My bladder finally motivated me to make a start and by 8am I was dressed and sat downstairs in the communal room waiting for Yukari (the lady of the house) to appear. She had mentioned as part of the introductions the evening before about an optional Japanese or English style breakfast, so feeling a little homesick I decided to give the English one a go. Adenata came down as I was ordering and sat at the computer and we chatted for a while about Mt. Aso and my experiences at the Fukuno-yu onsen the night before. Adenata reacted with great interest; she was apparently a bit of a connoisseur when it came to spas and onsen and was on her own little quest to visit as many as she could on her holiday.
The breakfast arrived. It had some English qualities; there was a fried egg and bacon, and the thickest slice of toasted bread I had ever seen. This went down well, and the pear and side salad, though unusual was consumed with enthusiasm also.
I explained my intentions to Adenata; I was heading firstly to the Peace Park at the north end, and then following the attractions south until I was back in the centre once again, at which point I would choose a few other places to go depending on the time remaining. Oh, and that giant Buddha was also going to get a proper visit too. Adenata had already seen much of what central Nagasaki had to offer the previous day, and said she was heading north to the not very Japanese sounding Huis Ten Bosch, a popular Dutch theme park that attempts to recreate the Netherlands right in the heart of Japan.
Hotel Review: Nagasaki Kagamaya (2200 yen/night, 2 nights)
Situated at the end of the #5 tram route, it's a bit of a fiddle to find, but well directed by the family that runs the place, who are helpful and attentive, speak very good English and have a very useful website to help you get there. They make you feel well at home. The house is a very nicely kept building in a traditional Ryokan style and you are made very welcome. Even though it is far from the centre of town, I'd come again. (one tip: bring slippers if you can as the beautiful wooden stairs are large and hard on the feet!). Laundry service (Wash/dry) is 500yen, done for you. Breakfast is 500yen. Towel hire: 100yen.
On the outer edge of the hypocentre were a set of steps down to another exhibit, and most people I think would miss it as it's pretty easy to pass without realising. Only once you read the accompanying sign do you realise the amount of geological disruption that the bomb produced.
I wasn't expecting to be able to take pictures, but was still absent-mindedly dangling my camera by the wrist strap. I walked in past a crowd of children and their teachers sat on the floor, and into the greeting room; a woman behind a reception desk gave me a guide to the building, and asked if I was going to take pictures. When I reacted with surprise she explained that they don't normally allow it, but if I wore one of their special arm bands (I would officially be a 'Photographer') I would be allowed. Taking the opportunity I snapped it up right there. I bought two tickets at their automated machine (wasted money on a childs ticket by mistake grr!) and then went in.
The A-Bomb museum is every bit as sobering and disturbing as the one at Hiroshima, and I defy anyone with ridiculous notions of any of it being worth it 'in the name of stopping the war' to see what is there and remain steadfast in their belief. Nothing is worth this level of sacrifice.
The last area of the indoor section highlighted the more current and pressing situation of continued atomic bomb deployment and detonation. How many atomic bombs have been actually detonated since these first two? None? A few? A hundred?
Not even close.
To provide a reassuring balance, the lower half of the exhibit describes the anti-nuclear actions of people around the world, and the work they have done to temper this progression. Thankfully as we head to the present day, the work appears to be paying off, but not before the most up to date sections warn of the potential threats on the horizon.
Even so, it's all very chilling; just as before there are no happy feelings at the end, but this sort of thing however depressing should be taught and re-taught to everyone, or else we will make similar mistakes in the future with weapons more powerful still.
Still reeling from the horrors within, I ascended the gentle slope at the end back to ground level, but not before the creators of the museum cannily stuck a small but noticeable bookshop in the way. Four or five shelves, and about ten feet square worth of space given primarily to the sale of books and a little bit of manga - mostly from Japan but a few from other parts of the world - on the subjects of war and suffering. They had a similar one at the end of the Hiroshima museum, and if I had the money or the room back then I would have picked some up. This time I was not going away empty handed, although I was wincing at the prospect of adding yet more weight to my already bulging backpacks. What I got would have to be a balance between culturally weighty and physically light.
Incredibly, I was there completely on my own; the attendant was waiting respectfully outside and none of the other tourists had come in. I was alone in the silence, except for the quiet trickling and gurgling of water shimmering on the glass ceiling above. Again, there are numerous benches to sit on around the periphery of the room, and I took the opportunity to take it all in.
I had a streetcar map that showed many of the tourist spots, but wasn't to scale. Consequently, something that appeared to be just across the road and down a bit, wasn't. I spent a bit of time trying to find the science museum across the tracks but gave up and instead happened upon the 'one-legged Torii' gate after some searching, which was coincidentally what several schoolchildren were doing.
Masaharu died some years ago and this museum is his legacy; he was passionate about bringing the treatment of the Korean immigrants into Japan before, during and after the war, something that Japan has been very reluctant to face up to, and is not mentioned in the main, government funded museums. It was for this reason that I thought it was important to see while here.
Inside I was surprised to be greeted by a youngish German man and his middle-aged Japanese assistant. He could speak some English and was clearly happy to have a tourist visit what appeared to be quite an under-appreciated place. I mentioned the museums' presence in the Japan By Rail book and he was clearly pleased, and told me that a couple of days previous they had been visited by another Yorkshireman!
I perused the gift shop and bought a Nagasaki fridge magnet, and tried to work out why they were stocking little London taxis and telephone boxes (the Glovers were Scottish!), but finally after a little polite coughing by staff who were waiting to go home, I emerged into the evening dusk. As I descended the steep road back to the station, the shops were closing their doors and windows, and the holiday tourist part of the day had finished. Tomorrow, I was leaving Nagasaki to head north again, but there was still plenty of places I wanted to see. One more spot couldn't hurt, even if it was closing. It was 5.30 in the evening so there was a good chance I was going to be disappointed, but the Koshi-Byo Confucius Shrine, the only one of its sort made outside China by Chinese hands, may still be open. Shrines are not typically closed off to the public, except for the very large ones, and remain open throughout the day, at least as far as the surrounding grounds go. However I had to find it first, and the map was not much use. As the evening light faded to nothing and the night lights began to take over, my enthusiasm to look around the next corner waned, particularly as I seemed to be heading off the tourist trail. A shrine-like building on the hills above that was all boarded up was the closest I had found, and it didn't look very Chinese, or very accessible. I called it a day.
Ah yes, the onsen. It was around this time yesterday that I had got my first taste of it, and I suddenly wanted more. I returned to the hostel, dropped off my things and picked up a towel, and caught the 7.20 bus with a degree of authority and confidence.
As the bus door opened, I was greeted by a familiar face; Adenata had returned from the north and had followed my suggestion of trying Fukuno-yu out. We chatted away as the bus ascended the hill, and I spent a few hours repeating the relaxing bliss of the night before, only this time with an air of confidence, I was a seasoned onsen-goer now. On the way out, before the last bus disappeared, I had a quick go with a tank of Garra Rufa fish, the same ones who nibbled my hands in the Kagoshima hotel some days previous and are now the latest craze in the UK, who were now ruthlessly stripping my feet of any dead skin they could find.
The bus dropped me off at the train station, which was still lit up at 10pm. I had looked with some curiosity before leaving at the tall AMU building that was part of the complex. Still with some energy to explore, I decided to had inside to see what I was missing. The building has 5 or so floors, the two upper ones reserved for commercial shops, cinemas and restaurants, all in super clean sparkling neon and metal. The cinema was still showing Arrietty, to my surprise as it was now several months since release, and the upper floor bulged with restaurants. Most were Japanese, although there was also a Steakhouse, an Italian and an Indian. To my regret I had eaten at the onsen once more, and even I'm not that greedy.
I reached the hostel around 10.30. Adenata had returned some time ago; we had a final chat over some green tea as she was emailing her friends, and then we headed off to bed in the small hours.