Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Saint Philip Church: Nagasaki City

Saint Philip Church in Nagasaki is on Nishizaka Hill where the 26 Martyrs are situated.  The Church is named after a Mexican Martyr who was one of the 26 saints that was killed by the Shogunate powers which banished Christianity in the 16th century.  His bust can be witnessed along with the other 25 martyrs at the Nishizaka Landmark which has such as power message and image of sacrifice and willpower to defy the orders to renounce Christianity within Japan.

The 2 towers soaring from the church are 16 meters high and the church has becomes one of the most visited landmarks in Nagasaki.  The museum and church was designed by Kenji Imai (1895-1987).  Here is some background information of the unknown designer and architect.

1895        born in Tokyo
1919        graduated from Waseda University
1919-65  teaches architecture at Waseda University
1926-27  travelled to Europe, influenced by Gaudi´s work
1948       converted to Catholicism
1987       died

The architecture of the church is unique and any fans of the works by Gaudi will immediately recognize the similarities.  So, if you are a follower of Gaudi's works or just like to visit interesting places then i am sure you will come away with a positive image of this place.  It will be impossible to just spend 10 to 15 minutes here, budget on at least 45 minutes to an hour as every aspect of this building will attract your eye and demand further detailed inspection.  This location is a great place to talk a walk and just breath in the history and atmosphere that remains today.

Click here to locate Saint Philip Church Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The unique Spires

Interesting patterns

Quiet reflections

Entrance of the Church

The 26 Martyrs Memorial in the foreground

Inspired by Gaudi

Amazing designs


Please take a look at this video to see Saint Philip Church Nagasaki in more detail:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fukusaiji Temple: Nagasaki City

Fukusaiji Temple in Nagasaki was founded in 1628, originally as a Zen Temple.  During the dropping of the atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945, the temple was completely destroyed. It was rebuilt in its present particular shape, a giant turtle at the base with an 18 meter statue of a Kannon (a goddess of compassion)  standing on its back.  In my opinion a unique and interesting construction of a temple and is also known as the Nagasaki Kannon Universal Temple and is instantly recognizable within the Nagasaki skyline.

Fukusaiji Temple also has another claim to fame.  It has a fascinating addition, a Foucault pendulum which is a device used to show the rotation of the earth.  Normally found in universities or planetariums, it is one of only five in Japan.  The pendulum is the third largest in the world and is only dwarfed by the ones in Paris and St Petersburg.  I am pretty sure that the only Foucault pendulum to be found in an active place of worship and can be witnessed here at Fukusaiji Temple Nagasaki.  I am sure that 99% of Nagasakians wouldn't know anything about this incredible fact and you could be more in the know then the locals with 1 visit to the amazing place.

If you have an interest in Buddhism, unique architecture an or just like to take photos of rare and special attractions then this is your place to visit!  You will be drawn in by this places uniqueness as its a place that you travel the world and still not find something this interesting and completely different to any other structure you have seen before.

Click here to see Fukusaiji Temple Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Powerful from all angles

The monuments

Unique pond

Great hope for all

Goddess on a turtle

From afar

Unique image

Please click on the videos below to see Fukusaiji Temple in all its glory:

Kunisaki Geopark: Nagasaki Prefecture

The Kunisaki Geopark Andesite in Nagasaki Prefecture was created 1.5 million years ago when a Volcano near the Shimabara Peninsular discharged a sticky lava called Andesite.  During the age when the volcanic activity in the Hayasaki Peninsula (further south where Kuchinotsu town is now located) was less intense, there were some volcanic islands in the sea area around Shimabara Island and they belched magma consisting of different ingredients.  On the Kunisaki Peninsula in the south-west of the Shimabara Peninsula, visitors can see some layers of earth containing thick lava from the volcanic eruption then and layers of debris deposited by those volcanoes.

Even an amateur like me who has no real volcanic and geological experience, just seeing and observing these prehistoric materials of rock and volcanic materials in the flesh up close and personal is a real eye opener.  To realize that time has stood still and that history is staring at you is a fascinating experience that one should not miss out on and its all here in my backyard, figuratively speaking.

I spent a good 2 hours here walking and exploring but a real avid fan could easily spend a half a day here, really interesting and exhilarating stuff to be seen and observed!  The walk is an easy one, right along the coastline a walking path has been paved for ease of access and movement so that you can thoroughly enjoy the entire viewing process.   The result is uninhibited viewing of all things volcanic and lots of interesting materials to be seen and touched by all involved.

Come and check out the Kunisaki Geopark here on a map!

Layered rock formations
At the shoreline
Porous looking ones too
Rock shapes are different
Unique Rock Formations

Check out the Kunisaki Andesite Geopark Nagasaki in the videos below:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kazagashira Park: Nagasaki City

Kazagashira Park in Nagasaki is otherwise known as Ryoma Sakamoto's Park.  It stands on the top of a hill overlooking the magnificent Nagasaki Harbor.  With panoramic views of the city it is a excellent place to get a feel of the land and the encompassing valley below.  The park is a well known landmark and visitors from all over Japan as well as from overseas especially those that have studies Nagasaki History come to get a gander of the most famous Samurai of recent times.

Ryoma Sakamoto is heralded as being a visionary samurai for his time and during the mid 1800′s when the country was in turmoil with feudal Lord’s batting for domination one man had new ideas to transform Japan from a backwater country into an industrial force.  Ryoma Sakamoto envisioned a country unhindered by the feudal system and led a movement to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate, which he was successful in accomplishing.  This opened up Japan to overseas influences, world trade, industrial advances, technological expertise and generally made Japan the country that it is today!

Nearly every Nagasakian knows about this park and has visited at least once.  It would be a brave man or woman to admit to never having heard of Ryoma Sakamoto and or his park that is named after his accomplishments.  If you have a spare hour or 2 and wish to take a nice scenic walk through the heart of Nagasaki City and experience the beauty of the area then this place is for you.

Come and check out Kazagashira Park Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:


Ryoma Sakamoto the famous Samurai

The legend

Views of the harbor below

Spectacular Views

Here is a video of Kazagashira Park Nagasaki and the scenic views and splendid panorama:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Urakami Cathedral: Nagasaki City

Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki is a Catholic Church that was completed in 1914.  The main reason for its construction was because there were a large number of Christians who lived in the Urakami region of Nagasaki and many of them secretly continued to keep their faith even after Hideyoshi Toyotomi (the ruler of Japan in the 16th century) prohibited Christianity.

After the long-standing ban on Christianity was lifted, the  Nagasaki Christians started constructing the Urakami Cathedral Nagasaki, which took them 20 years to complete.

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

A sight to see!

Statue minus its head

Lots of info

Inside the Cathedral

Many figures and statues to see

Remembering the 26 Martyrs

Very impressive

The bell tower after the bomb

Full story of the Bell Tower

Powerful messages for all

However, when the atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945,  the Nagasaki Urakami Cathedral was close to the center of the explosion and was completely destroyed, except for a part of its wall.  After the war, the followers of the church took great pains to rebuild it and in 1959, a beautiful brick cathedral was finally completed.

Today, it stands as one of the symbols of Nagasaki that has been rebuilt and rediscovered itself from the past.  Bigger, stronger, newer but at the same time able to remember the good times and the bad.

A great place to visit for practising Christians and non religious people alike.  I am sure all people from all walks of life will be intrigued with the Urakami Cathedral.  Today it still shines like a beacon and is a major attraction for tourists from all over Japan and the world to see and feel what Nagasaki was like all those years ago and its influence it had on many people all over Japan.

The Urakami area of Nagasaki is a landmark of sorts and there is many many places of interest that one could easily spend 2 to 3 hours in the area walking around and seeing the sights.  Well worth a visit and a gander.

See where Urakami Cathedral Nagasaki is on a map!

Please check out Urakamai Cathedral Nagasaki from the video below:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Buddhist Stone Carvings: Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefectures

The Buddhist Stone Carvings in Isahaya are the sorts of places that only comes around once in a while and when it does you should grab it with both hands and hold on tight!  It is one of those places that takes you hours to find but the end product is more than worth the effort put in to find it.

The Stone Carvings are interesting to say the least.  I heard through a friend that there was this isolated place up in the mountainside of Isahaya that had literally hundred of Buddhist carvings. Quite a long drive and numerous wrong turns and the occasional asking of directions to the confused local on why a foreigner who isn't Buddhist would be searching for this place.

Finally I arrived at the entrance to the ravine and found the 'Gohyaku Rakan', known as the 500 Buddhist disciples which have been embedded in a rock face.  They are relief carvings in the rocks to commemorate the 487 victims of the 1699 flood of Isahaya.  The number of carvings are impossible to count in there entirety we just have to trust that there are 500 in total.  The shapes,  sizes and faces, features and style are all different and it is worthwhile to look carefully at each carving and identify each intricate and special individual feature.

An amazing site well worth a look or 2 or 3 or even 500!  One could spend a good couple of hours here or even an afternoon looking at all the delicate and amazing details that has been carved into the rock wall.  How many hours of pain staking effort it took to finish the job is beyond imagination, I just want to say thankyou to whoever completed this amazing works!

Have a look the Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings on a map!

Please click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Even fat ugly ones are cute

Many shapes and sizes

Too many to count!

Fine detail

500 in all

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shofukuji Temple: Nagasaki City

Shofukuji Temple has the distinction of being the first Zen temple constructed in Nagasaki.  It was established in 1677 by Tesshin from the Obaku sect of Zen Buddhism.  It is surrounded by tree cover and resides in a quiet and dignified location within Nagasaki City.  It is accessible on foot and is located within the cities CBD so makes it an great location to do a walking tour with other attractions nearby.  Although the temple buildings cannot be entered, visitors can walk through Shofukuji's attractive temple grounds and observe the buildings from outside.

Before Zen's introduction to Japan, Buddhism had already had a long history in Japan dating back to the 5th century. The new teachings of Zen, promoted meditation and discipline as the means to enlightenment and became very popular with the samurai class, which was exerting political power through the shogunate government based in Kamakura.

Today the temple still stands, survived the Atomic explosion relatively undamaged and has a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere about it.  There are a lot of steps to negate but this is one of the thrills of walking around the location to look and investigate each and every building on display.  The building have a lot of intricate details that can only be observed up close and personal so i recommend visitors come and take their time walking around the area.

Well worth a visit and a leisurely stroll around the outer grounds.

Come and check out Shofukuji Temple on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

A secondary Building

A National Monument

Lots of stairs

The main gates

Interesting retainer wall

Please click on the videos below to see Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki in its real environment:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Isahaya Spectacle Bridge: Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture

The Spectacle Bridge in Isahaya is a double arch stone bridge spanning a pond at Isahaya Park, which is one of the main sightseeing places of the area. The bridge is twice the size of the famous Spectacles Bridge in Nagasaki City and has many temples and shrines as well as walking trails that you could easily spend 1 or 2 hours here soaking up the ambiance.

The bridge was originally built over the Honmyo River in 1839.  However, after the flood of 1957, it was relocated to the park.  Every year on the anniversary of the flood, the city of Isahaya has a festival at the original location of the bridge.  It was designated as an Important Cultural Asset in 1958.

Comparing the 2 famous bridges, it is evident that the Isahaya bridge dwarfs its Nagasaki City cousin. The shape, the construction and the architecture is just amazing.  Worth a tour, a nice leisurely walk around the park to enjoy its beauty!  I like to visit this location first in my Private Nagasaki and Shimabara Peninsular full day tours as it is a beautiful location and sets the tone for what a great day we have in store for us to come.  Everyone agrees that places such as the Isahaya Spectacle Bridge Nagasaki are very rare these days and just to see and observe the unique views and construction quality are worth every penny, in my opinion.

Check out Isahaya Spectacles Bridge Nagasaki on the map!

Please click on the pictures below of the Isahaya Spectacles Bridge Nagasaki to enlarge:

Group shot

Amazing shape and style

Reflections like a spectacle

From the top of the bridge

Beautiful in November

Pretty spot

Colorful in Spring

It`s all about the reflections

Nice strolling location

Have a look at the videos of Isahaya Spectacle Bridge Nagasaki below:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tsubami Geopark: Nagasaki Prefecture

Tsubami Geopark in Nagasaki is a very interesting place to visit and anyone interested in history, nature and anthropology would sell their family car to check out what there is to offer from a scientific perspective.  Other normal people like you and me wouldn't mind just to use this site as a quick drop off to take a toilet break or to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and generally just have a look at what the place has to offer.  Yours truly did just that, all of the above actually and enjoyed himself whilst doing it as well!

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki is situated in the middle part of the Kuchinotsu Group Stratum which developed about 1.5 million years ago and is distributed over the Tsubami shore.  Kyushu at that time was part of a continent and the animals of a continental system.  These animals such as elephants and deer lived around the Shimabara Peninsula.  Their remains were found on the shore of a cove and lake within this stratum. These are called the Tsubami vertebrate fossil group and can be observed along the west side of the Peninisular between Kazusa and Minamikushiyama.

It's a great place to roam about and get a feel of the area and what the place used to look like and be like all those many years ago when the animals roamed free and the planet in its most natural state.  Check it out if you have a chance as said previously, some people would sell the family car to come here.

Check out the Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Rock walls full of fossil deposits 

Remnants of the fossils found at the shoreline

Swirling waters where the Tachibana Bay meets the Ariake Sea

Fauna fossil assemblage

Check out the videos of Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki below:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Volcano Damaged Houses: Shimabara City Nagasaki Prefecture

The Damaged Houses were a direct result of the Unzen volcano explosion and there has been several major eruptions in its history.  The volcano erupted most recently from 1990 to 1995, sending pyroclastic flows (superheated clouds of volcanic gas and ash) down toward the towns below. While most people were safely evacuated, 43 journalists, scientists and their taxi drivers were killed. The eruptions also destroyed buildings on the outskirts of Shimabara City.

Much of the volcano's destruction was due to large mudflows of volcanic ash, which flowed down the mountainside burying several homes and buildings that lay in their path.   These houses  are preserved in their original state and protected under a dome.  It is a surreal feeling if not quite eery sight to see these houses in their present state whereby once they were part of a thriving community with food smell wafting from the kitchens and sounds of children running around outside.  However it is important to know and respect the natural disasters that lay waiting for us

The Damaged Houses are a great way to see and feel the destructive forces of nature in play without being in its direct path.

Have a look at the Volcano Damaged Houses on a map!

Click on the photos to enlarge:

Lots of info in English

Unbelievable scenes

Preserved forever as is

Completely covered in ash

Great message

Taking a wander

Solar hot water from yesteryear

Complete destruction

Destroyed beyond repair

Always an interesting photo stop

Please click on the video below to see more about the Volcano Damaged Houses