Included in the LBAT program was a weekend trip to Nagasaki. A breathtaking three hour coach bus ride away from our Beppu residence, we soaked in countless views of morning Japanese country side. Once we got into the city, we alighted swiftly and headed to our first destination, the Oura Catholic Church, a mid-19th century haven for the persecuted Christians, missionaries and converted alike. Perched on a hill overlooking downtown Nagasaki, the church, despite its contemporary reconstruction, bears numerous marks from the 1945 bombing.
From here, we then went to the Atomic Bomb Museum and Memorial Peace Park. Rubble in the wake of unspeakable tragedy utterly transformed by the power of the human spirit into a beautiful park boasting nature’s grace and a firm wish for global cooperation. The museum was designed with much care to take the viewer through what life was like at the moment of the explosion and during the trying times afterwards. While the museum showcased many relics still brimming with the destructive energy they experienced, none were quite as moving as the smiling survivor who truly embodied the ideal of the park.
We also went to the Nagasaki History and Culture Museum. The museum featured some modern attractions, such as Ghibli exhibits, but we went to one that focused on the history of Nagasaki as one of the few hubs for international exchange in Isolationalist Era Japan (Sakoku). We then went to the actual place where this exchange took place. The artificial island of Dejima has seen centuries of foreign imports, such as clover, coffee, cabbage, photography, badminton, and chocolate.
We concluded our trip with a visit to the oldest Confucius Temple in Japan, and the famous Glover Garden. Thomas Blake Gover came to Nagasaki in 1859, at age 21, and quickly established a strong foothold in the economic and military spheres of Nagasaki, a major center of the broad, tumultuous transition sweeping through Japan at the onset of the 20th century.