Friday, October 13, 2017

Nagasaki Okunchi Festival

Okunchi is the most famous festival in Nagasaki and one of the top 3 festivals in all of Japan.  It began as a celebration of autumn harvests in the late 16th century and became a shrine festival when Suwa Shrine was founded in 1642. Another purpose was to check for hidden Christians after the ban on Christianity.

This is still evident today in the custom of garden showing when the presenting neighbourhoods open up their homes to public scrutiny. One of the most famous performances of the festival is the Dragon dance which was originally performed on New Years Eve by the Chinese residents of Nagasaki.  From October 7-9 the presentations of the festival, which vividly reflect Nagasaki's colourful history, spill over from the three festival sites into the streets and create an atmosphere of celebration throughout the city.

Without a doubt, the locals of Nagasaki City, people living all over Nagasaki Prefecture and interstate and overseas visitors come from far away to check out the scenes, sights and tastes of Nagasaki during the special time of the year.  There are so many things to see and do that one will be throughly exhausted just by the decision making process of where to go and what to see, as is the norm with any major event.

I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when i was passing through Chinatown and there was some practise going on with one of the teams.  Although the real event is much more spectacular I was throughly impressed and excited to witness the members going through their moves.

Click on the pics below to enlarge:

Here are some videos below to check out Okunchi for yourself:

........and when you get tired of watching the magical entertainment all around you, of course you want to put your feet up so to speak and sample all the delicious and amazing foods that Chinatown is famous for!  The you are in luck, a plethora of restaurants are all around and food like this is not only delicious but very reasonable as well.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nagasaki Seafood

Without a doubt the best seafood in all of Japan is right here on my doorstep in Nagasaki.  We are blessed with an abundant amount of fresh fish and just about any type of crustacean that you could want and or name.

So, of course when my brother and mother visited me here in Nagasaki, Japan one of their first requests is to eat sushi and sashimi to their hearts content.  Well in fact, more my brothers request rather than my mothers but at least she came and checked out our local fishmonger.

Tanaka San is a bit of a legend in these parts of Nagasaki.  Always going that extra mile to satisfy a customers desires and requests in regards to all things fishy.  My brother got down and dirty and too his credit did a fine job for a first time beginner.  No matter how badly the fish was cut and prepared, in truth it tastes just the same as the impeccably prepared and presented version that Tanaka San does routinely on a daily basis.

Don`t know it this experience will become a regular Tour Nagasaki event but the pictures and video are well worth a look.  Hope you get some pointers and or ideas for your next fish eating and preparation adventure.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Nagasaki Fat Man Atomic Bomb

The Nagasaki Fat Man Atomic Bomb is the code name for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  It was the second of two nuclear weapons to be used in warfare to date (the other being The little Boy over Hiroshima) and its detonation caused the third man-made nuclear explosion.  Nagasaki Fat Man Atomic Bomb was an implosion type weapon with a plutonium core compared to Hiroshima that was a Uranium type weapon therefore its intensity and detonation impact was expected to be many times more powerful and destructive than that of Hiroshima days earlier.

At the moment of the explosion there was a brilliant flash of light, ten seconds later an enormous roar sounded and a fearful blast swept across the area.  Sharp rays of heat emitted massive amounts of radiation all over Nagasaki within seconds and because there were no barriers to the spread of radiation huge amounts of Nagasaki, were destroyed almost instantaneously.

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The Fat Man Bomb

 English Subtitles

Teary stories

Interesting displays

People didn't feel anything abnormal, as this radiation didn't produce sound or heat but in actuality it had permeated deep into their bodies and affecting them greatly.  The temperature directly under the explosion was estimated to be somewhere from 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius.  The force of the blast and the heat rays unleashed immediate destructive power and then fires broke out which severely damaged one third of the buildings in the city with all buildings inside a 2 kilometer radius of the explosion burnt to ashes.

Above are a coupe of images that i took from the Nagasaki Peace Park Museum that shows the full destructive powers of the Nagasaki Fat Man Atomic Bomb and its course of destruction.

Please check out the Nagasaki Fat Man Atomic Bomb at the Nagasaki Peace Park Museum here on a map:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Nagasaki Peace Park

The view of this peaceful park

Nagasaki Peace Park was born from the infamous day forever etched into history and the minds of those associated with this disaster.  The death toll was 74,000 people, with another 75,000 suffering injuries.  Within a 1 kilometer radius of the hypocenter almost 90% of the people died.  Burns caused by the heat rays of the atomic bomb were severe, with the surface skin being completely burned and falling off thus leaving tissue and bone exposed.  People were thrown by the force of the blast and countless pieces of glass and other debris pierced their skin.  The radiation penetrated deep into people's bodies causing them to suffer injuries and diseases such as cancer and leukemia to this very day.

Remnants of the Urakami Cathedral

The original target for the bomb was the city of Kokura but obscuring clouds necessitated changing course to the alternative target, Nagasaki.  However because of poor visibility due to cloud cover the bomb missed its intended detonation point which was the Mitsubishi Shipyards and exploded over the suburban area of Urakami,  in effect killing mostly women and children and not the factory manufacturing area of War Machinery.  In many ways it is this misfortune that will label Nagasaki forever in history!

Nagasaki Peace Park today is a very peaceful place to stroll about and reflect on this frightening event in mankind's history.  Let's hope that the mistakes of the past are never repeated again and the world can live peacefully without Nuclear threats of destruction.  A walk around this solemn but special place always provides me with the strength and resolve that the mistakes of the past happen again and we should always do everything humanly possible to make this happen as a human race.

Check out the Nagasaki Peace Park on a map!

Symbol of Peace

Haunting statue of Mother and Baby as time stands still!

Please have a look at the video below to see more of the Nagasaki Peace Park:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Obama Footbath Nagasaki

The Obama Footbath is one of the highlight locations on the Tour Nagasaki`s Full Day Shimabara Peninsular and Nagasaki City Highlights Itinerary.

Just imagine, the location right on the waters edge.  The picturesque seaside views combined with the healthy steamed vegetables, various snacks, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages as well as the chance to soak these weary feet in the 40 degree celcius footbaths equals a magical and mind boggling experience that stimulates all the senses.

The other day I had 4 cobs of corn that i could have steamed or boiled at home but i decide to have a stroll down to the Footbaths and steam them the natural and healthy way that mother nature intended us to.  What can I say?  The finished product is not only fresh and juicy but the salty Hot Spring steam infuses itself into the corn and seasons the vegetables naturally.

Corn, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes, actually any vegetables and seafood of any kind are magnificent to try and taste.  Let`s give it a go together when you come to Nagasaki next!

Check out the videos below of the Obama Footbaths in Nagasaki:

Check out the photos below of the Nagasaki Footbaths in Obama:

My daughter loves Obama

What a sunset

Too hot?

Family shot


Foot Bath scene

Time for pictures

Trump vs Obama

Snacks and drinks are complimentary

40 degrees celcuis

Beautiful backdrop

Steaming of the foods

Plenty of variety

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Karako Lotus Garden Nagasaki

Karako Lotus Garden Nagasaki is a very popular place indeed.  Every year just after the rainy season has finished (approx the beginning of July) the Karako swamplands come alive and the anticipated Lotus flower starts blooming everywhere.  One can't miss the sound of cameras going off left right and centre from the hoards of people that have come for a gander and wander.  Why is this so??

With the emergence of the sun, life is born and with this emergence, the lotus flower acquires a special meaning and timeless significance.  As the bearer of creation, the lotus flower holds a special place in mythology, in nature and in our lives.  It symbolizes not only creation, but the timeless and continual process of birth and rebirth.  So yours truly of course has to get in on the action and check it out.

I was extremely impressed as there were raised wooden platforms to walk around so as not to disturb the fragile eco-systems in place.  The types of flowers at the lotus garden were too numerous to count and in all a very enjoyable experience that any nature lover would enjoy!  A highly recommended site for all to participate in flower watching and of course to take on thousand and one photos in the process!  On my arrival I had to fight the hoards of spectators but it was ok because the visitors were mainly from some of the nearby Nursing Homes.  It was a joy to share the experience with them and I hope that they felt the same way with me.

Check out the Karako Lotus Garden Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Pretty lotus flowers starting to bloom
Close up of a Lotus

Please check out the videos below of the Karako Lotus Garden Nagasaki:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Arita Porcelain Park Nagasaki

Arita Porcelain Park Nagasaki, although not technically in Nagasaki, borders Nagasaki so closely that one could be forgiven to think that you were still in the same Prefecture.  A mere hop, skip and jump from Nagasaki and you are in Saga and one of the most famous pottery producing areas in all of Japan.

Arita is known for producing Arita Porcelain, one of the traditional handicrafts of Japan.  It also holds the largest ceramic fair in Western Japan, called the Arita Ceramic Fair. This event is held from April 29th to May 5th every year and has thousands of stores and stalls lining the six-kilometer main street.

One of the best well known places is the Arita Porcelain Park Nagasaki, where a replica of Dresden's Zwinger (Baroque palace) houses a collection of Arita and European porcelain.  A very interesting place to wander around and appreciate real beauty, not only are the buildings wonderful to gaze at but the blue and white porcelain pieces on display are to be seen to be believed.  A MUST for all art lovers!

I spent around 2 hours here just wandering and looking at all things beautiful.  There was so many things that I wanted to buy but alas I was not cashed up sufficiently to buy at my hearts request.  Without a doubt I will be back as the Porcelain pieces keep calling for my return and no doubt a large cash flow will be needed at that time.  There are just too many wonderful things to see and buy here so please come prepared and you won't leave disappointed!

Check out the Arita Porcelain Park Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Picture Perfect Scene

European Styling

Some porcelain figurines

Check out the Arita Porcelain Park Nagasaki below in the video:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nagasaki Fugen Volcano Lookout

Nagasaki Fugen Volcano Lookout is without a doubt the most unique view on the Shimabara Peninsular.  The 1990-1995 eruption of Fugen Volcano in Unzen Nagasaki is infamous for the 43 fatalities caused by the unexpectedly large pyroclastic flow on June 3rd 1991. The famous Volcano filmers and photographers Maurice and Katja Krafft and geologist Harry Glicken were among those lost during this tragic event, together with multiple journalists who had joined them in a zone into which entry was not prohibited but was recommended against by the authorities.

From a nature point of view the Volcano is an indescribable phenomenon that permeates and dominated the entire Shimabara Peninsular.  It is viewable from all angles and is best viewed from the lookout in Fukae Town, a view that is worth more than I can put a monetary value on.  On the other hand, Volcano's are serious matters and their ability to destroy and create mayhem is not to be taken lightly.

The 3 cities that circumnavigate the Volcano know this all too well and have held numerous meetings and International Conferences to learn how too live safely and securely as possible within this environment.  In 2008 when the International Conference for Living safely with Volcanoes was held in Shimabara, Nagasaki I was one of the English Teachers that provided English Lessons to the staff members and volunteers of this amazing event and I hope my efforts and those of everyone involved made a strong and positive impact on all the foreign visitors who came from all over to see our wonderful natural but inherently dangerous place we call home.

It is for this reason that we need to learn more about Volcano's and the impact we can have on saving lives when disaster strikes.

Come and check out the Nagasaki Fugen Volcano Lookout on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Amazing Scenery

Lookout point

1st National Park in Japan

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cherry Blossom Viewing Nagasaki

Cherry Blossom Viewing Nagasaki is so much more popular than it's plum tree cousins.  In fact, it's more like a religion rather than a casual stroll around a park looking at the beautiful flowers.   It is  such a big deal that people plan these days weeks and months in advance even before the Cherry Blossom forecasts have been given by the Japan Meteorological Service, such is the devotion and fanatical feeling towards these inspiring flowers.

Even once the Cherry Blossom Viewing season starts, it's not the lack of places to go (there are cherry trees all over Japan) but the lack of car parking due to the influx of fellow spectators who all have one thing on their mind:  Cherry Blossom Viewing.  I mind admit, when i first came to Japan i wondered out loud what the fuss was and why on earth would someone have to visit 5 different places in one day and take literally 1000 photography of this rather pretty flower?  But, now that i have lived in Japan for a while I have come to realize that Cherry Blossom are so intricately linked to the Japanese psyche and soul that one cannot get enough of this awe inspiring and moving flower.

I guess I have turned Japanese some what because this year I visit 4 different locations, not all in one day mind you so i guess I am still Australian as well.

Viewing Cherry Blossoms will move you as well i am sure.

The pictures I took are from the famous Omura Park and they grab a lot of attention from all over Nagasaki and other areas as well.  The crowds never dispersed all day and even though the weather wasn't the best this didn't hold anyone back.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

A time to ponder and stroll around

One of the most popular places in Nagasaki

The social highlight on everyone's calendar

Pretty as a peach

Best time of the year

Please click on the videos below to see Cherry Blossoms as seen from a moving car, another great way to enjoy the beauty of this special event:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Onokoba Elementary School Nagasaki

Onokoba Elementary School Nagasaki is one of the more haunting figures on the Shimabara Peninsular.  It is the wrecked site of the former school which was destroyed by a pyroclastic flow in 1990.  All that remains today of the interior is twisted metal and glass but the basic structure of the school is intact and was left as a reminder of the disaster.  A new Onokoba Elementary School Nagasaki has been built in its place albeit in a new location.

A small Museum was built next to the school and exhibits some pictures and explanations about the eruption.  It also has an observation deck with views of the volcano peak known as the Heisei Shinzan dome which was formed when the mountain exploded 20 years ago and  raised the height of the existing mountain by well over 100 metres in height.  The Museum although not huge is well represented with pictures and information about the conditions at the time and the consequences of the eruptions.  Not much English documentation but the sights and scenes do more than enough to convey the end results.

There is a eerie silence and disturbing feeling when walking around the site.  Its as though one can feel the power and destructive force of the volcano which is now dormant but at the time destroyed everything in its path.  A must do and must see when in the area.   I guarantee you won't be disappointed by what you will see here.

Come and see Onokoba Elementary School Nagasaki on a map!

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

The Volcano looms above

Completely destroyed

Solemn walk

Warped from the heat

Here is a video of the Onokoba Elementary School Nagasaki for you to check out: