Sunday, December 1, 2013

Unzen Christian Memorial: Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture

The Unzen Christian Memorial is a very special place indeed.  It is hard to believe that such a special, unique and picturesque place was actually a murdering ground for the prosecution and killing of Christians all those years ago in feudal Japan.

During the depression of Jigoku (1627-1632) many Christians were killed.  Though it is impossible now to indicate the exact place in which many Christians suffered martyrdom, two monumental stones were placed in the Jigoku (Hell Ponds) to honor the Martyrs.  One is called "Seika Moyu no Hi," (monument of sacred flame) which was built in 1939.  The Japanese poem written by Chosuke Ikuta is inscribed and reads "Your exalted spirits and sacred red blood have never faded away and are still vividly seen through the red mountain covered by azalea flowers."

The other monument is of the Christian Cross and was raised by Archbishop of Nagasaki in 1961.  On the surface of its setting stone, 6 martyrs' names are inscribed to keep the plight of these people many years ago alive and in the memory of all Christians of today and yesteryear.  It is a place that one can lost in the magnificent scenery not to mention the history of the area and at the same time you can learn about the Christians of Japan and the persecution that they had to endure in order to follow their faith.

Check out the Unzen Christian Memorial on a map:

Please click on the pictures below to enlarge:

The names and dates of the Christians who were boiled to death

This is where it all happened!

The memorial stands to remember the Christians of the time

Many Nagasaki Christian were martyred here!

Please check out the video of the Unzen Christian Memorial here:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hamanokawa Spring: Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture

Hamanokawa Spring is one of those places that is a page out of yesteryear.   The people, the buildings and the community spirit are all from a bygone era where society was nicer to each other, people lived and acted by another ethos of friendship and support of their fellow man and the community worked together to get things done and create opportunities for all.

I was pleasantly surprised to walk around Hamanokawa town to see the extremely old Japanese houses and I felt the atmosphere of a place that still today in the 21st century follow so many rules and life experiences of a culture and spirit of centuries before.  The Hamanokawa Spring in Shimabara is divided into 4 distinct areas and the system has been in place for 100's of years since feudal times and still holds fast today.

The 1st water chamber is used for the washing of fish and all types of foods such as vegetables and fruits.  The 2nd chamber is specifically for the rinsing of plates whilst the 3rd chamber is used for the washing of plates.  Finally the 4th chamber of water is only used for the washing of clothes.

When I arrived a little old lady was just finishing washing her clothes in the 4th chamber, I wanted to take a photo but she whisked away in a blur.  I really want to see these ancient systems in use by the local community, so I will return again someday and try and capture the process in full operation.

Please check out Hamanokawa Spring on a map:

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Well sign posted

Abundance of clean fresh water

The whole community uses the water for a variety of reasons

The rules of how the system works

Shared by all the local community

The oldest part of town in Shimabara

Here is a video of the Hamanokawa Spring in Shimabara, please take a look:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nagasaki Bio Park: Nagasaki Prefecture

Nagasaki Bio Park is an amazing place to visit as it really has something for everyone to enjoy.  You can watch from afar and enjoy the amazing facets of nature, whether they be various types of flora or fauna, both the big and small varieties.

It took me 5 years to get here to the Nagasaki Bio Park and the question i asked myself immediately was, why?  I know its location is a little out of the way (approx. a 1 hour drive from Nagasaki City) but the attractions and its value for money as well as being an amazing place to wander around and get up close and personal with the animals especially for the little ones is an amazing and necessary requirement to get people to come back again and again.

I decided to visit the Nagasaki Bio Park on a cool but windy autumn afternoon, the weather couldn't have been more pleasant and the atmosphere and mood of the animals and surrounding environment was better than first expected.  The kids got right into it from the beginning and were running from location to location trying to take in and process the information faster than their little brains could take, while the parents happily strolled behind content in their decision to come to this little slice of nature in Nagasaki.

For less than 5000 yen for 2 adults and 2 children, it make a full day let alone a half day visit a true value for money experience.  I am sure it will be less than 5 years for a repeat visit to take place. Highly Recommend coming to the Nagasaki Bio Park!!

Check out the Nagasaki Bio Park on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge.

Lots of hungry raccoons

Checking out the Lesser Panda

An interesting aquarium too!

Very cute little Pineapples in the dome

Orchids anyone?

Lots of tropical flowers

Here is a video of the children having some interactive feeding time with the animals at the Nagasaki Bio Park:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Nagasaki Kaminoshima Church: Nagasaki City

Nagasaki Kaminoshima Church is located on a hill at the entrance of the Nagasaki Port.  It is a church that was constructed in 1897 to welcome foreign ships to what was once a Christian town back in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Originally made out of wood and then finished in its final state of brick in 1897 it stands today as a beacon to all who pass into the mighty harbor of Nagasaki.  Seen from miles away as a result of its pure white facade contrasting against the brilliant cobalt blue of the magnificent water color within the Nagasaki Harbor, one cannot help to stare endlessly at the magnificent and striking details of this amazing building.

Located not too far away from the city centre but within a quiet and tucked away community, Nagasaki Kaminoshima Church has quite a strong and loyal following by its patrons.  I was able to view and explore the area in complete openness and freedom and I was able to take in a lot of  detail of the building and the outlying areas and was left with a strong and powerful feeling of the pride and passion put into up keeping the Church and its surrounds by those who are in charge of maintaining the Churches spectacular beauty.

I implore you to come and check out the area for yourself if you have an interest in Christianity, amazing scenic views and any type of spectacular architectural structures but because of its remote location definitely a Private Nagasaki Tour will have to be organised.

Please check Nagasaki Kaminoshima Church on a map:

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Kaminoshima Church

Good Morning Insciption

Such a beautifully presented place

Perched on a ledge for all to see

Overlooking the Harbor

Perched over the Church

Close up

The inside matches the outside, spotless!

Reaching to the sky

What an amazing view

Important inscriptions

Please check out the videos below of Kaminoshima Church Nagasaki:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nagasaki Port Terminal: Nagasaki City

Nagasaki Port Terminal is not too far from the the city center and  is very centrally located close to many of the main attractions that Nagasaki has to offer.  It is literally across the street from Glover Gardens and really offers the best of both worlds by allowing people who want to visit the city's popular attractions the ability to do so within a sport period of time.

The Nagasaki Port Terminal was completed in March 2010 and offers a clean, beautifully and efficient disembarking process that will allow customers to get out of the building and into the real Nagasaki to see . It's landscaping includes green spaces with lawns and various trees on the rooftop of the terminal building.  Inside the terminal there is a post office where you can exchange money, mail postcards, and purchase stamps.

Nagasaki is an attractive city set on a plain between the active harbor and a backdrop of mountains. It  has developed attractive park promenades which are perfect for a quiet stroll and an escape from the urban hustle and bustle.  There are few modern harbors with such an impressive approach as the one Nagasaki offers.  This fjord-like channel is the view that has greeted thousands of visitors each year but it is when the Cruise ships are docked that really makes Nagasaki come alive.  The view of the cruise ships in port are impressive and such a dominating landmark on the cities skyline that it always makes the locals take a double take.  I am a local now and it makes me look more than twice I am sure you will do the same!!

Check out the Nagasaki Port Terminal on a map

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

A beautiful port to visit

Dominating the view

Modern and new facilities

One of the big ones to visit

Check out the video below of a Cruise Ship coming into the Port:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Battleship Island: Nagasaki Prefecture

Battleship Island officially known as Hashima and it operated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mine.  Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began extracting coal from undersea mines.  At it's peak in 1959, the 6.3-hectare island's population reached 5,259 inhabitants with a population density of 83,500 people per km2 for the whole island.

As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down and  the Nagasaki Battleship Island mines were no exception.  Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974 and today it is empty and bare which is why it is sometimes called Ghost Island.

With no industry to support it, the island was quickly abandoned and has remained that way ever since. The eerie atmosphere and well-preserved concrete structures continue to spark the imagination of photographers and filmmakers alike, most recently serving as the inspiration for the villain Silva’s island lair in the 2012 James Bond film SKYFALL.

It was a real ambition of mine to get a closeup of this magnificent structure even though it is crumbling and falling apart as we speak.  To see an island that literally falling into the sea and slowly but surely disappearing from view was an amazing experience that everyone should have the opportunity to do whilst they can still can or better still whilst the island is still there. You had better hurry up while is still exists, barely though!

Please check out Battleship Island on a map:

Please click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Getting closer

close up

Great day for it!

Looks like a Battleship

Popular with tourists

Please click on the video below to view Nagasaki Battleship Island:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium: Nagasaki City

The Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium is a place that I have always wanted to visit but for some reason that I am unable to explain it never really came up on my itinerary.  That was until my kids (I have 2) kept pestering me to go until I couldn't take their constant pleading anymore and we jumped into the car and sped to the entrance.

The Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium's main feature is its penguins of course . The aquarium keeps eight species of penguins, including lovable Little Penguins but its highlight being the King Penguin, which can grow to nearly 1 metre in height.   It's pretty funny to see one's youngest stand beside one of these King Penguins and to be challenged by its height and weight I am presume as well!

Another highlight of the Aquarium is to see the penguins in their natural setting swimming freely in Tachibana Bay whereby an area has been isolated by using nets and the penguins are released into this part of the ocean to be observed by visitors. You can watch them behave naturally swimming in the water at high speed to catch feed thrown by the staff, which is a scene rarely observed elsewhere in the Aquarium world.  The cute little guys will come right up to you, waddle past and even take food from your hand.  The is about as close as I have ever come to a real Penguin so yes it was an experience to remember and cherish with my children.

I will be back I am sure!

Check out the Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium on a map!

Please click on the pictures below to enlarge.

Even my kids wants to be Aquarium keepers now
Real King Penguins

In their natural environment

Lots to see and do

Cute lil fella

Feeding the Penguins

Lots of space right on the sea

The Entrance

Monday, July 15, 2013

Miguel Chijiwa Statue : Chijiwa, Nagasaki Prefecture

Miguel Chijiwa`s Statue is displayed in Chijiwa Town, Nagasaki.  He was born in 1569? and died January 23, 1633.  He was a member of the Japanese delegation to European Christendom which is also known as the Tensho Embassy.  

The idea of sending a Japanese embassy to Europe was originally conceived by the Jesuit Valignano and sponsored by the three Christian Daimyo's.  Mancio Itō was chosen to act as a spokesman for the group.  On February 20, 1582, Mancio Itō left Nagasaki in company with three other noblemen:

The ambassadors arrived back in Japan on July 21, 1590. On their eight-year-long voyage they had been instructed to take notes. These notes provided the basis for "The Mission of the Japanese Legates to the Roman Curia", a Macau-based writing by Jesuit Duarte de Sande published in 1590.

The four were subsequently ordained as the first ever Japanese Jesuit fathers by Alessandro Valignano.

Mancio Itō died in Nagasaki on November 13, 1612.

Martinho Hara was banished from Japan by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1614, and acted in Macau. He died in Macau on October 23, 1629.

Miguel Chijiwa seceded Society of Jesus before 1601 and died in Nagasaki on January 23, 1633. The reason of his secession is uncertain.

Julião Nakaura was caught by the Tokugawa Shogunate, and died a martyr by torture in Nagasaki on November 21, 1633. He was beatified on November 24, 2008.

It is so interesting to have so much Christian history available and right at my doorstep. My neighbouring town, Chijiwa was named after Miguel Chijiwa and his statue is proudly displayed right in front of the Town Hall for all to see and admire.

Miguel Chijiwa Statue Nagasaki
Christians in the day in Japan

The first Japanese Embassy to Europe, in 1586.
Top, from left to right: Julião Nakaura, Father Mesquita, Mancio Itō.
Bottom, from left to right: Martinho Hara, 
Miguel Chijiwa.

Check out the Miguel Chijiwa Statue in Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:


On display at his namesake town of Chijiwa, Nagasaki

A servant of Christianity

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nagasaki Art Museum: Nagasaki City

Nagasaki Art Museum was opened in April 2005 and is located next to the Nagasaki Seaside Park which is just a 400 metre walk from the International Port Terminal.  The Museum's glass walls allow brilliant sunshine to fill the interior, creating a bright, spacious atmosphere.  The Museum's wonderful design and excellent location perfectly represent the concept of the place.

The museum strives to be popular enough to be casually used by almost all age groups, from children to elderly people, and seeks to present possibilities for the future.  Serving as a bridge between human beings and the arts, the museum will promote a wide range of efforts to encourage interaction among nations, regions and age groups, as well as between artists and museum visitors.

Upon my first (but definitely not my last) visit to the Nagasaki Art Museum the thing that most impressed me was the amount of natural light that fills the building even on cloudy overcast days.   It provides the Museum with a pleasant if not radiant feeling of openness that makes one feel comfortable immediately.  The 400 yen entrance fee is very reasonable and one can easily spend 2 to 3 hours here to satisfy their artistic impressions or even a full day to waste some time that they have to spare.  Come and check it out, you will absolutely enthralled by the art work and their coffee shop is pretty impressive too!

Check out the Nagasaki Art Museum on a map!

Please click on the pics below to enlarge:

Even the entrance is cutting edge

Has something for everyone

Great views from every angle

Interesting from the outside too

A great place to walk around

Interesting Statues

Ultra Moden