Japan Trip: Day 3- Nagasaki

We took a train to Nagasaki the next morning and made a beeline for the museum. Nagasaki was actually the first place we saw other tourists (if that puts our trip into perspective – the Indiana Jones “we are pilgrims in an unholy land” sometimes pops into my head when I look around and realize we’re the only Western tourists. Not that anything is unholy, I just like the quote). 

Its not a surprise there were more western tourists there. There is certainly an element of fascination with Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

In school, we didn’t learn much. We were told it ended the war/”won” the war but we don’t know or learn that much more after that.

For instance:

Did you know Nagasaki was not the original target?

Do you know the name of the plane? (we all seem to know the Enola Gay but never this one).

The “Bockscar” was heading for its original target Kokura but couldn’t make it because of bad weather /cloud cover. It did a few circles, waiting for clearer weather but it was not to be. So it turned to the secondary target, Nagasaki. They were worried about fuel and the cloud cover was still fairly bad, it was 10:56.  A break in the clouds allowed them to drop the bomb at exactly 11:02. This bomb “Fat Man” was different from “Little Boy” in construction and in radiation. Fat Man used implosion and plutonium. Little Boy used uranium and “gun type” where pieces were smashed together more or less like a gun.

Part of the big push to bomb Japan so soon after the Hiroshima bombing was partially so they could try both and assess the damage. In addition to dropping the bombs we dropped many monitors designed solely for science.

The museum taught us much more, as well as separating the incident from “winning” the war. We could see a real human element to it, finally. All of it, of course, was stuff we had never learned or seen in school.

We saw so many artefacts that you couldn’t believe. Bottles fused with concrete, a helmet with pieces of skull fused into it, a barrel of rice that was unaffected on the outside (besides blisters when the intense heat and light melted the glaze) but the rice on the inside was completely petrified. Someone left their change in a pile on the table – all of the coins melted together.

Here are bottles that melted into one, as well as a school girl’s lunch box – the blackened mess is charred petrified rice. DSC00620

There were the “shadows” – the intense light bleached everything except for what was in front of it at the time – oddly beautiful shadows of leaves or bamboo stalks, other times just of equipment, people or ladders.

There were so many stories but one that stood out was this one:

A brother with his baby brother strapped to his back. He stood at attention while observing a cremation. He was honoring someone or just the cremation. His brother looked asleep but soon the cremation workers came and unstrapped the baby and threw it into the fire. It had been dead the whole time. The boy stood for a while longer, still at attention before turning and leaving.

After the museum we saw the hypocenter.


The long black pole represents exactly where the bomb was dropped. The piece of church was not there originally but is the original piece of the church. It was moved to the hypocenter to honor the lost – because Nagasaki is a port city, it was exposed to Christianity long before other areas in Japan were.

Japan had a law in place for years to prevent contact with ships and the western world. The Dutch built a man made island in the greatest act of I’m-not-touching-you, ever seen. Their man made island was off the coast of Nagasaki and has actually since been absorbed by man made islands.


There’s also a Chinatown. Because most major port cities have a Chinatown. I’m looking at you New York, San Francisco and Liverpool.

We had a quick lunch. Chris had some rice with meat and sauces, I had curry with an egg. We later got the two craziest sodas we could find. Chris had “royal jelly” flavored energy drink and I had a lychee flavored fanta


We walked and shopped until dark.



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