Does anyone know a city better than a taxi driver? They spend their day-to-day weaving through the streets, picking up strangers and delivering them safely to their desired destination, no matter how garbled their instructions or how opaque the language barrier.

Blue Cab, in Nagasaki, takes special pride in this knowledge: In addition to operating as a “typical” independent taxi service, the company also runs sightseeing tours, taking tourists along specially designed courses around the prefecture. The firm hires drivers both young and old, all with one thing in common: they love Nagasaki. As an independent firm, they have a deep connection to the local community, hosting events such as mochi-tsuki for employees and their families.

But it is the drivers’ passion for their local area which really shines. A chance meeting with driver Minato Takeda in Tokyo last year left us keen to visit Nagasaki and check out his recommendations. Take a look at his suggestions below.

Things to Do in Nagasaki City

guide to nagasaki

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

To learn about atomic bombs, the tragic experience at Nagasaki and to consider world peace.

After Hiroshima, Nagasaki was the second place in the world to be hit by an atomic bomb. The museum is located in the center of downtown Nagasaki and was established to promote the recovery of the city and to appeal to the world for lasting peace. It preserves and exhibits as many as 1,500 documents and artifacts. Visitors can learn about the devastation of the atomic bombing and nuclear weapons in an easy-to-understand exhibition that appeals for peace, along with the history of nuclear weapons.

Peace Park Nagasaki

To feel the preciousness of peace amid the slow passing of time.

Directly to the south of the Peace Park is the hypocenter of the atomic-bomb blast. The park was built on a small hill, symbolizing a vow to never repeat such a tragic war and a prayer for lasting world peace. Containing the Peace Statue and Peace Fountain, it is an important place to learn about this tragic history.

guide to nagasaki

Fukusai-ji Temple

To experience a modern, unique temple and see a giant statue of Kannon-sama.

The symbol of Fukusai-ji is a giant statue of the goddess of compassion, Kannon. It was the largest of Nagasaki’s Kuraji (three famous early Edo period Chinese temples), and was designated as a national treasure before World War II. But when the atomic bomb was dropped, the temple burnt down. It was rebuilt as a monument to pray for peace and for the atomic bomb victims, and also acts as a mausoleum, with the remains of over 16,000 victims of the war interred inside. The building itself is shaped like a giant turtle, standing a whopping 34 meters high.

guide to nagasaki

Inasayama Observation Deck

To enjoy the romantic nightscape, named one of Japan’s Three Major Night Views.

From a peak elevation of 333 meters,  you can gaze upon a 360-degree, panoramic special night scene, reaching from the illuminated Megami Bridge up to Nagasaki’s city streets. Come daytime, you can see the Nagasaki cityscape, and when the weather is good you can see all the way to the Goto archipelago, Unzen and Amakusa. Inasayama Restaurant Itadaki opened on floor two of the observation deck in 2021, so you can also admire the breathtaking scenery while enjoying delicious food made from local ingredients.

Megane Bridge

To take in beautiful views.

Megane Bridge is said to have been built in 1634 by Mokusunyojo of Kofuku-ji Temple, and is the oldest existing arched stone bridge in Japan. When the water level is low, you can go down the stairs to the river’s edge and stroll along the waterside. As you walk, look out for the famous heart stones that line the sides, for your Instagram.

Things to Do in Sasebo

guide to nagasaki

Saikai Bridge

To see the powerful whirling rapids and whirlpools while looking out over Omura Bay.

Standing at 43 meters above the ocean’s surface, the arched bridge of Saikai looks over the Hario Seto Strait, one of three straits in Japan known for having spectacularly fast tides; it’s also famous for its whirlpools and rapids. Next to the bridge is the New Saikai Bridge, a wide footbridge with four glass viewing points, from which one can look straight down at the sea and its fantastic swirling whirlpools.

guide to nagasaki

Kujukushima Park

To see a unique area with the highest concentration of islands in Japan.

Opened in 2021, this huge hilltop park covers 4.7 hectares. You can gaze upon a huge panorama of Kujuku Islands from the park’s observation deck, and it makes a great photo spot. The grassy area is good to bring children and dogs, too.

To book a Blue Cab tour, visit their website

This article appeared in Kyushu Weekender 2024. To read the whole issue, click here

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