We arrive into Nagasaki on a sunny morning and proceed ashore. The welcome from these immaculately attired Immigration and Customs Officers is warm and courteous and as the day goes on it is easy to see that Japan is at long last welcoming tourists back. Mask wearing, however, is common everywhere. The port area is beautifully landscaped and scrupulously clean and the air is clear with no smog. Our Japanese tour guide is standing there holding the Viking sign for our bus and she is happy to see all 38 of us – this may change as the day goes on I can tell you with certainty.

As we drive to get to the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum we pass well maintained buildings of apartments. All the window coverings are neat and tidy, the blocks have either bricked or tiled exteriors and even the older buildings are well kept. There are little flower pots at the main entrances and there are tidy clotheslines on every verandah but they are almost hidden by the height of the wall that runs the length of the verandahs. The tree lined avenue has many flower boxes that form a border along the pavements. Everything is clean and tidy. We are told that a three-room apartment with bathroom costs 30 million Japanese Yen which is about $NZ380,000. We pass 15 cranes working on a new railway station (that should be done and dusted in a few months!) and power poles everywhere with many lines attached but in an orderly way unlike what we saw in Taipei.

We arrive at the Atomic Bomb Museum where the first thing we see is a clock that is set at 11.02 am – the precise time that the atomic bomb was dropped on this city on 9 August 1945. We see photos of the utter devastation caused by “Fat Man” – the bomb. It is extremely sad to see photos and accounts written by survivors – where they were, what they saw, what they lost. It is a very sobering experience and we can only hope and pray that this never happens anywhere in the world ever again. We move on to the Peace Park where there are monuments marking this terrible event and we are told that on the 9th day of every month at precisely 11.02 am people ring little bells in remembrance of those who suffered and lost their lives. There is absolutely nothing to smile about in this historic place. We have visited Arlington National Cemetery and the battlefields and cemeteries in Normandy dedicated to fallen soldiers and visited the grave in Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery where Vern’s uncle is buried after he was killed in action on 26 July 1940 when his RAF plane was shot down over the Netherlands and it moves you to tears to see what war does to young men, to families and to countries.

Our tour moves on to the man made island that operated as the only port of trade that connected Japan to the outside world for more than 200 years. It is then onto the lunch stop at a beautiful hotel up a windy road on a hillside with lovely views out over Nagasaki. We are greeted with a very warm welcome and seated where at each place setting there is a beautifully laid out tray of with miso soup, sushimi, sushi, rice and other little delicacies and we haven’t a clue what they are – but they are tasty!

Tour groups are interesting – the guides do their count and they know exactly how many are on ze bus and they give very precise times to meet so we can all hop back on ze bus! All very well, but some people forget to look at ze time, some go to ze souvenir shop, some leave it to the last minute to get to ze bathroom (and then find that the bathroom has many options to choose from on ze panel at ze side of ze seat and they play around with every option!) So the guide starts counting those who have managed to turn up at the appointed time – and we wait – and we wait. She counts again but people move around during the count – some have gone to sit down, some have joined another group! Unbelievable but it happens every day!

At last everyone is aboard and we proceed on to Oura Catholic Church – the oldest wooden church in the whole of Japan which was built for the foreign merchants who settled in the area more than a century ago. It seems that this tour today was designed for us all to lose some weight because of the shrinking clothes. Every place we visit has stairs – many many stairs and I now understand why these lovely Japanese people are slender – they climb stairs. Elevators are not plentiful – there is usually only one in the buildings we visit but there are literally hundreds of stairs. The Catholic Church is no exception and you just about need an oxygen mask by the time you reach the altar!

The final stop for the day is Glover Park and garden which is the former estate of Scottish merchant Thomas Glover who contributed to developing modern industry in Japan. This is all magnificently set out on a hillside overlooking the port where Viking Orion docked. The sensible people running this have had the very good sense to install an outdoor escalator and three travelators to get us to the top which is a relief to many I can tell you because we didn’t pack crampons! It is a beautiful estate with lovely gardens which are very serene with waterfalls and wide pathways. At the end of this hot afternoon we make our way from Glover Park back to the boat and the smiling Japanese Customs men and women. The evening finishes with another lovely dinner and a concert by a Malaysian harmonica player called Aidan Soon – he is a World Champion Harmonica player and if you get the chance to find him on YouTube he is utterly remarkable. The evening before we went to an Abba Concert by four singers from the UK who gave a wonderful performance of a number of Abba hits and this dancing queen and king were rocking it!

Viking Orion sailed out of Nagasaki at 6 pm and we were farewelled by a most amazing sight. An orchestra of High School students came to give us a concert on the pier. It was magical and the passengers applauded this great gesture and appreciated the music they played. The whole group stayed until the ship pulled away from the pier. They waved and held up farewell signs.

The farewell from the High School Orchestra
Wandering through the gardens of Glover Park
The one in charge of the B’s is in need of a beer!
Oura Catholic Church
The ladies carefully clipping the plants at the Church to make them look perfect
At the lunch stop on a hot day in Nagasaki
A serene garden to sit and contemplate on the man made island
The Atomic Bomb Museum
The clock stopped at precisely 11.02 am on 9 August 1945
A shrine in the Peace Park of Nagasaki
Peace Park Nagasaki in remembrance of those who lost their lives on
9 August 1945
The beautiful gardens and monuments in Nagasaki’s Peace Park
Never forgotten

3 thoughts on “Nagasaki

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