Nagasaki, located in a mountainous region of the Japanese island of Kyushu, became part of World War II history on August 9, 1945, when the United States dropped the second atomic bomb on the city. More than 70 years later, this city is a modern and thriving urban center that is easy to get around — five tram lines will take you to most of the top sights.
What We Love
Glover Garden: During the Meiji Restoration in the mid-19th century, Nagasaki became a free port and heavy industry developed, such as shipbuilding (chiefly Mitsubishi Heavy Industries), engine works, steel mills, breweries, and armaments. A holdover from this pioneering period, Glover Garden is a neighborhood on Minami-Yamate hill overlooking the city, where the foreigners who helped developed the industries once lived. Several of their beautiful Western-style homes remain.
Spectacles Bridge: This twin-arched span — the oldest stone bridge in Japan — was built in 1634 by a Chinese monk. Its proper name is Meganebashi Bridge, but it earned its nickname because when viewed with its reflection in the Nakashima River, it resembles a pair of old-fashioned reading glasses.
Best Known For
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum: As a testament to the words of philosopher and author George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the adjacent Peace Park are the city's major tourist attractions. A column designates ground zero directly below where the bomb exploded. This is such a peaceful place today that it is hard to imagine the devastation — until you are reminded by the exhibits and documentary film clips.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: Travelers with an affinity for either wartime or industrial history will be drawn to Nagasaki’s story of how foreign influence came and went — and then returned in a major way to create modern Japan.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Emotional: A visit to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is a major shock to the senses. Be prepared.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.