Travel Journal

Nagasaki, Unzen and Shimabara (Japan)

(Sunday 4 November 2007) by Lynda
Japan.....I`ve made it, all the way from Holland on trains, buses and boats. It has been a long and interesting trip and this is the furthest east I will get on this trip. Hopefully enough time to find out where the sun comes from!
Hypocenter park Nagasaki
Hypocenter park Nagasaki

I arrived in Fukuoka by hydrofoil (the beetle) and took a bus straight to Nagasaki. Nagasaki is of course well known because the second A-bomb was dropped there. The original target was Kokura but because it was cloudy on the 9th of August 1945 the course was set for the secondary target. The 4.5-ton "Fat Man" bomb had an explosive power equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT. The explosion took place at 11.02am, at an altitude of 500m. The bomb actually missed its intended target (Mitsubishi shipyard) and scored a near-direct hit on the largest Catholic church in Japan. The bomb completely devastating the Urakami suburb of northern Nagasaki and killing 75,000 of Nagasaki`s 240,000 population and another 75,000 were injured. Anybody out in the open within 2 km of the hypocenter suffered severe burns from the heat of the explosion.

The whole area of Urakami still bears scars from the bomb and when you walk in the area you see memorials everywhere. The most impressive is the marble column in the Hypocenter park because this was the actual place where the bomb did fall. I also found the two big trees near the Peace Park very impressive, the
On the top of Mount Fugen in Unzen
On the top of Mount Fugen in Unzen
very old trees lost most of their branches and leaves during the bombing but a year after the bombing the trees started to develop new leaves so the people in the area decided to repair/fix the tree and keep it as a symbol of hope and new life.

I`m glad I went to Nagasaki, it`s very impressive to be there and try to understand what happened there. What I really liked about the place was that I didn`t feel the slightest hint of anger or negative sentiment of the Japanese people. The whole place was about hope and peace and a many prayers that a thing like this will never happen again.

After my visit to Nagasaki I went to Unzen, a volcanic centre on the Shimabara Peninsula. In town there are many jigoku`s: boiling and steaming hot water springs and the air is full of sulfur. And just outside town is the Unzen-dake range, a group of mountains with a volcano in the middle. I did climb Mount Fugen to see the volcano, it`s an active volcano but fortunately not today! The walk was beautiful with all the autumn colors and the views from the top were amazing. That evening I took the bus to Shimabara. Shimabara is a beautiful little town with an old castle, a carp stream and samurai houses.

So far I`m really impressed by Japan, the nature is beautiful and the towns and little villages are great to visit and it`s a big country so plenty more to explore for me!

  • hi by herbling

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