Seeing The Greater Picture in Nagasaki

Wednesday, December 06, 2017
On August 9, 1945 an atomic bomb exploded above Nagasaki. The most part of the city was destroyed, and a tremendous number of lives were lost. A bomb which marked the end of World War II.

Peace Statue in Nagasaki Peace Park, Japan
A 10-meter tall Peace Statue made of bronze stands in the Peace Park in Nagasaki. Created by Japanese sculptor Seibo Kitamura. The lifted right hand points towards the atomic bomb while the posture of the left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The closed eyes are praying for the victims of the atomic bomb in 1945. The folded right leg signify meditation while the extended left leg show initiative to stand up for the people of the world.

Hypocenter of the a-bomb in Nagasaki, Japan
Located quite near the Peace Park is a pillar marking the hypocenter of the a-bomb dropped over Nagasaki. The red brick pillar close-by is the last piece of a surviving church, which was later moved there to make space for a new church.

Full-scale model of "Fat Boy" in Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Japan
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is a very detailed and terrifying place to stroll through. You're tiptoeing your way around the museum's exhibitions chocked by the cruelty of humanity. One of the more interesting things in the museum is a full-scale model of the atomic bomb "Fat Man" which was dropped over Nagasaki in 1945. 240.000 people lived in Nagasaki at the time of the atomic explosion. 73.884 died and another 74,909 were injured. That's just the numbers from December 1945. Many more died later on from the radiation.
After visiting both the memorial museums in Hiroshima and Nagasaki within a few days, the impact it had on me was a lot greater in Nagasaki. The way the museum exhibitions were set created an atmosphere which hit me straight on.

Monument of the 26 Martyrs in Nagasaki, Japan
Let's go back. Back to way before nuclear weapons where even invented. Back to 1597, where the 26 Martyrs of Japan - a group of Roman Catholics - were crucified on the 5th of February on Nishizaka Hill, where the monument stands today. Religious and political complications began to suppress Christianity in Japan and by 1630 Catholicism had been driven underground. A quarter of a century later Christian missionaries returned to Japan only to find a hidden community of surviving Catholics.

Megane Bridge or "Spectacles Bridge" in Nagasaki, Japan
Megane Bridge was built in 1634, not long after the execution of the 26 martyrs. Presumably it's the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan and has received the nickname "Spectacles Bridge" as the reflection of the arches in the water create an image of a pair of spectacles. Maybe a pair of spectacles this big is what we need to see clearer. To see the greater pictures as the human race, especially in a city with a historical background like Nagasaki.

Restaurants at Dejima Wharf in Nagasaki, Japan
A good place to take a break from the historical tragedies is at Dejima Wharf. A cozy little harbor area with a lot of small restaurants and diners. I'd recommend to visit the harbor terminal while you're there to get tickets for Hashima Island, also known as "Battleship Island".

Dutch Slope in Nagasaki, Japan
After a good lunch visit the Dutch Slope; a leftover area from foreign traders, who lived here after the opening of the city's port to foreign trade in 1859. The stone-paved street hosts Western style houses, but to be honest it's not a place you spent hours at. A quick walk-through did the trick for me.

Oura Church in Nagasaki, Japan
Oura Church (or also named Basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan) is located within walking distance of the Dutch Slope. The cathedral is the oldest extant Christian building in Japan. The cathedral is dedicated to the martyrs and it faces the site of their martyrdom. There's an entrances fee of 600 yen to enter the church, which is a bit sad for such an important place.

Glover Garden in Nagasaki, Japan
If you leave the church at the exit to the right of the alter, you'll walk straight to Glover Garden and yet another entrance fee. The garden houses the Glover Residence, another Western style house of Nagasaki.

Flipi, me and Joe having hot sake in Omura, Japan
Fortunately, we had created a bit of a distance from the many impressions in Nagasaki. We had done so, by couchsurfing with Flipi in Omura. A South African guy with both feet on the ground and a "no stress"-attitude I've rarely seen. We had an extremely pleasant stay at Flipi's and I hope we'll bump in to this fella every now and then.

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