An odd fact: I have tried three separate times to upload Nagasaki photos to this post. Every time, it crashes my internet explorer over and over. I can upload photos of Sasebo, I can upload photos of Fukuoka (that’s pronounced “fooook whoa ka”), but time after time, no Nagasaki photos. So here’s the bare post. With maps.
Nagasaki is completely cute and a really interesting mix of Dutch and Japanese, but there’s a cloud hanging over it that descends every time another plaque springs up with a photo of complete devastation across the landscape under your feet and a description of what survived and what was lost.
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Clouds were thick as we trained along the coast but it was sunny when we arrived at Nagasaki Station, sunny while we wandered through temples and shrines, over hills and through alleyways. We climbed to a memorial to 26 Christians martyred when Japan closed itself to the West in the 19th century and by the time we got to the top a thick cloud cover had rolled in from the bay again. It only got grayer as the day progressed and we headed to the Peace Park, Ground Zero and the A-Bomb Museum. When we left the museum, the sun came out again briefly just in time to set.
The testimonies of kids who survived the bomb but watched their families suffer and die were the most difficult part of the museum, worse even than the photos or wreckage on display, which included a human hand skeleton encased in the glass bottle it had been holding at 11:02 that day. Every clock stopped at that time, all over the city.
After the museum we rode a streetcar south through the city to the more European part of town, which was largely protected from the blast thanks to the hilly terrain. I found this fantastic store stuffed with Japanese antiques—tea trays, vases inlaid with mother of pearl, porcelain—all at some of the best prices I’ve seen. Chris and I were standing in the doorway whispering about what we maybe wanted to buy when the owner came over and kicked us out with a no sign of his arms. Apparently he’d been about to close when we came in. Oops. Instead we bought the regional specialty—pound cake!—which was gone by the time I got around to asking Chris if there was anymore. Sake, buckwheat noodles, sushi and green tea for dinner, then back to Sasebo on the express train.