Sunday, 25 May 2014

cherry blossom in nagasaki

This post is a couple of months late, but it's so nice seeing the pictures again now! After Beppu, the next place we headed on Gabby's visit was Nagasaki. We took several trains and then hopped on a shinkansen from Fukuoka and arrived on a beautiful spring day. We took a tram to the Atomic Bomb Peace Park and museum, a serious outing for a sunny day.  

A short walk away from the main park and museum is the Nagai Takashi Memorial Museum. It commemorates a man who suffered from leukemia after the bomb, and dedicated his life to writing about it and raising money for its victims. 

The city immediately felt a bit different from other places in Japan. With its hills, trams and international vibe all around the bay, it felt like San Fransisco.

No idea what they were going for here

We had an early night and set out the next morning for Dejima! I'd recently finished a fantastic book called The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) which is set there, and was nerdily excited to see it! 

In the 18th century, Dutch traders were allowed an exception to the Japanese isolationist policy, and traded with Nagasaki from this man-made island just off the coast. The book follows a young Dutch clerk but also the lives of a hidden Christian, a Japanese midwife, a mysterious religious sect and the various translators and officials who came into contact with the Dutch. Now, Dejima is surrounded on all sides by land and has been converted into an excellent museum. 

 Behind us you can see a model of the whole island, in the middle of the island. Que meta. 

There are tons of exhibits about everything connected to daily life there, as well as the socio-political context of  Japan at the time. 

I especially loved these displays of flora and fauna. I want them on my wall! 

A hyper active little old lady stopped us and took our picture, after commenting that Gabby looks like Steven Spielberg

I actually kind of see it
After a big lunch and a few beers in Chinatown we headed to Glover Gardens. All the European business men and their families lived in this area overlooking the bay in the past, and a lot of their old houses still stand as mini museums. 

It's a gorgeous park to wander around on a warm afternoon... and it had the best koi pond I've ever seen. I got so excited Gabby had to buy me some snacks to feed them...

Turns out that old cliched image of old men playing chess in the sun? It's actually true. 

On our way home we popped into Oura Catholic Church. It felt so strange to be in that kind of building again after so many months! 

That evening we had a lovely dinner at a French fusion place right next to Dejima, Garcon Ken's. We were one of two couples in the small space and chatted with Ken about travelling and Japan for a while. 

We finished the night at a little jewel of a cocktail bar, tucked away on the second floor of an unassuming alley. It's called Agio Bar and Cafe and is well worth a visit. The lights are dim so you view the menus with a little torch! Old movies like The Big Sleep are projected silently onto the wall and it all feels very intimate, like a well kept secret. 

The best part was it's literally hidden behind a secret bookcase! Look out for Audrey and you're in the right place.

Nagasaki, we love you. 

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