Discover more with slower travels
01.03.2016 - 27.03.2016 16 °C
Most of the time, this blog tend to veer away from more popular touristic destination and it is no different this week. This entry will move the spotlight from the West all the way to a small town in Japan, Nagasaki. I recommend taking the longer, more scenic route and start your journey in Busan, South Korea instead of flying in one of the major airports in Japan and take the fast train to your destination. This way, you will have the opportunity to go slower and see more scenery along the way. Let’s veer off course a little and talk about one of the Korean food I enjoyed since this entry starts from Korea. I am quite sure that visitors to Korea have tried this on different occasion and for me, the samgyeopsal is such a guilty pleasure. This dish is simply thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat and is cooked on a grill at a diner’s table. The meat is neither marinated nor seasoned so it retains a solid meaty taste. One would commonly eat the meat with accompaniments such as rice, lettuce, aged kimchi, sliced garlic or as creative as you can get.
A typical dining place will look like this
Now back to the journey, from Busan, take the ferry to Fukuoka. There are two options, one will take you to Fukuoka in a little under 3 hours and the other is an overnight option that takes 11 hours. Go with the latter if you have time and you will see beautiful sunsets, sunrise and might even spot some marine life too.
Here are some views from the boat, much better than just jetting off, yes?
I took this ferry route twice so far and both times I was the only non-local on the boat and simple people watching was another interesting way for me to past time on the long journey. Upon arrival to Fukuoka, do note that the customs is going to inspect you more thorough on the chance that you are the only foreigner. (I think they might be bored since foreign traffic is not much at the pier) Again, there are two options for land transport; one is the slow train that will give an opportunity for the traveler to look closer at the serene Japanese countryside or the traveler can just take the express train.
The train chugs along different small towns and I like to see how the landscape varies slightly in each area.
This is another side of Japan that is not always featured in international news or magazines. Besides high tech metropolis crawling with rushing albeit polite citizens, there is also another facet of desolate beauty in the rural area where houses are scattered further apart and fields dominates the landscape instead of endless buildings.
Nagasaki lies at the head of a long bay which makes it a good natural harbor and because of this characteristic; Nagasaki holds special influence in the history of Japanese contact and influence with foreign cultures. When one sees how monoculture Japan is today, Nagasaki is a remarkable city. Portuguese explorers first came in the 16th century, followed by the Jesuits, and then the Dutch and the British. Christianity was the spark for many bloody conflicts and in a few points of history; it was completely outlawed with the followers persecuted mercilessly. The city thrives during the Meiji Restoration, survived an atomic attack and set a strong example of being a city of peace and perseverance today. The Christians too, survived, endured in the midst of all these hardship and today they are still a visible presence in the city. Their faith is a visible testament on how God could make things beautiful again in His own time. Nagasaki has a right to seek retribution for the wrong being done to them and yet today, they preached the path of peace.
Today, the faithful remains
The easiest way to explore the city is to hop on the trams and identify your own places of interest. The tourist center is loaded with helpful information for foreigners. There are plenty of museums, parks, churches, shrines, historical building and an aquarium waiting to be explored. After exploring those, I wandered into the neighborhood, played with school children, explored shops at the outskirts and hiked up Mount Inasa to get a good panoramic view of the city.
Here are some shots taken during spontaneous wanderings in the city. Do note that if you are only doing a day trip, you have to prioritize a few areas and you won't be able to explore in depth.
Dropped by a primary school
It is nice to see that young children are given the responsibility and opportunity to grow their flowers in spring
I slowly made my way uphill, occasionally stopping and attempting to chat with older people and children who thought I could converse in Japanese.
The panoramic view is ultimately rewarding after the long walk.
I stayed on until the sun begin to set before I start my descend.
In the next entry, the spotlight will still be on this city and I will talk more about its pursuit of peace. Until next time.