A Travellerspoint blog

A Journey through Time and Culture

Nagasaki, Japan

View Around the World! - Part 2 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

Nagasaki is a city with a rich history that has been shaped by its unique position as a port open to foreign trade. The city was first opened to the Portuguese in the 16th century and later to the Dutch and Chinese in the 17th century, becoming a center for information on Western technology and science during a period when Japan was closed to the West. The Tokugawa shogunate was a period of a military dictatorship marked by the consolidation of political power around the Tokugawa clan and was characterized by a near-complete withdrawal from international trade and relations, with Christianity being suppressed and European missionaries expelled from Japan. The Tokugawa shogunate banished all foreigners from Japan, with one exception: Dejima, a fan-shaped, manmade island in Nagasaki harbour, which we visited today. From 1641 until the 1850s, this tiny, 3.7 acres Dutch trading post was the sole sanctioned foreign presence in Japan where trade was conducted only with the Dutch and Chinese.

Below is a model of Dejima as well as a few photos of our visit to this historical island:


In the late 19th century, Nagasaki became a major port for trade and a leading East Asian coaling station, serving as the winter port of the Russian Asiatic fleet until 1903. The city also became a major shipbuilding center, and it was this industry that led to Nagasaki's being chosen as a target for the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan by the United States during World War II. The bomb was dropped on August 9, 1945, and destroyed the innermost portion of Nagasaki, killing between 60,000 and 80,000 people. The city has since been rebuilt and Peace Park was established under the point of detonation of the bomb.

We observed a scenic harbor with a large ship building operation as we sailed inro port:


Later we ascended Mount Insa's peak, having navigated a significant portion of the mountain's densely populated slope, which included residences, a school, and a cemetery, all seamlessly integrated into the hillside. We rode in the slope car which transported us to the summit, where we were treated to a breathtaking, panoramic view of Nagasaki from an elevation of over 1000 feet above the surrounding urban landscape. I thought it was a little scary when I realized that this car-load of people was resting on just one rail as we ascended the mountain. But we made it ....


The view from the top was worth the ride, as you can see ...


Afterwards, we returned to the Serenade of the seas. With such a beautiful spring day it was hard to imagine what the world was like 80 years ago when the atomic bomb was dropped on this city. There's a lot of research that shows that the death tolls, had the US not bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would have been many multiples of the death tolls in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's a brutal equation. It's just - the point here is that wars are easy to get into, but they are hard to get out of. And at the time it appeared to be the only way out.

Upon our arrival in this port, I observed the American flag of the United States and the Japanese flag flying side by side at the same level. It was a striking visual representation of the significant strides made in the relationship between our two nations over the course of several decades.

Posted by Where2FromHere 12:52 Archived in Japan

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