The Ultimate Travel Guide to Nagasaki, Japan
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“Overall, Visiting Nagasaki made me realize that you can always see the beauty in a tragedy. The city continues to charm its visitors with their UNESCO sites, the unique cuisine, the foreign influence on architecture, beautiful memorials, but most of all, its history. All I can say is that visiting here was certainly a memorable one.”
If I get to choose which place I’d rather be at any time of the year, it would be here in Japan. I’ve been to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, and other parts of Japan but just recently, I was lucky to have wandered around another city I’m so excited to share my experience with all of you – Nagasaki.
It’s located at the port city on the island of Kyushu and the capital of Nagasaki Prefecture and is most know to be the last city in the world to experience a nuclear attack.
Nagasaki, which means “long cape” in Japanese, is very popular with its volcanoes, hot spring spas, museums, historic buildings, and monuments. Before the trip per se, I’ve always thought of the city as a place where the atomic bombing has happened, but it’s far more than I’ve discovered during our 2days and a 1-night stay.
In this Nagasaki Travel Guide Blog, we listed some tips on how you can do your own DIY Day trip to Nagasaki, Japan. We also included a sample Nagasaki Itinerary, Things to do and see, how to get there and more.
Best Time To Visit Nagasaki
Save your vacation leaves on the first quarter of the year, as the peak season in Nagasaki starts from July until August. The weather in Nagasaki is relatively mild year-round, however, people prefer to visit Nagasaki is in the months between April and June and then December to February, where the city is cold but not freezing.
How To Get There
You can fly to Manila from Fukuoka via Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific offers daily flights between Manila and Fukuoka, Japan with affordable fares as low as P3,288 per sector. Book Here: http://bit.ly/CEBxteamoutoftown
How to get to Nagasaki from Fukuoka
One of the faster ways to reach Nagasaki is via a plane ride from Fukuoka. From there, you can choose whether to take a train ride to Nagasaki or by a bus which departs every hour. It takes two and a half travel time from Fukuoka airport to Nagasaki.
By JR limited express train
Limited express trains are operating between Fukuoka’s Hakata Station and Nagasaki Station. The one-way trip takes two hours and costs 4,190 yen by an unreserved seat or around 4,500 yen by reserved seat. Discounted sets of two tickets cost 6,180 yen. The trip is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and the Kyushu Rail Pass.
By JR local trains
This option is cheaper but it takes about 4-5 hours to reach either Hakata Station or Nagasaki Station. The train ticket costs 2810 yen (one-way ticket).
By highway bus
Nishitetsu highway buses operate every 15 minutes between Fukuoka (Hakata Station, Tenjin Bus Center) and Nagasaki Station. There are also hourly connections to/from Fukuoka Airport. The one-way journey takes about 2.5 hours and costs 2570 yen.
If you’re coming from Tokyo, you can opt to ride a train. Take the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen going to Fukuoka’s Hakata Station. From there, transfer to the JR Kamome express train to Nagasaki.
Traveling and getting around the city is more convenient if you take the bus. Here, you can pay the fare when you get off, but first, you need to have a one-day pass for unlimited rides on buses within the designated area in Nagasaki City. This pass also includes a pass for the streetcar, which is another form of public transport in Nagasaki.
You can get your one-day pass at the Tourist Information Center located on the ground floor of JR Nagasaki Station.
Top Nagasaki Tour Packages
Make your travel easy breezy if you’ll book an all-inclusive package for tourists including hotel accommodation, transportation, and itinerary. Here are some of the recommended tour packages from KLOOK for your worry-free journey in Nagasaki.
Gunkanjima Island, Glover Garden, and Mt. Inasayama Day Tour in Nagasaki. Visit three iconic landmarks in one day through this tour. This includes a visit to the abandoned Gunkanjima Island, the scenic view and establishments at Glover Garden, and capping off the day with a million-dollar view of Nagasaki at Mt. Inasayama.
Dolphin Watching and Obama Onsen Hot Spring Experience in Nagasaki. Meet some adorable dolphins with the whole family when you book this tour via Klook and then reward yourself with a relaxing hot spring dip at Obama Onsen.
Learn Some Local Lingos
Wouldn’t it be a great experience learning a language or two. Here are some Japanese words and phrases you should use and learn when you visit here:
- Moshi moshi. “Hello” ( greeting on the phone)
- Onegai shimasu. Please.
- Konnichiwa. Hello / Good day.
- Sumimasen. Excuse me
- Ohayo Gozaimasu. Good morning.
- Hajimemashite. Nice to meet you (for the first time)
Where to Stay in Nagasaki
Experience the wonderful island and stay at some their most recommended hotel. Check it out here:
Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort
Address: 2-3 Akizukimachi, Nagasaki 850-0064 Nagasaki Prefecture
This hotel is a great choice you want easy access to the vibrant city. It overlooks the Nagasaki harbor and boasts rooms completed with a comfy bed, locker, closet, complimentary tea, humidifier, towels, and WiFi connection.
Other facilities they take pride in include their garden, sauna, swimming pool, hot tub, and a spa. There are also three restaurants are available for guests can enjoy.
Hotel Forza Nagasaki
Address: 4-11 Hamamachi HAMACROSS411, Nagasaki 850-0853 Nagasaki Prefecture
Ranked as the third most popular 3-star hotel by Trivago, the Forza Nagasaki offers pleasant accommodation with rooms equipped with a flat-screen TV, high-speed internet connection, spacious room with a comfy bed, and a bathroom with complete toiletries. It’s also a 3-minute stroll from the Shianbashi area and China Town. Not to mention, tram and bus stops are located right outside the arcade entrance
Traveler’s House on the ROUTE
Address: 850-0051 Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Nishizakamachi 5-14, Japan
For less than $100, you and your group can experience staying in a comfortable and clean guest house cum hostel located near the JR Nagasaki Station. This cabin-style dormitory is equipped with kitchenette facilities and a shower. Nearby attractions include Nagasaki Museum of History, 26 Martyrs Museum, and Fukusaiji Temple.
Best Places To Eat in Nagasaki
More than the historical places, the food here in Nagasaki is the destination itself. Did you know that the city is largely influenced by western and US influences? But the locals added an interesting element and flavor to make it their own. We’ve compiled a list of restaurants we deemed worthy of a visit. Read along!
Address: 9-7 Shinchimachi, Nagasaki, 850-0842, Japan
This easy to find restaurant is famous for their Nagasaki Champon and Chinese Ramen. You can also try their fried rice and vegetable dish for a change, and everything is reasonably priced! It’s definitely a great fusion of Chinese and Japanese menu! Make sure to visit early as it closes at 9PM.
Address: 8-9 Hamamachi, Nagasaki, 850-0853, Japan
Open for business for almost 150 years, Yossou has been welcoming patrons to serve them only the best steamed custard dish called chawanmushi. The restaurant is known to be very first chawanmushi specialty restaurant in Japan, wherein the dish is usually served in a teacup and eaten with a spoon.
The dish contains a variety of ingredients from white fish, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ginkgo, flavored with kamaboko (fish paste), added with wheat powder, and anago (grilled conger eel). You should also try their braised pork belly and shippoku; a “hybrid cuisine” that combines elements of European, Chinese and Japanese cuisines.
Address: 2-1 Maruyamacho, Nagasaki 850-0902, Nagasaki Prefecture
Another place where you can have a taste of Shippoku is here at Kagetsu. From a former geisha house opened in 1642, it’s now turned into a classy building with a garden and a small museum. Upon entering the premises, you will be greeted by servers wearing kimono. As for the food, you must try the Ozoni, soba, shells, braised pork, whale, and their delectable desserts served in an amazing plating.
Address: 8-25 Hamamachi, Nagasaki, 850-0853, Japan
Known to serve Unagi for 160 years, Izumiya has been one of the most favorite restaurants in Nagasaki. They stayed true with their traditional cooking and the ambiance with a small pond that shows the live unagi. You can ask for some local’s help to navigate the restaurant, as it’s located in an alley.
Address: 5-23 Hiranomachi, Nagasaki 852-8117, Nagasaki Prefecture
Indulge yourself with a great mix of Japanese-Chinese cuisine in a dish called Champon, a ramen noodle dish that was invented by Shikairo restaurant in Nagasaki. Going here is easy as it’s located near the Atomic Bomb Museum. The famous dish consists of pork, seafood, and vegetables, then pouring in a soup made with chicken and pig bones.
Address: 1-1 Edomachi, Nagasaki, 850-0861, Japan
Having a bite of Nagasaki’s specialty called Castella is MUST if you’re here! The main store can be found at Edo-machi Street near Ohato tram station.
Castella is basically a sponge cake made with sugar, flour, eggs, and starch syrup, and has variations from chocolate, matcha, and honey. You can buy anywhere in Nagasaki, but according to some locals, some of the best can be found at Bunmeido, which has been serving Castella since 1900. If you were to bring home just one souvenir food item from Nagasaki, then this should be it.
Things to Do and See in Nagasaki
Aside from the has picture-worthy fruity bus stops you can see at the town of Konagai, and the various old buildings which make Nagasaki an endearing city, here are some of our suggested things to do and see here!
Visit the Gunkanjima
If here in the Philippines, we have Corregidor Island, the beautiful Nagasaki is also known for the Gunkanjima or “Battleship Island” because of its shape. It’ located 19km from Nagasaki Port, and was recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. It’s a perfect destination if you’re really into history and if you’re into a James Bond film, as this was the filming location of his movie, “Skyfall.”
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
Learn about the rich past of Nagasaki by dropping by at this place. This large museum with houses displays which focuses on Nagasaki’s proud history of international exchange. There’s also a section of the Edo-period Nagasaki Magistrate’s Office that shows off what happened in the controlled trade and diplomacy.
See the oldest surviving Western-style house in the country here at the Glover Garden. It’s situated on a hill where you can see Nagasaki Harbor. It’s an open-air museum and was the former home of Thomas Blake Glover, who is a Scottish merchant played a major part in the industrialization of Japan. But more than just savoring the view, you can also enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the Glover Garden Tea House. It’s a refreshing sight to see how Japanese and Western elements combined to create a masterpiece like this.
Visit the Mount Inasa at Night
If you want to get a different perspective of Nagasaki at night, then we suggest you climb atop the Mount Inasa, a 333-meter high mountain close to Nagasaki’s city center. Oh, did I mention, it’s included in the list as one of the top three night views in Japan. To visit, you can choose whether to take a cable car or a bus. However, you can also take a car ride from Nagasaki Station which would only take a 15-minute travel time.
Named as Unesco’s World Heritage list in 2018, this hilltop church or also known as Basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan was built in 1864, and is packed with stories you should discover once you’re here. According to history, this church is where 26 Christians were in 1597, thus the church name. Currently, it has been renovated with a museum displaying items relating to the history of Christianity in Japan.
Nagasaki Peace Park
Comprised of two parks and a memorial museum, the Nagasaki Peace Park stands as a symbol of hope and memorial for peace, and was inaugurated in April 1955. Every 9th of August, a memorial service takes place at the foot of the statue in memories of the victims of the tragic war. There are also well-wishers from across the country and around the world who send folded origami cranes to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as prayers for peace.
If you’re coming from Nagasaki Station, ride the blue Nagasaki Denki tram across the street and alight at the Matsuyamamachi stop. From there, it will just take a few minutes’ walk from the park.
Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
One of the popular attractions in Nagasaki is the Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium, also dubbed as the oldest living penguin in the world. This is a place where 9 out of 18 penguin species are housed, and visitors enjoy their time here by seeing the penguins swimming in enormous, glass-walled habitats. As a matter of fact, you can interact with the penguins and feed them.
A lot of historical remains can be found at Dejima. From what was once a trading post, the area is now surrounded by various residences and warehouses., bringing you a vibe transporting you back to the Edo period.
Also read: Best Things to do in Nagasaki, Japan
Best Places to Shop in Nagasaki
Shoppers frequent to Don Quijote because of its affordable goods with over 160 branches throughout Japan, four of which are in Nagasaki. They house mini department stores offering products ranging from groceries, electronics, beauty items, clothing, and household goods.
The AMU Plaza Nagasaki
If you’re up for some souvenir shopping, there’s the AMU Plaza to cater to your needs. It’s a shopping complex located next to the JR Station and provides the shopper with various options, from gadgets, clothing, household needs, and the likes.
This place is also known as a shopping haven in Nagasaki. Aside from the wide variety of shops, the Hamanomachi Arcade also has cafés and restaurants above and downside alleys, just in case you get tired from shopping. Definitely, the perfect place if you’re in the hunt for some gift and souvenirs.
Nagasaki City Itinerary
- Visit Gunkanjima
- Oura Cathedral
- Glover Garden
- Shinchi Chinatown Shiambashi
- Visit the Atomic Bomb Museum and the Peace Park
- Visit Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
- Visit Temple Street and Meganebashi Bridge
- Explore Dejima
Overall, being here in Nagasaki made me realize that you can always see the beauty in a tragedy. The city continues to charm its visitors with their UNESCO sites, the unique cuisine, the foreign influence on architecture, beautiful memorials, but most of all, its history. All I can say is that visiting here was certainly a memorable one.