Nagasaki

Yay! I finally finished moving all my old posts to WordPress, so here I am, writing again about my current travel (yes I’m still here): Japan.

Japan is definitely my favourite country to visit. I grew up eating Japanese food in the Japanese district of Jakarta (Dad was crazy about unagi) and dreaming about all the things they “teach” you in manga. So when I found the love of my life and he happened to be Japanese, it was like YAY!!!! On top of that, he doesn’t mind returning to his hometown twice a year to see his family. DOUBLE YAY!!!!

This autumn though, we decided to venture out to other island we both haven’t been to. We were in Hokkaido in January, and this October, we decided on Kyushu. Our first destination? Nagasaki!

I’m just sharing some snippets about places we thought was worth visiting in Nagasaki, and food worth eating.

1. Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum.

In the beginning, I was interested in the museum just because it was done by Kengo Kuma. But it turned out that the museum was quite interesting on its own.

They have a collaboration with Prado and several other European museums. There were two Picasso paintings on loan here at the time of our visit. There was also an interesting wing filled with a collection of Spanish Art, acquired by Yakichiro Suma, who was the Japanese envoy living in Madrid during the Second World War. He bought over a thousand paintings during his stay, but most of them were left in Spain.

There is one whole room dedicated to Toshio Matsuo, a Nagasaki-born painter who just recently passed away. His paintings, I thought, were beautiful and they were the highlight of my visit. Especially the huge canvas he did on Nagasaki’s night view. For 500 yen per ticket, it was well worth it.

2. Dejima Old Trading Post

This place has a very interesting insight on what went on in Nagasaki in the 1600. Dejima was a manmade island connected to Nagasaki, the only place in the whole Japan where foreigners (namely, the Dutch in Dutch East India Company aka VOC) were allowed to come and trade. But what made it really interesting for me was the fact that the sugar that came to Japan in those era came from my country, Indonesia. There were also references to certain plants in Dejima garden that came through Batavia (the old name of Jakarta in that era). Also, the Dutch brought their Indonesian “servants” (euphemism for slaves) to Dejima to pour drinks, serve food, play Indonesian music and whatever else, as shown in the miniature below. And to top it off, the Japanese were instructed by the Dutch to make chamber pots out of ceramics. Which they did. And these were shipped to Indonesia to be used as… rice bowls…. Chamber pots for the VOC. Rice bowls for the Indonesians. I found that quite amusing. I also found all this very amazing, since none of these were ever mentioned in Indonesian history class. Learning something new everyday!

3. This beautiful clay shop located right in front of Dejima Trading Post. Why? Just because I love abandoned building. Plus, the owner was very nice. My husband spent a good one hour chatting with her about pottery. And I spent a good one hour fiddling my thumbs, lost in translation.

4. Glover Garden.

Another interesting place where you can see the whole Nagasaki. This was home to a Scottish businessman, who married a Japanese woman, and eventually became the person who imported Japan’s first ever train. Also the man responsible for the existence of Japanese beer. Interesting facts, right?

5. This Catholic Church that I did not go to because I don’t like the idea that I have to pay to enter a Church. Apparently it had something to do with the Jesuits who were martyred back in the days for spreading Christianity.

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6. I’m combining three things at one now. It’s getting late, and I’m getting lazy to type.

China Town. Which is Japan’s oldest China Town. Just another China Town though. Chanpon is a famous food from Nagasaki, which is basically Chinese noodles. Having lived in China before, I did not like this mild Japanesey version of a Chinese noodle.

But do try the beef. Nagasaki wagyu won the last Wagyu Olympics (yes, there is such a thing), and their beef katsu at Keiten (敬天) is AMAZING! No need for reservations.

The picture on the bottom right is Nagasaki’s traditional food. Namely… whale sashimi. Yes, I tried something I also deem as unethical, but I vowed to try everything once. To be honest, it tasted like a smelly rotten under-cured ham. In one word: crap. I don’t understand why this is the traditional food of Nagasaki, and I can’t fathom why people are still eating it nowadays. Had one bite and will NEVER have a second one. Sorry whale 😦

And that’s all! Gonna stretch my back and go to sleep. Good night 🙂

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