Part 1: After a scenic train ride that brought me to Nagasaki after dark on Saturday, I settled in to my hostel and discovered a voicemail from ANA saying that my bags would arrive in Tokyo that night and be delivered the next day. To me in Hiroshima. Sigh, though admittedly I was expecting that due to the effectively once a day flight between continents.
Side note: Nagasaki train station has a very visible Seattle’s B*st Coffee, plus less visible Starb*cks and T*lly’s, a veritable trifecta. Not to mention Dunkin D*nuts (no thanks). Or a hotel, supermarket, food court etc.
Amazingly, even though it’s Saturday, the town closes up at 8pm, except for Shianbashi, the bar and entertainment district.
Now I had done my planning and preparation on the train, so I had a good idea of what to see and when… and I had decided to forego the slightly out of the way Inasayama tram and lookout (later to learn it was voted one of the top 3 night city views in the world, or maybe just in Japan) to check out Glover Garden with its views of the city and harbour. It was also close to a restaurant I wanted to go to for dinner. Unfortunately the garden was closed at 6pm (it’s only open later during certain periods, like Xmas), so I did not see it or its views or the Madam Butterfly statue (the opera was set in Nagasaki). However, I did get into Shikaisō restaurant (just in time for last order shortly before 8pm – on a Saturday!) to try their champon which is like a curry with rice and noodles and topped with squid and octopus (or at least little bits of them). It cost ¥900/$8 – and that includes tax (no tipping in Japan except for exceptional service).
Then I took the cute streetcar back towards the old town, walking though Shinchi Chinatown (the 3rd largest in Japan, yet tiny compared to the ones in Toronto or San Francisco) to Hamano-Machi which has covered shopping arcades – also mostly closed-for-the-night shops. Wow (at 20:30 on a Saturday). I walked around the bar district a bit, which was full of izakaya, little restaurants, karaoke bars, drunk salarymen in suits and seedy massage offers. I didn’t even feel like getting a drink anywhere, so I headed back through semi-deserted Hamano-Machi and from there it was an easy walk back to the hostel, veering off to walk along the river with its stone bridges, including the Megane-bashi (Spectacle Bridge), so called because the shape of the bridge, combined with its reflection in the water, looks like glasses from an earlier era.
Side note: recall that bashi means bridge… and now learn as I did that machi means town, though it seems that neighbourhood would be more a propos.
Chinatown gate at night: