Downtown Historic Nagasaki

One of my favorite Japanese cities, Nagasaki is a great tourist destination for foreign tourists. It is English-friendly, is full of historical attractions, offers delicious local specialties, and is easy to navigate. Here is some basic advice for a history-lover’s first visit.

Sofukuji Temple

Upon arrival at the airport, take a limousine bus to central Nagasaki. It is direct, but there are a couple of stop options once you get into the city, so ask the information desk at the airport which is best for you. Pick up a Nagasaki Map from them too. When the bus lets you off, grab a taxi to you hotel and get rid of your luggage. Buy a streetcar pass for 500 yen each day and hop on & off. You will rarely (if ever) need a taxi in Nagasaki as the streetcar stops are really convenient.
*All of the places listed here are easily recognizable on the English Nagasaki City Map.

NORTH: The Atomic Bomb Museum is excellent, but do not miss the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims. It is located behind the museum, but the entrance is easy to miss.

NEAR NAGASAKI STATION: The 26 Martyrs Museum & Monument is completely bilingual and is an excellent stop if you have an interest in the development of Christianity in Japan.

CENTRAL: The former foreigner settlement, Dejima, is definitely worth exploring, especially if you have an interest in Japan’s earliest connections to the West. 

Inside a home in Dejima

If you want to visit Gunkanjima Island, the cruises leave from Ohato Terminal. Book in advance of your trip, or as soon as you arrive, as the boat fills up fast.

My favorite Nagasaki temple are Sofukuji & Kiyomizudera, both are near Shokakuji-shita Station. I also really like Kofukuji, which is in the ‘Teramachi’ (Temple Town) district, not far from the Meganebashi bridge. Have matcha and a traditional sweet while there – but you have to be wearing socks (no bare feet allowed).

SOUTH: The Glover Garden is filled with what used to be the homes and gardens of wealthy foreigners. It is interesting and there are great views of Nagasaki’s harbor from within. Close by is the Former HK & Shanghai Bank Nagasaki Branch Museum. For history buffs, this is an excellent multilingual museum on the area’s past.

View from Glover Garden

SHOP/EAT: Hamano-machi is a huge covered arcade shopping area. If you walk straight down Kanko-dori, the arcade disappears and it turns into Allcore Naka-dori, which is my favorite section – there are some cute shops & cafes there. The Shianbashi area is where you want to go in the evening – there are tons of restaurants, bars, and assorted nightlife to choose from.

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