Selections from Go! Go! Tomocchi!

Experience the Hills of Nagasaki on this New Bus Tour!

14Jul 2017 tomocchi


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)



teamLab: Floating Spheres of Omura Shrine

23Jun 2017 tomocchi


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:
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.




Nagasaki’s New Tram!

10May 2017 tomocchi


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.
TEL: 095-845-4111

Omotemon Bashi: The Bridge to Dejima

25Apr 2017 tomocchi

Hello! It’s Tomocchi

The other day, Dejima was connected to the mainland by a bridge for the first time in 130 years!!



During the Japanese period of national isolation 370 years ago this man-made, fan-shaped island called “Dejima” was the only place in Japan to be opened to the West. And the only way to enter the island was over a single bridge attached to the opposite bank. That bridge was about 4.5 meters long.



All the newest people, goods, and culture that flowed through Dejima had to cross that bridge to reach Edo (modern-day Tokyo) or any other part of the country.



In the Meiji era that came later (in the latter half of the 1800s), Dejima ceased to be used as a place of importation, the surrounding area was also reclaimed and built up. Dejima became just another part of the city so the bridge was demolished…





On February 27th, 2017 a new bridge was placed in the same spot where the Edo Period bridge was after 130 years of absence!



The new bridge is about 38 meters long and weights around 50 tons!

Due to construction and other work since the Meiji Era the whole area around Dejima has changed, including the width of the river separating it from the main land. Because of this they couldn’t remake the bridge out of stone, but rather had to use metal.



In order to protect Dejima, which is an historic relic of the country, they decided not to build a foundation of support on the island. Instead, using the principle of leverage, the bridge will balance and be supported only from the side of the bridge on the opposite bank. Isn’t that amazing?! (゚д゚)

Below is my report of the night before that gigantic bridge was set in place. I followed it on its short but painstaking journey to the placement site.





The bridge was made at Oshima Shipyard in Saikai city then transported by sea to Nagasaki city’s Seaside Park. From there it was slowly and carefully transported 800 meters on a trailer from the park, past the Prefectural Art Museum and the Nagasaki Customs Office all the way to the Kencho Ura Road (the road behind the prefectural office).

The nervousness of the workers transporting the bridge mingled in the air with the excitement of the onlookers and it made for a tense atmosphere.







It sticks over both sides of the road!! Above is the bridge being carried slowly on a 24-wheel trailer (or dolly). The sound of this heavy machinery really packs a punch!!






It took about an hour for the truck to arrive at the site for the bridge. In the picture above you can see the bridge being lifted by a 550-ton crane!! Seeing a 38 meter, 50-ton bridge suspended in midair is so intense!!

It was placed next to the site of the bridge, left to wait for the placement event scheduled for the morning of the 27th.






Monday, February 27th, the day of the placing of the bridge.

The event began at 8:30 in the morning at Dejima and before you knew it the commemorative plates, castella, and coffee reserved for the first 200 guests was gone.

Then at 10am the placing of the bridge began!! The time has finally come!!

And with the coordinating shouts of the workers the 550-ton crane holding the bridge began to creep to motion.






“It’s going up!!”

Applause from the huge crowd and the cheers from the children help push the bridge into motion in this historic moment. As if the crane actually hears the cheers from the crowd it takes the bridge slowly towards Dejima.





“Today’s a special day!” remark some ladies in traditional kimono, bringing a bit of extra color to the event.






In the midst of all the excitement, the bridge takes about 15 minutes to get into place.

It weighs as much as 10 elephants! (lol)

Speaking of elephants, the one that went to the Japanese capital during the Edo period must have passed over the old bridge right here ☆ (I wish I could see one pass through here again ♪)





Standing on Dejima, I watched the outside world (the opposite side of the bank) from the same perspective of those that lived here so long ago. This is the beginning of Dejima’s new history (´∀`)♪






Before noon the wires from the crane were removed and the placement of the bridge was complete.

Visitors will actually be able to cross the bridge to Dejima when the placement is completely finished. The date set for that is November 24th of this year.

Also there is to be a charming little park made on the opposite bank of Dejima where the bridge connects.

At night it’ll all be lit up and be a great place for couples to stroll!

It’ll be made into a space where you can enjoy events like Nagasaki Kunchi from a stepped terrace with Dejima in the background.

There are lots of developments coming up so keep your eye on Dejima!!





Higashi Sonogi’s Amazing Rice Bowl and Beautiful Tea Fields.

23Mar 2017 tomocchi

Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆


I recently took a trip to Higashi Sonogi! (Formally: Higashi Sonogi-gun, Higashi Sonogi-cho)

It’s a quiet and relaxed tea town set right next to Omura Bay in the middle of Nagasaki prefecture.

I went to Higashi Sonogi, which has been quietly growing in popularity recently, to get some shots of its photogenic views and other spots.


… But first, lunch.




Soba Shop Tateishi


Address: Higashi Sonogi-cho, Oonegoto 1783-1

TEL: 0957-47-1338

Closed: Wednesdays

Open: 11:00am to 10:45pm

Parking available for 10 cars


Along Route 205, next to an old-fashioned building, extends the Japan Railway line along the curving edge of Omura Bay.

This Soba Shop has a location to pull in anyone, not just train fanatics.

Guests can enjoy their meals while watching trains through the windows as they move along the rim of Omura Bay ♪

I definitely recommend checking train times before coming (they pass about twice an hour).




Kitsune-don with mini-soba (650 yen with tax)

This dish was brought back because of popular demand.

Fried tofu and shiitake in a sweet dashi sauce, a taste that brings relief to the weary.

The dish is accented by the pink sakura denbu. At 650 yen for this plus a mini-soba, it’s an amazing deal!




Now that lunch has been taken care of, the next stop will be some fields that grow that delicious Higashi Sonogi tea…

…If it weren’t for local employee from the local town hall who was being my guide wanting to stop suddenly at this seemingly unremarkable hill.



“What is he doing?” I thought.

He took a yellow ball out of the car and set it on the ground on an upward sloping hill on the side of the road.

I was wondering what was going on when…

…huh? There’s something up with this hill!!!




No matter how you look at it, the hill seems to be sloping upward… but somehow the ball doesn’t roll down the hill but rather back up it!




This hill appears to be rising from right to left but it’s an optical illusion!!

“A hill that balls run upward” is so weird, right!?! You’ve gotta grab a ball and check this out! Go go!

Where is it? Umm, well, I can’t explain exactly where, but it’s in the middle of Nagasaki Prefecture. It’s on the way to a tea field with an excellent view of Omura Bay (^∨^*)



You can use this tea field as a landmark (lol)

It’s like one big green carpet!! This is the kind of beautiful view you can only get in Higashi Sonogi, the land of tea.

Higashi Sonogi-cho is where around 60% of all the tea in Nagasaki Prefecture is produced!

The blue of the ocean and sky make the green tea fields stand out even more. I love to see gentle waves roll through the tea fields as the wind blows over them ヽ(*´∇`)ノ

The vibrant yellow-green leaves of the first tea of the season turn these fields even more lively!

The Omura Bay Green Road is nearby so I definitely recommend this area for taking drives, especially with a special someone ☆



These beautiful green tea fields seem to go on forever (´∀`*)


◆“Akagi Cha Danchi,” the largest span of tea fields in Kyushu◆

Access available from Higashi Sonogi Interchange, about 10 minutes off the highway towards Omura Bay Green Road.




I’ve gotten a bit peckish so I think it’s time to stop off at the Roadside Station, “Sonogi no Shou”. They have delicious, self-service Sonogi-cha (Sonogi green tea) available for free ☆

With my tea I’m having an Oban-yaki which is a tea cake shaped like an oval coin from Japanese history. This particular one is called a “cha-cha-yaki” and it’s 80 yen.


This treat earned the top spot for take-out foods in the Kyushu Jalan tourism magazine. It was the most popular out of 144 Roadside Stations in Kyushu and Yamaguchi according to a ranking they made!!




The inside is chock-full of sweet white bean paste (shiro-an) with Sonogi-cha added in!!

These cha-cha-yaki with their tea flavoring are the perfect companion to a cup of warm Sonogi-cha.

Tea time with treats is so relaxing (´∀`*)




Here is the Sonogi-cha corner, with a selection of goods only possible in the town where the product is made.

There are products from 12 different local tea makers on offer.

At the Sonogi no Shou Roadside Station they not only have Higashi Sonogi’s famous tea but also sweets and vegetables.

They also have a rest area and a little corner for a snack on your journey ☆




◆ Sonogi no Shou Roadside Station

Address: Higashi Sonogi-cho, Sonogi-shukugou 747-2 (Along Route 205) (東彼杵町彼杵宿郷747-2)

TEL: 0957-49-3311   Hours: 7:00a-6:00p    Closed: January 1st to 3rd