While on a Nagasaki, Japan cruise, it’s easy to get swept up in the lure of this glittering city. Nagasaki is known for its nature and closeness to the sea, making it both an important harbor city for trade and a seaside destination. Filled with history and a commitment to world peace following the atomic bombing, Nagasaki is a city of charm and character with a rich history and a must-see stop on an Asia cruise.
Stop for delicious pork dumplings, enjoy ancient hot springs, or stroll through one of the city’s many green spaces like the incredible Nagasaki Bio Park, where you can even feed monkeys. Animal lovers must check out the Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium, the protected habitat of hundreds of penguins.
After the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II, both cities built parks and museums to emphasize their strong commitment to peace and nuclear disarmament. Walk through Nagasaki Peace Park for a sense of the magnitude of what happened. The Atomic Bomb Museum is a short walk away, and provides a detailed history of nuclear bombs.
Once a colony of Portuguese residents of Nagasaki in the 15th century and beyond, Dejima is now a cultural relic to this immigrant community in Japan. On your cruise to Nagasaki, Japan, walk along the reconstructed homes on a guided tour of this man-made island.
The fact that Nagasaki played a critical role in the trade and industrialization of Japan is highlighted at the Nagasaki Museum of Culture and History. There’s even an entire exhibit dedicated to the city’s trading relationships. It’s a must for history buffs.
While on a cruise to Nagasaki, Japan, why not tour the oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan? Scottish tradesman Thomas Glover once lived there during his time in Nagasaki while he was working to increase foreign trade and industrialization.
Nagasaki’s Chinatown happens to be the oldest in Japan. Shop along the street here, picking up handmade items and souvenirs to take back home. After you’ve worked up an appetite, stop for udon or other Chinese-inspired dishes for lunch.
Nagasaki’s coastal location ensures that ultra-fresh seafood is a given on the menus here. If you’re feeling adventurous, whale sashimi is a delicacy here, and the area’s sushi and rice bowls are rated among the world’s best. If you aren’t a seafood person, try Nagasaki beef, or wagyu.
You can take a ropeway ride or a bus to the summit of Mount Inasa for an incredible photo opp of Nagasaki, or just to get some fresh air. At the top, you’ll find an observation desk and a chic restaurant to enjoy dinner as the city lights shine below.
Animal lovers and kids will love to see the nearly 200 penguins that call this aquarium home. When you’re done admiring the wildlife, enjoy kayaking and a view of the ocean.
Foodies will find that the cuisine in Nagasaki is some of the freshest in all of Japan, and that’s saying something for a region that prides itself on fresh ingredients and seafood. In addition to famous Nagasaki beef, or wagyu, there are filling noodle soups influenced by Cantonese flavors or the Sasebo burger, which is a take on an American-style hamburger with a Japanese twist.
While you’re there, be sure to enjoy a shippoku-style meal, which is meant to be savored and shared with a group. It consists of a large table of dishes influenced by the Edo period as well as Chinese and Western food.
Nagasaki was once the only city connected to the Western world during Japan’s centuries of isolation prior to its industrialization. Thus, Nagasaki’s rich culture is blended with the cultures of those it traded with over the centuries. Home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, Nagasaki also takes nature and preservation very seriously.
After the atomic bombing of the city during World War II, Nagasaki was rebuilt and its people became committed to peace, which is shown through the city’s gentle, tranquil culture and its memorials to the thousands of lives lost in the bombing.
The terminal at Nagasaki is equipped with standard amenities like free wifi for a quick look at a map or to check email, as well as an information desk for tourists. Head to the ATM and get cash here before setting out to see the sights. There’s a currency exchange desk you can use to trade your cash to Japanese yen.
Use the local tram to get around the city. Nagasaki also has quaint street cars and an extensive bus system, though the bus is frequented mostly by locals and those who can understand Japanese. Both are walking distance from the port. Of course, taxis are available near the cruise port as well, and most are metered. Just be sure to show your driver your destination on a map or write it down.
The closest shopping to the port on a cruise to Nagasaki, Japan is the Hamanomachi Shopping Arcade, which offers a range of low-cost items as well as boutiques and other general stores. It’s not upscale, but it’s a good way to glimpse daily life in Nagasaki. Of course, you can also head into the city to enjoy Nagasaki’s massive Chinatown, too.
The official currency of Japan is the yen, and you’ll find you’ll need cash while you’re exploring Japan. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but it’s more common to pay with cash while on a Nagasaki, Japan cruise. Tipping isn’t the norm in Japanese culture, so you don’t have to tip your taxi driver or server at dinner.