Day 6: Nagasaki in the Rain

The typhoon (#24 this year if you’re counting) wiped out classes for Mai-san’s university so my presentation to her class was canceled as was my hoped for trip to Iki island the next day. By 7am it was raining heavily, though the winds hadn’t yet really started. By noon there were frequent gusts but that didn’t keep us inside. We went to a famous champon noodle house (Nagasaki’s version of ramen) where we also tried sala udon – fried udon under a pile of seafood and vegetables in a Chinese-like sauce. The food in Nagasaki is heavily influenced by China and Portugal thanks to being a port city for hundreds of years.

After an enormous meal we walked over to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Memorial. As I stood at ground zero I was overcome with grief. More than 300 families who lived at that spot were vaporized and more than 75,000 Nagasaki residents were killed in the bombing. Another 70,000+ were injured and many of those subsequently died of their wounds or of radiation poisoning.

ground zero

At the Peace Park atop a hill a short walk from the epicenter, water plays a central role in the memorials, because so many victims of the bombing died begging for water, which was unavailable due to the destruction and radiation. That this was the second city hit after Hiroshima and was the second target for that bomber that day (the first was clouded over so the bomb was taken to Nagasaki instead) makes it all the more difficult to comprehend. Had the Japanese government surrendered or the cloud cover not been so thick over the first target city, Nagasaki would be a completely different place than it is today.

memorial fountain

At the large statue that dominates one end of the Peace Park I met two survivors. When I say “met” I mean they said something to Mai-san and walked off. One was 3 and the other was 9 at the time of the bombing. Clearly their lives were forever changed. Standing there in the light rain and light wind I swallowed my emotions and watched those two old men walk away.

spectacles bridge

A trolley ride downtown took us to the Spectacles Bridge, which is the oldest arched bridge in Japan, and Deijima, a small island where Dutch traders were sequestered to keep them from corrupting the local Japanese with western ideas. One our way to Deijima we came across a Kuchi performance where a local temple used a whale totem to bless local businesses. There was lots of shouting and drumming in traditional clothing. Glad we stumbled across that. The wind and rain began to pick up at this point and just past Deijima my umbrella succumbed to the wind. I bent it back into shape, but the next big wind ripped it completely apart. We waited under an awning until the rain stopped before continuing to Deijima Wharf, a dining district that had completely closed up in anticipation of the storm. It was quite a ghost town. From here we could see the high waves in the bay. With that it was time for a taxi ride back to Mai-san’s apartment before the storm really hit.


The wind and rain kept us inside for the rest of the day where Mai-san prepared grilled saury, clam soup, panfried vegetables and eggs. Excellent otsumami for tucking into our various shochu bottles as we rode out the storm.


Mai-san was tickled by the fact that we’d seen Nagasaki in the rain thanks to the famous Japanese ballad, “Nagasaki wa kyomo ame datta”, or “Today it also rained in Nagasaki.” Not a bad way to spend a typhoon.



3 Responses to “Day 6: Nagasaki in the Rain”
  1. Mary G says:

    Thanks for sharing. So sad. So interesting. So beautiful. All in the same day. Fascinating.

  2. Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    I’ve never been to Nagasaki, but went to ground zero and the peace park in Hiroshima. It was a very humbling experience.

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