the Shinkansen from Okayama to Hakata, and the Kamome from Hakata to Nagasaki. This will take a total of 13 hours, and if you're willing to constantly change trains, you will be rewarded as your journey will double as lodging.
Japan Rail Pass holders must pay the lodging charge on the Tokyo-Okayama segment; the rest of the trip is covered under the pass. Lodging charges currently range from ¥9450 for a B solo to ¥10500 for a B single, to ¥16500 for an A single deluxe. If you really want to travel on the cheap side, ¥3660 gets you your own floor space... literally, you sleep on the floor. Given that both ANA and JAL offer foreign tourist airfares of ¥11,000 for a quick 2 hours or shorter flight , it is hard to justify taking slow trains, unless you have a huge abundance of time.
Highway buses from Hakata station and the Fukuoka airport international terminal are the most economical way to reach Nagasaki from Fukuoka, costing about ¥2,500 each way and taking about 2½ hours. In Nagasaki, the buses arrive and depart from a small bus station across the road from the main train station. They depart about every 15 minutes during the day, though not all stop at the airport.
The Holland overnight bus runs from Kyoto and Osaka Umeda to Nagasaki (11½ hours from Kyoto, ¥11300; 10 hours from Osaka, ¥11000). An additional bus, the Roman Nagasaki, runs from Osaka Hankyu Bus Terminal to Nagasaki at the same cost and time.
The Princess Road and Etranger overnight buses run from Kobe Sannomiya (10 hours, ¥10500) and Himeji (9 hours, ¥9580).
Trams (路面電車 romen densha or チンチン電車 "chin-chin densha") connect most of Nagasaki; they run about every ten to fifteen minutes during the day. The most frequently used lines will be the red (3) and blue (1); the blue and red lines run on the same track from the northern end of Nagasaki as far as the Nagasaki train station, where they split. The blue line continues to the You-me Plaza shopping mall, and later the downtown shopping arcade. A one-way trip is ¥120 and you can get a transfer ticket (乗り継ぎ券 ”noritsugi ken") to continue your trip, if it requires two streetcars. These tickets can only be acquired if you get off at the Tsuki Machi stop. You can save money if you're doing a lot of travel by purchasing a day pass for the streetcars (¥500) which you can purchase at most major hotels.
Buses also run through much of Nagasaki, including places that aren't served by the streetcars.
It should be mentioned that the street cars stop running around 11PM, and most bus service also has downtime at night. This can come as a rude awakening if you go out in Shianbashi, only to find that you have to stay until 6AM for the first running densha. For the adventurous, it takes about an hour to walk from Shianbashi to Sumiyoshi. This timeframe is heavily dependent on how fast you walk, and what kind of night out you experienced.
- Glover Garden (グラバー園), (5 min by foot from tram stop Oura-tenshudo-shita of tram line 5 (destination 石橋 ishibashi)), . 8AM-6PM. This is a pleasant collection of relocated European style homes built for foreign traders and diplomats when Japan was opened to world after the Meiji Restoration of the mid 19th century. It also offers a great view of Nagasaki harbor. ¥600. edit
- Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan (日本二十六聖人記念館), . A monument and a museum stand on the site where 20 Japanese Christians and six European missionaries were crucified in 1597. These martyrs were canonized as saints in 1862. The small and unassuming museum behind the monument contains one of the best collections of Christian artifacts and paraphernalia in East Asia, including many original letters and documents dating from the time of St. Francis Xavier. This site is also closest to Nagasaki Station; about 10 minutes on foot. Museum ¥500. edit
- Mount Inasa (稲佐山 Inasayama), (take a bus from Nagasaki Station, or by streetcar to Takaramachi Station, or by bus or taxi to Fuchi Shrine Station). When the weather is clear, this mountaintop offers a full 360 degree view of Nagasaki City and harbor, and is a must-see site. The nighttime view of the city is called the "10 Million Dollar View" and ranked as one of the best 3 city night views in Japan. There is no entrance fee or hours, but there are limits on transportation there. Access is either by car, taxi, bus, ropeway, or a combination. The easiest is all the way up by car or taxi (for the former there's paid parking; for the latter it's about ¥2200 one way). Or there is a bus (#5 but confirm the bus shows 稲佐山 on the front as not all #5 go to the same destination) that goes up partway and requires a 15 minute walk up to the summit or you can take the free minibus up to the top. It comes every 20 minutes. This is the most economical and costs ¥200 one way and takes about 15 minutes from Nagasaki Station (buses leave 1-2 times per hour). The last bus heads down back to town at 8:20 PM, the last upwards starts at 9:01 PM in front of Nagasaki main station. A third way is by ropeway between 9AM-10PM, and is ¥1250 round trip but a bit less with a coupon you can get from their website. To get to the ropeway station, walk five minutes from the Takaramachi street car stop, or take a bus or taxi to Fuchi Shrine Station and walk 2 minutes. edit
- Koshibyo Confucius Shrine & Historical Museum of China (長崎孔子廟中国歴代博物館), 10-36 Ouramachi (2 minutes by foot from the Ouratenshudo-shita tram stop), ☎ 095-824-4022, . 8:30AM-5PM. This is the only Confucius Shrine the Chinese built outside of China, and was constructed in 1893. It also has a large Chinese history museum behind it. It is often neglected and overlooked by many travel books and tourists, but has a gorgeous and bright appearance that is truly worth a visit. ¥525. edit
- Sofukuji (崇福寺), ☎ 095-823-2645. 8AM-5PM. Constructed in 1629 by Chinese residents of Nagasaki, this temple is one of the best examples of Ming Dynasty architecture in the world. Even in China itself there are few surviving structures that display Ming Dynasty architecture as well as Sofukuji. ¥300. edit
- Oura Cathedral (大浦天主堂 Ōura Tenshudō), 5-3 Minamiyamatemachi, ☎ 095-823-2628, . 8-6, winter 8-5. This Catholic church was built in 1864 by French missionaries, and is the oldest surviving church in Japan. It offers a look at 19th Century worship after Japan repealed its ban on Christianity. The cathedral was declared a national treasure in 1933 and was nominated by the Japanese government to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While not actively used for church services now, mass is still held there on certain special occasions. ¥1000. edit
- Urakami Cathedral (浦上天主堂 Urakami Tenshudō), 1-79 Motoomachi, . Daily Mass at 6 AM. Saturday Mass at 7 PM. Sunday Mass at 6:00 AM 7:30 AM 9:30 AM and 6:30 PM. Rebuilt after its destruction in the atomic bombing, Urakami Cathedral was once the largest church in Asia. It was a central location in The Bells of Nagasaki by nuclear bombing survivor Takashi Nagai. The church features a statue of the Virgin Mary that was damaged in the bombing; the statue is said to be weeping for the death and destruction caused. Free to visit. All are welcome to attend Mass respectfully. edit
- Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (長崎原爆資料館 Nagasaki Genbaku Shiryokan), (5 minutes by foot from tram stop Hamaguchi-machi of tram line 1 or 3 (destination 赤迫 akasako)), ☎ 095-844-1231, . 8:30AM-5:30PM. A well-done commemoration of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. At the far end of the museum tour, you will find a powerful argument against nuclear proliferation, outlined in several well-designed exhibits. Buy yourself some ice cream after you leave - you'll need it. ¥200. edit
- Hypocenter Park (爆心地公園 Bakushinchi Koen) Next to the Bomb Museum is this open space with a cenotaph and other monuments indicating the spot directly below where the Fat Man A-bomb exploded (the bomb detonated about 500m above ground).
- Peace Park (平和公園 Heiwa Koen) To commemorate the tens of thousands of people who died in the atomic blast, Peace Park is one the most sobering places you will ever see. It is visited far less than its counterpart in Hiroshima, and has far fewer crowds and Japanese school groups on their trips stopping by. A deeply reflective place that will make you think about life long afterwards.
- Dejima (Site of the Former Dutch Factory) (出島), 6-1 Dejimamachi (near Nagasaki Port Terminal), ☎ 095-829-1194, . 8AM-5PM - entrance closes at 4:40PM. Japan's sole port open to Western trade for over 200 years, Dejima Island was built to keep the West out of contact with the local populace in order to prevent the spread of Christianity. While only a few pieces of the original building foundations remain, the buildings have been recreated according to what we know about them, and you can walk inside their warehouses, quarters, kitchen, and other rooms. Dejima Wharf was built for commemorating the exchange between Japan and Netherlands for 400 years. There are 20 shops including restaurants. You can eat lunch or dinner watching the sea. ¥500. edit
- Shinchi Chinatown (長崎新地中華街), (a few minutes walk south of Tsukimachi street car station), (fax: 095-822-6540), . From the 15th to the 19th centuries Chinese traders and sailors called this area home and it is the oldest Chinatown in Japan. Four narrow streets come together to a central intersection, with several restaurants and shops contributing their part to Nagasaki's unique character. Don't miss trying the Nagasaki chanpon or saraudon for lunch or dinner and get a small taste of heaven. edit
- Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium (長崎ペンギン水族館), . 9AM-5PM. A surprisingly entertaining and informative aquarium located about 30 min [by bus] from Nagasaki station. Bus number 80 headed for Aba (網場) will take you there for ¥270 each way. On weekends a red unnumbered Nagasaki Ken-ei bus headed to Aba will also take you there. These buses leave every 20 opposite the Nagasaki station. A 12m deep tank dominates the entry way. You can observe a variety of penguins from the vantage of underwater. A number of other aquaria contain many species of fish and invertebrates found locally, as well as a huge tank containing giant catfish (pla bluk) from the Mekong River in Thailand. The building is adjacent to a delightful sandy beach that could make a day with kids full and exciting. On weekends you can buy tickets for ¥100 to feed the penguins but the supply is limited. The tickets for the morning feeding go on sale at 9 AM while the afternoon tickets are sold at noon. ¥520, kids under 3 free. ¥510, kids under 3 free. edit
- Suwa Shrine (諏訪神社), 18-15 Kaminishiyamamachi, ☎ 095-824-0445, . An especially popular shrine in October for the annual Kunchi festival. free. edit
- Kofukuji (興福寺), (about 8 minutes on foot from the Kokaido-mae streetcar stop), ☎ 095-822-1076 (fax: 095-827-2726), . 8AM-5PM. This was the first Obaku Zen temple in Japan, established around 1620, and Nagasaki residents often call it the "red temple". It was used by many Chinese for over 3 centuries, and is one of the few historical places to escape damage from the atomic bombing. ¥300. edit
- Oka Masaharu Memorial Nagasaki Peace Museum (岡まさはる記念 長崎平和資料館), 9-4 Nishizakamachi, ☎ 095-820-5600, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. One of the few places in Japan where the war crimes of the Japanese army during the Second World War are documented. Another focus of the exhibition lies on the foreign victims of the atomic bomb and their struggle for recognition and compensation. The Museum is located close to the central train station and just next to the memorial for the "26 Saints of Japan". No English explanation (just a few paragraphs on a leaflet at the entrance). ¥250, ¥150 for under 18 year old. (32.75523,129.87216) edit
- Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture 長崎歴史文化博物館), 1-1-1 Tateyama, ☎ 095-818-8366, . 8:30AM-5PM. Offers an extensive collection of historical documents, art and craftworks that tell the story of Nagasaki and its history of international exchange. Includes a collection of 81,000 items. Located five minutes on foot from the Sakuramachi tram stop. Closed every 3rd Monday or if a holiday, the following day. ¥630. edit
- Tateyama Air-raid Shelter (立山防空壕), 2-1-6 Tateyama (Behind the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture), ☎ 095-844-1231. 9:30AM-5PM. Only for the true war history enthusiasts, this shelter shows an empty space used during the war. Contains a few items and equipment used. free. edit
- Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (長崎県美術館), ☎ 095-833-2110, . 10AM-6PM. Beautiful new building overlooking Dejima wharf,(featured in Architecture Week). Entrance to the modest permanent collection costs ¥400. The museum also hosts many touring exhibits from around the world with a higher admission fee, and a community exhibit room with various projects on display and a nominal admission fee. The roof garden (free) offers a nice view. Closed 2nd & 4th Mondays, Dec 29th-Jan 1st. ¥420-¥1,000+. edit
- Siebold Memorial Museum (シーボルト記念館) For those interested in history there is the Siebold Museum dedicated to a Bavarian physician who lived in Nagasaki for many years from 1823, and introduced western medicine to Japan. The museum is a few minutes walk north of the Shin-Nakagawamachi tram station. ¥100, 9-5, closed Mon. plus the end/start of the year.
- Nagasaki History and Folklore Museum (長崎市歴史民俗資料館) Located behind the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall, this free museum includes exhibits of clothing and common items among the people from ages ago. Open 9-5, closed Mon and Jan 29th-Jan 3rd.
- Nabekanmuriyama Park (鍋冠山公園) Located behind Glover Garden, up some narrow walkways, this nice observation platform's view may equal or surpass that of Inasa, with almost none of the crowds.
- Fukusaiji (福済寺) One of the more unusual Buddhist temples, with a turtle shaped building and a giant Kannon statue on top. It lies directly up the hill across from Nagasaki Station.
- Sakamoto International Cemetery (坂本国際墓地) while not high on a lot of traveler's itineraries, you can see a lot of the foreign influence on Nagasaki by looking at the many grave of westerners who never made it back home. Also you can see the Glover family grave. Located just east of Urakami Station.
- Megane Bashi (Spectacles Bridge)(眼鏡橋) If short of time, this is one place you can skip, but it only takes a moment to see and if nearby is worth a look. This bridge with its reflection in the water looks like a pair of eyeglasses and is a popular photo spot.
Nagasaki Lantern Festival
- Gunkanjima (軍艦島) (Hashima (端島)), (Nagasaki Port Ferry Terminal), ☎ 095-8225002. 9 am - 6 pm. Gunkanjima (lit. "Battleship Island") is a small island completely covered in the ruins of a mining city, abandoned since 1974. Once the most densely populated place on earth, it's now a ghost town, showing the decay of what society leaves behind. Visitors may wish to note that many Korean workers lost their lives to the mines of this island as a result of the forced labor programs during Japan's occupation of Korea. Gunkanjima is about 15 km away from Nagasaki and is reachable by a ferry tour since 2009. A cheap and reliable two-hour cruise around the island is available but you most probably want the 見学 visit course which includes a guided walk on the island and explanations in Japanese. The full package costs 4300 yen and takes 170 minutes. Boats leave twice daily at 9 am and 1.10 pm and can be booked an hour beforehand. Be aware that due to the precarious nature of the Gunkanjima dock, these tours are cancelled frequently for bad weather. For those of you thinking of jumping the fence and having a free saunter, think again, as all patrons are not only forced to sign a very specific no-fence-jumping waiver, but have to WEAR the same list of said rules around their necks at all times. As umbrellas are not allowed on the island,please make sure to bring a raincoat if the weather warrants it. This was the island featured in the James Bond movie Skyfall. 4300. edit
- Lantern Festival・・・Lunar New Year (mid Jan-mid Feb). Held by Nagasaki's Chinese community, large lanterns are displayed on street corners and in the shopping arcades. Venture through Chinatown or along the river in the evening to see some of the 20,000+ lanterns displayed in the city. Many of the lanterns are shaped like animals or figures from Chinese mythology, and the major lantern every year represents the corresponding zodiac animal (e.g., 2008 featured rats, 2007 featured pigs, etc).
- O-Kunchi・・・the city's biggest and one of Japan's more popular festivals, taking place in early October. This festival, based around the descent of the city's patron kami（神）from their home high up in the Suwa Shrine, features choreographed routines with giant, cumbersome floats, sake, and a general feeling of celebration. Finding food will not be a problem during O-Kunchi, as the streets are lined with thousands of vendors hawking takoyaki, yakitori, and grilled corn on the cob.
- Although all of Japan celebrates O-Bon in August, Nagasaki puts a unique and deafening spin on the day of ancestor worship. Head down to the harbor for the main festivities, which involve far more alcohol and fireworks than is generally considered safe.
- A quick boat ride to Iojima is the easiest way to get to a beach. From Nagasaki harbour to Iojima is about 1500 yen and about 10-15 minute another 500 yen gets you in. The boat ticket allows a visit to the hot springs in the hotel on Iojima so that visitors can wash up.
- A quick jaunt into Shianbashi, or Shianbash for short, is a must when you visit Nagasaki. This area of Nagasaki exudes debauchery, full of numerous hostess bars ("sunakku") (not to be confused with a snack bar) and drinking establishments.
- If you happen to be in Nagasaki between March and June, you might take a walk with Saruku-Chan. More commonly known as Saruku-Haku, these guided tours allow the Sarukist to experience the history of Nagasaki in a very unique way, by walking it! Available with orators teaching in either Japanese and English, these walks are quite the learning experience. These walks require a bit of multitasking, one must be able to listen, walk and look at the same time. The course sizes range from just a few miles to a monstrous 13 mile jaunt.
- Youme Saito - Located next to Dejima Wharf in downtown Nagasaki, this multistory shopping plaza offers a range of stores and services, including a Starbucks, travel agent, a grocery store in the basement, and of course, a grand selection of clothing stores. The grocery store in particular has a good selection of foreign imports and cheese compared to other supermarkets. The Kinokuniya bookstore on the fourth floor carries a small selection of English-language books. Next to Kinokuniya is also a food court with multiple selections. Youme Saito is easily accessed by taking the blue streetcar line to the Ohato stop.
- Nishi-Hamanomachi - Also from the blue line, you can access this enormous covered arcade from up to four streetcar stops, the easiest of which are the ones marked "Hamanomachi." There is a proliferation of restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, hair salons, and multi-level electronics stores.
- Chitosepia - At the Chitose-machi tram stop, with several clothes stores on the second and first floor as well as an arcade on the second floor. This can be a good place to start shopping. Several restaurants are in the basement as well as a grocery store. The restaurants include Japanese food, a curry restaurant and an Italian restaurant. One recommendation for a cheap and tasty pick-me-up snack is the Hearth Brown patisserie on the lower level Also one of the restaurants here serves Turkish rice (toruko-raisu).
- Seiyu - Beyond the reach of the Nagasaki trams, so take a bus, is the shopping center of Seiyu. With a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop and a McDonald's in front it is hard to miss. With almost anything anyone could want, from book store to clothing stores to electronic stores, Seiyu has it all, though in a slightly inconvenient place.
- AMU Plaza - At the Nagasaki station tram stop is Amyu (AMU) Plaza and with a multitude of stores to see in the plaza and several stores around the plaza that might interest people, including a book shop and an arcade. The bookstore contains a small but serviceable selection of English-language books as well. Inside the plaza is 3 stories of shopping extravaganza, there are clothes, books and electronic stores all around. There are several restaurants on the bottom and top floors of the building as well as an area for people to buy Nagasaki related knick-knacks and souvenirs. There is also an import store called Dragon Deli on the bottom floor where one can find soda that isn't readily available in the rest of Nagasaki, like Dr. Pepper and A&W Cream Soda. Amu Plaza is more expensive than YouMe Saito.
- CocoWalk - The newest of the "malls" in Nagasaki, CocoWalk has a range of stores mostly aimed at the younger crowd. There is a Starbucks, sports club, book store, pet store, phone shops, Toho Cinema, bar with outside sitting area, supermarket (Red Cabbage) and around 10 restaurants including an international buffet and Thai. It certainly feels like the most modern of the shopping areas in Nagasaki. The bus station is under the building, where you can get a bus to Nagasaki Airport.
Nagasaki's most famous dish is champon (ちゃんぽん), which is a hearty dish of noodles in a pork-based broth, filled with vegetables, bacon, shrimp, squid, and scallops.
Saraudon (皿うどん) is another popular dish that combines the meat, seafood, vegetables, and sauce of champon, but serves it on a plate, or 'sara', over crispy dry fried noodles.
For Nagasaki's most well-known champon and saraudon restaurants, it is best to head into Chinatown (blue streetcar to the Tsuki-machi stop). While you're there, try out some of the fantastic street food, such as kakuni-manju (marinated braised pork cutlet served in a steamed bun), ebichiriman (shrimp fried in chili sauce, again served in a steamed bun), and marakao (steamed pound cake, usually available in chocolate and chestnut flavors).
Castella (カステラ) is a sponge cake that was originally brought by the Portuguese; it has assumed a distinctly light Japanese flavor and texture over the centuries, and now one can find it in flavors such as honey, chestnut, and green tea. Head to the Dutch Slope (オランダ坂) on any day of the week to sample castella for free from one of the many vendors.
Chawan mushi, a steamed egg custard, savory instead of sweet and filled with meat, fish, and mushrooms, is also famous.
Another Nagasaki dish is Turkish Rice (トルコライス toruko raisu), named after the country. It consists of a pork cutlet, dry curry mixed into rice, and a small serving of spaghetti, all on the same plate. Tsuru-chan (ツル茶ん), Aburayamachi 2-47, tel. 095-824-2679, . Established in 1925, this is the original and perhaps still the best Turkish Rice joint (¥850 a serve) and one of Japan's first cafes. Open 9 AM to 10 PM every day.
The worthwhile trip to the top of Glover Garden also yields another point of interest: the oldest Western-style restaurant in Japan, the Tenjin Coffeehouse. The stop in is worth it to see their impressive Dutch coffee-making equipment, when combined with the historicity could be why they charge about 550 yen for a cup.
- Monkey Wrench, 5-1 Sumiyoshi-cho, Nagasaki (Kuwano building second floor), ☎ 095-843-2248. The Monkey Wrench in Sumiyoshi is probably the main "Gaijin" bar in Sumiyoshi, though there is usually a good mix of locals as well. Always a hoppin' place for international students. The owner and the regulars all speak decent English, and are eager to help out with any cultural misunderstandings that may occur (like reservations, bill splitting, etc). ￥2000 for 2 hours nomihoudai. 2000. edit
- Bar Rabano, 長崎県長崎市中園町6-16 小笹ビルB1F, ☎ 095-845-8337, . One of the few "clubs" in Nagasaki, Rabano is a small undergroud bar/club with a nice sound system. Usually free to enter, they have a variety of music depending on the night, ranging from decent rock to potentially ear-hurting J-pop. A good night out though if you are in the area. edit
- Tatan Bar (たたんばあ), Funadaikumachi, 1−1. Small hole in the wall standing bar that is always filled to the brim on weekends with locals and foreigners alike. Always super friendly and fun even if it is a little cramped. (32.74272,129.878617) edit
- Ground First (Mayumi's), (2 minutes walk from Shianbashi tram stop). This bar is owned and operated by the bilingual, tequila drinking Mayumi and is a favourite spot for English-speaking Japanese and gaijin alike. It is somewhat hard to find amongst the winding alleys of Shianbashi but Mayumi will always be there waiting to have a drink with you. (32.742284,129.879140) edit
Being a large city, Nagasaki offers accommodations that can suit nearly any budget.
- First Cabin Nagasaki, 10-9 Dozamachi, Nagasaki City (A 2 min. walk from the Kankodori tram stn), ☎ 095-821-0077, . checkin: 17; checkout: 10. For the extra frugal, offers cabins with their own 32" TV and AC. Located near Chinatown. ¥3000~. edit
- The cheap Planet Manga/Internet Cafe can be found two doors down from the Toyoko Inn on the main street south of the Nagasaki train station (about 3-4 min. walk from Nagasaki JR station). A 9 hour night pack will set you back 1780 yen, and a 12h hour 1980 yen (it should cost an additional 300 yen for the membership fee, but if they see you won't likely come back again they may, just may, waive the fee). They have quite comfortable private booths where you can sleep fine on a mat if you're less than 190cm tall. Be warned, though, that even if they have a non-smokers' section, partitions are not far away. As all manga cafés in Japan, there's a soft drink bar.
If not on that much of a budget, consider one of Nagasaki's many youth hostels:
- Nagasaki International Hostel AKARI, Nagasaki-city, Kojiyamachi 2-2 (3 minutes walk from Kokaido-mae Station on tram), tel. 095-801-7900, . A comfortable hostel located in center of the city. Friendly staff are willing to help guests making travel plans. Free wireless internet in rooms and three computers in the lobby. Has a program called “Short walk with Nagasaki Locals”. Dormitory ¥2500, Ladies Dormitory ¥2800, private room ¥5900~.
- Casa Noda, NS bldg 6-1 Motofuna-machi, Nagasaki city, Nagasaki, 5min from Nagasaki Station, tel. +81 80 4270 1418 []. It is a very new and small hostel with only two dormitories, but they are creating more rooms now. If you come with more than four people you get a discount of 300 Yen. dorm room: 2300 Yen per person per night with breakfast. The owner is nice and gives very good tips about the local restaurants and temple area. Good English is spoken. Use the map on their website to find it.
- Nagasaki Kagamiya, 1-12-9 Hongouchi, Nagasaki city, (5 minutes walk from Hotarujaya station on tram), tel: +81 95 895 8250, . One of few Japanese style hostels in Nagasaki. It is a Japanese style house located in the Shrine which may make you feel calm. There is a room for KImono rental and you can experience or see Kimono if you want. About the location, please check their website. Free wireless internet in the room and computer for guests available.
- International Village Youth House, Sasebo City, Nagasaki (90-minute train ride on the Seaside Liner from Nagasaki Station). A very large hostel that looks a bit like an American college dorm complex with a gym, a cafeteria, and a couple of fields. Free wireless internet in the rooms and lobby. Lots of rooms, all private (1-4 people per room), from ¥2625 per person per night. It's not in Nagasaki city, but it's a good base for exploring the Nagasaki-Sasebo-Hus Ten Bosch area. Right next to Huis Ten Bosch.
- Minato Sauna A sauna/sento (bathhouse) and capsule hotel located two blocks east of Nagasaki ferry terminal. Look for the jolly sailor logo on the and note that despite the clearly arrowed signage, the entrance is actually in the alley to the left. Sauna-only prices vary by time, but the full overnight stay costs 3675 yen. Although mid-range in capsule hotel pricing, the facilities are top-notch with completely smoke free sleeping quarters, sauna entry and re-entry included, free phone charging facilities and none of the common surprise towel, yukata or otherwise dodgy surcharges. An affordable restaurant and bar are on site as well as an attached coin laundry so one can even wash the very pants he is wearing. Men only.
The typical array of business hotels can be found situated a short walk south of Nagasaki train station, along the main road between the station and the ferry terminal. Note that the Toyoko Inn Nagasaki does not offer the usual post-midnight check-in discount.
- Toyoko Inn Nagasaki Eki Mae, 5-45 Goto Machi (In front of Gotomachi streetcar stop. 5 minutes walk from JR Nagasaki Station), ☎ 095-825-1045, . checkin: 16; checkout: 10. Part of the popular economy hotel chain Toyoko Inn. Offers free breakfast and free WI-FI to guests. Double rooms from 8980 and single rooms at 5580. Perfect location for exploring Nagasaki on foot or by convenient street car. 5,580. edit
- Comfort Hotel Nagasaki, 8-17 Kabashimamachi (A 2 min. walk east of the Ohato tram stn), ☎ 095-827-1111, . checkin: 15; checkout: 10. Offers clean and decent accommodations with a free western style breakfast; located near several popular sights. Small kids can stay for free. 5800~. edit
- Dormy Inn Nagasaki, 7-24 Dozamachi (Just 1 minutes walk from Chinatown), ☎ 095-820-5489, . checkin: 15; checkout: 11. Offers rooms from 6000, but fluctuates during the year. Located 2 minutes on foot from the Tsukimachi tram stop. With spa/sauna. 6000. edit
Like other cities in Japan, Nagasaki is one of the safest places in the world. That said, as anywhere, never abandon common sense.
- Saikai - Nagasaki Biopark is a little ways outside of the city, but it is definitely worth an afternoon. This is perhaps the world's largest and best petting zoo, where one can feed and pet animals like capybara, flamingos, kangaroos, mara and wallabies. From Nagasaki Station (長崎駅), hop on the Ogushi (大串) bus line, and ride north until you reach Kamedake (亀岳). Follow the signs with the cute animals, and the Biopark will be on the right approximately 500 meters down the road. To return, look for the Nagasaki Terminal (長崎ターミナル) buses, which usually run hourly until 9. Another place worth seeing is the Oranda-Mura or Holland Village, with several buildings looking like you just entered Amsterdam. It pales in comparison though to the other big theme park, below:
- Sasebo Nearby Sasebo has numerous other sights to see. Huis Ten Bosch is a Dutch-themed park which one can access with the Kamome train line. For those who have already toured the Netherlands, there is probably not much of a draw, but if you are interested in the uncanny Japanese ability to faithfully reproduce the works of other countries (they even imported the bricks from the Netherlands), it is worth a visit. Other sights include numerous place to see the bay, as well as the 99 Island Cruise (Kujukushima) which offers some unforgettable scenery.
- Hirado While you'll really need a rental car to explore this island at the end of Nagasaki Prefecture, those interested in Christian history in Japan will find this area loaded with more old churches and history.
- Unzen East of Nagasaki City on the Shimabara Pensinsula is Unzen, another of Japan's finest hot spring areas and sight of a live volcano. It offers several places with mountaintop views like the ropeway up to Mt. Myoken, as well as the Unzen Jigoku or Unzen Hell, the sight of sulphuric fumaroles. Shimabara also has some Christian history, including the sight of the Shimabara Rebellion which was the last big fight from Christians and peasants rebelling against religious persecution and high taxes. It was mercilessly crushed in 1637, and you can see a museum and remnants of Shimabara Castle.
- Kumamoto Kumamoto offers several of Kyushu's best sights, including Kumamoto Castle (currently under extensive repairs) as well as the beautiful Suizenji Garden.
- Fukuoka Fukuoka City is the largest on Kyushu and offers numerous modern and traditional sights, including the best nightlife on the island, numerous traditional gardens, shopping, some of Japan's biggest festivals, plus its famous tonkotsu ramen and mentaiko (spiced cod roe).