One Day In Nagasaki City: What To See, Do and Eat | CoolJapan

Nagasaki City

Nagasaki City, a port city with a rich and complex history. (Photo from: ©Kyushu Tourism Organization)

Nagasaki City is most well known for its tragic past, as one of the two cities impacted by the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945 during World War II, along with Hiroshima. This event often overshadows its importance as one of Japan’s main port cities that sits close to the Asia mainland: in the Edo period (1603-1868), Nagasaki City continued operating as the only port for international trade, despite Japan closing its doors to other countries.

The city located in Nagasaki prefecture played an important role in fostering Japan’s relations with other countries. Through trade with its exclusive partners, China and the Netherlands, it built a unique culture — this can be felt immediately in its surroundings, its architecture and its food once you step foot into the city. We explore the main sites you should visit for a one-day itinerary here.

Viewpoint at the Glover Garden

Viewpoint at the Glover Garden

Glover Garden (Photo from: © NPTA)

An important and stunning attraction in Nagasaki city, Glover Garden is an open-air museum consisting of mansions previously settled by the city’s former foreign residents.

The view from the hill around Glover Garden in Nagasaki City

The view from the hill around Glover Garden in Nagasaki City. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Even if you don’t end up forking over the entrance fee to enter the museum, the view from the area surrounding Glover Garden isn’t too shabby either — look out and you’ll see Nagasaki harbourfront in one direction, and multiple houses stacked like a staircase in another!

The Former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Nagasaki Branch Museum

The former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Nagasaki Branch Museum.

The former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Nagasaki Branch Museum. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

One of the largest Western architecture-influenced buildings in Nagasaki City, the Former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Nagasaki Branch Museum was a special exchange bank that traded foreign currencies in London, Shanghai and Hong Kong and foreign exchange for clients such as foreign residents, particularly traders.

The Nagasaki Museum of Modern-Era Exchange is attached to the venue, which introduces Nagasaki’s history as an international trade port and details the friendship between Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Chinese revolution, and Shokichi Umeya, the Nagasaki entrepreneur who supported the revolution. Take some time to explore the history and watch the short video in the museum that comes with it.

Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown (長崎新地中華街)

Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown

Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in the country. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

It’s established that Chinese and Dutch traders were the only ones allowed into Nagasaki during Japan’s Era of Isolation, and with a large settlement of Chinese traders came the building of their own community throughout the years; the result is Nagasaki’s Shinchi Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in Japan, and with ‘shinchi’ referring to Chinatown being a reclaimed island in the past (it’s not anymore).

Nagasaki Champon

Nagasaki Champon

Enjoy a steaming hot bowl of Nagasaki champon while you’re in Chinatown. 

Don’t forget to give Nagasaki champon a taste while you’re there — one of Nagasaki’s main cuisines, a comforting bowl of champon comes with springy noodles, fresh vegetables, and seafood stewing in a creamy broth that will surely rejuvenate you after a day of exploring!



The man-made island of Dejima. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Besides Chinese traders during Japan’s Era of Isolation, the Dutch were the other primary group of traders that settled in Nagasaki and were moved from Hirado to Dejima. Like Chinatown, Dejima was once a reclaimed island but is now connected with the rest of the mainland, and many historic structures remain. We recommend going here to learn more about the history of the Dutch settling here and how this has influenced Nagasaki city’s history and architecture.

Attractions related to the bombing of Nagasaki in WWII

Nagasaki Peace Statue.

Peace Memorial Statue in Peace Park (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Probably the most sobering experience for a one-day itinerary in Nagasaki is seeing the various venues that make up the experience of learning about the fateful day that the atomic bomb, nicknamed ‘Fat Man’, was dropped in the city. First-time learners of Nagasaki’s place in WWII would be surprised to know that the second atomic bomb was meant to be dropped at Kokura city in the Kitakyushu region. Due to cloudy weather, it was decided that the ‘Fat Man’ would be dropped at Nagasaki instead.

Site of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki during WWII.

Site of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki during WWII. (Photo from: Jerome Lee)

Circumventing the perimeters of the attractions here, one will learn about the many accounts provided not just by survivors but also by those involved in the war, scholars, etc, and occasionally there will also be an in-utero survivor present on the ground, giving their account of what happened on that fateful day.

Which of these sites would you like to visit first when you arrive in Nagasaki?