As promised, our family didn’t visit Nagasaki for the war memorials. We spent some time in Hiroshima last time we visited, and found the Japanese view of the tragedy both forgiving and heart-wrenching. One dose of that painful experience is enough.
So instead, we were in Nagasaki for penguins and our first Steampunk adventure in Japan. Cute alert, this post is VERY photo-heavy.
First, this morning we packed up at the horrifyingly early hour of about 4:30 and were in the station by 6 o’clock. The bed at the Hotel Centraza was pretty uncomfortable, but we are all struggling to switch time zones because Aubri is passing out at about 7pm and sleeping until 3am or 4am.
But that meant we got to hit Trandor (a chain bakery) for breakfast. We got a custard-filled bread thing, a green tea flake pastry, a sugar coated donut (Aubri wanted it) and a curry donut with fried onions on the outside.
All I can say is yum.
We jumped on the Limited Express and found ourselves in Nagasaki about two hours later. As long as you sit on the left side of the train you get to see some spectacular ocean views. There’s even an antique steam train engine on display at one of the stops along the way.
And this thing that looks like Minnie and Goofy had a love child and she went into the Sailor Moon business:
Once in Nagasaki we dropped our bags off at our hotel, the Hotel Chisun Grand. It’s a short jog from the station, but not terribly far. The beds are not uncomfortable (though the pillows are weird), but this is another cramped room. The bathroom, shower, and sink are all in different little closets. It was too early for them to let us in the room, so we just left our bags (that’s a cool thing they do in Japan) and moved on to our adventures.
Let me preface this by saying two things. The first is that Nagasaki is NOT very stroller friendly. All of the sidewalks are cobblestone, there are many severe hills, and almost no elevators.
Second, we noticed a ton of pachinko houses around (Japanese gambling houses)–so I did a little digging and found the economy of Nagasaki is in decline. I suppose the parallel–that poorer areas of the US often have more gambling/lotto available–is also true here. This did not mean people were less kind, just that there were more broken down houses around.
At the front counter they gave us directions to get to the bus stop that would take us to the penguin museum. We were actually basically right next to the stop when a very kind Japanese gentleman who was 75 (he made sure to tell us) saw that we were looking for something and determined to help. He took us to the bus terminal. They told us where to go and explained the bus fare. Then he took us back to the bus stop and talked our ears off for half an hour or so, until probably fourteen of the bus we were looking for had gone by… In the end, though, he was quite the character. The bus ride was about half an hour each way and cost 280jpy/person (kids under 3 are free).
The penguin aquarium was not large, but Aubri had fun there for a little while. It had lots of people with young children, so she chatted them up for a bit. It was 610jpy/adult and under 3 are free. We probably only spent about 45 minutes there before we moved on, but we got a few pictures:
(Pair of male penguins nesting together):
We rode the bus back and found out that we needed to take the rail car to get to our other destination of the day, Glover Garden. There are lots of steeply inclining roads through this area, interesting shops, and delicious smells. We picked up a ninja umbrella. Because.
Once we made it to Glover Garden (and it started raining, of course), it was 610jpy/adult to wander through and enjoy the preserved Victorian-era mansions throughout the beautiful garden. Glover was from Scotland, so the piped music was a Scottish tune. Somewhat weirdly out of place. The Steampunk of this place is the interesting combination of Victorian/Western and Japanese architecture. The houses were beautiful, and there were statues and tributes to Madame Butterfly all around.
After we got tired enough to move on from the garden, we picked up some of the famous cake in the area. There were samples out and it is delicious. I’m glad we did, because 600jpy for the big loaf we got is half what the station was charging for a little loaf.
We caught a street car back toward the main station and saw a standing sushi bar, so we stopped. It wasn’t open yet, but we found a little ramen shop on the way that said its broth was “crafted by noddle master of Japan.” So we stopped in for two bowls of spicy pork ramen.
This right here is the broth I need to figure out how to emulate. Pure magic.
Aubri passed out just before we got there, so unfortunately we had to wake her up an hour and a half later and force-feed her a sandwich because she was too tired to eat.
We went back to the station and wandered for a while until we were too tired to continue. There was a boba shop inside! And they had delicious tea crafted from the hearts of their owners. Also these are a black tea ice cream float and a sakura blossom with sakura jelly, respectively. Yum.
We picked up our charm from the penguin museum.. a sparkly glass penguin. I forgot to snap a picture of it, though…
We went to bed really early again, so I expect tomorrow will be another early morning… And we move on to Kagoshima!