Mention Nagasaki, and people will think of how it was only one of two cities in the world ever to be devastated by an atomic bomb. Or they may regard it as an energetic, cosmopolitan place where it served as the confluence of Western and Asian cultures at a time when Japan was largely secluded from the rest of the world. Indeed, Nagasaki has all these admirable traits – and more. It promises all these great aspects essential for an epic vacation: exquisite crafts stepped in tradition, scrumptious local delicacies and boisterous festivals. Here are four unique things to do in Nagasaki so that you can craft a trip that is refreshingly different from the typical itinerary inexperienced travellers often stick to:
Watch the Kunchi Festival
If you wish to get a slice of local life and observe how Nagasaki people work together, look no further than the Kunichi Festival held in Nagasaki City from the 7-9 of October every year. Dedicated to the god of Suwa Shrine, it is a festival that propels the city into spirited action with its elaborate floats and adrenalin-pumping dances. Various groups of men representing the different districts will push their huge and colorful ship-shaped floats on the streets and stop in front of every shop. Watching these men stand in rapt attention to give blessings to the owners brings to the fore the strong sense of cohesion among Nagasaki people; it can be quite heartwarming to witness. Also not to be missed is the performances at the shotengai (shopping district) when tall, burly men rhythmically throw their floats up in the air, often with little children still playing traditional instruments as if they were playing on solid ground!
-English Name: Kunchi Festival
-Japanese Name: くんち祭り
-Address: 18-15, Kaminishiyama-machi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture
-Open Hours / Closed Day: October 7th-9th
-Budget: Free performances are available
-Lat/Long: (32.750286, 129.877667)
-Phone number: NA
Visit Huis Ten Bosch
The Japanese don’t do things by halves, and Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park in Sasebo City is certainly illustrative of their detail-oriented nature. Not just your run-of-the-mill theme park, Huis Ten Bosch is a tribute to all things Dutch as its windmills, canals, buildings and tulip fields are just like those that you may encounter in Holland!
Have fun being “whisked off” to Europe and visiting the attractions like Mirror Maze and Haunted House that will enthrall you with their impressive 3D technology. Also not forgetting the gorgeous pirate ship that is identical in design to the one that appears in the commercial hit anime series, “One Piece”! It begs the question of why a pirate ship from a Japanese anime was placed inside a Dutch town, but the merging of such disparate realities just adds to the lovely time you will have at Huis Ten Bosch! Immerse yourself in the magical world of One Piece and take lots of selfies with life-size structures of famous “One Piece” characters!
-English Name: Huis Ten Bosch
-Japanese Name: ハウステンボス
-Address: Hausutenbosu-machi, Sasebo 859-3243, Nagasaki Prefecture
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 9am to 10pm
-Budget: 6,500yen for 1-day passport for adult users
-Lat/Long: (33.090840, 129.795)
-Phone number: +81 570-064-110
Do you know that Nagasaki was the area that gave birth to porcelain production during the Edo era? And that it even exported its intricately-crafted ceramic products – characterized by pure white porcelain glazed with colored pigments – to Europe through Nagasaki Port? Even now, the stunning artistry of Nagasaki-made ceramics can still be witnessed when you make a road trip to Hasami town.
Embark on a journey of discovery by first visiting Nakaoyama Community Centre, where you can not only take in a superb panoramic view of the towering brick chimneys that were used for coal-fired kilns, but also purchase souvenirs at the gallery that showcases many products consolidated from myriad local potteries! Better still, why not get a map of Hasami town at this gallery and create your own fun by driving to these local potteries? With each pottery developing its own distinctive style, finding ceramics that make you want to splurge shouldn’t be a problem!
-English Name: Hasami town
-Japanese Name: 波佐見町
-Address: Hasami-cho, Higashisonogi-gun, Nagasaki
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 10am to 5pm (Closed on weekends and public holidays)
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (33.137890, 129.895546)
-Phone number: 0956-85-2290 (Hasami-cho tourist association)
Feel life-affirming vibes at a Yosakoi Festival
Japanese people are often assumed to be reserved people – a fallacy that foreigners perpetuate because they probably have not seen Japanese people dancing energetically together in public. Such a dance is known as Yosakoi, and Sasebo City organizes the largest Yosakoi festival in the whole of Kyushu for three days every October. Seeing Japanese people, regardless of age, dance gracefully to lilting music one second and then suddenly breaking out into funky moves the next so as to gel with upbeat music will be an awesome cultural experience; it is a rare opportunity to watch Japanese people drop their usual pleasantries with one another and just be themselves. And boy, are they gregarious and passionate!
-English Name: Sasebo Yosakoi Festival
-Japanese Name: YOSAKOIさせぼ祭り
-Address: Sasebo-shi, Nagasaki-ken
-Open Hours / Closed Day: 9.30am to 8pm
-Lat/Long: (33.179915, 129.71511)
-Phone number: 0956-33-4351 (Yosakoi Sasebo Festival Organizing Committee)
There you have it: beautiful ceramic, a Dutch-like theme park and unforgettable festivals. Why not time your trip to Nagasaki properly so that you can partake in these unique must-dos as you explore her places of interest and vantage points? (765 words)