Friday, December 28, 2012

Unzen Road Lookout

Every now and then I just happen to be in the right place at the right time and am able to take a photo that actually represents exactly the right conditions and does the scenery justice.  This photo is just one of these times.  I was driving down the Unzen Road and happened to come to the lookout point at the time when the sun came out from behind the clouds and bathed the landscape and sea in the background in sunshine.

The conditions didn't stay like this for long but I was able to obtain some magnificent photos.

Here is one of them that I would like to share with you!

Across the sea to Kumamoto

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:

Unzen Volcano Nagasaki Lots of steam rising
Unzen Volcano Nagasaki
Amazing scenery
Unzen Volcano Nagasaki
From Nita Pass Road




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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street is one of the most famous places within the city limits of Nagasaki.  The centre of Nagasaki City is called Tera-machi, which literally means Temple Street.  It is anchored at either end by Nagasaki's two best-known temples, Sōfuku-ji and Kōfuku-ji, both Chinese in origin and two of the major tourist attractions within the Central Business District.

The distance between them is approximately 600 metres and is home to several smaller temples which obviously has many famous grave sites and unique statues within the perimeter.  Each Temple is unique and worth investigating and without a doubt a surprise around every corner will delight you and keep you intrigued at all times.  That is of course if strolling around gravestones and tombs don't freak you out too much?  As for me, this has never been a problem so I was in my element and roamed freely far and wide.

Tera-Machi and it surrounding area makes for a relaxing stroll around and of course many fabulous pictures are possible.  If you have a couple of hours up you sleeve and want to get a feel of the older areas of Nagasaki then this is the place for you.

Come and check out Tera Machi and its temples on the famous Nagasaki Temple Street on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street Lots of interesting sights to see

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street Fabulous views from all angles

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street Looking at the entrance of a Temple from the top

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street The buildings and details are very impressive

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street Greeted by a interesting statue

Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street Come in and have a look around

Here are a couple of videos of Nagasaki Tera Machi Temple Street, check it out:



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Karimizu Spring Geopark Nagasaki

Karimizu Spring Geopark Nagasaki has a cold water natural spring as well as many hot water springs as well.  The Karimizu Mineral Spring located at the Obama Hot Springs Resort Town on the west side of the Shimabara Peninsular is the only spring that comprises a bubbling effect similar to opening a can of soft drink.  The gaseous components in the chloride spring are melted in the shallow ground water and the 25-27℃ carbonated spring contains low quantities of hydro sulfide.  The Karimizu Spring Geopark Nagasaki is officially classified as a Hot Spring because its temperature is above 24 degrees which is the cutoff point for whether a body of water is actually groundwater or not.

It's amazing to see nature at its best working efficiently and even more surprising that the water is  cool to touch.  At first, being that you are at a Hot Spring Resort and the spring water is bubbling at the surface, gives one the  impression that the water is boiling at 100 degrees.  However the shock once realizing that it is actually a reasonable temperature is gratifying.  The spring water is actually safe to drink but trust me when i say it is not very pleasant.  The carbonated water is clear but has a slight smell from the sulfide and thus is not really a delicious drink  but by all means try for yourself, if you are game of course?

Check out the Karimizu Spring Geopark Nagasaki on a map!

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Lots of great information in English


Interesting to see and feel

Carbonated natural spring

Closeup of the bubble




Please take a look at Karimizu Spring Geopark Nagasaki video on the link provided below:


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:

Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki To the top of the mountain
Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki
Let's ride
Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki
The colours are intense!
Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki
Nearing the top
Unzen Ropeway Nagasaki
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:

Nagasaki Megami Bridge A pleasure to drive on
Nagasaki Megami Bridge
Cable Suspensions
Nagasaki Megami Bridge
Solid Construction

Nagasaki Megami Bridge Well signposted

Nagasaki Megami Bridge A pleasure to drive on at night or in the day!

Nagasaki Megami Bridge Megami Bridge Nagasaki in all its glory

Nagasaki Megami Bridge The bridge at Dusk

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






















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:

Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki The entrance
Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki
Splendid views
Sofukuji Temple Nagasaki
Roof tiles are intricate as well
Sofukuji Temple in Nagasaki
Chinese Buddhism in Nagasaki
Sofukuji Temple 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:

Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki The outer walls still remain
Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki
Christian Symbols
Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki
Fight over Christianity
Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki
Amakusa Shiro, the Rebellions leader
Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki
The remains of the grounds
Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki
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:

Nagasaki Confucius Shrine Typical Chinese Garden
Nagasaki Confucius Shrine
Confucius Pray Altar
Nagasaki Confucius Shrine
Colourful Ceiling designs
Nagasaki Confucius Shrine
Chinese Statues
Nagasaki Confucius Shrine
Open Courtyard
Nagasaki Confucius Shrine
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