Castella is a sweet, moist sponge cake. Based on a recipe originally introduced by Portuguese missionaries in the mid-16th century, and then developed by the people of Nagasaki, it is now a popular item.
Explore these great things to see and do in Nagasaki, from the famous Nagasaki Kunchi Festival to the spectacular night view from Mt. Inasa.
During Japan’s long period of national seclusion (1641-1859), Dejima was the only door open to Europe and gave Nagasaki the status of Japan’s sole international trading port. Dejima played an important role in the development of culture, industry, and science in Japan by serving as a gateway to the West.
These mountains are famous for their azaleas in the spring, green colors in the summer, autumn leaves in the fall, and frosty fog in the winter. Enjoy the cable-car ride up to the top for breathtaking views.
The view of Nagasaki at night should not be missed. With Nagasaki Port at the center, mountains loom on three sides. Homes and city lights populate the slopes, their lights mingling with the twinkling stars in the sky.
Tatsunoshima Island seems to float upon the vivid blue ocean. View the uniquely eroded stacks, caves and arches, as well as “Snake Valley,” named for the narrow gorge that snakes between 50-meter cliffs. Thrill-seekers can walk along the top of the cliff. The island’s beach, with its fine white sand and calm crystal-clear waters, is the perfect place to relax.
After the atomic bombing of the city, it was said that grass and trees would not grow on this spot for 75 years. Yet Peace Park is now full of trees, flowers and works of art donated by countries all over the world in support of the city’s prayer for peace.
Hashima is also known by its nickname “Gunkanjima” (Battleship Island) due to its unique silhouette. Hashima flourished as a coal mining community starting in 1890. In 1974, when the coal mine closed, the island was completely deserted.
Huis Ten Bosch is a one of Japan’s foremost theme parks, recreating the atmosphere of a European town and dazzling visitors with gorgeous light displays and beautiful arrays of thousands of colorful flowers that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Catholics were executed here under the orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, marking the beginning of a two-century-long period of harsh Christian persecution in Japan. Today, this spot on Nishizaka Hill has been designated a Japanese National Sanctuary.
Nagasaki Kunchi is a vibrant, energetic festival, celebrating the local deity worshipped at Suwa Shrine, with a history stretching back some 370 years. The performances at this event, which have been designated as Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan, include not only Japanese folk dances but also vivid evidence of the longstanding intercultural exchange that Nagasaki is famous for, in the form of Chinese-influenced dragon dances, Western elements like the Dutch Ship and the Dutch Comedies, and many more.
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum covers the history of this event in the accessible form of a story. It begins with the disastrous scene of the attack and includes the events leading up to the dropping of the atomic bomb, the reconstruction of Nagasaki up to the present day, the history of nuclear weapons development, and the hope for a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.
This memorial hall was established for the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, including those who perished afterwards from resulting injury or illness. It serves as a prayer hall for world peace. Visitors are encouraged to leave messages of peace, which are carefully maintained by the hall and can be viewed by others.
The origins of Nagasaki’s Suwa Shrine can be traced back to the 1500s. Originally located at present day Teramachi Dori (temple street), this shrine, together with other Buddhist and Shinto relics, was destroyed by the Christians. In an effort to revive the Shinto faith, Suwa Shrine was rebuilt in 1625 and relocated to its present location in 1648.
During the atomic bombing of Nagasaki City, one of the torii gates of Sanno Shrine was cut in half by the blast. What remains of the gate continues to stand even today on a single column, a symbol of the resilience of Nagasaki City and its people, even in the face of adversity. Small pieces of broken glass and debris from the atomic blast can still be seen inside the hollow of one of the trees!
Home to about 180 penguins of nine different species, the Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium is the place to go for nature lovers wishing to get up close to these popular birds. Visitors can watch the penguins swimming in enormous, glass-walled habitats, and can even interact with the penguins and feed them.
The Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture is one of Japan’s leading museums covering the story of international exchange. It has many exhibitions of precious historical materials from Nagasaki’s modern history, works of art and ancient writings.
At Glover Garden you can visit beautiful traditional homes built for British merchants, including the oldest wooden Western-style residence in Japan, a home built by the Scottish merchant Thomas Glover, who greatly influenced the industrialization of Japan. The Former Glover Residence was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 2015 under “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Restoration: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining.”
Oura Cathedral is the oldest wooden church of gothic architecture existing in Japan. It was built in 1864 by a French missionary, and was thus known by the people of Nagasaki at the time as the “French Temple.”
Begun as a celebration of the Chinese New Year primarily by the Chinese merchants resident in Nagasaki, the Nagasaki Lantern Festival has become a staple winter event in the city, and the largest of its kind in all of Japan. Over 15,000 colorful lanterns and large art objects adorn the entire city; from Chinatown and Minato Park, to Chuo Park, Meganebashi, Kanko-dori Arcade in Hamanomachi, and many other locations throughout the city.
At the mention of Nagasaki, many people immediately think of champon, a dish loved by both tourists and locals. It’s said that during the Meiji period a local Chinese restaurant invented the dish with the aim of providing students from China with a filling and nutritious meal. Toaku, an ingredient unique to Nagasaki, is used in the noodles to give them a springy texture.