Kyou wa, Peter-san wa Doko?

Where's Peter Today?

17th Oct 2004: Day 11-- Nagasaki

The hotel was right next to the Nagasaki Peace Park, the hypocenter of the second nuclear bomb explosion.

We visited the memorial and viewed the special window that was constructed to show the old ground level. After the bombing, they raised the ground level by several meters to construct the park. As a reminder, they left the stream that runs next to it and a cut-away into the ground at it's original level so you can see the scorched remains of the rubble. A slightly worrying sign says that you can go to the viewing window and "be exposed to the radiation panel". Given that there is probably still a quantity of plutonium dust present at that sub-level we weren't sure if the message on the sign was literal or not.

Apart from the small memorial park, there was another museum but not much else to betray the fact that this had been the scene of a nuclear attack. Nagasaki is a vibrant and forward-looking city. We caught a tram and headed on into town to walk the scenic route plotted on the local tourist map that takes you round the port and up into the hills.

While walking the harbour we stumbled into a traditional house-building festival. There were displays on traditional house-building materials and techniques as well as other activities like pounding rice to make a paste for traditional New Years cakes. We discovered that they were also running free cruises on a junk around the harbour to the bridge under construction for the expressway extension. We jumped at the chance.

After the cruise we walked up to the temples near the Chinese district (there has long been a big Chinese community in Nagasaki) and eventually arrived at the massive cemetery on the hillside facing the port. It was dusk and the mosquitoes were biting. We soldiered on and reached the top of the hill to be greeted by a wondrous panorama.

Having got thoroughly bitten by insects and tired from walking, we went back to the hotel, changed and went out to the local mall for a bite to eat ourselves. The local speciality is horsemeat sashimi and it was truly wonderful. A bit like venison. Cut very thin and you cooked it yourself in a pot of hot water with vegetables and tree mushrooms.

Earlier, we'd been in a mall in the centre of town and spotted a cinema. We thought it would be a great idea to see a film in Japan, seeing as Japanese cinema was one of the reasons we'd decided to come here in the first place. We settled on a domestic film called "Swing Girls" as it looked funny and there seemed to be a lot of interest in it in the music shop next to the cinema, with song books and so on relating to the film. Despite being in Japanese with no subtitles, it was quite an easy film to follow, being very much like a film from the UK called "Brassed Off".  Basically both films are about brass bands that are resurrected from failure to win a national music contest. The English film was set in a coal mining town with miners as the musicians and the Japanese version was about a high school band that supports the school baseball team.

It turned out to be a good choice. A simple film with a simple plot and lots of visual jokes without intense monologues that we couldn't make head nor tail of. Not to mention lots of cute girls wielding saxophones…


Moving swiftly along…

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Prepare For Take-Off

Day 1 -- Tokyo

Day 2 -- Mikawa-Anjo

Day 3 -- Nagoya

Day 4 -- Suzuka F1

Day 5 -- Kyoto

Day 6 -- Kyoto

Day 7-- Himeji Castle

Day 8 -- Kurashiki

Day 9 -- Hiroshima

Day 10 -- Nagasaki

Day 11 -- Nagasaki

Day 12 -- Kagoshima

Day 13 -- Kagoshima

Day 14 -- Tokyo

Day 15 -- Tokyo

Day 16 -- Tokyo

Homeward Bound

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