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 private 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:

The volcano scene

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:

The colours are intense!

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.

It`s a great landmark as it`s the first recognizable symbol of Nagasaki as the Cruise Ships first arrive into Nagasaki Port, so on our Private Tours I always endeavor to include a drive across the Megami Bridge to add that extra dimension.

Check out Nagasaki's Megami Bridge on a map:

Click on the following photos below to enlarge:


Cable suspensions


Well constructed










Below are some more photos taken at various time during sunset, hope you like them!














Monday, October 8, 2012

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki

Shofukuji 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.  Shofukuji 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 Shofukuji 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 Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:


The entrance







Main Altar



The views

Gate entrance


Buddhist offering



Roof tiles are intricate as well

Chinese Lanterns


New Years Decorations


Chinese Buddhism in Nagasaki

Splendid views






















       


Here is a video of the Shofukuji 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:

Koi Ponds




Dragons

Add caption

Chinese Statues

Open Courtyard

Main coridoor


Chinese


Attractive artwork

Confucius Pray Altar




Colorful ceilings
The entrance

Unique Design





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