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The Best Things to do in Nagasaki City
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The Best Things to do in Nagasaki City

Jun 06, 2024

Located down south on the island of Kyushu, Nagasaki City is a captivating blend of rich history, cultural heritage, and scenic beauty. As one of Japan's most historically significant cities, Nagasaki has evolved from a crucial port for international trade to a symbol of peace and resilience. Nagasaki is a great city to visit with beautiful hillside views and a bustling vibe, with an interesting mix of Japanese culture and foreign influences from the Dutch and Chinese traders who used to frequent this port city.

Here are some of the best things to do when you visit Nagasaki.


If you are looking for a Nagasaki tour, we offer a 1-day tour of the highlights of Nagasaki.


25699622_s.jpgNagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum stands as a solemn reminder of the tragic events of August 9, 1945, when the city was devastated by an atomic bomb three days after the bomb fell on Hiroshima. This museum provides a comprehensive narrative of the bombing, showcasing artifacts, photographs, and personal accounts. The exhibits are deeply moving and thought-provoking, offering a powerful reflection on the horrors of war and the importance of peace.

The museum is a harrowing account of how over 150,000 died on that tragic day, so be sure to allocate at least two hours for your visit to fully absorb the exhibits.

Access: The museum is a short walk from the Hamaguchi-machi tram stop.


25766292_s.jpgNagasaki Peace Park

Adjacent to the Atomic Bomb Museum, Nagasaki Peace Park is a serene and contemplative space dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb. The park features the iconic Peace Statue, which symbolises the desire for world peace, as well as numerous memorials and sculptures donated by various countries.

Walking through the park offers one a profound sense of calm and reflection. It's a beautiful place to contemplate the importance of peace.

Access: Tram line 1 or 3 from Nagasaki Station. The park is next to the Atomic Bomb Museum.


27213721_s.jpgMegane Bridge

Megane Bridge, or Spectacles Bridge, is the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan, dating back to 1634. Its name derives from the bridge's reflection in the water, which resembles a pair of eyeglasses. This picturesque bridge is a popular spot for photography and a testament to Nagasaki's historical architectural prowess. It's a nice place to stroll along the riverside for a while to get a feel for the city with nice views of the waterway.

If you are hoping to take an impressive photo, visit in the early morning for the best lighting and fewer crowds.

Access: Tram line 4 or 5.


4452275_s.jpgGlover Garden

Glover Garden is a hillside open-air museum featuring Western-style residences from the late Edo and early Meiji periods. It is named after Thomas Glover (1838-1911), who was a Scottish merchant who helped some of the revolutionaries who overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Meiji Restoration. He built a fortune through various industries such as shipbuilding and mining and was heavily involved in the industrialisation of Japan.

The garden offers stunning views of Nagasaki Harbor and showcases the lifestyle of the foreign residents who contributed to Nagasaki's development as a trading port.

Exploring the garden's historical homes and beautifully landscaped grounds feels like stepping back in time. It's a must-see for history buffs and those who love beautiful gardens.

Access: Take tram line 5 to Oura Tenshudo-shita and walk up the hill to reach the garden. It is near the Oura Catholic Church.


4487864_s.jpgOura Church

Oura Church, Japan's oldest standing Christian church, was built in 1864 by French missionaries for the large community of foreign missionaries in Nagasaki. It has been designated a National Treasure and is a poignant symbol of the history of Christianity in Japan, dedicated to the 26 Christians who were executed in Nagasaki in 1597.

The church also houses an adjacent museum, which provides additional context about the church's history, however it is mostly in Japanese.

Access: Tram line 5 to Oura Tenshudo-shita.


9962f766-05a4-41ad-953b-261d16442b05.jpgConfucian Shrine

The Confucian Shrine in Nagasaki is a unique site, being one of the few Confucian shrines dedicated to the Chinese philosopher Confucious in Japan. It features beautiful architecture and a museum showcasing Chinese history and culture.

The vibrant colours and intricate designs of the shrine are truly mesmerising. It's a peaceful place to reflect on the cultural ties between Japan and China and experience a Chinese style of architecture in Japan, showing just how much the Chinese merchants influenced the city.

Access: Tram line 5 to the Oura Tenshudo-shita tram stop. It is near the Oura Church.


22347129_s.jpgTeramachi Street

Teramachi-dori, or Temple Street, has a history of over 400 years. The area survived the bombing of Nagasaki and is home to a large cluster of temples, many introduced by Chinese traders who came to the city in the 16th century.

Be sure to visit Kofukuji Temple, Nagasaki's oldest Chinese temple, and Sofukuji Temple, which features beautiful Chinese-style architecture.

Access: Walk from Kokaido-mae tram stop.


24414351_s.jpgGunkanjima

Gunkanjima or Battleship Island, is a hauntingly beautiful abandoned mining island. Once a bustling coal mining facility home to over 5,000 people, it was abandoned in the 1970s and now stands as a ghostly reminder of Japan's industrial past.

Touring Hashima Island is a surreal experience. The stark, crumbling buildings against the sea backdrop are incredibly atmospheric. You can take a day tour there to explore the ruins, spending about an hour touring the island, with a pleasant boat journey with lovely views of Nagasaki on the way there and back.

Access: Take a boat from Nagasaki Port Ferry Terminal


1980082_s.jpgMount Inasa & the Nagasaki Ropeway at Night

For one of the best night views in Japan, take the Nagasaki Ropeway to the summit of Mount Inasa. The panoramic view of the city lights shimmering against the dark sky is nothing short of magical and was once voted in the "top 3 best night views in Japan".

Access: 5 minutes by bus from Nagasaki Station


5168960_s.jpgNagasaki Museum of History

The Nagasaki Museum of History offers a fascinating insight into the city's rich past, back when Japan was closed to foreigners and Nagasaki was one of the few places that was open to the outside world. The museum's extensive collection includes historical documents, artifacts, and art pieces.

Access: Tram line 3 to Sakuramachi tram stop then walk 5 minutes.


659905_s.jpgChinatown

Nagasaki's Chinatown, also known as Shinchi, is one of the oldest in Japan and is a bustling area filled with restaurants, shops, and street vendors offering delicious Chinese cuisine like the famous Champon noodle soup. Chinatown used to be the designated place for Chinese traders to conduct business back when Japan was closed to outsiders. It is the main location for the Nagasaki Lantern Festival which is held during Chinese new year, when thousands of lanterns illuminate Nagasaki City.

Access: Tram line 1 or 5 to Shinchi Chukagai.


guidemap-thumb-autox699-2701.jpgNagasaki Bio Park

The Nagasaki Bio Park is both a zoo and a botanical garden. We have featured it before in our list of animal friendly zoos in Japan as it truly is one of the best places for the creatures, with the animals living almost as if they were in the wild.

The park has several nature trails that you can walk around, along with a playground and petting zoo for kids.

Access: Rapid Sea Side Liner Train from Sasebo Station to Huis Ten Bosch Station then free shuttle bus (45 minutes *only 3 trips a day) (it is best to rent a car if you can)


If you want to learn more about Nagasaki's past and present, we offer a Nagasaki day tour for guests to dive deeper into Nagasaki's fascinating history and cultural heritage.

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