Friday, December 21, 2012

Unzen Volcano Nagasaki

Unzen Volcano Nagasaki is very easy to access as one can drive straight up the mountain via the Nita Pass Road from where amazing views of the Mountain and Volcano can be obtained.  The lower and upper parts of the road have observation decks with views over the surrounding mountains and the Ariake Sea all the way to Kumamoto far below.  On very clear days, the panorama view is immense and views of Mount Aso hundreds of kilometers away in Kumamoto Prefecture in the middle of Kyushu are obtainable and impressive.

I really enjoy driving the Unzen Volcano Nagasaki road and can't tell you how many times I had taken this course but when that Volcano comes into view at various locations up the mountain I can't help but be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty, size and destructive powers that the Volcano possess.   As with most mountain passes, the road is very narrow, has plenty of twists and turns, cutbacks and hairpin turns.  Absolutely fabulous for motor and driving enthusiasts like me but maybe not every ones cup of tea.  However I can promise that on my tours of Nagasaki I put my driving ambitions behind me and drive to the utmost care and safety of all my passengers.  Only when i am all by myself in the car is when my driving tends to get a little bit fast and aggressive.

Nature lovers will be enthralled by its size and of its different colours and flowers that bloom at various times of the year.  Others will be fascinated by its wrath of destruction that destroyed a town ship 20 years ago.  Whatever your poison the Volcano is absolutely a must visit place for all to inspect and ponder!

Well worth a visit or 2 or 3 .........

Come and check out Unzen Volcano Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Spectacular views

The summit

Here is a video of the Unzen Volcano Nagasaki taken from the lookout point on the Nita Pass road for your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki

Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki climbs the Myoken Peak of Mount Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsular. The Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki was opened in 1957, the area was tranformed immediately and has developed into a major Attraction that many people visit over and over again throughout the seasons.  It attracts visitors with its 360 degree views of the surrounding areas.  It's nature is also a big calling card for many visitors, especially the blooming azaleas in spring and the many autumn changing colors.

It  is open 365 days of the year and at certain times of the year during the peaks seasons of Spring and Autumn extensive waiting periods can be observed, sometimes up to 2 or 3 hours as people are desperate to see the spring cherry blossoms and Autumn foliage change.  However summer and winter are quite reasonable and it's more a matter of minutes and not hours needed at these times of the year.  This is the way I like it and on this particular day which was a weekday (weekends can be horrendous) in no time at all we were allowed a great standing position on the ropeway to get the sight and pictures that we desired.

This visit was my first to use the actual Ropeway as i usually prefer to climb the mountain but in order to get the photos I desired i took advantage of the fabulous service available to the public.  All I can say is that i wasn't disappointed with my decision, the views and its proximity to nature are second to none resulting in some of the best pictures I have taken.  Please check them out!

Check out The Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki  on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

To the top of the mountain
Let's ride
The colours are intense!
Nearing the top
Spectacular views

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nagasaki Megami Bridge

Nagasaki Megami Bridge, the newest bridge in Nagasaki is the longest cable-stayed bridge on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

The Nagasaki Megami Bridge is a remarkable feat of engineering and the citizens of Nagasaki are all proud of the finished product and really makes people proud to call themselves Nagasakian's.  The bridge measures 880 meters in length and 170 meters in height but it looks so much bigger than these statistics and is really an awe inspiring landmark on the Nagasaki Horizon.  Nagasaki Megami Bridge is heavily exposed to the elements and therefore takes a battering from the constant sunshine, rain, wing and of course everyone favorite natural disaster, the typhoon.  Therefore it is quite a common site to see dozens of workers at a time working and cleaning and maintaining the incredible beauty of the Nagasaki Megami Bridge.

Located on the south side of Nagasaki City, the Megami Bridge, affectionately known as Venus’ Wing and provides relief to the chronic traffic congestion in the city by linking its southern and western parts o the city with one magnificently built bridge.  Also, the bridge was built to revitalize industry and culture in the whole region by strengthening the link between the city and the port facilities.  Illuminated in the evenings, the bridge has become a landmark of Nagasaki Port and a new symbol of Nagasaki City tourism.

I drive on this bridge regularly and I can tell you it is a wonderful feeling to pass over.  You can feel every metres of height and on a clear day you can see all the way down the harbour and of course well out into the open seas.  Well worth a drive on a wonderful scenic day.

Check out Nagasaki's Megami Bridge on a map:

Click on the following photos below to enlarge:

Cable suspensions

Well constructed

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shimabara Samurai Street Nagasaki

Shimabara Samurai Street Nagasaki commemorates the old samurai section of Shimabara City on the Shimabara Peninsular.  This famous street is lined with stone walls and a spring water canal running down its center.  Three samurai houses have been restored and opened as exhibits to the public to restore the image and the traditions of this old Samurai town.  It is an extremely picturesque setting and perfect for a great photo shoot as images of feudal Japan came racing back into your consciousness from many of those movies and books you have read from your youth.

There aren't too many places left in Japan where one can step back in time and literally feel what it was like to live in these exciting yet dangerous times in Japan where the Samurai yielded ultimate power and demanded total respect.  The houses are basic and it is evident that living was quite antiquated and very traditional.   The kitchen too was very rudimentary and of course a lot on ingenuity was needed to cook and prepare the food for the huge number of immediate family as well as extended family, guest and of course acquaintances that visited the house every now and then.

The canal was used by all of the district and the water source was controlled and looked after communally.  A great example of group dynamics where everyone within the community helped each other unlike today's society that is built on greed, destroying the natural resources around us and lacking compassion of our fellow man.  Sometimes i think it wouldn't have been too bad to live in these feudal times especially when comparing to the issues that we face today.

Check out the Shimabara Samurai Street Nagasaki on a map:

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

A restored Samurai House

Traditional Samurai setting

Samurai Kitchen

Natural Spring water running the length of the street

Taking a closer look

Typical Samurai Pose

Family setting

From the outside

Water for the community

Old thatched roofs

Please take a look at the Shimabara Samurai Street Nagasaki here on this video:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki

Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki was built in 1629. The Chinese residents of Nagasaki who hailed from Fujian Province constructed this Chinese Temple.  It houses 21 cultural assets, including two national treasures - Daiohoden (Buddha Hall) & Daippo-mon (First Peak Gate).

It is a temple with a unique pedigree as it is unique for housing so many cultural assets in one temple in Western Japan.  Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki has three gated entrances known as "the three gates."  The red entrance gate and other structures in the precincts are rare examples of the architecture of South China during the Ming Dynasty.  The Chinese Bon Festival is held here from July 26th to the 28th and with Chinese people coming from all over Japan to participate in the ritual for the dead, it is one of the times where Chinese visitors will outnumber the locals.

I truly enjoyed the walking experience around the Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki.  It's peaceful and intriguing exterior leads into a tranquil and inviting interior where one can leisurely take their time and stroll around.  It allows one to see the connection that the Chinese were able to make with the Japanese in the 17th century through their association of religion and in particular Buddhism.  A true Chinese built Temple that was actually built in China and shipped piece by piece to Japan and rebuilt at its current location .  A true find and a place that anyone from all walks of life can find appealing and appreciative of its beauty and tension to detail!

Come and check out the Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

The entrance
Splendid views
Roof tiles are intricate as well
Chinese Buddhism in Nagasaki
The detail of the eaves is magnificent
Chinese Lanterns

Here is a video of the Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki

Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki that stands today is just a small reminder of the Shimabara Rebellion.   It was an uprising on the Shimabara Peninsular in Nagasaki from 1637–1638 during the Edo Period.  It largely involved peasants, most of them being Catholic Christians.

It was one of only a handful of instances of serious unrest during the relatively peaceful period of the Tokugawa Shogunate's rule.  The construction of a new Castle in Shimabara, caused taxes to be drastically raised, which provoked anger from local peasants and the lord less samurai of the time.  Religious persecution against the local Christians exacerbated the discontent, which turned into open revolt in 1637.  The Tokugawa Shogunate sent a force of over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebellion, and after a lengthy siege against the 37 000 rebels at Hara Castle, defeated them.

In the wake of the rebellion, the rebel leader Amakusa Shiro was beheaded and persecution of Christianity became strictly enforced. Japan's national exclusion policy was tightened and formal persecution of Christianity continued until the 1850's.

With all this knowledge and still many visual clues available today, it is quite surreal and at times a somber feeling to stroll around the ruins of the Castle and try and visualize all that anger and hatred of opposition forces coming together in death and bloodshed and in many ways a massacre of ordinary people rebellion against injustice.  The site is widely visited by many people today and is a reminder of how Christianity flourished in Japan all those years ago.

A compulsory visit by anyone interested in Christian History in Japan or any History Buff.

Come and checkout the Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki on a map:

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The outer walls still remain

Christian Symbols

Fight over Christianity

Amakusa Shiro, the Rebellions leader

The remains of the grounds

The site of the Christian Rebellion

Here is a video of the Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki can you can check out:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nagasaki Confucius Shrine

Nagasaki Confucius Shrine is said to be the world's only Confucius Shrine built by Chinese people outside of China.  Even today the land on which it stands is Chinese Territory and the land rights controlled by the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.

First built in 1893 by Chinese residents of Nagasaki with the support of the Qing Dynasty Government, Nagasaki Confucius Shrine was designed to serve as a place of worship and learning for the Chinese community and housed a Confucian sanctuary and primary school.  The buildings were severely damaged by the atomic bomb explosion on August 9, 1945 and was not restored.  It was finally opened to the public in September 1967 and  was extensively renovated in 1982 and remains the same till the present day.

It is a joy and exciting process to walk around the beautifully presented gardens and to graze intensely at the architecture and statues.  The attention to detail is amazing and one can see that a lot of time and effort was put in to the design and final outcome to look as authentic as possible.  One feels like they have stepped out of Japan and back into the realm of China such is the contrast to traditional Japanese buildings and in particular to Japanese Shinto Shrines.

Well worth a visit even if you are not a fan of Chinese History and artifacts.  The Nagasaki Confucius Shrine is located very close to the International Port Terminal so it isn't too far to complete as a walking tour around the area, even if you only have an hour or two to spare it is well worth the effort .

Check out Nagasaki Confucius Shrine on a map here!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Typical Chinese Garden
Confucius Pray Altar
Colourful Ceiling designs
Chinese Statues
Open Courtyard
Unique Design

Please check out the videos of the Nagasaki Confucius Shrine here:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nagasaki Sunsets

With Nagasaki being blessed with natural beauty and surrounded nearly completely with coastline it is not often that a spectacular sunset cannot be seen on a regular occasion.  Luckily on one of my scenic drives i had my camera at the ready to shot these amazing sunsets.   Hard to resist having a second look!

Please click on the images below to enlarge:

The contrasts are amazing!!

Very pretty hues

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark

Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark is not the main fault on the Shimabara Peninsular, situated on the south east coast of Nagasaki Prefecture.  There are many faults located on the Peninsular, the main fault is the Chijiwa fault which subsides in the north whilst the Kanahama Fault subsided in the south and the trench  between the two faults is called the Unzen Trough Fault.  The Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark with its throw of 150~200m shows the sedimentary layers from the old Unzen Volcano from approx 300,000 to  500,000 years ago.

Looking up the valley from the seaside you can see the deposits from the old Unzen Volcano on the right (south side) and the deposits from a midterm volcano  (approx. 150,000 to 300,000 years ago) on the left (north side). As the Unzen Trough Fault kept subsiding through volcanic eruptions, the deposits from the midterm volcano could not reach beyond the south of the Kanahama Fault.

It's amazing to see the effects of events that happened hundreds of thousands of years ago and how they still exist and create a huge impact today.  I used to enjoy the scenery and drive endlessly around the Peninsular but today with the knowledge I have obtained with the Geopark materials that are available I am able to enjoy in more detail the amazing places that are still within a stones throw away.  Please let me know if you would like more information on Nagasaki Geopark in English and I can help you obtain them.

Check out the Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

With the famous Kanahama Spectacle bridge in the foreground
The fault viewed from the sea
The fault viewed from halfway up the mountain looking towards the sea

Here is a video of the Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki

Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki is a direct result of there being fresh springs all over the city and unlimited fresh water supply available at all times.   Many of the springs are the result of a series of eruptions from Mount Fugen, most notably the largest eruption in 1792 which dramatically changed the landscape and flow of these fresh water springs.   Today, approximately 1,500 carp swim in the beautiful and well laid out natural spring channels which add elegance and mystic to the city.

Colourful Carp

Crystal Clear Springwater

Swimming Carp

One of the channels

Great place to take photos

Carp under the glass floor

Great to see the carp swimming freely

The first time I walked the streets of Shimabara, I nearly fell into one of the canals.  Mostly out of surprise and shock of accidentally finding such a amazing place.  The carp looked so fresh and the water is so clear that one just feels like jumping in and swimming with the fish, although this is more of a fantasy rather than a reality.

Today the carp streams are kept for sightseeing and aesthetic reasons as well as the fact that they look so cool!  However in the past and particularly during times of war and famine they were kept as an alternative food source.  Although it can be said that Carp are not a particularly good eating fish, I guess when one is hungry one should not be too picky about their food source.  Luckily for the carp, nowadays the channels are used only for sightseeing and asthetic purposes, so the fish should grow up big and strong and hopefully colorful to satisfy the hoards of tourists that come to see them.

Check out the Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki on a map!

Here is a video of the Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki for your pursual:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nagasaki Peace Park Statues

Of course when one thinks about the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues, the main one that comes to mind is the sculpture by Seibo Kitamura of the human being with one hand pointing to the sky whilst sitting cross legged and eyes closed shut.  Nagasaki Peace Park is synonymous with this awe inspiring statue.

Indeed this is a powerful and internationally known symbol associated with the Nagasaki Atomic Explosion but one of my favourite things to do is to walk peacefully through the Peace Park and look at the tens of sculptors and statues that have been donated by Organizations and Countries from around the world as a symbol of hope and peace for the future.

They are all special in their own way and of course one's imagination and feelings of sorrow come through with each viewing yet at the same time they give hope for the future.  In this way they cause the statues to come alive and speak to us in a private way because everyone needs hope and want to leave the earth in a better way for the future generations.

If you ever have a chance to visit Nagasaki for yourself I implore you to do the same and come to the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues.  It will be a surreal if not highly moving experience and one that you will never forget, especially the viewing of the Mother and Child Statue which really hits you at your core of compassion and empathy.  It is this symbol of sorry and regret that must be remembered so that the weak and innocent are protected no matter what and in all situations of conflict around the world.

Come and check out the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues on a map:

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Strength in Numbers

Whisked away by angels

A popular but haunting photo

Mother and child

Water is a big part of the exhibition

The date and time of that horrific day

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tonosumi Waterfall Nagasaki

Tonosumi Waterfall Nagasaki is the culmination of the Arie River and the Kiyomizu River (which has hot spring water from Unzen-Jigoku thus is very acidic) together to make the Tonosumi waterfall.  Upstream, there is hardly any underwater life as a result of this acidity from the sulfur infused water but downstream there is a hive of activity and lots of different plant/fish species as well as algae and other living organisms.

Tonosumi Waterfall Nagasaki is the most plentiful and steepest waterfall in Nagasaki Prefecture and on May 4th every year (during Golden Week) there is a festival and is full of visitors who seek to cool themselves with somen nagashi (thin white flowing noodles within a bamboo half pipe) a sight to be seen and something to be tried by all.  The bamboo half pipe is supported off the ground by supports and is sloping downhill to allow gravity to make the flowing water carry the noodles to the hundreds of hungry people waiting along the bamboo half pipe.  With chopsticks and a small bowl at their disposal, it is a sight for sore eyes to see everyone frantically grasping at the noodles.  The noodles never seem to get down to the bottom of the bamboo half pipe as the people and especially children at the top grab everything and anything that they can.

For yours truly, I use the waterfall for bathing and relaxing in summer.  The cool, if not by some standards frigid mountain water is great for cooling off and reversing the heat and humidity that some complain all summer about.  But, once in the water complaints seen to fall by the wayside!

Check out Tonosumi Waterfall Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Absolute Heaven in summer
Excellent for relaxing and escaping the heat
The water is plentiful all year round
Clear and fresh

Check out this video of Tonosumi Waterfall Nagasaki:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki

Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki is a popular Hot Spring and hiking destination that lies to the east of Nagasaki City.  Formed by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Unzen at its center, Shimabara Peninsula Nagasaki was the site of several deadly volcanic eruptions, including recent eruptions in the early 1990's.  Today the volcano is dormant but its byproduct which we all love and need, piping hot spring water which we use for bathing and other activities such as steaming food and recently with the need for Japan to recycle and find a cleaner and less dangerous energy source, that being Nuclear Reactors, communities and industry are using the steam from the Hot Springs to produce electricity for everyone to use in order to make themselves self sufficient and reduce their carbon print on Mother Nature.

Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki is also known for the Shimabara Rebellion, a significant peasant uprising during the Edo Period in the 15th Century that eventually cost the life of 37 000 people of whom many were local Christians and resulted in foreigners being banned from Japan for over 200 years.  It was this incident that changed Christianity in Japan forever and it has never rebounded from its glory days of the 15th and 16th century whereby Christians were here there and everywhere.

I see the Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki as a wonderful scenic spot with magnificent views all over the entire circumference.  In my point of view a picture is worth a thousand words and these pictures below will show you why I am in awe of this place and all the great things associated with living and working on the Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki.

Check out the Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Largely a farming communit
A peninsular within a peninsular

Have a look of the Shimabara Peninsular Nagasaki taken from a mountain top and showing the Panorama that stops everyone in their tracks:

Check out this video of the Shimabara Peninsular taken from another lookout point:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fuchi Shrine Nagasaki

Fuchi Shrine Nagasaki is located at the base of Mount Hoju and has the distinction of being the starting point for the Nagasaki Ropeway that goes up to Mount Inasayama.  The Shrine itself  is worth a visit as it is tucked away on a side of a hill and represents a strong connection to nature.  It is the first time that i have seen individual Shinto blessing boxes that can be chosen for worship and this was interesting to see.

The spring water for cleansing and purifying ones mouth and hands upon arrival at the venue was coming out of the Dragon's mouth which is another first for me and considering the amount of shrines that i have been too in Japan, this is a unique scene, that must be noted.

My visit to Fuchi Shrine Nagasaki came from a friends recommendation and I must say I was a little bit doubtful at first but this soon disappeared as I arrived at the car park.  The attention to detail was obvious and i guess seeing 3 or 4 workers cleaning and preening the grounds was obviously the reason why the place was immaculate.  It was the little differences that made this place standout in my mind and I hope that I can take this concept and make it a regular part of my business and personal life.  The small differences can really highlight a certain aspect and make it truly wonderful.

I will absolutely come back again and view during a different season.

Come and check out Fuchi Shrine Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Individual Prayer boxes
The springwater for cleansing
The Ropeway starting location
There she goes, all the way to the top!

Check out the video of Fuchi Shrine Nagasaki below:

Here is a video of the Nagasaki Ropeway heading up to Mount Inasayama:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chijiwa Fault Nagasaki Geopark

Chijiwa Fault Nagasaki Geopark is one of the more interesting Geopark attractions in Shimabara, Nagasaki, Japan.

Nagasaki Geopark consists of the Unzen Volcanic Area and covers the entire area of the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture.  There are three cities in this Geopark, Shimabara, Unzen and Minami Shimabara City and about 150,000 people live in the Geopark.  One of the more interesting area of the Unzen Geopark is the Chijiwa Fault as it is the largest active fault on the Peninsula.

This fault was formed by north and south tearing of the peninsula's basement.  The maximum displacement, accumulated  over 300,000 years, reaches 450 m.  Today the displacement occurs at a rate of 1.5 mm/y.

The Chijiwa fault Nagasaki Geopark is a beauty of nature and amazing to look at from all angles.  I took these photos from the Obama side along a coastal road but I am told that the best place to view this unique phenom is from the House of Nature located at the top of a peak bisecting Obama and Chijiwa.  I will attempt to add these pictures to my collection someday as my trials and tribulations into the area that i have not yet mastered have sparked a fire deep inside me to learn more and find out specific details about this amazing place I live in called the Shimabara Peninsular.

Check out the Chijiwa Fault Nagasaki Geopark for yourself on a map!

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Chijiwa Beach below
The view across the bay
Chijiwa Fault
View from the port

Here is a video showing the Chijiwa Fault Nagasaki Geopark:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tachibana Shrine Chijiwa Nagasaki

Tachibana Shrine Chijiwa Nagasaki is dedicated to army lieutenant colonel Shuta Tachibana who became famous in the Russo-Japanese War which occurred during the beginning on the 20th century.  Tachibana Shrine Chijiwa Nagasaki is a noted place for the viewing of cherry tree blossoms and many people come and visit this exquisite flower viewing  place in spring.

For New Year, the world's biggest New Year's pine and bamboo decorations more than 11m in height are installed at the entrance to a shrine.  They have caught the attention of many followers including the Guinness Book of Records who have noted the fact!

The Shrine and the surrounding Park area are just beautiful, esthetically pleasing and at many times of the year (cherry blossoms in spring and maple leaves in autumn) are picture perfect.  Whenever I have visitors from overseas and from other places in Japan, Tachibana Shrine is always on the top of my list of preferred tourist destinations.  On this day, nearing the middle of summer, the birds were chirping, the cicada's making a roaring noise, the sun was shining intensely but I was in my element.  A picture perfect day and and some amazing photos and video to show for it.  Definitely worth and look and tour of the area.

Check out Tachibana Shrine Chijiwa Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Group blessing

Shinto Praying Style

Peaceful location

Sunset perfection

The entrance

3 lovely ladies posing

Water purifying

3 2 1 Bow

Please check out the Tachibana Shrine in Chijiwa, Nagasaki on this video: