Day 8 – Fukuoka to Nagasaki – 26 June 2019 – visiting the Dutch town of Dejima, eating Champon for lunch and dining at Iron Chef Chinese’s restaurant for dinner

Nagasaki is one of the most Western-most cities on the Japanese home islands. It was struck by one of two atomic bombs in World War 2, which devastated much of the city though less catastrophic than the one on Hiroshima. Nagasaki is home to some excellent mountains, Chinese inspired cuisine and a famous Dutch trading port.

We caught a JR direct line from Hakata Station to Nagasaki Station. It took almost two and half hours for us to arrive at Nagasaki.

This day turned out to be a terrible day as we were constantly lashed with rain. For our trip so far, we had been lucky, but we were told that in Japan during June the chance of rain is about 40% on any given day.

The train carriage was about 60 to 70% full. It was a regular train that moved faster than the usual trains, but definitely wasn’t a Shinkansen.

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We walked from Nagasaki Station to Dejima’s museum. Here we learnt and experienced a lot about the only European settlement in Japan during its period in isolation. The museum retains most of the old buildings and re-purposes them for this museum. The fee was only 500 yen. It was a large museum and there were plenty of the interactive, visual displays to view.

We found this museum to be very popular with school trips. There were lots of young people interacting with the exhibits.

There were lots of model ships behind glass and other old ornaments. It was a fascinating museum for any history lover or model ship enthusiast.

We opted not to spend money and three hours traveling to and from Gunkanhima, or Battleship Island, and went to the Digital Museum instead. The fee for the Digital Museum was steep, but it had some really nice state-of-the-art technology to show visitors. I wished I could have taken a photo or a video of the display, but unfortunately I wasn’t allowed.

There are five floors to the Digital Museum. Many of the exhibits were in Japan only. If you are keen, there are plenty of things to watch, listen and play, including experiencing what it was like to live on this island.

Apparently at its height, there were people living on the island. Almost all the inhabitants were people working in the mines. When the mine dried up, the inhabitants moved back onto the mainland.

The name Battleship Island comes from the shape of the island than other thing else.

I do regret not visiting Gunkanjima. I recommend taking the journey if you visit Nagasaki.

We wanted to also visit the Glover Garden. Mind you, getting to Glover Garden from the Gunkanjima Digital Museum on foot was a difficult trek. Nagasaki is especially hilly. Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to see much value in walking around the garden and we didn’t want to pay, even though it is only 500 yen.

The view of Nagasaki from the entrance to Glover Garden.

We visited Chinatown to try some Chompon Noodles. Champon is made by frying pork, seafood and vegetables with lard and the soup is made with chicken and pig bones. It was delicious. A must-try in Nagasaki. We also had the pork bun, kakuni, which was just melt in the mouth deliciousness.

Our journey in Nagasaki was short, mainly because of the weather but also due to us wanting to get back to Fukuoka before the trains became too sparse for our journey back.

We booked a table at Iron Chef Ken Kenichi’s family restaurant, Shisen Hanten. The restaurant was eerily quiet around 7:00 pm. The hosts in particular were really lovely and very helpful. The restaurant is located in the same building as the Hakata Station. It’s not hard to find either.

We ordered some mapo tofu, Kenichi-san’s signature on MasterChef, chilli tomato prawns and sichuan chicken. All the dishes were delicious. The mapo tofu was well flavored and slightly spicy. I wasn’t sweating after eating any of these dishes.

It was a great experience with super affordable prices, e.g. 1,000 to 1,500 yen dishes.

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Dining in, I also had a feeling that this place doesn’t draw many foreigners, which is a shame because they are missing out on some incredible food.

Stayed turned for Day 9 – Fukuoka to Kyoto – 27 June 2019. Visiting monkeys on Arashiyama, the Bamboo Forest and eating at the fire ramen joint.

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