Japan, long and thin all the way from Hokkaido to Okinawa. If the climate changes so does the people and their values. If you compare people from different areas it become apparent that not only the customs and food change, but the character traits of the people of a prefecture also. It's local knowledge that knowing this can make your trips around Japan a lot smoother. This is a series that shows you the real parts of prefectures in Japan that aren't part of sightseeing. In our 14th installment in the series we're taking a look at Nagasaki Prefecture.
Japan's Most Optimistic People
During the isolation of Japan during the Edo period, only Nagasaki left it's doors open to the world, and it is said that a unique, open personality was born from this. Due to being able to encounter foreign foods and culture, people here have a lot more curiosity than other places in Japan. Also, profits from foreign trade during this period were handed out to the households of the prefecture, which in turn made people more optimistic as well as extravagant when using money.
O-Bon is Spent with Fireworks at Graves
O-bon is a festival where you get together with your relatives, have fun and greet your ancestors. Fireworks are used in front of gravestones and graveyards become very warm places during this time. This comes from the thought that to ensure our ancestors don't become lonely, we must make their place of rest fun and lively. This is the thought process of people from Nagasaki.
The Deceased are Sent Off Magnificently
The "Spirit Boat Procession" is an event celebrated yearly on the 15th of August, it's a tradition where the spirits of our ancestors are placed onto a boat and sent off to the "Western Pure Land (Amitabha's Buddhist paradise)". The spirits of the deceased are placed onto the boat, as it is pushed a bell is rung and lots of firecrackers are used. One this single night, over half of the yearly consumption for firecrackers is consumed purely by Nagasaki. There are people who even buy over 500,000 yen worth of firecrackers, home centers and supermarkets stock up on huge amounts during this period. The entire town is covered in gunpowder during this event so a handkerchief and earplugs are required.
If a Guest Comes Over, Sara Udon is Always Brought Out
If a guest comes over, without fail, a large plate of sara udon is brought out. This is the hospitality of the Nagasaki Prefecture residents.
Hardly Anyone Rides Bikes
The town has many slopes, this means that almost nobody rides bikes here. It is also said that there are few people that actually know how to ride bikes.
Bus Drivers Have Amazing Driving Skills
Nagasaki has that many hills and slopes, that it's other alias is the "Town of slopes". There are buses that drive around these tight corners and steep hills. Within the industry it is said that the drivers that drive here have "The best driving techniques in Japan".
The Local Food is Toruko Rice
"Toruko Rice" which is the well-loved local 1-dish cuisine consists of Naporitan pasta, pork cutlet and curry pilaf. The origin of this dish is still a complete mystery, not one of the dishes on the plate originates from Turkey but the word "Turoko" means Turkey in Japanese.
There are various amazing and unbelievable character traits of the people of a prefecture all over Japan. This is just one article as part of a series, so we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section on the right. Which prefecture would you like to know more about? Let us know!