Basic Things You Must Know Before Visiting Nagasaki
It is definitely more enjoyable to get to know the area you are visiting if you have some knowledge of it beforehand. Here is some information about Nagasaki in the Kyushu Region. Please use this to learn more about the area to get the most out of your trip.
What type of place is Nagasaki?
Nagasaki, which is located in the northern part of the Kyushu region, has long been a place for international trade. Portuguese traders came to what is now the city of Hirado in the mid 16th century, while Spaniard missionaries came to the area to spread Christianity as well as build several churches. Nagasaki was the only place in Japan during the mid 17th to 19th century that was open to foreign interaction when the Japanese government limited diplomatic relations. Due to this historical background, you may experience a foreign-vibe to the culture and cities here. Like Hiroshima, the city of Nagasaki is furthermore known as one of the places subjected to atomic bombing. You will find a world peace park located at the area the bombing took place.
The climate is generally warm. There is only a slight difference between the cold and warm temperatures in the area. The prefecture is subject to 30% annual precipitation from the rainy to summer season and is more on the humid side. The average temperature all year round is 17℃ with an average rainfall of 1,850mm.
As Nagasaki was once an international trading spot, it is said that there are many people here who are open-minded and not necessarily constrained to traditions and certain customs. The people are generally easy-going and full of curiosity as the prefecture has been exposed to foreign cultures at an early stage and has had a wide variety of food. There are relatively a small amount of people who care about hierarchy due to western influence.
The people in the Kyushu region replace the word "desu" or "desu yo" (is) in the standard dialect with "bai" or "tai." Likewise, they also end sentences with "sa" or "sa-ne,", which is an expression unique to Nagasaki. Some words may be the same within the prefecture, but the accent may be different depending on which area.
Transportation Access Guide
Access to Nagasaki
It is recommended to ride the plane if you are coming from Tokyo or Osaka. It takes about an hour and 50 minutes from Haneda Airport to Nagasaki Airport, while it would take you about an hour and 15 minutes from Itami Airport and Kansai Airport. You may use the railway, but please be reminded that there is no direct train. If you are riding from Tokyo Station, it would take you about 5 hours using the bullet train to Hakata Station in Fukuoka (about 2 and a half hours from Shin-Osaka Station). From Hakata Station, you would take about 2 hours to get to Nagasaki via the express railway. Nagasaki Airport offers an international route to destinations such as Shanghai and Seoul.
Transportation within the Prefecture
Some areas in the prefecture make use of private railways, but people usually travel using the JR line and the bus. It is convenient to travel using the tramcars if you are travelling within the city Nagasaki. It would cost 120 JPY for adults and 60 JPY for children. You may also avail of the 1 day ticket which you may purchase at the tourist information center at Nagasaki Station or other places for 500 JPY for adult or 250 JPY for children.
Famous Sightseeing Spots
One famous sightseeing spot in Nagasaki would be the Glover Garden. This is where English tradesmen who came to the trading port of Nagasaki settled. The garden offers an enjoyable ambiance as you may visit important cultural properties such as the homes of these tradesmen, reconstructed western-style buildings, seasonal flowers, and the view of the port and mountains from the higher points of the city. You can find the oldest church in Japan here called Oura Church. The view of the night sky from the observatory at Mt. Nabekanmuri is also a must-see. The prefecture offers a variety of things to see depending on where you go. For instance, there are sightseeing spots such as Unzen Hot Spring, which was formerly used as a summer resort for foreigners. The city of Hirado was once a castle town and has western-styled infrastructure to churches that are just brimming with a foreign atmosphere.
One dish that you should definitely try would be Champon noodles. This is a noodle dish representative of Nagasaki and was made famous by the owner of a Chinese restaurant in the Meiji period who created it for Chinese exchange students. These soft noodles have a distinct flavor provided by lye water, an ingredient from China. The soup is made from pork bone or chicken stock. The toppings used are pork, littleneck clams, shrimp, cabbage, carrots, and many others. Another dish made famous by the Champon noodles are sara udon. The udon noodles have two types. One would be the chewier version with thicker noodles and stir-fried toppings, while the other one is thinner and fried with a thicker soup. What is charming about this dish is that you may enjoy fresh seafood at an affordable price as the area is surrounded by the sea.
How about some traditional crafts such as Mikawachiyaki or Hasamiyaki for souvenirs? These porcelain items have over 400 years of history. One characteristic of these items is that the white porcelain is usually painted pictures on using asbolite, which is an indigo pigment. The Mikawachi ware in particular have beautiful, detailed designs on them, as they were created as articles for presentation to the Imperial Court or shogun (feudal lord) families. On the other hand, Hasamiyaki were created as daily items for the common folk. These items vary in design, from the traditional to modern, and did undergo changes in accordance with the times. If you would like to present someone with some confectionery, you could try giving them some castella, which is originally a Portuguese food turned into a Nagasaki specialty. Castella is a type of sponge cake made of eggs, wheat flour, and starch syrup to create a soft, baked dessert. This cake expires within a week, so please take that in mind when buying one.
※ Traditional Crafts from Nagasaki
※ Castella Cake
The best part of travelling is enjoying the atmosphere and food only that area can offer. Please use this article as reference to deepen your understanding of Nagasaki as you enjoy your trip.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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