After the emotional day in Hiroshima, our group travelled further south to the port city of Nagasaki. The trip there was fairly smooth until the last train but I managed to hold the motion sickness together until we arrived.
It was immediately apparent that the city had a chinese influence. The evidence was in the architecture and the popular cuisine. After some research I learned that Nagasaki was a major trade city with mainland China, but it was actually the Portuguese in the 1500’s who really increased the port traffic and global trades. Nagasaki was the United States second target in WW2 for using an atomic bombs. The bomb was nick named “Fat Man” and was a plutonium bomb which caused more damage than the bomb in Hiroshima, except due to the geological terrain in Nagasaki the distribution of damage was varied. This however did not reduce the number of citizen killed… initially almost 75,000 people were killed, then over the years several hundred thousands were diseased and killed by fallout and other illnesses caused by radiation.
Just like Hiroshima, Nagasaki has many memorial sites scattered around the city but the modern city is quite developed and is the location of one of Mitsubishi’s major ship building stations. It is quite a sight to see these super tanker being built all along the bay.
After reaching our hostel with a little help from an english fluent resident (which is very rare) we set off to find out if our plan to visit Hashima Island was going to be a possibility. Otherwise known as Battleship Island or Ghost Island, this coal mining town in the middle of the sea was home to a couple thousand people at the apex of its functionality. The island had a movie theatre, swimming pool, apartment buildings, library, and much more. The mine was closed in 1974, and the residents were evacuated shortly after. It wasn’t until 2009 that travellers were allowed to visit and explore the islands. Initially I was surprised at the notion that I could wandering around freely, but my enthusiasm was quickly squashed once the tour began and we were forced to walk in the “safe zone.” I realize that it was a decomposing concrete wasteland but come on it would have been awesome! Regardless I was constantly thinking how amazing it would be to shoot a film on this island (of course that’s where my mind went) and it’s too bad that the latest James Bond film beat me to it. At least I get the satisfaction that I was there first! 🙂
Nagasaki is a city well worth visiting if you are interested in learning a lot about history and human resilience. It is a city that doesn’t really feel the same as the rest of Japan, or rather Central and Northern Japan so be ready for a very different experience!