The express train from Hakata to Nagasaki is beautiful – hardwood floors, great colors. Breakfast was on the train. Cheese bread and raisin bread. Again. There are so few vegetarian options here.
The countryside here is beautiful. Mountains covered in green are everywhere, and everything is so tidy. I keep thinking I could live here again. (It would be easier to keep vegetarian cooking on my own).
(En route to Nagasaki.)
Nagasaki is beautiful. I grabbed an unlimited street car ticket and headed off.
I first went to the Peace Park. I thought I was emotionally prepared for it. I was not.
The bomb (Nagasaki was plutonium, Hiroshima was uranium) was dropped just 3 days after the one in Hiroshima. Nagasaki was chosen after the bomber couldn’t see Kokura (north of Fukuoka) through smoke. Just after 11:00, the bomb exploded north of downtown. The blast was terrible. Thousands died immediately, and thousands more died in the coming weeks and months. This museum doesn’t have all of the original US government documents that the one in Hiroshima did, but the effect is still haunting. The bomb heliocenter was close enough to knock down a prison and what was then the largest Catholic church in east Asia. And, of course, everything else nearby. A sign near the heliocenter shows how the ground was several feet higher before the bomb.
(At the Peace Park. Also, some history in the text.)
(The main monument in the Peace Park and a collection of origami cranes – regularly replaced – for the victims.)
(A replica of the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki.)
(A collection of coins and other materials melted in the blast.)
(More everyday items melted in the blast.)
(Pictures of the immediate aftermath of the bomb.)
(A then-and-now photo of Nagasaki.)
(This is the character for “prayer,” made from hundreds of origami cranes folded by schoolchildren in Japan.)
The memorial for those who died is columns of water pouring over rocks, to answer the call of so many victims for water to soothe their scorched throats. It was haunting.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki chartered a mayor’s plan for peace. I was happy to see both Salt Lake City and San Francisco as signatories. I signed their pledge for a global convention on nuclear weapons. You can too, here.
After some time to gather myself, I hopped on the street car to Oura Catholic Church, the oldest Christian church in Japan. It has a great collection of artifacts related to the persecution on early Christians: it had fumie images, which were carved images of holy figures on which people suspected of Christianity had to walk, to show their disregard for Christianity; it had sculptures of Kannon with Marian imagery or a cross on the back; and it had a variety of everyday objects onto which Christians carved hidden messages. It was really interesting to see these artifacts in person. They figure prominently in Silence (沈黙), a novel by Endo Shusaku – and the first full length Japanese book I read in the original.
(The oldest Christian church in Japan.)
(Inside the church.)
(Check out the difference between the front and back.)
The views from the church are of Nagasaki harbor, and are amazing.
From the church I wandered through the Chinatown, where Chinese laborers built a variety of temples that are still standing. Nagasaki has long been an international city.
My next stop was Dejima (出島). In the closed country period (鎖国時代) Dejima was the only port open to foreign trade. Originally it was for the Portuguese, but after the government moved to ban Christianity, the Dutch took over the facility. This was really quite cool. Tons of trade goods (including at some points millions of dollars worth of sugar) flowed through the island. And western medicine. Dejima was the first place where vaccination was performed in Japan. Dejima was also fun because a bunch of Japanese girls on the street car kept talking amongst themselves about what it was, and no one knew. Eventually, I explained that it was the only foreign port in Japan during the closed country period. Their first shock was that I understood them, and their second was that I knew the answer. They went on about how they learned about Japanese history from a non-Japanese. Hehe.
(Dutch merchant quarters.)
(More of the merchant quarters at Dejima.)
(A cool packing job!)
From Dejima, I went to the site of martyrdom of 26 Japanese saints (6 foreigners and 20 Japanese) who were collected from throughout Japan after Christianity was formally outlawed, and crucified on a hill overlooking Nagasaki bay. This is now a pilgrimage site.
Next stop, the Nagasaki museum of history and culture. By this point, having been to Oura and Dejima, I’d seen most of it. But the artwork is great. There were fascinating fusion pieces, like katana guards with western people on them.
I went to the mall by the station for dinner. There was an Indian place. It was overpriced, but it actually had vegetarian food. After asking if there was anything veggie at 3 restaurants before this one, I was sort of willing to pay anything for vegetables.
Back to the station for the train to Hakata. I need to be up early tomorrow to get to Kyoto.