Monday, October 12, 2015

Nagasaki Day 3: Cruise Ship, Glover Garden, Mt Inasa

Nagasaki Day 1: Atomic Bomb Museum
Nagasaki Day 2: Battleship Island (Gunkanjima)
Nagasaki Day 3: Cruise Ship, Glover Garden, Mt Inasa
Nagasaki Day 4: Temple Street, Wrap-up

This continues a series of posts on Nagasaki. I'm trying to write one each day I'm here.

Writing every day is hard. I typically average three posts a year, so this is completely new territory. Hats off to people who write for a living.

Today we slept in and had a late start. Funny how a vacation tires you out. After two days of waking up early we had no morning plans. Started our day at 11 am with a trip to the convenience store for a coffee and donut. We took it to the seaside park nearby when suddenly this view greeted us around the corner.

A massive ship had pulled into town overnight it seemed. I don't think the picture gets across how big this thing was. It dominated the view, completely obscuring the huge Megami Bridge in the background. The front of the ship said Mariner of the Seas - Nassau, with Royal Caribbean written on the side. We wondered what a Caribbean cruiser was doing all the way up in Nagasaki. A quick Google search revealed that this ship has now relocated to Asia, making trips out of Singapore and Shanghai.

This was my first time seeing a cruise ship up close and I was absolutely fascinated by it. Apparently it can house over 4,000 people, has a shopping mall, basketball court, multiple swimming pools, ice skating rink, a mini-golf course, plus bars, cafes, restaurants on board. It's a moving five-star hotel. The ship shows up repeatedly in pictures from today, because it's so big there's simply no place to hide!

Tried taking a couple more shots just so that you can get a feel for the size. Here it is from across the street.

And from further away, behind multi-story buildings.

Absolutely massive.

Our first scheduled stop was a place called Glover Garden. I'd been hearing the surname Glover a lot; one of the apartment buildings yesterday on Battleship Island was also called Glover House. So was curious to find out more about him.

Glover Garden is a park on a hill overlooking Nagasaki Harbor. In it are residences that belonged to prominent western businessmen who lived in Nagasaki around the late 19th century. Foremost among them was a gentleman called Thomas Glover, originally from Scotland.

Steps leading up to Glover Garden

Glover came to Nagasaki at the age of 21 in 1859, which is when Japan's ports were opened to foreign trade. You could say he had first mover advantage and probably also came from a family of means. He set up a trading company in Nagasaki and became involved in the tea trade, shipbuilding, and coal mining.

Koi pond at the top

Not long after his arrival Japan transitioned from a military shogunate to Imperial rule under the Meiji Restoration. Under the new regime Glover gained prominence as a business leader and was also involved in transfer of technology. He was the man behind the Japan Brewery Company, which today is widely known as Kirin Brewery.

Glover House

Glover's residence was a huge bungalow. Built in 1863, it's the oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan.

Glover House

Glover had an absolutely amazing panoramic view of Nagasaki Harbor right from his front porch.

There's the cruiser again. It's impossible to see from the picture but at that exact moment there was a man doing laps on the running track on the ship's roof.

Behind the house was the stable, where they kept horses. That's what stables are for, I think, yes.

Stable at Glover House

There was also this random statue of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini.

Puccini composed an opera called Madame Butterfly, which was set in Nagasaki. So his connection to Nagasaki isn't random, but still isn't clear to me what connection if any he had to Thomas Glover.

Overall, Glover Garden was great. Brilliant weather for it too.

For lunch we went back to the waterfront to the same place we had dinner the night before.

Next stop was the Nagasaki Confucius Shrine, also in the same area as Glover Garden.

Entrance to Confucian shrine

Known as Koshi-byo, this shrine was built by Nagasaki's Chinese residents in 1893, although it looks the way it does now after a facelift in 1982. It's the only Confucian shrine in the world built outside China by the Chinese. And interestingly the land it's built on is technically Chinese territory, with the land rights controlled by the Chinese embassy in Tokyo.

Main courtyard

Materials from China were used extensively in the shrine's construction. The yellow tiles on the roof are from Beijing, and traditionally only used on the Emperor's palace or Confucian shrines.

Statues of Confucius' disciples

Behind the shrine is the Historical Museum of China. No photographs allowed, which is unfortunate as they had some great pottery in there.

Next we hopped on the tram to take us to Nagasaki Station, from where we took the bus to Mount Inasa.

Nagasaki is served by four single-car tram lines. The fare is a flat 120 yen per ride regardless of how far you go, plus you can transfer for free. You can get an unlimited use day pass for 500 yen, so it's worth it if you plan on taking 5 or more rides. So far though the most we've taken it in a day is 4 times so never had the use for a day pass.

Mount Inasa or Inasayama is a 300-meter high hill close to the city center. At the top they have an observation deck giving you a 360 degree view of the city of Nagasaki and surrounding areas.

The bus dropped us off close to the summit from where it was another 15 minutes on foot to the top.

There were a lot of stairs to climb. We lost count after about 300 steps of huffing and puffing.

The views as you get closer to the top are great. This is from the other side of the harbor and that's the same cruise ship in the background.

Tried to capture the sunset from the top but clouds foiled that plan.

The night view from the top looking over the city is ranked among the three best in Japan, along with Hakodate and Kobe.

The picture above gives a good layout of Nagasaki. The harbor cuts through the middle, south to north from the right of the image. Verdant hills surround the city on either side. It's incredibly picturesque.

As the light faded the temperature dropped and the wind also picked up, so we made our way back down.

Before going back to our hotel I wanted to see if we could board the cruise ship. Somehow I had it in my head that we would be allowed to 'take a tour'. It didn't matter anyway, because as we were walking towards it we noticed it started to move. Indeed, it was leaving port, moving slowly but noiselessly.

Cruise ship leaves Nagasaki

There were people hanging out on the balcony waving, and in turn people gathered at the harbor (us included) waving back. It was a special moment *sniff*.

That was it for the day. The cruise ship coming in to town was a completely unexpected but pleasant development. We were actually a bit worried what 4,000 extra tourists in town would mean in terms of crowds but it wasn't a big deal at all, surprisingly.

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