Here at Odigo we're building a community to help people plan their trips to Japan, and to give them local knowledge while they're here. We want to capture spots across the length and breadth of the country so I grabbed the chance to take a trip to Nagasaki to see how this port city has influenced Japan.
My knowledge of Nagasaki was pretty limited. I only knew that it was one of the cities targeted by an atomic bomb during WW2. I had no idea of the significance this port played in the industrialisation of Japan, and how it helped to modernise the country as it is today.
One of the key figures from the Japanese industrialisation period was Scottish merchant Thomas Glover. I won't delve into the history of Glover here, there are some great articles and documentaries out there about him, but more often than not, the importance of his role in Japan is overlooked. Being from Scotland myself I felt a certain affiliation with this place. The city and influences from home didn't disappoint, it rained the whole time. If I was homesick before, I certainly wasn't now.
Despite the weather, I had a great time and I can't wait to go back again, possibly for the lantern festival in February. I used the tram to get around, only 500 yen for a one day pass! So for anyone planning a trip to Nagasaki, buy yourself a tram ticket and check out my top three spots -
I was very lucky to have a private tour around this temple. I always feel like I miss out on some really interesting pieces of information when I visit temples because I can't read Japanese (yet). So I was delighted when a friend of mine got in touch with his friend, who is the groundskeeper there, to offer me a tour. Daion is the 3rd largest temple in Japan and has so many great features. There's the stone turtle statue, the beautiful big gingko tree, the gardens out back, the dojo upstairs... the list goes on.
You can easily while away a few hours here. The views over Nagasaki Harbour are beautiful, and while strolling through the grounds I saw a massive koi (carp) pond, colourful hydrangeas everywhere (in June) and incredible mansions, including the residence of the man himself (The Glover Residence). You can really feel and see the blend of Western and Japanese influences throughout the area.
And speaking of Western and Japanese influences... This quaint, family-run tea shop and antiques store is a delightful little place for you to stop off at for a refreshing cup of tea served in beautiful vintage cups and saucers, and recharge with delicious waffles served with ice cream and, on the day I went, homemade jam made from freshly picked apricots from a tree at the owner's house!
We have some more blog posts coming up which will focus on the interesting people I met during this trip, so stay tuned for that.
Planning a trip to Japan? Check out some of my favourite spots in my profile.