The Nagasaki Peace Park25 March, 2014 by Chad
It was our last full day in Nagasaki, but despite this, we had already covered most of the main sights in the small town yesterday, save for Clover Garden, churches and the Peace Park. We weren’t that interested in the first two however, since we’ve already done quite a bit of historical sightseeing, but the last was still a must visit. So once again, leaving early, we caught a tram from in front of the hotel a few streets north to the Nagasaki Peace Park which commemorates the atomic bombing of the city.
Even though we’ve been seeing trams running all around Nagasaki (they were the main form of transportation here other than cars and buses, and the most affordable of the three), we’d only get to ride one today. The trams are a convenient means of transport in the main city area of Nagasaki, especially for the elderly folk, who made up most of the passengers this Sunday morning.
The trams stop on almost ever street and cost just 120 yen a trip regardless of distance.You can also get a day pass for unlimited rides for 500 yen, though it would be difficult to make it worthwhile unless travelling with the elderly or children. Passing by Nagasaki Station, some older local tourists and a Cantonese speaking family boarded the tram equipped with said passes.
After passing through one building, the tram reached our destination. Nearly everyone on board was headed for the Peace Park too, being a weekend and the holiday season it was quite crowded there. The park is located on a small hill. Gage was fascinated again at the elevator-travelator-elevator that took us to the top of the hill where the park was located.
A fountain stands at the entrance to the park. The sign at its front reminds of the people who died while in search of water after the disaster. The jets coming out from the water are meant to represent wings. Wasn’t able to take a photo of the fountain from the from, since kept being cut in by the other visitors, despite waiting there for some time.
One thing we noticed especially while in Nagasaki was that the people here tended to be much less friendly or courteous than some of the other parts of Japan. Thinking back, there was also a hint of it in Fukuoka, though hopefully this doesn’t apply to the whole Kyushu .
The rest of the peace park was filled with memorials, many of which were donated to the park from other countries. Many of the statues or monuments were quite beautiful but at the same time the content of the statues were somewhat disturbing. Perhaps that was the intention. There’s a solemn air about the place observed by the park’s many older visitors, though the same cannot be the same for some of the younger ones.
There’s a large courtyard at the northern part of the park and at the end stands the iconic peace statue. Its hand positions are supposed to symbolize peace and the threat of atomic weapons. Some of the park’s younger visitors tend to take it as an attraction however and come to take selfies while emulating the pose.
We found a cute cat sitting in the middle of the courtyard in front of the statue basking in the morning sun.
Beside the statue there was a little tower where numerous paper cranes were hung. Many of these cranes were contributed by schools visiting the memorial. There were also some information boards which briefed of the history of the atomic disaster, the extent of damage and toll count.
Learned from the information boards that the park wasn’t the epicenter of the bomb, so we’d attempt to find that later. In the meantime, we’d look around the rest of the park.
The plots of monuments are interrupted by some seemingly empty plots of grass in the middle of the park. On closer inspection, a sign taught that this was the location of former prison. Remnants of the building’s walls that had survive the bomb are kept as the reminder to the power of the blast and some of its first victims.
Spent some time appreciating the various monuments donated to the Nagasaki Peace Park. Part of the park was closed off for renovations however so we weren’t able to fully explore the place.
At the corner of the park, we found a road leading out of the park. There was a man here looking especially suspicious since he was looking around for observers just as we arrived. Turned out that he had just wanted to take photos of the foliage here but was probably concerned about stepping on the grass, he also picked up an autumn leave as a souvenir before running off to find his companions. Gage and I followed suit to take some leaves as a souvenir. They would had gone into the trash any way.
Next, we left the park in search of ground zero. Once again 3G connection didn’t work properly here, so it wasn’t much help. After a short argument as to which direction we should head to (in which both Gage and myself turned out to be wrong), we noted a bunch of people at what I had initially assumed to be a running track. Most of the place was covered with trees so we couldn’t really see what was there, but decided to head there.
Turned out that it was indeed the epicenter and the edge of the track-like pattern we saw from across the road was actually part of the monument itself.
The epicenter site was emptier. A black pillar stands at the point of impact. While a newer giant statue was erected beside for the bombing’s 50th anniversary. The other thing here was a lone chimney. Apparently most of Nagasaki wasn’t as developed back then and were mostly wooden buildings, the only things that survived the blast were stone chimneys such as this one.
At the other end of this park, there was a staircase down to the original ground level. A part of the cross section was left uncovered here to show that all of the debris was still under the ground. A small river ran beside at the original ground level. According to an information board here, the river was completely filled with corpses after the impact.
Just beside the epicenter park was the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Outside, many smaller memorials for specific groups of people were placed, along with many more offerings and cranes. We opted to give the museum a pass today, since wasn’t too keen on the depressing imagery within. Instead, took the tram back a couple of stops to a mall that we had passed by earlier, the Mirai Nagasaki Cocowalk.
Prior to this, had read about this mall last night while searching for places to visit online. It’s a youth oriented mall, sort of the Harajuku of Nagasaki. It’s also kind of like Osaka’s HEP Five, in that there’s a ferris wheel joined to the side of the building. True to its reputation, most of those headed towards the mall this afternoon were teens.
Cocowalk was actually a rather large mall, so we spent quite a bit of time exploring the mall. The lower floors were mostly dedicated to boutiques for children and teenagers, while the upper levels housed restaurants and entertainment options. Thankfully, it wasn’t completely like Harajuku, but more of a family-style mall with a few stuff for other ages too.
On the top floor there was an amusement center which was packed with children playing medal machines, even more so than the one we visited yesterday. A large group of kids also gathered at the Pokemon Tretta machines, where some sort of promotion was going on.
Beside, we found a Titicaca store. Had previously chanced upon other Titicaca outlets while in Japan and was quite a fan of their ethnic fashions. They were having a holiday sale so certain pieces were on discount, but the stuff from their previous season weren’t that nice. Gage liked their shorts there but decided to pass as they cost about 8,000 yen a pair.
I ended up trying out and picking up a couple of shirts. They cost 5,000 yen a piece but were of really good quality. Upon check out, learned that they were having an extra 20% off when purchasing 2 or more items. Tried looking around to find Gage, as perhaps he might consider getting the pants but couldn’t find him in sight. Turns out he was waiting outside. On hindsight, should had taken advantage of the promotion to pick up more stuff.
Would eventually come across another WEGO outlet at Cocowalk where I managed to get a much needed coat in my size too.
For lunch, we’d try the head branch of a chain restaurant called Takemura which sold grilled fish among other things. Hadn’t had the chance to have grilled fish before in Japan so it was a new experience. Despite the posh setting, prices were affordable. Lunch was 1,280 yen for a choice of grilled fish and came with a salad bar and your own refillable rice pot.
After lunch, we decided to walk back to Nagasaki Station and the AMU Plaza there. It was only about a kilometer and a half away, so if you’re fit it may actually be possible to cover the entire Nagasaki city area on foot.
Since there wasn’t much left to see attraction wise within central Nagasaki, we’d use the rest of the day to look around the shopping malls at a leisurely pace. Gage was looking for a wallet to replace his ageing one, possibly a watch, as well as a scarf and some gloves for the days ahead.
We didn’t find anything there that he liked however and Gage was still undecided whether it would be more worthwhile to get a wallet or a watch this early into the trip. I did see a nice United Arrows crocodile-print wallet at the Sac’s Bar there, but they were all sold out in black.
When we were done with AMU Plaza, we returned back to the hotel to drop off the stuff had bought and also since my sprained foot were really hurting by this point from all the walking today.
After catching our breath, we left in the direction of the shotengai that we passed through on the first night here to take a look while all of the shops were still open. On the way there, managed to pick up some castella from the Bunmeido opposite our hotel. The store closed at 7.30 pm and though it was still early, wasn’t sure if we’d reach back in time later so opted to get a box first. If it was any good, would be able to pick up more castella before our flight tomorrow.
It turned out that there was another Bunmeido along the shotengai though, along with other iconic castella shops. Was tempted to buy more, but decided to wait to see if liked it first.
We ended up exploring the entire shopping arcade, along with a small department store there but walked away empty handed. Came across a really attractive bakery however and considered getting some bread on the way back later, should we have space for any after dinner.
Since had already chosen lunch, got Gage to decide upon what to have for dinner. But after searching around the entire arcade, couldn’t find something. We were about to settle for just buying bread back when Gage decided upon a family restaurant called Gyuemon.
Gyuemon looked like a pretty standard family restaurant, with the interiors straight out of the 50s. Gage opted for a mix set, while I went with a steak curry, since we hadn’t had any decent curry since landing in Japan. I also tend to have a soft spot for Japanese curry and am much more forgiving of it. Hadn’t had any good experiences with family restaurants in Tokyo, Osaka or even Biwa, so was quite relieved to find out that Gyuemon was actually decent.
We’d head back early after dinner to pack up for tomorrow’s check out and to rest. On our way back, Gage needed to use the toilet, so we stopped by a Tsutaya. There was an anniversary promotion going on involving Kojima Haruna at their outlets during this season. Took the shorter route back to our hotel this time. Picked up one of their visitor magazines on the way up to see if we had missed out anything important.
That evening, got to try out castella for the first time. It was really good! It’s like a really thick and creamy butter cake but without the oil. Would definitely pick up more tomorrow. They’re actually available all over the country though, so you can give them a try when visiting Japan.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.