On the Atomic Bomb Memorial day of Nagasaki this year, we prayed at home.
Due to the spread of the new coronavirus, the Peace Memorial Ceremony was held on a much smaller scale.
The public was not allowed to attend.
I refrained from going out on August 9 and stayed at home watching the TV broadcast and praying in silence.
Another day, before the Day commemorating the end of the Second World War, I went to the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter.
Entrance of the Peace Park
It is convenient to get to Peace Park by tram.
Get off the tram at the Peace Park stop and cross the national road at the crosswalk, and you will soon find the entrance to the park.
You can take the escalator to the park, which is located on top of a hill.
Get off the escalator and walk straight ahead and you will see a fountain with crystal clear water.
Fountain of Peace
I was so thirsty.
There was something like oil floating all over the water.
I had to have water, and I finally drank it with the oil in it.
~From a girl’s memoir of that day
The memoir of a girl who was exposed to the atomic bombing, engraved on a stone slab in front of the building, contrasts so sharply with the refreshing fountain behind it that one cannot help but place one’s hands together and pray.
Beyond the fountain, looking small in the distance the Peace statue can be seen.
Step by step, I walked from the Peace Fountain to the Peace Statue, taking in the peace of the present moment.
The Peace Statue
The Peace Statue symbolizes the desire for peace.
Its beauty and preciousness are universal no matter how many times you visit.
The sculptor is Seibo Kitamura, a sculptor from Nagasaki Prefecture.
The Statue’s right hand, pointing to the heavens, represents the “threat of the atomic bomb”.
His left hand, stretched out horizontally, is the key to peace.
The lightly closed eyelids represent a prayer for the souls of the A-bomb victims.
Site of Nagasaki Prison’s Urakami Prison Branch Office
Before the atomic bombing, the site of the Peace Park was the Urakami Prison Branch of Nagasaki Prison.
It was the closest public facility to the hypocenter, but the building was destroyed from the ground up, and 134 staff and inmates were killed instantly.
The remains of the bombing can now be seen in part of the park (on the way to the Peace Fountain and the Peace Statue).
There is an information board with detailed information about the statue.
◆For more information about Peace Park (Peace Statue and Peace Fountain), click here.
Atomic Bomb Hypocenter
At 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945.
The atomic bomb was dropped from an American B-29 bomber and exploded about 500 meters above the city.
A monument made of black granite stands at the center of the bomb’s fall.
Along the site’s riverfront, visitors can see the geological strata of the time of the bombing. A large number of house tiles, bricks and heat-burned glass, destroyed by the bombing, are still buried here as they were then.
Today, the center of the atomic bombing is surrounded by greenery and is a place for citizens to relax.
An old man sits on a bench in the shade of a tree and reads a book.
An elementary school student engrossed in catching cicadas.
I, too, sit relaxed as I watch them.
I feel a sense of gratitude for the fact that we are now able to live in peace.
I am not against war, I am for peace.
◆For basic information about the center of the atomic bombing, click here.
Although I was not able to go there, you can experience the devastation of the atomic bomb and the preciousness of peace at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, which is located next to the Peace Park.
You can stand before each of the exhibits, accepting the history while thinking about true peace.
You can browse through books on the atomic bombing and peace, and there is also a library with a video corner.
◆For more information on the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, click here
Local people in Nagasaki have been saying, “It is so far away from Nagasaki” when they find dishes less sweet.
Tourists to Nagasaki would be surprised to find dishes served to them so sweet.
So, Nagasaki is a sweetness-oriented town.
In June, 2020, “Nagasaki Kaido, or Sugar Road, which contributed to the spread of sugar culture”, was recognized as Japan Heritage.
In Edo era Nagasaki was Japan’s only open window to the West for trading, while other Japanese ports were closed. And “Nagasaki Kaido” started in Nagasaki, and terminated in Kokura on the northern part of Kyushu Island. Various “people, commodities and information”, which came to Nagasaki from around the world, traveled along this road to everywhere in Japan.
Among them was “sugar”.
Nagasaki Kaido is also known as “Sugar Road”.
◇Nagasaki Kaido or Sugar Road
Nagasaki Kaido is featured in creativeness of various confections containing much sugar, and these confections still remain popular along the road.
In Nagasaki Prefecture we’ve been enjoying such popular and delicious confections or cuisine as “castella”, sponge cake, “momo-castella”, peach-shaped sponge cake ( from Nagasaki City), “okoshi”, millet-and-rice cake (from Isahaya City), or “omura-zushi”, vinegared rice layered with various cooked ingredients (from Omura City).
◇Nagasaki : Sweetness-oriented Town
In Edo era many people had few chances to taste sugar in Japan, but in Nagasaki it was different. Nagasaki was a special place you could enjoy sugar. The closer to Nagasaki you lived, the easier it was to get sugar. Because food culture using lots of sugar was created in Nagasaki and neighboring areas, there spread steadily an image of Nagasaki as a sweetness-oriented town.
So the words “It is so far away from Nagasaki (meaning the dish offered isn’t sweet enough)” were created to ridicule dishes which were not sweet enough as a result of someone’s skimping on sugar.
◇Where did sugar come from?
In Edo era, when Japan closed its door to the world, Nagasaki was the only window to the West and China for trading.
On “Dejima Island”, Dutch ships unloaded various commodities they brought from everywhere in Asia and Europe via “Batavia” ( current Jakarta in Indonesia), where
the Dutch had established the headquarters of Dutch East India Company to trade with Asian countries.
“Sugar “ was one of the main imports.
( picture: a model of a Dutch ship exhibited in a Dejima Museum)
Dejima was a fan-shaped artificial island and the only window opened to the West for trading.
Now Dejima Restoration Project to reconstruct buildings on the island exactly as they were in the early 19th Century has been undertaken
(Please access to the following for details)
There used to be a stone bridge called “Dejima Main Gate Bridge” connecting Dejima Island with the mainland in Edo era. In 2017 a new bridge was constructed on the same location between the island and the mainland after the lapse of 130 years. Let’s cross Dejima Main Gate Bridge, and travel through time into Dejima in Edo era.
A gatekeeper guided us.
The photo on the left shows a replica of Dutch “scales” used for weighing sugar and others.
Various imports including sugar brought to Japan by a Dutch ship were unloaded on Dejima Island and brought into warehouses called “Sugar Warehouse” after being weighed by scales,
Since the middle of the Edo period, the Customs house, a predecessor of the Nagasaki customs, had purchased the imports as a whole, which were put in a bid by Japanese dealers and were brought throughout Japan.
(photo on the left: a replica of “scales” weighing sugar and others, exhibited at West Gate)
(photo on the right: a replica of painting by Kawahara Keiga drawing a scene of scaling things),
“The Chinese and Dutch Quarters” , a picture scroll, exhibited in No.3 Warehouse.
In No.3 Warehouse, which stored sugar in Edo era, sugar packed into jute bags as was done in Edo era is now exhibited. (photo on the right)
You will see Clerk’s Quarters by its green-colored lattice. (photo on the left)
You will learn Japan at the period when Dejima was connected with the world and the rest of Japan, seeing the interesting exhibits and watching videos inside Clerk’s Quarters.
I’d recommend you to take a rest enjoying “a milk shake”, a local cold sweet, in a restaurant (on the first floor of the Former International Nagasaki Club) after you’ve learned history of Sugar Road.
Please access to the followings for details:
While the COVID-19 infection is spreading all over Japan, a good thing (probably the only good thing?) is spreading too. That is AMABIE.
AMABIE is a legendary Japanese ‘yokai’ specter which is believed to have the power to stave off epidemics.
It is said that during the time nearing the end of the Edo period (1603 – 1868), in the former Higo province (present-day Kumamoto prefecture), a half-man-half-fish ‘yokai’ spirit emerged from the sea and instructed people there to draw an image of itself and show it to others when there is an epidemic.
For this reason, a lot of ‘AMABIE’ goods have been produced all over Japan, wishing for the eradication of the COVID-19 and AMABIE has gained huge popularity.
Even the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare enlisted AMABIE as part of its campaign to prevent the spread of the Covid-19!
(From the homepage of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
For this reason, in this blog, we will introduce two “AMABIE” goods, current topics in Nagasaki.
【AMABIE ’wagashi’ (traditional Japanese confectionary)】
Hakusuido, a Japanese confectionary shop with a long history in Nagasaki, is now offering AMABIE-shaped sweets. (270 JPY a piece) These sweets are all handmade. Because of that, no two AMABIE sweets have exactly the same expressions on their faces. “I would like people to smile and enjoy having these sweets during this difficult time,” says the proprietress of the shop. How did their AMABIE sweets turn out to look so cute? That is because the confectioner of the shop made the sweets based on the image of an AMABIE that once appeared in a popular Japanese ‘yokai’ comic book, “Gegege no Kitaro”.
AMABIE sweets come with a good-luck charm that wishes for an early eradication of COVID-19.
Hakusuido prayed for the eradication of COVID-19 pandemic at Yasaka Shinto Shrine the other day.
“I want to buy the AMABIE sweet! I want to eat it! BUT I cannot go and buy it in the shop because we are all requested to stay at home.“ For you and other people who have the same problem, and also for people who live far away from the shop, Hakusuido started to sell on line at the shop’s official home page on May 1 (Friday). Until now, AMABIE sweets were only sold in the shop because they are unbaked and should be eaten when they are fresh. When shopped online, sweets are sent by refrigerated courier service. The shipping charge for AMABIE sweets is 540 JPY. (For other products, 550 JPY for shipping)
Shianbashi main store
〒850-0832 Adjacent to Shianbashi Tram Stop, 1-3 Aburayamachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture
AMABIE coloring and paper craft template
Isahaya Shrine in Isahya city have made an “AMABIE coloring and paper craft template” and are distributing them for free from the shine office. The template can be downloaded through the shrine’s home page. It is nice that we can easily download and print it at home while we are requested to stay at home, isn’t it? During the interview with the chief priest of the shrine, Mr. Miyamoto, he expressed his wishes that people spend their time peacefully doing this paper craft when they are expected to spend so much time at home.
During the interview with the chief priest of the shrine Mr. Miyamoto, he expressed his hope that people use this coloring book and have a peaceful time at home during the refrainment from going out.
He also advised, considering the current COVID-19 situation, not to go out to visit the shrine to receive the template but stay home and download them on the internet.
The template should be printed on A4 size paper, monochrome. When printed out, color it in, cut it out, and assemble it. The whole family can enjoy doing it!
1-12 Uzumachi, Isahaya City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Tel : 0957-22-2073
Official Homepage : https://isahaya-jinja.jp/
For the detail of AMABIE coloring sheets:
How about overcoming this difficult situation together with various “AMABIE” goods and with a smile?
Neru Nagahama is a central member of the popular idol group Keyakizaka 46 from Nagasaki Prefecture. She spent some of her childhood years on the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, the main location for her first photobook, “From Here” (Koko Kara). Her photobook sold over 200,000 copies and reached No. 1 on the Oricon Photo Book Rankings for the first half of the year.
Right now, she’s one of the most watched idols.
In August 2018, volunteers from Shinkamigoto City and the Narao area in the Goto Islands, put together the “Neru-chan Map” that introduces all the locations featured in the photo book “From Here.” It’s being distributed for free at places such as the ferry terminals at the Nagasaki and Narao Ports. （There’s a list of places where you can get the map at the end of this article. ）
Neru Nagahama introduced the map on her official blog as “Great Things that Happened in the Last Year”, and it seems that recently more and more fans are visiting the locations featured in the photobook with the map in hand.
Neru grew up in Narao from the age of 4 to 7 and left the island after that, but she loves the place that she spent her childhood in, and has continued to stay in touch with the people who live there. She even chose to introduce Narao as a location on the TV show “You can’t write the character for Keyaki?”
Volume 1 is about the locations on Narao, while Volume 2 is about the “Great Points of the Island” in Nakadori Island featured in “From Here.”
◆National Natural Treasure “Sea Fig Tree (Narao Shrine)” (featured in Volume 1)
In the photo book, there’s a photo with Neru looking up at this 650-year-old giant tree. This is a truly symbolic spot in Narao. It’s said if you pass under the tree, you’ll have a long life, and so its very popular as a “power spot.” https://www.nagasaki-tabinet.com/guide/731/
◆ Sea Fig Charm Cookie (Featured in Volume 1)
This cookie is so cute it was much-talked about on Twitter after Neru posted about it. It’s on sale at the Narao Port Terminal.
In the photo book, Neru looks great swimming in a school swimsuit.
This is a very popular beach with white sand and it’s clear, shallow waters.
In the photo book, the praying Neru and the sunset are really striking.
This outdoor festival was one of “my recommended spots in Goto” that Neru herself talked about in an interview.
Why not grab a “Neru-chan Map” and take a walk around the “Great Points of the Island”?
◆ Main Places Where You Can Get the Neru-chan Map
Nihonbashi Nagasaki-kan (Tokyo) Nagasaki Port Terminal (Nagasaki City) Narao Port Terminal (Shinkamigoto Town) At about 70 other participating companies and shops. (Limited numbers available)
◆ Inquiries: Sasaya Shussen (Narao-go, Shinkamigoto Town, Nagasaki Prefecture)
Hello, it’s Tomocchi! ☆
Access to the main tourist attractions in Nagasaki City just got more convenient!
On April 8th, Nagasaki Bus launched a new bus route that lets you go from “Glover Garden Entrance” bus stop to the “Atomic Bomb Museum” bus stop without changing buses. The “Glover Garden Entrance” bus stop is close to Glover Garden and Oura Cathedral, as well as the Matsugae International Terminal, where cruise ships berth.
It’s a regular bus, so the normal fare applies, but if you use the 1 day free pass recommended for tourists (￥500 for adults), you can easily make your way around the stops on this route, including Glover Garden, Oura Cathedral, The Dutch Slope, Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown, Dejima, The Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and the city center.
Also, up until now tourists have had to walk 5 mins to the Atomic Bomb Museum from the bus stop on the main national road. However, a new bus stop has been made on the “doorstep” of the Atomic Bomb Museum (Atomic Bomb Museum bus stop)! It’s really convenient that you can now go right to the door of the museum!
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, it’s worth giving it a try.
●Frequency: About once every 30 mins (14-15 buses a day)
●Route: “Glover Garden Entrance” to “Atomic Bomb Museum”
●Time taken from first to last stop: about 20 mins
●For tourists, the discount one-day free pass (￥500 for adults, ￥250 for children) is recommended. (N.B. The regular one-way fare from the first to last stop is ￥180)
For more details, please look at the Nagasaki Bus Website: