More a bustling town than a packed metropolis, the city of Nagasaki is full of things to do. Curling around the western point of Kyushu, its proximity to mainland Asia made it the only place open for trade during Japan's long period of isolation. This vibrant port city of sloping hills is renowned for its color, charm, and international influence.
Nagasaki City is usually reached by air or land.
From Nagasaki Airport, making your way into the city is very easy. Buses will transport you to Shinchi Bus Terminal in the city center.
Alternatively, you can travel directly to Nagasaki from Fukuoka Airport by bus. Buses depart for Nagasaki every hour, with a one-way journey taking roughly 2.5 hours.
For holders of the JR Rail Pass, the sleek and futuristic-looking Kamome Limited Express running from Hakata in Fukuoka to Nagasaki Station is your best choice.
Nagasaki City itself is serviced by a charming tram network. Although not covered by the JR Rail Pass, a cost-effective 1-day pass is available.
Strong Chinese influence in Nagasaki is visible through a Chinatown, Confucian temples and local restaurants. For a further fascinating glimpse into Chinese life in the city, the Kunchi Festival in early fall and Nagasaki Lantern Festival in late winter are must-see events. The festivals involve a spectacular riot of illuminated decorations and dragon dances.
If European history is more your style, Nagasaki doesn't disappoint. The Dejima wharf and promenade areas are where Portuguese and Dutch missionaries and dealers once plied their trade.
Similarly, Glover Garden is an open-air museum displaying housing and other buildings belonging to several of the city's former foreign residents. A highlight is the Glover residence itself, which offers amazing views of the harbor.
Also offering outstanding harbor views is Suwa Shrine, which sits atop Mt. Tamazono. Reaching the shrine is not for the faint-hearted, but well worth the trek. Visit during October 7-9 to participate in one of Nagasaki's most famous festivals, the Kunchi Festival.
The dropping of the second atomic bomb here during World War II is commemorated in various memorials dedicated to the incident. The Peace Park is a stark reminder of the devastation caused. Don't be deterred from visiting, however, as the monuments and museum also speak of peace, hope, and sheer resilience.