Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
In Higashisonogi-cho in Nagasaki Prefecture, there is a small unmanned train station right next to the sea. It’s called Chiwata Station.
Built in 1928, this retro-style building situated on the curve of Omura Bay, while being a hub for locals, is also popular with photographers and train enthusiasts alike who come for the views which look like something straight out of the past.
In 2016 it was even used as a location for a commercial for JR Kyushu.
In Chiwata Station there is a small cafeteria. Its name is:
This is the cafeteria-owner-cum-station-master Yushita Ryunosuke, his wife, and their 10-month old son. “I want to make Chiwata station into a place where lots of people gather, since there is no place like this anywhere else in the world,” Said Mr. Yushita.
Mr. Yushita, who’s hobby since the age of 19 has been making curry, decided to follow this passion by opening up a cafeteria after quitting the life of a salaryman. He moved locations to inside the actual Chiwata station in December of 2016.
His wife is pictured here cutting onions with their son swaddled in front of her. He’s growing up so fast at Chiwata station with so many people around him.
“Since this is an unmanned station, we sell tickets while were making the curry,” she laughs.
The only thing on the menu is the curry, which changes daily. Today is tomato curry. It’s topped with a pile of coriander which gives off a wonderfully fresh smell. The flavor starts off spicy, but then the umami floats to the top, and the flavor leaves the inside of your mouth warm and satisfied. The curry here is made without any flour, in the traditional way.
There is gentle music playing as the girls across the room enjoy their conversation. Suddenly I hear a few tones and then over a speaker:
“A train will arrive shortly.”
Oh yeah, this is a train station, isn’t it?
On weekdays, the cafeteria is only open until 3pm. After that, the whole space fills with the sounds of lively conversations of the school children returning home.
Elementary school students excitedly do their homework as well as read the books here on the shelf.
I’ve heard that the old ladies that use the station look forward just to greeting Mr. Yushita. One lady said that she dropped off a few vegetables to say thanks for him always letter her drink water there. This train station has many stories like this that’ll warm your heart.
“This is a train station, a curry restaurant, and a place for locals to meet.
It makes me really happy that since more people from out of town are coming in that more locals are starting to come too,” said Mr. Yushita.
A train station, curry, and an unremarkable daily life. Somehow these elements combine to prosper all together.
Chiwata is a town where you can experience stories of an unremarkable daily life that warm your heart. Why not visit this little cafeteria in Chiwata Station?
Address: 750-3 Chiwata Station, Hiranitagou, Higashisonogi-cho, Higashisonogi-gun, Nagasaki Prefecture 859-3928
Hours: There are no decided days off. However, the cafeteria is usually open Mondays, Thursdays, and Friday from 11am to 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. It’s usually closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
This heat won’t let up lately, will it? Yesterday, I got to “bathe in sound” in cool mountains so remote that cell phone signals won’t reach.
(The Japanese name of this museum, “onyoku hakubutsukan” translates literally to “Sound Bath Museum,” which is the reason for the allusions to bathing and water in this article.)
60 minutes by car away from Nagasaki or Sasebo, after traversing roads that look like you might see Totoro at any moment, I finally reached this secluded gem.
The Onyoku Museum, located in the mountains of Saikai’s Oseto-machi at a height of 400 meters, holds over 160,000 analog records. Furthermore, they also have a collection of phonographs that guests can listen to freely! It’s like a “bath house of sound” from a dream.
As soon as you enter the building, Victor the RCA mascot dog is there to greet you!(・∀・)
Mr. Takashima, a representative of the curator, kindly showed us around the museum.
This is a real Edison Standard Phonograph, invented by Edison himself (ﾟдﾟ) (This isn’t a replica!!)
He told us that when this was created they didn’t have records like we know now, but rather used phonograph cylinders ☆
I can’t believe I was listening to speakers that were a hundred years old!!
Since these came out they have spread across the world, but in its early days they might cost as much as a house!
Next he showed us the “Gramophone House”.
Not only did they have around 60 manual gramophones and about 10,000 SP records, but they also had manual calculators, Japanese typewriters, musical instruments, and publications all from the Showa Period!!! (I love retro things so I could hardly contain myself ☆)
10,000 SP records!! (ﾟдﾟ)
Guests can listen as much as they like to Showa Period songs, from before the advent of the LP, on these gramophones.
Look at these retro drawers!!! They remind me of my grandmother’s house.
Next he showed us the LP hall.
Here are 150,000 records from after the Showa period and include classical, jazz, folk, rock, and enka. The sight was so overwhelming it almost made me dizzy!!
It feels so good to relax in a chair and be showered by the sound of an old speaker. This is happiness…
“…But is it even okay to be using these records???” I asked Mr. Takashima. He said that records that just sit on shelves are meaningless. Listening to them gives them value.”
There is a mountain of precious records in the museum, but let me tell you about this particularly valuable one on display in the entrance hall.
This is an extremely rare sample album from Fukuyama Masaharu, a singer-songwriter from Nagasaki. Very early in his career he gave out these samples to get his name out and they were never commercially sold. I heard that copies of this sample are so rare that even the artist himself doesn’t have one. His fans come from all over the country to hear this record!!!
This is an album for the song “THIS IS A SONG FOR COCA-COLA” which was part of a commercial in 1980 and features Yazawa Eikichi.
…But if you look really closely at the record on the bottom, you can see that it’s missing an “A”. Only after it had been printed was this discovered and then was reprinted with the “A”. That makes the bottom one an especially rare first edition!!
Here is there event hall which occasionally hosts live performances. There are 15 sets of speakers from the 1950s to the 2000s on standby.
Of course you can listen to records here, but the really interesting thing is that you can have a record playing but switch in between different sets of speakers. It makes it really easy and fun to compare them!
There were so many different types of speakers and they produced such different sounds. Some were mild, some were tight. The older speakers were made of paper and it was so interesting to hear the sounds they made, the paper shaking and the sound lingering. Different speakers really are better suited to certain types of music. The same song played through different speakers can sound completely different.
Jazz, enka, rock, classical… It feels so luxurious to be able to pick the speaker to suit the kind of music you’re listening to!
I want to just close my eyes and drift away in this sea of sounds…
The Onyoku Museum is known for having lots of speakers. I heard that recently two people brought boxed lunches and spend eight hours in the museum! Celebrities quietly frequent the museum as well. It’s also gaining attention from being part of one of the tours on the Seven Stars Cruise Train.
At a cool elevation of 400 meters, it’s also a great spot to escape the summer heat.
Come bathe in sound in the secluded mountains where even cellphone signals won’t reach.
(Cell signal won’t reach but they have free Wifi.)
The museum mascot Yuki-chan will be very excited to meet you there ♪
The Onyoku Museum (Onyoku Hakubutsukan)
Address: 342-80 Yukinoura Tsuugou, Oseto-machi, Saikai-shi, Nagasaki-ken, 857-2323
Admission fees: Adults (High School and up) 510 yen / Youths (Elementary to Junior High School) 250 yen / Children not yet of Elementary School age are free
Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm
Closed: Mondays and Holidays (and weekdays after holidays)
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
In just 2 hours and 20 minutes this new bus tour will show you not only the main sight-seeing spots, but also the hilly, off-the-beaten-path areas of Nagasaki. This service just began on April 1st this year!
I have to tell you that the bus for these tours is perfect in Nagasaki. This microbus can slip easily in and out of the tiny backstreets and give guests a taste of Nagasaki’s genuine locale. This is very new!!
The first half of the tour focuses on famous areas and the second half takes guests through the hilly areas.
The tour departs from Nagasaki station and first heads to the 333m tall landmark of Nagasaki: Mt. Inasa. There is a 10-minute break at the top of the mountain so that everyone can get pictures of the iconic, bowl-shaped landscape with the port in the center.
After that, this from-the-bus tour continues on to the Urakami area to see sites related to the atomic bombing and Nagasaki’s peace activities. (Specifically: Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter, Urakami Cathedral, the one-legged torii of Sannou Shrine)
From Mt. Tateyama there is a spectacular view of Nagasaki Port and Megami Ohashi Bridge. You’ll descend towards the main part of the city, winding though roads amid the houses that fill the mountainside from top to bottom, which in itself is an iconic part of Nagasaki.
There will be another 10-minute break around Spectacles Bridge and the Ezaki bekko (tortoiseshell crafts) shop.
Spectacles Bridge is the first arched bridge constructed in Japan in the Edo Period. Doesn’t the reflection in the water look like a pair of glasses?
At the bekkou shop you can watch the craftsmen at work and also enjoy a little shopping on the side.
You’ll also be able to see Soufukuji Temple with its red gate that looks like it’s straight from Ryuuguuji (“dragon palace castle” from the Japanese fable Urashima Tarou). You’ll also pass Dejima, which was the only port in Japan open to the west during the Edo Period.
This is the Hollander (Dutch) Slope and it is overflowing with Western influences. The stone-paved road is narrow with all kinds of twists and turns. It’s like something out of a movie set!
These curves are crazy!! This tour takes you through some winding streets that most people wouldn’t dream of taking a bus down! It kept me on the edge of my seat!
Inside the bus there are audio guides available in four languages and the driver is extremely knowledgeable about the sights in Nagasaki. It turns out that she used to be a tour guide herself! She was full of information about the little intricacies of the city.
There are two tours a day. The first starts at 9:00am and the second at 1:00pm. The tour is 2 hours and 20 minutes long so it’s very easy to schedule your day around it.
They also recommend the audio guide service to their foreign guests. The languages available are: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. There is also free Wi-Fi on the bus!
This short, 2 hour and 20 minute tour lets you experience the famous as well as the day-to-day parts of Nagasaki. Please check it out for yourself ☆
2 Hour 20 Minute Complete Nagasaki Bus Tour
Price: Adults 2,800 yen (High-school age and up)
Children 2,300 yen (Middle-school age and under)
Children under 3 y/o are free (but must be kept in a guardian’s lap)
Schedule: Morning tour leaves at 9:00am, afternoon tour leaves at 1:00pm
Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Distance to be traveled: 35km
Capacity: 20 people (but the bus will only run if at least two people board)
Breaks: 10 minutes at the top of Mt. Inasa and 10 minutes at Spectacles Bridge
Route: Nagasaki Station – Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan – Asahi Ohashi Bridge – Inasa Goshinji International Cemetery – Mt. Inasa (10 minute break) – Urakami River – Atomic Bomb Hypocenter – Peace Park – Nyoko-dou – Urakami Cathedral – Nagasaki University School of Medicine – One-legged torii at Sannou Shrine – Sakamoto International Cemetery – Mt. Tateyama – Suwa Shrine – Spectacles Bridge and Ezaki Bekko (10-minute break) – Soufukuji Temple – Shianbashi – Historic Japanese Restaurant Kagetsu – Tojin Yashiki (Former Chinese Quarters) and Minato Park – Hollander (Dutch) Slope – Higashi Yamate – Touhakkei – Atago – Dejima – Seaside Park – Nagasaki Station (Please note that, aside from Mt. Inasa and Spectacles Bridge, the tour will be conducted without exiting the bus)
For questions and to make reservations contact Nagasaki Bus Tours (095-856-5700)
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
What is this fantastical and mysterious scene???
Every night from Saturday June 3rd to Sunday July 2nd, Omura Park (at the remains of Kushima Castle) will transform into this art space of magical lights!!
“teamLab: Floating Spheres of Omura Shrine & Resonating Forest and Castle Ruins” is an interactive digital art display that changes the appearance of Omura Park through interactions with its visitors.
The people in charge of this is the digital art association teamLab. Made up of ultra-technologically savvy people like programmers, engineers, CG animators, artists, mathematicians, architects, web designers, graphic designers, and editors, they carry out art events all over the world.
By the time the exhibit had been open for a week, over 10,000 people had come to see it. The park has gotten quite busy with all the people, couples, and families coming to see the art.
The floating orbs at Omura Shrine change colors in reaction to the movements and touch of the people around them. Furthermore, the orbs interact with other nearby orbs to coordinate their colors and emit a mysterious tone.
Above, the orbs all turn pink in concert with one another.
Some people might think that digital art isn’t a good fit for a shrine. But after a bit of thought I remembered that shrines and temples have historically been places where people gather for festivities, and that makes them places of amusement, in a certain sense of the word.
These pictures were taken during a full moon. Even though the setting of Kushima Castle in Omura is very traditional, the atmosphere feels so vibrant and fresh with all these people enjoying themselves under the light of the full moon.
Since Kushima Castle was abandoned the Kushimazaki Forest inside it has gone untouched. The rustling trees and stone walls of the castle seem to be breathing along with the lights, which makes for a magical scene.
Wouldn’t you like to experience something completely new and extraordinary for an evening in the remains of a castle in Omura?
teamLab: Floating Spheres of Omura Shrine and Resonating Forest and Castle Ruins
Open from Saturday, June 3rd to Sunday, July 2nd, 2017
Hours: 7:00pm to 10:00om (entrance closes at 9:30)
Location: Kushimazaki Forest and Omura Shrine, Omura Park, Omura City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Residents of Omura City: Adults 500 yen, junior high school students and under are free All others: Adults 800 yen, junior high school students 300 yean, elementary school students and under are free (but must be accompanied by an adult).
※ Non-residents of Omura can receive 300 yen off their entrance costs by bringing a coupon flyer to the venue. Coupon flyers are available at the locations listed here: http://www.e-oomura.jp/2017/2017.6.3rabo/waribiki-a.pdf
Those with disability certificates receive free admission for themselves and one caregiver.
◆Exhibit will be closed in the event of inclement weather.
◆If you come on a rainy day, you’ll receive a special sticker as a gift as long as supplies last (Only 9,000 stickers are available).
◆Parking: No. 5 Parking lot of the Boat Race Arena (behind City Hall), at the site of the Old Gymnasium, and at the parking lot inside the park.
Hello! It’s Tomocchi☆
A new tram named “Minato” just started operation on April 10th and it packs lots of charms of Nagasaki all into one tram car. I took a ride as soon as I could♪
It was designed by none other than the man who designed the JR Kyushu’s Seven Stars in Kyushu train, Mr. Mitooka Eiji
I bet you’re wondering if it’s more expensive to ride in this new tram.
Believe it or not, the price is the same as any other tram in the city! It’s 120 yen for adults and 60 yen for children. Isn’t that great?
Despite its gorgeous appearance, this tram operates just the same as any other.
On the outside, the metallic blue coloring fits Nagasaki perfectly.
There’s also a silhouette of an Omagari Neko (“a bent-tailed cat”), which are everywhere in Nagasaki. The key-shaped tail is supposed to bring good luck☆
The inside is decorated with a lot of beautiful wood. This gorgeous design looks quite retro.
The delicately constructed lattice is so beautiful!
Some of the windows have bits of stained glass, which bring to mind the churches of Nagasaki. The lighting fixtures are the same as those used on the ships that call at Nagasaki port. The hanging handles are made of wood and fit perfectly in your hand.
The ceilings are also beautifully decorated.
Here is an illustration of the Dragon Dance, which is one of the most popular parts of the Nagasaki Kunchi festival.
“I wanna ride it! Where and when does it run?”
…is what I bet you’re thinking right now.
You can find out where it is on the Nagasaki Electric Tram Co. website with their “Dokone” service.
Wouldn’t you like to take a ride on this tram that captures so many of the charms of Nagasaki?
◆Contact information: Nagasaki Electric Tram Co.