Ack...uploaded pix last night & then was so tired I passed out, did not have time to blog - Paula woke up in the middle of the night & wrote tons so for the full report please check out her LJ entry -
We left Sasebo at 9 AM and drove up to Nagasaki while Aki gave us a great history lesson on the importance of Nagasaki in Japanese history and how for hundreds of years it was the only post open to traders from the west. We arrived and parked, then hiked way up a hill to the the Church of the 26 Martyrs, and then further up behind said hill to Glover Garden and the original mansion and grounds of Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish entrepreneur who contributed to the modernization of Japan. The grounds were beautiful with unbelievable views of Nagasaki from that height and many gardens and fish ponds with the biggest koi I've ever seen, begging for food (you could buy a bag for 100 yen & get many pix of open fish mouths!)
From there we headed to Chinatown and the bus dropped us off for an hour for lunch, we picked a restaurant where we could figure out what they served (yay for a few words of English on the menu) and had some of the best Chinese food I've ever had (figures being many thousands of miles closer to China)
From there we headed to the Nagasaki Peace Park near the epicenter of where the 2nd atom bomb was dropped in WWII, on the way Aki pointed out the famous "one legged Tori" - the remaining half of a stone story gate that had stood in front of a shinto shrive, the rest blown to oblivion that fateful day. We also drove by the tiny (2 tatami mat size) house built by Dr Nagai, a radiation victim who treated others immortalized in his memoirs and moved based on it, "The Bells of Nagasaki".
The Nagasaki Peace park is a huge flat stretch of land where the old prison had been, just a few foundation stones remain and many sculptures have been donated by various countries of the world to symbolize peace. The center piece is an enormous Peace Statue created by sculptor Seibou Kitamura. The statue's right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while the extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The mild face symbolizes divine grace and the gently closed eyes offer a prayer for the repose of the bomb victims' souls. The folded right leg and extended left leg signify both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world. Installed in front of the statue is a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who died in subsequent years.
It was a short ride from there to the Atom Bomb museum which was very sobering - it really hits home to see the condition of small personal effects hit by the blast and chilling photos of the victims and their aftermath. I signed a petition for President Obama to come visit, surely any leader who has seen this would do all he could to see that it could never happen again. I left rather shaken. The design of the museum itself it brilliant as you descend into darkness, walk through hell and slowly ascend back towards the light. No tour guides are allowed as you are to read the descriptions (in Japanese and English) and experience it yourself.
From there it was back to the hotel, this time a huge luxury hotel - it maybe called the Best Western Premier Nagasaki but I've certainly never seen a 5 star Best Western before! The room is HUGE by Japanese standards and even big by US ones! And it had the deepest bathtub I've ever experience - aaaaaah!
Paula and I then braved navigating the local tram ourselves & only got slightly lost and quickly re-oriented and found a 400 year old famous cake bakery she wanted to see as it figured in "Samurai Champloo". Cake obtained we checked outthe huge shopping arcade & finally staggered home to the hotel.
LOTS of pix on flickr!!!
Nagasaki & Glover Park
Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum
Miyazaki Cat bus in souvenir shop!!!