Nagasaki - A Budget Friendly Destination in Japan
September 19, 2018
by Laura Swallow
I have been to over ten different prefectures in Japan, and Nagasaki City is by far the most traveler friendly place I have visited to date. All of the main sites are centrally located and easily accessible by tram. The maps at the tram stations are explicit and equipped with English. Plus, you can buy a day pass for the tram for only 500 yen (less than $5) at any tourist place and most hostels you might find yourself staying in.
So, what is there to do?
Nagasaki is home to many unique buildings, museums, and views. As a port city, it has been privy to many different cultures over the years and their influence shows. Here, you can find many interesting and budget-friendly sites including religious, historical, and tourist-aimed.
Nagasaki was one of the first ports open to foreigners in the 1500’s. A number of Portuguese people moved and visited there, including many Jesuit missionaries. Because of this influence, several of the sites Nagasaki has to offer are of Christian origin. These include the Site and Museum of the 26th Martyrs, Urakami Cathedral, and Oura church, just to name a few.
The Site of the 26 Martyrs
This museum chronicles the eye opening journey of 26 Christians, ranging in age from their early teens to their mid-sixties, that were marched from Kyoto and Osaka to Nagasaki in the 1500’s because of their faith. In the face of intense persecution from the government, they refused to recant their beliefs and were crucified just like the man they worshiped. Through pictures and testimonials, this museum tells the story of each and every man who made the decision to march to his death. If you are familiar with the movie, Silence, there are a few artifacts in this museum that were used in the film.
It’s only 500 yen to enter and, in my opinion, worth every, single yen.
Once the largest Christian church in Asia, it is still open to the public and may be visited for free to worship. Pictures are not allowed inside, so the beautiful stained glass story of Jesus is even more worth a visit. Make sure to enter quietly and remain respectful of the reverent atmosphere when you enter.
This was by far the most expensive church we visited. At 1,000 yen for entry, you are given a booklet containing the Christian history of Nagasaki as well as admission to the church and its adjoining museum. The museum is full of interesting stories and artifacts as well as videos concerning the early church.
The inside of the church is beautiful with solid wooden pews and stained glass windows, but the museum was reminiscent of the 26 Martyrs museum without as much detail. If you’re on a budget, I would visit the first two and view Oura Church from the street.
Nagasaki was also the lesser known recipient of the second and final atomic bomb of World War II. When the bomb went off, it instantly decimated a town that was made up mostly of women and children who had not gone off to war. In memory of this tragedy, Nagasaki houses the Peace Park, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and the National Peace Memorial Hall for Bomb Victims. These museums and parks are eye-opening, full of artifacts affected by the bomb and graphic pictures of victims. The Memorial Hall is actually used as a way for people to identify and remember family members lost in the tragedy and it is open to the public.
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
This is one place that I would recommend that everyone visit in their lifetime. It truly changes your perspective on war and peace as well as the worth of each and every human life. Reading the testimonials of those who had to live on without their relatives or those who had to live with debilitating diseases for the rest of their lives makes you thankful for your health and for the relative peace we enjoy today. Nagasaki Museum leaves you with a sober understanding of the tragedy these people faced.
The purpose of these museums is to spread awareness, so the price is very low. It’s free for the Peace Park and Memorial Hall and only 200 yen for the Atomic Bomb Museum. They are all in the same area and easily accessible by train.
In addition to these extremely historical sites, there are also fun, more typical tourist like places that are worth seeing. These include the Mt. Inasa Skyline, which is ranked as one of the top 3 night views in the world (alongside Hong Kong and Dubai) and a neat looking Chinatown.
Mt. Inasa Skyline
This was one we chose to view prior to sunset so that we would be able to see both views for the price of one ticket. During the day, there was hardly anyone there and the view was still breathtaking. There is a restaurant in the viewing tower that offers a fantastic view of the city as well as good food. We waited there for a while, then stood out and waited for the sun to set.
Even though it was a bit of a wait, it was worth it. As soon as the sun started setting, the place began crawling with tourists and visitors. If we hadn’t been there earlier, we would not have had a place along the rail to really soak in the view.
Admission is free if you hike up Mt. Inasa or go by car. If you want to take the rope way (which is beautiful in and of itself) it’s 1230 yen for a two-way ticket.
This area is full of cute little knick-knack shops, snack booths, and pricey restaurants. It also boasts traditional Chinatown decor with oodles of bright colors and neon signs. As a word of caution, most of it shuts down at 8pm or earlier. We tried to visit after the night skyline and were met with many closed stores.
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Patti from Grove, Ok USA
September 26, 2018
I love all your pictures.
Budget tips are a wonderful addition.
Sharing the best time to visit helps a lot with planning our day.
Keep sharing your travel tips.