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The Hottest Spots to Visit in Nagasaki

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Nagasaki, located on the southwestern island of Kyushu, is one of Japan's most historically and culturally rich destinations. A city that flourished in the late 19th century as a center for trade and industry, Nagasaki is now home to some of the country's most beautiful temples and gardens.

The city was also the target of the world's second atomic bomb attack in 1945, and today the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum serve as powerful reminders of the devastation of war.
Nagasaki is a popular tourist destination for both Japanese and international visitors. The city's many attractions include its historical sites, beautiful scenery, and delicious cuisine. With its mix of cultures and history, Nagasaki is a fascinating place to explore and the perfect destination for travelers seeking an authentic Japanese experience.

Here are some of the hottest spots in Nagasaki:

Top 10 Attractions in Nagasaki

There are a great many things to see and do in Nagasaki, but here are ten of the city's most popular attractions:

1. Glover Garden

Glover house in Glover garden, Nagasaki, Japan

The Glover Residence, Ringer House, and Alt House are all nationally designated Important Cultural Properties. These buildings were originally located throughout the city as Western-style buildings in the 1860s but were later dismantled and restored. These residences were loved and lived in by traders who enjoyed the Nagasaki lifestyle and preserved in their original state, complete with authentic recreations of the period's interior design.

The Glover Residence is a wooden Western-style house in Japan that was the home of Scotland-born Thomas Blake Glover. Glover was a trader of weapons and ships who assisted Japan's reconstruction in the late 1800s. He also helped send many young Japanese people to study abroad and was a pioneer in various industries such as shipbuilding, fishing, minting, mining, steel manufacturing, and beer production. During the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate, the patriots are said to have used a hidden room in the Glover Residence to come and go, making Blake Glover a historic mastermind who contributed significantly to reformation at that time.

The location on a steep slope that reflects the distinctive topography of Nagasaki offers breathtaking views of the city's impressive harbor and majestic Mount Inasa. This stunning garden is home to various plants beautifully showcased throughout the four seasons, with special night illuminations adding to its romantic charm.


2. Oura Cathedral

Oura Catholic Church, a World Heritage Site in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture

The Tokugawa Shogunate continued the ban on Christianity during the Edo Era, and from the 1639 seclusion policy, all missionaries were ousted from the country. However, during the Bakumatsu Era, a foreign settlement in Nagasaki was established when Japan was opened. It was named the Church of the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan in honor of the 26 saints executed in 1597 on Nagasaki's Nishizaka hill due to the ban on Christianity. The front of the church faces that same hill.

The Oura Church is a beautiful building with Gothic elements, and it is the oldest Western-style building in Japan that is still standing. It is a place of worship for Christians and a symbol of the freedom of religion.

The Oura Cathedral is a National Treasure in Japan and is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows, which are over 100 years old. When it was completed, the cathedral was visited by tourists from all over the world who were fascinated by its unique Western architecture. In addition, it also drew many underground Christians who had been persecuted for their faith over the previous 250 years. Despite appearing as Buddhists on the surface, these devout followers were passionately devoted to Christ deep down.

3. Nagasaki Peace Park

Tourists sightseeing the Peace Statue created by Seibo Kitamura in the Nagasaki Peace Park.

Nagasaki Peace Park was created to remember the lives lost and suffering endured due to the atomic bomb dropped on the city on August 9th, 1945. The park comprises five zones, each designed to help visitors reflect on the tragedy of war and cultivate hope for peace. The Zone of Hopes is where visitors can reflect on the terrible consequences of war, while the Zone of Prayers helps them realize the importance and nobility of peace. Additionally, the Sports Zone provides opportunities for people to engage in activities that promote peace and understanding. At the same time, the Plaza Zone serves as a space for declaring these ideals to the world.

The statue, a bronze figure 9.7 meters in height and 30 tonnes in weight, points with its right hand to the threat of nuclear weapons while its left hand is open in peace. Its face is in prayer for the repose of those lost in the war. The Peace Memorial Ceremony is held annually on Nagasaki Peace Day, August 9th, in front of the statue.

4. Atomic Bomb Museum

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Nagasaki is a city known for many things, one of which is that it was the target of an atomic bomb. The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is where you can learn more about this dark time in the city's history. You can see photos and items from the period at the museum, including clothing, furniture, and other artifacts recovered after the bomb.

The museum also features galleries of stories from survivors, giving you a more personal glimpse into the events of that time. Whether you are interested in history or want to pay tribute to those who suffered, a visit to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is an experience not to be missed.

5. Chinatown

Nagasaki Chinatown in Japan

Nagasaki's Chinatown is one of the three largest in Japan, and it's a great place to enjoy Chinese food and culture. The area is filled with brilliant chuukamon gates at the entrances in all four directions, and 250 meters into the room, there is a cozy crossroads where about 40 Chinese restaurants are located.

The site was initially established by Chinese immigrants who were driven out of their settlements at the end of the Edo period and built near this area, which was used as storehouses for goods imported from China.

The dish known as champon is a popular one in Chinatown. Originating from Fujian Province in China, this noodle dish was given a Japanese spin and has become a favorite among those visiting the Chinatown district in Nagasaki. The soup is thick and contains plenty of noodles, vegetables, and seafood. Additionally, there are other popular dishes in Chinatown, such as Sarandon, which is a crispy dish made with deep-fried noodles topped with a thick Champon sauce, and Tonpourou (Dongpo Pork), which is pork that has been slowly simmered until it is tender and then served sandwiched between fluffy bread.

6. Mt. Inasa

Night view city of Nagasaki from Mt. Inasa

At Mt. Inasa's observation deck, you can view the beautiful nightscape of Nagasaki Harbor. The highlight is the expansive 360-degree panoramic view that takes in the harbor and its many lights and the cityscape in the distance. The deck is trendy at night when visitors can take in the stunning view of the city illuminated against the darkness.

Surrounding the peak is a cylindrical-shaped View Tower made entirely of glass, allowing visitors to take in a 360-degree panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Even on rainy days, the view can be enjoyed from the comfort of the indoors. For those who want to experience the night view, the best time to come is just before sunset. There is also a restaurant on the observation deck to enjoy a meal and a drink while admiring the stunning scenery.

7. Dejima

Dejima, Nagasaki, Japan

Dejima is an island in Nagasaki Harbour which played a historically significant role in this part of Japan. The island was initially constructed in 1641 as a place for any foreign nationals living in Japan to stay, and it became the home of Dutch trading companies. Over time, Dejima became a thriving center of trade and cultural exchange between Japan and the West.

Today, it is an important site for understanding Japanese history and culture. You can find a lot of model buildings from the period in the Dejima Museum. The replicas look like they're from the old days, and it's now an open-air museum. You can see what the place would have looked like back then.

8. Huis Ten Bosch

The Palace Huis Ten Bosch is located at Huis Ten Bosch theme park with Dutch landscape in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan.

Nagasaki is a city with a rich Dutch history. This history is evident in the many remnants of Dutch influence that can still be seen in the town today. One of the most visible examples of this is Huis Ten Bosch, a replica of a famous palace in The Netherlands.

This attraction was built as part of a trade agreement between the two countries and is a testament to the strong ties that once existed between them. Visitors to Nagasaki can learn about this history and see firsthand how it has shaped the city into what it is today.

This fascinating open-air museum features replicas of the homes and buildings built here during the Dutch Golden Age, including a complete model of the city hall and various mills, canal houses, and tall towers.

9. Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium

The Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium is a must-see attraction for visitors to Nagasaki. It is located about 30 minutes outside of the city center and is home to many penguins that you can view swimming underwater in tanks. This makes for an exciting and up-close view of these adorable creatures.

The aquarium has different marine life, such as catfish, and dedicated feeding times at the weekends where you can feed fish to the penguins. This can be a fun activity for children if you travel with them. If you're looking for some beach time, the aquarium also has a small beach where you can spend the day next to the water. Overall, it's a great place to visit for people of all ages interested in marine life and animals.

10. Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum

The Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum is a great place to explore the art scene in Nagasaki. Located on the waterfront, it features a range of exhibits showcasing art from the region and from around the world, including a rotating gallery of works and a beautiful rooftop garden with stunning views over the city.
Whether you are interested in contemporary or classical art, the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum is worth visiting.

Nagasaki is a city with a long and rich history. From its days as a prosperous trade port to its tragic role in World War II, the city has seen many changes. Today, Nagasaki is a thriving metropolis with a unique mix of cultures and many things to see and do.

Top Day Trips From Nagasaki

The city of Nagasaki is ideally situated for exploring the rest of Kyushu, with many exciting day trips possible. Here are some of the best:

1. Hasami Ware Study Tour

This tour is perfect for anyone interested in craftsmanship and pottery, and shopping. Hasamiyaki has been used in people's daily lives for over 400 years, and during that time, it has become known for its simple and functional design. In the Edo era (the 1600s-1800s), people in Hasami began mass-producing cheap and functional pottery. After that, pottery became more popular among ordinary people as it was seen as a reasonably priced option. Hasamiyaki was one of the best-selling products in Edo, Japan.

On this tour, you will learn about the history of Hasamiyaki, the specialization of making pottery in Hasami, and the different ateliers and factories involved in this process. You will also see some unique designs from Isshingama, such as their use of planes. Then, you can enjoy shopping in Nishinohara, a popular area among stylish women.

2. Night View Private Tour

The bars and restaurants around Nagasaki Dejima Wharf

The Night View Private Tour offers a magical experience that is not missed. The tour begins at the famous Dejima Wharf, where you can enjoy the stylish atmosphere and the beautiful view of the Nagasaki Port. Then, you will head to the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum Rooftop Garden, which offers a stunning view of the sea.

Finally, you will visit the Inasa Observatory, where you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the city. After enjoying the views, you will have the opportunity to try Nagasaki's local gourmet food and drinks. This is an experience that you will never forget!

3. Nagasaki Cultural and History Tour

The statue of Peace Memorial is a bronze statue at the Heiwa Park in Nagasaki.

On this tour, there will be many opportunities to connect with the destination in various ways. The on-board commentary will provide insights into daily Japanese life, historical and essential information about each attraction, and personal opinions and facts about living in Japan.

There will also be cultural experiences, food and drink tastings, and opportunities to learn more about the country. This intimate tour will allow you to get to know Japan in a more personal way and create memories that will last a lifetime.

4. Goto Islands

View from the ferry boat connecting Nagasaki City and Narushima Narushima, Fukue Island in the Goto Archipelago

The Goto Islands are a beautiful, remote location that offers plenty of outdoor activities and sightseeing opportunities. This three-day camp will allow you to explore the islands while practicing your English with a native speaker. You'll also learn about global issues such as eco-friendly living and sustainability. The camp is ideal for anyone looking to experience the beauty of a foreign country while gaining valuable language and life skills.

Top Places to eat in Nagasaki

Japanese home-cooked, Nagasaki champon recipe

The best places to eat in Nagasaki are traditional restaurants and trendy cafes. Here are some of the top choices for great food experiences:

1. Kagetsu

Kagetsu is a restaurant in Nagasaki that serves a unique cuisine called shippoku ryori. This cuisine is a fusion of Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese flavors and is served banquet-style. Some familiar dishes include Tai fin soup, braised pork, and tempura. The restaurant has a beautiful dining room and gardens and is considered the best place in Nagasaki to sample this delicious cuisine. It is also rumored that Sakamoto Ryoma, a legendary samurai, was involved in a drunken fight at Kagetsu that resulted in a missing chunk of the restaurant's wooden pillars. To experience shippoku ryori at its finest, a reservation at Kagetsu is a must.

Address: 2-1 Maruyamamachi, Nagasaki 850-0902 Nagasaki Prefecture
Phone: +81 95-822-0191
Visit their website here

2. Shikairou

The historic Shikairou restaurant, located opposite Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, is credited with inventing the famous local dish known as champon. This hearty dish consists of noodles and other fresh ingredients such as seafood and vegetables cooked in a delicious broth.

Champon is perfect for a satisfying and affordable meal, whether they are hungover or need some good, hearty comfort food. The dish is of Fujian origin and is often served with gyoza dumplings.

Address: 4-5 Matsugae-machi, Nagasaki 850-0921 Nagasaki Prefecture
Phone: +81 95-822-1296
Visit their website here

3. Glover Garden Café

The Nagasaki Garden Café is the perfect place to relax on a hot day. The café has beautiful iron furniture and stunning views of Nagasaki Bay. The ideal spot to try kakigōri, a traditional shaved ice dessert. Kakigōri is light and refreshing, with a texture like freshly fallen snow. Flavors such as green tea with condensed milk give it a sophisticated and elegant quality that distinguishes it from other frozen desserts. Whether you are looking for a relaxing respite or a cool treat on a hot day, the Nagasaki Garden Café is sure to please!

Address: 8-1 Minamiyamatemachi, Nagasaki 850-0931 Nagasaki Prefecture
Phone: +81 120-730-398
Visit their website here

4. Hikari

This Sasebo burger is quite different from what you may be used to. These handmade patties are noted for their use of the freshest ingredients, meticulous preparation, and size. In 1950, Hikari opened and had since become known as one of the best burger restaurants in Nagasaki. Featuring a unique Japanese flair along with all the satisfaction of the original American version, Hikari offers diners an unparalleled dining experience.

The difference in this burger is that the patties are made by hand with fresh ingredients, and they are also much more significant than your average burger. Hikari is the place to go to try this delicious twist on an American classic.

Address: 364 Inasamachi, Nagasaki 852-8001 Nagasaki Prefecture
Phone: +81 95-862-1050
Visit their website here

5. Tsuruchan

Toruko rice is a Nagasaki specialty made up of spaghetti, rice, and pork tonkatsu with curry sauce. This dish is unlike anything else and has been a favorite among Nagasaki people for more than 60 years. While there are variations of this dish, the traditional version can be found at Tsuruchan, the oldest café on the island of Kyushu. If you're looking to try something new and unique, toruko rice is a must-try while in Nagasaki. The dish is not as popular in other parts of Japan, so it's best to enjoy it while in the city.

Address: 2-47 Aburayamachi, Nagasaki 850-0832 Nagasaki Prefecture
Phone: +81 95-824-2679
Find more information here

6. Fukusaya

Castella cake is a Nagasaki specialty and was first created when a Portuguese merchant taught the Fukusaya founder the recipe. The Portuguese introduced refined sugar to Japan. European traders in Nagasaki had access to flour and sugar, which were not widely available elsewhere in Japan. Even 400 years after it first opened, Fukusaya is still thriving, and castella cakes are a popular gift or souvenir from the area. These cakes are beautifully wrapped and presented at the store, making them an elegant choice for visitors to Nagasaki.

Address: 3-1 Funadaikumachi, Nagasaki 850-0904 Nagasaki Prefecture
Phone: +81 95-821-2938
Visit their website here

Final Thoughts

Nagasaki, Japan Skyline

Nagasaki is a beautiful city with plenty of attractions to keep visitors busy. Whether you're interested in history, nature, or want to relax on the beach, Nagasaki has something for everyone. We hope you enjoy your visit and make sure to check out some of these fantastic places!

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