I hope you enjoy this excerpt from my book, which is available at Amazon.
|The 200-plus monuments, museums, parks, ruins, trees and so on discussed in this book are organized into 10 walking tours. The term “walking” should be taken loosely however, as we will be making liberal use of the convenient streetcar system and the national railway, and it should be acknowledged that some sites, particularly in Tour 10, can only be accessed by car. (And by plane for that matter, as the final tour includes Nagasaki-related places of interest in other cities, and indeed around the world.)
Tour 1 covers the three main regions in the Peace Park complex, the first and most important stop for visitors interested in exploring Nagasaki’s A-bomb heritage. We begin with the negai Zone, or Zone of Hopes, which is where the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony is convened each August. Highlights include the iconic 10 meter tall Peace Statue by Seibo Kitamura, and the ruins of the Urakami Branch of Nagasaki Prison, which was the closest public facility to the hypocenter. This area is also home to a number of monuments donated from countries around the world in the spirit of international peace and goodwill. The Zone of Hopes is easily reached by catching the streetcar from the stop in front of JR Nagasaki, the main railway station and most convenient point of reference in the downtown area. The negai Zone takes about an hour to walk through.
The tour of Peace Park then moves to the inori Zone (Zone of Prayers), which is located a block to the south. This area features such iconic markers as the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Monolith, the Flame of Peace, and a remnant of the wall from Urakami Cathedral, as well as a number of monuments dedicated to specific groups and literary figures. This zone also takes upwards of an hour to explore properly.
The last part of the introductory tour covers the manabi Zone, or Zone of Study, which is located across the road, five minutes to the east. In addition to more statues, A-bombed trees, and a flower garden, this area includes Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the new Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall. At least a few hours are needed to take in the exhibitions and audio-visual presentations.
Tour 2 crosses the highway and bridge to the west of Peace Park to look at places of historical significance along the banks of the Urakami River. There are stops at Shiroyama Primary and other A-bombed schools with strong ties to the peace movement, as well as parks, temples and shrines. Highlights include the statues, museum and A-bombed trees at Shiroyama, and the broken stone torii gate at Benzai Shrine. This is a long walk that could easily take the better part of a day; consider splitting it over several days or making use of taxis during the hot, humid summer months (May to September).
Tour 3 heads southeast from Peace Park to look at the neighborhood around Nagasaki University Hospital and School of Medicine. Sites of interest include the “Guest House”, the only building on campus that survived the bombing, and the original stone gateposts, which were scarred and dislocated by the blast. Monuments raised over the years by local communities are also featured. The stops on this tour are spread out, and the full walk would take about half a day.
Tour 4 surveys the neighborhoods within walking distance to the north of Peace Park. Here we find Urakami Cathedral, which figures so prominently in “The Bells of Nagasaki” by Dr. Nagai, and the Nagai Takashi Memorial Museum, which looks at the life and work of the city’s most prominent A-bomb survivor. There are air raid shelters, statues, and a small museum at Yamazato Primary School, as well as a number of memorials and A-bombed trees in the area. As with the previous tour, visiting all the sites on the list would take at least half a day.
Tour 5 takes advantage of the municipal streetcar and the national train line to visit tunnels, temples, parks, shrines, monuments and former aid station sites spread across the north end of the city. This tour requires the better part of a day, and offers a great introduction to the unique atmosphere in many of the old neighborhoods.
Tour 6 returns to Peace Park, and takes the municipal streetcar in the opposite direction to look at heritage sites located on the way back to JR Nagasaki Station to the south. Along the way there is a monument river walk, as well as a stop at Sakamoto International Cemetery and the iconic broken torii gate at Sanno Shrine. The points of interest are within easy walking distance of the streetcar line, and the whole tour takes about a half a day.
Tour 7 heads further south to explore the neighborhood around JR Nagasaki Station. This tour includes a beautiful temple walk, starting with Honrenji at one end and finishing with Eishoji at the other. Along the way, there are monuments and A-bombed trees, as well as stops in the historical Nakamachi area with its park and Catholic church. This tour takes at least a few hours to complete, and ends at the tunnels next to the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture.
Tour 8 is based in the downtown area. It begins near Nagasaki City Hall, and travels west and south past the municipal library, the prefectural government offices, and Yume Plaza (a major shopping center) before ending at Dejima wharf. In addition to surveying monuments and trees, there are stops at the sites of several former aid stations. The highlight of this trip is the Shinkozen Aid Station Memorial, a small but impressive museum that operates free of charge on the first floor of the library complex. The stops on this tour are close together, and they can all be visited in a few hours.
Tour 9 completes the survey of downtown with a trip east and south, along the banks of the river leading into the commercial district. There are A-bombed trees at Koyeiji and other temples, as well as aid station memorials and other monuments raised by the local community. Of particular interest is a visit to “virtual ground zero”, the bridge that was originally targeted as the hypocenter but was spared due to inclement weather. Like the previous tour, this walk can be completed in a few hours at a leisurely pace.
The final section of this book (Tour 10) introduces a few harder to reach sites, at the northern and southern outskirts of the city and in the hills to the east. From there, it catalogs a series of stops nationally (Kitakyushu City, Osaka, Tokyo), and internationally (primarily in the United States) with special ties to Nagasaki and the A-bomb.