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By othree From Flickr

Our point of both departure and return is the city of Fukuoka.

You could either take the train, the bus, or rent-a-car. (If you are planning to more than one place, then you may want to consider using passes! For the train, we recommend you to check out the Northern Kyushu JR pass. Similarly, for bus, check out the Northern Kyushu SUNQ pass.)

Unless you are really constrained by time, we suggest stopping at the town of Takeo, in Saga prefecture, which is the midpoint between Fukuoka and Nagasaki, where both the Mifuneyama Garden (御船山楽園) and the Takeo Onsen (武雄温泉) are found. There’s another hidden gem of the city.

Mifuneyama Garden has been known as the crown jewel of Takeo. The garden is sizeable, and against the backdrop of a mountain (Mifuneyama). In spring, it is famous for its 5000+ sakura trees. In autumn, it is famous for its momiji (紅葉). Also, there is night-time “light-up” for both sakura and momiji.

20170703-17-02-Nagasaki Momiji in autumn

20170703-17-03-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/6hRJ2R
By gtknj From Flickr

20170703-17-04-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/4KvvyN
By gtknj From Flickr

20170703-17-05-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/4Krcpn
By gtknj From Flickr

Mifuneyama Garden in spring.


The second place is Takeo Onsen, after which the station is named.

20170703-17-06-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/5R45Vp
By tosimisi From Flickr

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By Nobuyuki KondoFrom Flickr

The “hidden gem” we mentioned, is –– guess what –– a public library! However, the one in Takeo City is not your ordinary library, but more of a stylish bookstore, with DVDs and magazines immediately at the entrance. In fact, it is a joint collaboration between the city and Tsutaya (蔦屋), one of Japan’s major bookstores. –– and there`s Starbucks, too, for that matter. While we stumbled across it by chance, we later found out that the library is in fact extremely famous, like the Tsutaya in Daikanyama, Tokyo. Unfortunately, photography is prohibited inside the library/bookstore so we could only take pictures from outside.

20170703-17-09-Nagasaki The library from outside at night

After staying for one night in a ryokan on the second day, you can go to Nagasaki. Although the city has too many features to be introduced in one single article, the remainder of this post will focus on two places for those of you who are into informative activities like museums. Even if not, these sites have stunning scenery so you might still want to check them out.

20170703-17-10-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/BFnStx
By othree From Flickr

The first site is the Glover Garden, a Western mansion that –– as its name suggests –– was built by a foreigner in the Meiji era. Before going into that, it is perhaps useful to know a bit of Japanese modern history! While Japan certainly looks very modern now, it was actually completely blocked off from foreign trades until the 1850s. That is, with the exception of commerce with the Dutch (who didn’t insist on preaching Christianity together with trade) at Nagasaki. So, Nagasaki has for a long time been Japan’s hub to the world. Even in the Meiji era, where a series of reformations started, it remained as a major site for Japan’s industrial revolution.

Recently, “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” has been enlisted into one of the UNESCO world heritages. Glover, in fact, was a Scottish merchant contributing to such ship building and modernization. So, now, his residence is used as a permanent display of such information.

If you are bored by history, no worries! The building itself is very beautiful, mixing and mingling Japanese and Western elements. The flower park is also exquisite.

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By Tzuhsun Hsu From Flickr

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By Tzuhsun Hsu From Flickr

20170703-17-13-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/67EBJH
By Tzuhsun Hsu From Flickr

20170703-17-14-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/67JCRQ
By Tzuhsun Hsu From Flickr

20170703-17-15-Nagasaki https://flic.kr/p/pfnwLt
By tjabeljan From Flickr

20170703-17-16-Nagasaki View from the Glover Residence

There is, by the way, another “hidden” gem. There is a very interesting and fun “Google Earth” device installed in one of the display rooms. Unlike the one you use in your computer or phone, that one is a 7-monitor one that can allow you to virtually travel in Nagasaki (and every part of the world) in 3D mode. Go and have a try!

Beautiful old street descending from Glover Garden. You can buy delicious castella cake here!

[Nagasaki China Town?]

The second place is the Nagasaki Peace Park, as well as the Memorial Hall and museum right next to it. The reason seems obvious, as Nagasaki was one of the two places where the atomic bombs fell. In fact, they were located just right at the hypocenter. We wouldn’t want to get serious here, but it would be an attraction that may give depth to your trip and certainly informative!

There is a remarkable stature of peace at the park. Do you know what the posture means? The right hand –– pointing skyward –– refers to the threat of nuclear bombs, while the horizontally laid left hand signifies peace. Lastly, the closed eyes are praying for the deceased during the explosion.

By Travis From Flickr

By othree From Flickr

By othree From Flickr