Nagasaki Final Part: Giant Tortoises & Samauri


Arising from slumber in Jenni’s house, we had the morning to freely explore the city. Taking to the streets we stumbled upon a shrine, as well as a giant silver man riding on the back of a tortoise…

The shrine eerily and beautiful empty, riding up the side of one of Nagasaki’s many hills, it offered sprawling views over an eclectic mix of building styles across the surrounding area as well as sanctum of piece and space in an otherwise busy city.


Passing some children feeding a cat on a hot tin roof, we were hot on the heels of the silver man. Looming higher than anything around it, bizarre and sparkling, it had to be investigated further. Despite appearances, it was not a Pokémon centre, and rather turned out to be a more modern shrine come place of worship, though once again eerily quiet on a Sunday morning.

Regrettably, this was not a Pokemon centre

Strolling down towards the city centre, Racheal and I took on the mission of locating bread, cheese and wine for lunch – gastronomical sophistication for a sophisticated city! After seeming promise whilst hunting for omiyage (food based presents for our work colleagues) we had to admit defeat, leaving with only bread and wine.

Meeting up with Naomi, she assured us she knew a cheese shop, and in no time at all, there we were, sat by the bay, listening to the water fountains in the park, sipping red wine and smushing brie on bread. Naturally, this tranquility couldn’t last.

No sooner had we finished our lunch, than some young Japanese children took it upon themselves to entertain us with questions, throwing water at us and playing chase. Never have I seen so many twenty-somethings frantically running away from a pack of 8 year old Japanese kids.

With the sun slowly lowering in the sky, we meandered around the bay, finding a festival… thing happening, so we drew up seats, grabbed a beer and watched the Taiko performance.

It’s important to keep cool in warm environments

Tonight’s plan was to hit up the ropeway, view Nagasaki from on high, and check out the onsen on the hillside.

Clearly things were never going to go that smoothly.

Getting to the trainstation, we managed to figure out where from and which bus to get to the ropeway, buy and tickets and board – little did we know one of group was terrified of heights!

The view from the top was spectacular, with one side pure darkness as it looked out to see, whilst the other was hills of rolling lights, with dark veins of the meandering estuary.

Nightscape of Nagasaki
Nightscape of Nagasaki

Upon leaving, we discovered the excellent onsen we were to visit… was on another hill entirely! Thankfully there was a free shuttle bus… however, it was back at the station, a good 30minute stroll away.

My desire for the onsen was starting to wane, however, the group preserved, and we arrived at this delightfully upmarket onsen on a Nagasaki hillside. SO naturally I stripped naked in front of my new friend, and climbed into a small wood bath with him, whilst overlooking Nagasaki on high – my first such onsen experience.

Real Life Samauri

Monday morning we awake to glorious sunshine, tied up Jenni’s apartment and went to take in a final tour of Nagasaki.

Down the road we came across the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, and had a fun morning exploring its exhibitions, for part of which we were requested to walk around barefoot – always novel in a public place!

What a lovely veranda
What a lovely veranda

Part of the museum consisted of a reconstruction of the Nagasaki’s Magistrates Office. Much larger than my apartment, the traditionally built wooden buildings consisted of large rooms, tatami floors and paper covered sliding doors – so Japanese! Yet most exciting of all was the re-enactment of smuggler trials held by volunteers in full costume – I didn’t understand a jiffy, but we took an awesome photo with a faux-samauri!

I’m not convinced his hairstyle is for real…