The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Nagasaki Trip!

A couple of the other teachers and I were talking and we decided to rent a car and take a road trip. I had been thinking out loud about how I'd like to visit Nagasaki again, as I hadn't been back there for 4 years or so. They had never been to Nagasaki and thought that was a splendid idea. Before long, all 6 of us were in for the trip.

We booked a hotel that was right on the water of the harbour, and rented a minivan. As I was the only person with a valid driver's licence (my international permit) I was to be the driver, which was fine with me; it guaranteed that I would have a good seat for the entire ride. We set out early Saturday morning. The weather forecast had called for rain, but as is often the case in Japan especially, it was completely wrong. The weather for the whole weekend was nice and sunny.

It took about 3 hours to get to Nagasaki, done at a brisk but reasonable pace. We settled into our hotel and found out that, as luck would have it, we were in town the same weekend as an international tall ships festival. Good timing! First, we had some lunch in a pizza restaurant overlooking the harbour. Then it was off to the Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum. These are very sobering places to go, but they are a must-see for every visitor to Nagasaki. I have been there 3 times, and I have cried every single time. (The same for the one time I've been to Hiroshima.) I think because I have taught Japanese children, I can't help but imagine what happened to the children of Nagasaki when the bomb was dropped. No matter what you think about the war, and the possibility that the atomic bomb hastened the end of the war, it was a horrible, inhumane, and unforgivable thing to drop it on a civilian target. We now have evidence that the Americans chose the targets they did because those cities had up to that point in the war been spared conventional bombing, and would be "fresh" as a way of measuring the effects of the new bomb.

Anyway, the main feature of the Peace Park is a rather striking figure of Peace ... he holds one hand up to the sky to warn of the ongoing danger of nuclear weapons, and holds the other out in a gesture of peace. A lot of people think this statue is ugly, but I kind of like it.

The other striking thing is the corner of Urakami Cathedral, which was left standing after the blast. It was a few hundred meters away from the center of the blast, and has since been moved to right beside ground zero.

After the sobering experience of the Peace Park and bomb museum, we headed back to the hotel for a nap (all pretty tired from the ride over) and then went to dinner in Chinatown. Nagasaki has a pretty nice little Chinatown; it's a bit touristy but not so bad. And the food was good.

Then we headed over to Dejima wharf, where the tall ships were moored and where they were having a fireworks display. This picture isn't the greatest, sorry.

The next day, we went to Megane Bashi (Spectacles Bridge) which someone said was the oldest bridge in Japan; I'm not sure how that is possible since it was destroyed by a flood in the 1970's. Maybe at THAT time, it was the oldest bridge in Japan. Anyhow, when the water is just the right height, the arches are perfectly round and it really does look like a pair of glasses. We got there a bit late (or perhaps a bit early).

Finally, we went off to Glover Gardens, the home of a wealthy British industrialist who settled in Nagasaki and lived there during some very interesting times in the late 1800's and early 1900's. His estate commands a particularly nice view of the city and the harbour.

Nagasaki really is special somehow; there is something different in the air there. I hesitate to use the words "romantic" or "exotic" but perhaps those aren't so bad. It's just a really unique place where Japan allowed itself to mingle with the rest of the world, if only for a little while and on its own terms. It was a great weekend; one of those rare trips where you really can't think of anything at all that went wrong. Let's hope our next trip is just as good.


At 5:46 PM, Blogger Zambo said...

Hey Buddy!

Sounds like a great trip!

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

I liked the fireworks pic...It's kinda like an exploding dandelion.

Take care out there, buddy!

Your Pal,



Post a Comment

<< Home