Here’s a handy three-day itinerary in the historic harbor city
A historic harbor city with Dutch, British and Chinese influences, Nagasaki stands as one of Japan’s most international cities. Fancy a three-day trip?
Day 1: Boats and battleships
Hop on an early boat (package tours from ¥4,000; about P1,950) from Nagasaki Port Ferry Terminal for the derelict, but Instagram-friendly, former coal mining island of Gunkanjima (which means “Battleship Island”). After a three-hour tour, explore the rest of Nagasaki-ko, the city’s port area. It’s a five-minute walk to the beautifully restored buildings of Dejima’s open-air museum, a 17th-century Dutch trading post. The wharf outside is a great spot for dinner. If you also want a feast for your eyes, take the ropeway (¥1,230; about P600) up to Mount Inasa for superb views over Nagasaki.
Day 2: History and the hypocenter
The city will always be known as ground zero for the dropping of the atomic bomb Fat Man during World War II, so visits to the Nagasaki Hypocenter Park, Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum are not to be missed. The stops come as eye-opening immersions into local culture. Next, cross the city and go up the Dutch Slope for views from the 19th-century British colonial mansions of Glover Garden (¥610; about P300). Sit in at the slope’s café to sip a Dutch hand-drip coffee and nibble on castella (Portuguese-style sponge cake). For dinner, check out Chinatown, Japan’s oldest.
Day 3: Canals and cauldrons
The Dutch theme in Dejima in the city continues at Huis ten Bosch (or “House in the Woods”), just north of Nagasaki. Take a 90-minute train ride to a park that recreates a Dutch village, complete with windmills and canal boats. Hop back on the train for two more hours to get to the hot spring resort town of Unzen. There, you can soak in the springs and take in the steaming landscape known catchily as Unzen Hell. Visitors can buy eggs boiled in the thermal springs — they’re the perfect distraction from the hydrogen sulfide stink that abounds in the all-natural onsen surrounds.
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From CEB port Fukuoka, take the scenic routes, by bus or train. Express buses (¥2,570 one-way; about P1,265) leave from Hakata Bus Terminal and arrive at Nagasaki Station in under three hours; the limited express Kamome train (¥8,500 for northern Kyushu rail pass; about P4,175) leaves from Hakata Station and arrives at Nagasaki Station in around two hours.
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Where to stay
- Garden Terrace Nagasaki for the best views. This hotel on Mount Inasa has an outdoor swimming pool and an unbeatable view of downtown Nagasaki. gt-nagasaki.jp
- Ryotei Ryokan Sakamotoya for a taste of tradition. Dating back to 1894, this traditional Japanese inn’s 16 rooms each have tatami mats and a wooden cypress hot tub. sakamotoya.co.jp
- Hotel Forza Nagasaki for contemporary comfort. With free coffee, WiFi and an iPad in each room, this minimalist but sophisticated hotel in downtown is great value for short trips. hotelforza.jp
This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of Smile magazine.