It's my day off! I just got back from a day trip to Nagasaki. It's about 1 hour and 15 minutes by train from Huis ten Bosch, and I set out this morning with no plan whatsoever. I knew that I did *not* want to go to the Atomic Bomb museum (my heart is too soft and couldn't take that kind of tragedy) but I had no idea where my feet would lead me. I decided to follow them, and see.
It turns out.. I don't really like cities. I've done enough traveling and have seen enough big cities that I fear I'm starting to get a bit jaded. Yes, there are differences, but really when you get down to it, a city is just a city. There's traffic, there are buildings and restaurants and people, and cars and buses and lots of ugly gray corners.
I am drawn, instead, to parks.. to gardens, animals, statues, and green spaces springing hopefully up from amidst the hustle and bustle. When I just let my whims guide me, I wind up at the quiet green spaces in whatever city I am visiting. At the end of the day this makes perfect sense to me, but this morning before I left I couldn't have predicted where I'd go - I think my mind learned something about my heart today.
It's winter, and the green space is mostly brown in Nagasaki, but the life is still there if you look - lots and lots of teensy little dogs, cats, pigeons, turtles, and koi ponds (OH! the koi ponds!). Gardens that are carefully pruned back, with the occasional early rose all alone on the bush. Trees, just starting to think about budding. I realized I can hardly wait until February when the cherry blossoms appear and all Japan turns pink!
I visited the seaside park (wherein there was an absolutely delightful lunch that surprise-included an all-you-can-eat chocolate fountain!), the Peace Park, and having grown up a Glover, how could I miss the "Glover Gardens," Nagasaki's main tourist attraction?
It seems Thomas Glover was quite the man around these parts.. he is responsible for the first Japanese locomotive, Kirin Beer company, and his son built the first paved road in all Japan. They credit him with bringing Nagasaki into the modern era. Great-great-grand-uncle-once-removed perhaps?
It was fascinating to wander through the "western style" house he built and see the juxtaposition of the familiar (I grew up with almost that same wooden hutch.. The rooms are the right size and proportion.. those are almost the exact same stair railings we had.. the building materials make so much sense.. and on and on) superimposed with Japanese land, Japanese gardens, roofs, and koi ponds. Also, the view was fantastic.
The Glover Garden also housed the Nagasaki Performing Arts museum, wherein I learned all about the Kunchi festival (http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4411.html). It looks SO awesome. It's in the fall, so I'll miss it this time around, but seeing the actual boats and dragons these guys spin around and toss up into the air was pretty freakin' cool.
Next month they'll be having a Lantern Festival in Nagasaki, and so I may need to go back. Also there may be cherry blossoms to see, and I now realize I probably need to follow those wherever they may bloom. :)