Ultimate Guide to Traveling in Nagasaki

Nagasaki has to be one of the most unique and culturally significant cities in all of Japan. Did you know that it is one of the only cities in Japan not to have a castle? Or that is has the 3rd best night-view in the world? Or how about it was the only city to allow foreigners during the isolation period? Nagasaki is an amazing city bursting at the seams with culture. Prepared to be dazzled by this amazing part of Japan. 

Sightseeing in Nagasaki 

If you are in it for sightseeing, Nagasaki has you covered. With over 50 culturally significant locations (many of which are UNESCO world heritage sites), you will have a lot to see. Here are my top 5 recommendations while in Nagasaki. 

1. Inasayama Nightview 

Inasayama is an absolutely gorgeous location situated right off the heart of the Nagasaki. It can be gotten to through either driving, or taking the gondola to the top. (about 700¥). The best way for a tourist to get here is to take the bus that departs from Nagasaki central station. Ask any train station attendant and they will direct you to the right bus number. The bus will take you directly to the Gondola station where you can ride all the way to the top. Highly recommend this if you are coming to Nagasaki. 

2. Peace Park & Atomic Bomb Museum

Not all of Nagasaki's history was happy. Nagasaki is one of only two cities in the world to have the nuclear bomb dropped on it. It was a devastating time in history for the entire world. The city was reduced to rubble, and thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians were killed. 
The city however recovered and thrived, and an eternal park was created in hopes of spreading peace to the world. Along with this, the Atomic Bomb Museum sheds light on the horrors of nuclear weapons, and has the goal of removing all nuclear weapons. Both of these locations are so well done, and are a must for anyone to see. Understanding the history is the only way to prevent it from happening again. 

3. Kazagashira Park

This little known place is one of the coolest views in the city. To get to this park get ready to hike, or call a cab. You can get off the tram line at Kokaido-mae (38) and start heading up the mountain. On your way you will run into and walk through the Kofukuji Temple. This is a beautiful temple that runs up the mountain.
Sakamoto Ryoma

The park has two main features. The first being it's incredible view of the city. Often times you will be the only one up there, making it all the cooler. The second feature is the Sakamoto Ryoma statue. He was a prominent fighter to unite Japan during a time when the feudal system was still really strong. He was really inspired by the United States declaration that "All men are created equal". Due to this dedication to Japan as a whole, people from all over donated enough money to build a statue in his honor. 

4. Seaside Park

The Seaside park was always a favorite of mine while I lived in Nagasaki. This park is built right next to the Nagasaki harbor and is relaxing as they come. When the weather is beautiful a trip to the Seaside Park is a must. 
On most weekends you will find something special going on or around the park. Sometimes the battleships from Sasebo come to visit, sometimes there is an ice-cream festival, sometimes you stumble upon a Castella eating contest. Whatever it may be, this is definitely one of the hubs for entertainment in Nagasaki. 

5. Suwa Shrine

What would a Japanese guide be without a shrine to visit? If you are looking for shrines Nagasaki has them by the dozen. Being the original multicultural city in Japan, there are shrines all over the place, including the only Confucian shrine outside of china. (Koshi-Byo Tram stop 51). 
My favorite however was the Suwa shrine. This one is located right in the heart of downtown Nagasaki. The shrine is fully active so you get to see a lot of different activities happening while you visit. I was there while some recently married Japanese people were getting their blessings. Be sure to make a stop here! 

Traveling to and in Nagasaki

Now that you are all excited to come and see Nagasaki, lets talk about getting to and around it. Both of which are extremely easy. 

Getting To Nagasaki

There are many many ways to get to Nagasaki including planes, trains, and buses. I would recommend flying into Nagasaki International airport. (Which is the first airport to be built on a man-made island!). This airport is pretty convenient due to the fact that it has a bus that goes straight to the heart of Nagasaki. Just get off your plane, and board the bus, it's really that simple. 
I would recommend peach airlines for this. You can fly from Osaka for about ¥6,000-¥9,000 dollars each way. Really cheap, and a great airline. 
If this airport is too small for your liking, your other option is to come in using the train or bus. You can start anywhere to accomplish this as the train and bus only runs one way into Nagasaki. (It's the end of the line for Western Japan). The best place to start is from Fukuoka. The cheaper option is actually a bus ticket. From the airport you can get a seat on a coach bus for about ¥2,700. (Roundtrip is about ¥4,700). It will take you right to Nagasaki Central station! Of course the other option is train (¥5,350 roundtrip) . Just look for Nagasaki-Eki and you will be on your way. 
Nagasaki is pretty easy to get to. You have a ton of options, and many different ways to get to the city. 

Traveling in Nagasaki

Nagasaki Travel Map

Once you are in Nagasaki, it is extremely easy to get around the city (actually a lot easier than most Japanese cities). This is due to it's vast Tram system. (See above picture). This tram system will take you anywhere in the city you want to go, and is really straightforward. Get on the color you want, and get off at the numbered stop. It's ¥120 each time you use it, or ¥550 for unlimited travel for a day. 
These maps are also readily available. Each landmark is marked on the map with the Tram stop you need to get off at. (All of the ones I mentioned in the Sightseeing section are also on this map). This was by far one of my favorite parts of Nagasaki.  
If the tram isn't your style, you can always take the bus to get around. This is definitely a little bit more confusing as there isn't much english assistance, so you have to understand the network. It took me about 2 weeks of living there to fully understand the network. But if you are fine with a little experimentation, then buses can definitely work out nicely. 


While in Nagasaki I was actually a student living with a host family, so I don't have any first hand experience with the matter. I however met many people who were traveling around Nagasaki and learned from them. 
Nagasaki like any other city has a lot of different places to stay. There are many hotels in the heart of the city that span the entire range of luxury. I think the best way to find these is through a website like booking.com. They usually have a good list of them, and will take care of everything in English, which is nice. 
There are also a couple of hostels in Nagasaki. So if you are comfortable with that route, you have the option. You can find these on hostelworld.com or a website that is similar.  

What to Eat

What is a guide without a few recommendations on what to eat? Instead of offering up some restaurants, I am going to give a couple cultural staples you should try to eat while here.

Nagasaki is famous for two dishes, Champon, and Castella. Each of these ties to it's culture. Champon is a random assortment of really anything put in a tasty ramen broth. It was created through the combination of the Japanese and Chinese culture. Trust me, this stuff is good. I would have this like 3 or 4 times a week.

Castella on the other hand is a dessert. It came about due to the large dutch influence in Nagasaki during the isolation period. Due to this, many things from the Dutch culture mended with the Japanese culture. The western cake was one of them. Castella is a fluffy cake with a glazing to give it flavor (Traditionally honey flavored). It however also comes in different flavors like chocolate or green tea. Anyone in Japan knows, if you go to Nagasaki, you need to try the Castella.


Well that about does it on my guide. If you have any questions leave them as a comment. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you go and visit Nagasaki soon! 

Kurt Anderson