Monday, November 28, 2016

Autumn Viewing: Nagasaki Prefecture

Autumn Viewing Pleasures are one of the best things to do in November just before the change of season into winter.  I am blessed here in Nagasaki to have an abundance of places right on my back doorstep to indulge in a little bit of Autumn viewing pleasures especially since I don`t have to travel too far.

In fact, the road from my place goes straight up the mountain to Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsular and half way up a private residence has turned his home and its wide open spaces into a public viewing of all things amazing in Autumn.  Here people come from near and far to participate in some Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures and for a nominal fee of around $3 US for adults and free for kids, anyone can wander around the beautiful landscape and basically get lost in their own little world whilst taking in all the splendor that there is to offer.

Although I had missed the peak of the Autumn Leaf changing season by a few days, I was still able to see many exquisite sites and revel in the nature that was abundant and never ending.  The Japanese Momiji (Maple Leaf) is absolutely entwined in the Japanese psyche and has a strong connection cultural as well as being entrenched in their culinary habits.  It is common to see the Momiji used as food displays during the Autumn period so it is normal for the average Japanese person to feel the need to connect with the Momiji through nature as well.  Hence you are never alone during the Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures as there is always one or 20 people around you.

On this day, I was fortunate to have my family with me and my kids absolutely relished in the environment.  I plan to come back a few days earlier next year to arrive at the peak of the Momiji powers.  Come join me if you like?

Check outAutumn Viewing in Nagasaki here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Orange colors everywhere

My children enjoyed the leaves

Picture perfect

Please click on the videos below to see more Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hinoe Castle Ruins: Nagasaki Prefecture

One of the more spectacular sites on the Shimabara Peninsular is the leftover ruins of the Hinoe Castle.  It is located in Minamishimabara City on the Shimabara Peninsular. The castle was originally built in the 13th century.  It belonged to the Arima Clan and was the residence of the Christian Diamyo.  

In 1637, during the Shimabara Rebellion, it was burned down by the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate because the Arima Clan protected the Christians and encouraged their vassals to adopt Christianity thus actively promoting international exchange which ran counter to the Shogunate`s isolation policy of that time.

The castle's ruins can still be seen today as a reminder of the religious turmoil that Japan was going thru during the 15th and 16th centuries.

To see Hinoe Castle Ruins Nagasaki on a map click here

Here are a few photos that I found around town which depicts the times and lives of the people at that time.  Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Tensho Embassy

Street view

Feudal Japan

                                             Here are some photos of Hinoe Castle Ruins:

                                                   Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Not much English


This one has English

Retaining Walls

Ruins located in Minamishimabara City in Nagasaki:

Please check out these videos below of the Hinoe Castle:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nagasaki Shippoku Food Course: Nagasaki City

Without a doubt the most famous type of dish and No 1 high end gourmet option in Nagasaki is called Shippoku.   

This is basically a fusion of Japanese and imported Chinese dishes to create a gastronomical and intense dining experience.  

The oldest and most influential place to have this experience is a restaurant named KAGETSU, which has hosted and dined many dignitaries, famous people and samurai`s such as the famous Ryoma Sakamoto, who is well known as being the driving force in Nagasaki to update and drive Japan to become a modern society in the 19th century.

                                                     Please click on the photos below to enlarge:
Details about the establishment

View from outside


This dining experiences involves and activates all your senses of sight, smell and taste.  It is a highly intimate affair and only used for business or very special personal occasions as a result of not only the price but also the prestige and standard of presentation that it is esteemed to be.

The Entrance

One of the Banquet Halls

Beautifully Arranged

One of the many courses

Presentation was superb

Served by ladies in Kimonos

The kimono

Spectacular at night

Beautiful Gardens are part of the experience

Amazing Interior Displays

Of course, this type of atmosphere and food course won`t be for everyone.  It is highly specialized and truly of the highest order.  The courses come in one by one, the ladies fully dressed in traditional kimono`s, explain the significance of each dish and even a tour of the building is on the agenda.  In all, the experience will come to about 20 000 yen (approx. US $200) which includes your choice of alcohol such as beer, wine or Japanese Sake.  In my opinion it was well worth it, as the experience will be remembered forever.

I highly recommend this for the adventurous gourmet eater and foodie lover.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Saikai Bridge: Nagasaki Prefecture

Saikai Bridge is a fixed brace arch bridge 244 meters tall and 1,927 meters in length. The bridge was completed in 1955.  Today it has a companion bridge, the Shin (new) Saikai Bridge which was completed in 2006.

The new bridge opened across this channel and has gained enormous popularity which I had to check out for myself.  Unfortunately I didn't do my homework before visiting otherwise I would have gone to the footbridge built under the bridge which can be accessed for free.  From the footbridge you can enjoy the scenery and also view the powerful currents from the 60cm diameter glass windows in the floor of the observation area.  I guess these photos will just have to wait till my next visit!

Hario Straits is one of Japan's three fastest flowing currents and is famous for its whirlpools created by the seawater from the expansive Omura Bay rushing through the narrow strait during the changing tides.  The rate of the whirlpools increases particularly at springtime due to the great difference between the tides at this time of year.

Out of interest, nearby are the three Hario Wireless Towers, which transmitted the coded message that launched the attack on Pearl Harbor and triggered the Pacific War on December 7, 1941.  They still can be seen and although they still work today they are not very powerful compared to their capacity during the WW2 period whereby the were used because of their operational efficiency and strength.

Check out Saikai Bridge here on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The new Bridge

Swirling waters below

Famous for its rapid currents below

From my previous post, I promised that I would return to the Saikai Bridge and witness the fast flowing waters below after doing my homework and finding the best place to access the attractions in the area.  I found out that the best viewing point is from the old bridge from the normal road and not the new bridge which can only be accessed from the toll road.

Here are some more photos from the site seen from a different angle that those above from my original trip:  Click on the photos below to enlarge

Nicely mapped out


The new bridge

My son enjoyed the view

Birdseye view

The infamous Hario Towers

The old bridge


Please click on the videos below to see more about the Saikai Bridge Nagasaki:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kosuge Slip Dock: Nagasaki City

The Kosuge Slip Dock in Nagasaki is a site of Japan`s Meiji Industrial Revolution.  Western ships the Japanese purchased through Nagasaki-based Western traders near the end of the Edo period were mostly older vessels that had been in use in the seas around China. As a result, they were constantly in need of repairs. In response to the demand for a repair dock, in 1866 the Scottish merchant Thomas Blake Glover helped draw up plans for such a facility.

The Kosuge Ship Repair Dock, completed in January 1869, was the first modern Western-style dock, which used a steam engine in Japan. In 1869, it was purchased by the new Meiji government and placed under the jurisdiction of the Nagasaki Iron Works. In 1887, ownership of the repair dock passed to the Mitsubishi conglomerate, and the site remains in the possession of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries today.

The Kosuge Ship Repair Dock was a slip dock designed so that at high tide a ship could be set on dollies that were hauled up along tracks running from water to land by means of cables and boiler-powered steam winches operated from a winch house. In this way, workers were able to make repairs and do maintenance work on the ship’s bottom. 

The Kosuge Slip Dock and winch house are the oldest structural remains of modern naval technology in Japan and provide a rare and valuable example of such transplanted Western technology in the late Edo period and early Meiji era.  As naval vessels grew in scale and the Tategami shipyard began operating full throttle, Kosuge Ship Repair Dock came to be used exclusively for work on small vessels, until it finally closed down in 1953. In 1969 it was designated a national historical site.

The Kosuge Slip Dock is a great site to look at in order to realize how Japan did actually convert from a feudal system to the economic superpower that it is today.  By taking the technologies from the West and putting them into practice but also fine-tuning them and making then better and more efficient than their competitors allowed them to reach the heights that they did in the 1970`s and 80`s.  

As we speak the Iron/Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal mining of Japan have been inscribed to the 2015 World Heritage List.

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Illustration of the slip dock

Message in English

The equipment

Lots of history

Nagasaki History

Some of the remains

Click here to see the Kosuge Slip Dock in Nagasaki on a map:

Please check out the Kosuge Slip Dock on the video below: