Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
Champon is undoubtedly one of the most famous things to come out of Nagasaki.
There are innumerable champon shops across the city, but I’d like to introduce one to you that I’ve been visiting since I was a little girl.
It’s called Suzuya in the former Chinese Settlement near Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown. People in the know go to Suzuya for their champon
Now, it’s not a Chinese food restaurant. Around Nagasaki, a champon-ya is synonymous with a local cafeteria. Actually, from long ago and up to my parents’ generation, there were so many champon shops around that the people of Nagasaki simply called local cafeterias “champon-ya”.
Not only does Suzuya have delicious champon, but the location is also excellent!
When people think of where foreigners lived in Nagasaki during the period of national isolation, most people think “Dejima”. The former Chinese settlement was essentially the Chinese version of Dejima.
During the Edo period, the Chinese were forced to live all in the same place, despite being able to live wherever they liked up until then.
There are four unique temples and the remains of an old-style market that brings to mind images of times past. The whole area exudes a nostalgic feeling and has a unique charm.
To introduce the former Chinese settlement, let’s head straight through the main gate that was reproduced on entrance to the area!
As you go up this road with a retro-style market, a Chinese temple comes into view.
Dojin-do (Hall of the Earth God)
Beyond the gate and bridge, the gods of agriculture and commerce are worshipped inside this beautiful hall with Chinese circular windows. This is the first temple constructed in the Chinese settlement, and the dances that would become the Dragon Dance in the Edo Period have their roots here ☆
Let’s go up the charming stairs to the right of the hall. On the right is a public bath house, on the left is the roof of the hall.
Go up a few flights of stairs and turn right at the first corner. Our destination, Suzuya, comes into view on the corner after crossing a bridge on the border of Kannai-machi and Junin-machi. (By the way, that bridge spans the remains of the moat of the Chinese settlement)
The big navy-blue sign curtain marks the spot. The interior is designed just as you would imagine an iconic Showa Period eatery to look like. (Due to the high number of patrons having their lunch, we omitted taking pictures of the interior)
Champon (700 yen)
The bright shredded egg topping makes for an eye-catching visual. The clear soup is delicious! It’s just a bit sweet, with a light mouth-feel. Use your Chinese spoon to get in there! …Oops! I nearly drank all my soup before getting to the big ingredients (lol).
Those main ingredients include pork that’s full of sweetness and umami, and crisp green onions. There’s also Nagasaki’s pink kamaboko (boiled fish paste), and the shredded egg which is quite uncommon.
These thick noodles really make it into the traditional champon I grew up with!!
All these ingredients tangle up together to produce that sweet, delicious, and nostalgic flavor of champon, am I right?
I drank the soup down to the last drop… Gochisousama deshita!!
Sara udon (700 yen)
This looks like too much for one person!! The sweet, thick sauce looks like it’s going to overflow off the plate!! I have to restrain myself in the face of such a delicious meal to eat it without spilling.
The crispy noodles are so thin and light! They aren’t oily in the least despite being fried. The noodles stay crunchy and melt in your mouth along with the sauce.
By the way, in addition to champon and sara udon, Suzuya also has makizushi, inarizushi, and other delicious dishes ♪
Oh! There was also something on the menu called “chan udon” that I want to try the next time I’m there.
Lunch is their specialty. They close at 7pm, so if you’d like to get dinner you’ll need to go early. They are closed on Sundays and holidays.
These cats live a lazy life in the former Chinese settlement’s streets too small for a car to go down. In the early afternoon, this grey kitty showed me a big yawn. They say that bent-tail cats, colloquially called o-magari neko, are quite common around Nagasaki. One explanation for their prevalence is that they came in on trading ships from south-east Asia and propagated across the city ☆ Such a fitting story for the international trading port city that is Nagasaki.
Address: 10-15 Junin-machi
Hours: 10am – 7pm. Closed Sundays and Holidays
No parking available
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
At the end of last year, a shop opened up where you can enjoy hand-dripped coffee and freshly made waffles while taking in a view of Spectacles Bridge.
It’s located near Spectacles Bridge, the prominent tourist destination (on the Allcore Nakadoori side of the river). It’s on the first floor of the sharp-cornered building on the corner.
The name of the shop comes from Miss Awajiya Tsuru, who was the woman to whom Thomas Glover fell in love with. Thomas Glover was a Scottish trader based in Nagasaki’s Minamiyamate in the mid-1800s.
Coffee was introduced to Japan through Nagasaki, so it’s easy to imagine that the real Miss Tsuru brewed at least a few delicious mugs of coffee for her lover, Glover ♪
This shop’s signature item is hand dripped coffee made delicately with freshly ground beans.
The most popular menu item: Miss Tsuru’s Coffee (450 yen)
It’s a blend of five different coffee beans with Columbian and Brazilian varieties as the base. It’s neither too bitter nor too acidic so even people who aren’t big fans of coffee can enjoy it to the last drop.
Fruit and Custard Waffle (550 yen)
A hot-off-the-iron waffle topped with fresh fruit and custard ♪
This thick and fragrant waffle is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I recommend dipping it in custard cream and eating it while it’s hot.
They make the batter for the waffles in-house. The waffle batter is not merely poured into the correct shape, but rather pressed and cooked in the Belgian style. The balance of unrefined and powdered sugar in the recipe allows the light insides to stay moist.
Guests can see Spectacles Bridge from this counter.
In the evening, it becomes quite romantic with the setting sun coming through the window ♪
Also for sale are coffee beans, original high-quality chocolate, and drippers, mugs and plates made of Hasami Pottery. There are also books related to Thomas Glover and other books related to the foreign settlements in Nagasaki.
You can make delicious coffee with the drippers and mugs made of Hasami Pottery, and they make great Nagasaki souvenirs.
This casual shop is easy for locals and tourists alike to drop into.
They also offer their items to-go, so why not take a leisurely walk around Spectacles Bridge with a freshly made coffee in one hand?
Or maybe drop into Miss Tsuru’s Coffee for a nice little sit down?
Miss Tsuru’s Coffee
Address: 6-27 Suwa-machi 1st Floor, Nagasaki City
Hours: 10am to 8pm
Closed: New Year’s Day
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
Have you ever heard of “Nagasaki Bidoro” (長崎ビードロ) ? The word comes from the Portuguese word for “glass” (vidro). Nagasaki flourished under trade with Portugal and so naturally this is the origin of glass works in Japan.
Here at Rurian Glass Studios, travelers can make their own piece of Nagasaki glass in 15 to 20 minutes while they’re out sightseeing. It’s located near Glover Garden and Oura Catholic Church which are major tourism destinations, and is just a short walk from Matsugae Terminal where international cruise ships make port.
This time I tried my hand at Nagasaki traditional blown glass. I actually got to work with molten glass and make my very own, one-of-a-kind piece of glassware ♪
The workshop has two kilns, each one able to accommodate up to 8 guests.
First, we put on the provided aprons and arm covers. Then, we watch a demonstration and decide the shape and color of the glass we are going to make.
We take the molten glass out of the kiln with the blowing rod,
…then add colored powder glass to it then stick it back in the kiln. You have to be quick to get it on there while it’s still hot.
We take the molten glass out of the kiln, blow into the rod and expand the glass into the shape we want. I was told that the trick is to blow slowly at first so the glass cools and hardens a bit, and only after that to blow really hard. “It blew up like a balloon!”
To make the shape we want we roll the glass on the end of the rod on wet newspaper. (I was worried that it would be hot, but I didn’t really feel any heat)
You can roll on all the glass strings you want to make a pattern. You spin the rod and molten glass will wrap around your glass.
Finishing requires opening a hole at the end. With you right hand you insert tweezers into the unopened glass. Then spinning the rod with your left hand, you slowly make an opening. It’s difficult to get the opening exactly even, but the feeling of flexible glass is so interesting!!
After you make your final adjustments to the shape, you stick it in the cooler.
The glass needs to cool down to be completely finished. You can come back the next day after 3pm to pick up your completed product.
If you are unable to come back to pick it up, you can have them send it to you (separate charges apply).
Here is my one-of-a-kind glass!
It’s blue like Nagasaki’s ocean with a few bubbles for effect. Cool, right?
I originally thought that doing blown glass would be difficult and hot, but the veteran staff there were extremely helpful and polite so that even someone as uncoordinated as myself was able to have fun and safe time ☆ I wonder what I’ll drink out of this glass…
Come and try Nagasaki glass blowing for yourself!
Glass Blowing Experience
Price: 3,240 yen (tax included)
*Having your work sent to you through the mail includes applicable fees.
Timeframe: around 15 to 20 minutes
Minimum number of participants: 1
Age restrictions: participants must be at least 5th grade elementary school age
Completed products will be available for pick-up the following day at 3pm. Since they are closed on Tuesdays, anything made on Monday will be picked up on Wednesday.
* You can also do stained glass, kaleidoscopes, and fusing here as experiences.
Rurian Glass Studios
5-11 Matsugae-machi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture, 850-0921
Hours: 9am to 6pm (closed Tuesdays)
Access: From Nagasaki Station take the tram (take the tram bound for Shoukaku-ji Shita, change trams at tsuki-machi, then take the tram bound for Ishibashi and get off at the Oura Catholic Church stop. It’s a 3-minute walk from there).
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
Just the other day I went on a bus-date with a gorgeous military commander in Shimabara♪
… Just kidding! lol
In Joka-machi of Shimabara, where spring water flows in the streets, there’s an exciting new deal getting a lot of attention! It’s the “Shimabara Megurin Ticket” which is a special set that includes entrance to two popular tourist spots: Shimabara Castle and Shimeisou. The set also comes with a Shimabara Walking Guidebook, an original mini-tenugui (hand towel) dyed in the Shimabara fashion, and a bottle of Shimabara spring water.
And on top of that, on weekends and holidays there is a ‘Shimabara Megurin Bus” that you can ride all you want as part of your Megurin Ticket. What a deal!!
Note: This bus only runs on weekends and holidays.
And that’s why I took a trip to Shimabara to have a date with a handsome General on a Megurin Bus, and enjoy all the special advantages the ticket had to offer.
Disclaimer: These handsome generals rode with me because I was there for PR, and therefore will probably not be present on regular trips ^^;
The Shimabara Bushoutai came out to greet me at Shimabara Castle.
To start, I bought my Shimabara Megurin Ticket at the castle tower ticket booth, and used that to see the inside of the castle.
(The Megurin Tickets are also sold at the Seiryutei Tourism Exchange Center, the Shimabara Station Tourism Information Desk, and the Shimabara Port Tourism Information Desk.)
Alright, time to jump on this bus and check out what else Shimabara has to offer!
This Shimatetsu Bus has been specially decorated and makes roughly one-hour laps around the main tourist attractions in Shimabara City. With your Megurin Ticket you can get on and off the bus freely at any of the eight special bus stops.
‘The town of swimming carp’(「鯉の泳ぐまち清流亭前」 Koi-no-oyogu-machi seiryutei-mae bus stop)
After you’ve used your Megurin Ticket to visit Spring-water garden Shimeisou, I recommend dropping by the Shimabara Yusui-kan to try your hand at making Kanzarashi (300 yen).
Don’t forget to grab some souvenirs at the Seiryutei Tourism Exchange Center.
Ginsui, the original makers of kanzarashi. (「銀水前」バス停Ginsui-mae bus stop)
Ginsui is a bit outside the city, and walk away from most bus stops, so I am always so happy when I get the chance to visit!!
Ginsui, “the original makers of kanzarashi,” opened about 100 years ago.
Unfortunately, it closed down for about 20 years. Luckily, the city reopened it and now its gaining popularity as a local tourist spot.
These soft, little doughballs float at the surface of this lightly sweet syrup. I like to savor each spoonful of kanzarashi, which tastes just like the old days.
In winter, they also have a hot menu that includes zenzai.
(You get 50 yen off your kanzarashi if you show your Megurin Ticket)
Workshop Momo, the Blue Barbershop (「七万石坂」バス停Nanaman-gokusaka bus stop)
This retro-blue colored wooden building was originally a barbershop. The healthy genmai lemonade sold there warmed me to my core. (510 yen with a cookie)
Genmai lemonade is brown rice (玄米genmai) roasted, mixed with spring water, to which lemon and honey is added.
The fragrance of brown rice and lemonade go surprisingly well together ^^
(If you display your Megurin Ticket, you’ll receive an original postcode with your purchase)
The bus also stops at Shimabara Port where the ferry from Kumamoto arrives and departs.
There’s a footbath near the port. I recommend enjoying that with your bottle of spring water and your tenugui.
Come get your fill of Shimabara with a Shimabara Megurin Ticket. Make sure to try the Megurin Bus if you come on a weekend or holiday☆
Shimabara Megurin Ticket
Shimabara Megurin Bus
Depart Shimabara Port → Ginsui → Shimabara Station → Ote → Shimabara Casle → Nanaman Gokusaka → Seiryutei → Shirachi → Return to Shimabara Port
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
One of the longstanding popular spots of Hirado’s tourism is the Matsura Historical Museum. The building itself is the former residence of the Matsura Clan which ruled over Hirado, making it the museum with the most history of all of Nagasaki.
It’s a treasure trove of important cultural artifacts. There you can find many National and Prefecturally designated items related to international trade and Christianity, as well as very old, important documents.
I have been many times before, but I was happy to go again to introduce it to you.
These tall and wide steps on the right were for horses. All humans please use the stairs on the left.
(You can also get there by car if you approach from the rear.)
First thing on our itinerary was to grab lunch on the grounds at the “Choubou-tei Kitchen”, where you can look down on the entire town below Hirado Castle ♪
(眺望 – Choubou is Japanese for “view” or “look out on”)
The restaurant design is elegantly Japanese, but they serve Western food. It seems like a great fit for this area that blossomed due to trade with Portugal ☆
Just as the name implies, the restaurant has a commanding view of Hirado Castle and the surrounding town.
The menu is centered on Italian dishes that use local produce. They visit markets every morning to deliver their guests the freshest seasonal ingredients.
For lunch, they have several options around 1000 yen, like the Pasta Lunch or the Pizza Lunch. Go for dinner and have some wine for an extra fancy time ♪
Bacon Egg Burger (950 yen)
First of all, the bun is irresistible. It’s made of rare Hirado flour.
The texture is delightfully crunchy. And the smell!! The garlic butter they add does some good work.
The main player here is, of course, the Hirado Beef burger, which is rich and flavorful. Topped with soft-boiled egg and delicious bacon, this burger is sheer happiness ♪
Hirado Island Pork Cutlet Curry and Rice (1,250 yen)
I heard that Mr. Ogawa, the chef at Choubou-tei, decided to move to Hirado because he fell in love with Hirado Pork.
At my first bite, I was completely blown away by how delicious the cutlet was! At first it was tender and just a bit sweet. But then the umami flavor comes through!! It’s a perfect match for the mellow, European style roux. So, this is the sort of rich flavor that can make you want to move house.
For dessert, we had German style pancakes ♪
Dutch Baby (900 yen)
They top this carefully made hot pancake with cool ice cream with bits of fruit inside. You can choose from either “mixed fruit and berry” (which we went with) or “chocolate banana”.
Crunchy and fluffy. The secret to its popularity is its texture which is similar to the outside of a chou a la crème. Dig in before the ice cream melts to enjoy that luxurious hot and cold dessert experience ♪
Now that our tummies have been satisfied, it’s time to check out the museum!
Look at all these cultural artifacts!
Just as one would expect from the actual former residence of the lords of Matsura, the building itself has an atmosphere about it.
When the Princess of the Aoyama family married into the Matsura Clan, this is the carriage she arrived in. The pictures on the inside of the carriage are simply gorgeous! But it’s so small! The princess must have been quite a petite lady.
These adorable dog shaped boxes with their exquisite human facial expressions were a wedding gift from the princess. It’s said that they used them to keep blades for self-defense in them near their bedside ☆
Also on display were games that were played by the ladies of the home, like Kai-awase, a shell matching memory game.
They also have artifacts connected to Koxinga, a hero from Hirado.
Koxinga (or Zheng Chenggong) is a historical figure who was born of a Chinese merchant and a Japanese lady. He is known as a hero of East Asia for helping Taiwan throw off occupation by the Dutch.
I love this picture!!
This is part of a painting of a battle. But if you look closely you can see one soldier that seems tired and doesn’t want to be there (lol). The artist must have had fun with this one ☆
They also have a room where you can try on bridal gowns, armor, and helmets to take pictures in! I felt like I was in a period drama!!
Start your tour of Hirado at the Matsura Historical Museum, where you can find the history of the area all condensed into one place!
Matsura Historical Museum
Address: 12 Kagamikawa-cho, Hirado-shi, Nagasaki-ken, 859-5152