Nagasaki © Tito & Eva Marie Balangue
The beautifully situated port city of Nagasaki lies at the southern end of Kyushu Island, 95 miles (152km) southwest of Fukuoka. Nagasaki was open to the world for centuries between 1639 and 1859 while the rest of Japan was secluded from foreign contact by governmental decree. The exposure to foreign cultures has left the city with a sophisticated and liberal air that makes it popular for tourists, enhanced by the many attractions in the city itself and surrounding prefecture. Feudal castles, samurai houses, smoking volcanoes, hot spring baths, rugged offshore islands, beautiful beaches and friendly people are all here to be enjoyed. The most important site in the city is the Peace Park (Heiwa Koen), commemorating Nagasaki's darkest hour on 9 August 1945, when a nuclear bomb intended to be dropped on the Mitsubishi Shipyards exploded instead over the Urakami district, killing approximately 80,000 people. A black stone column marks the blast's epicentre, alongside the Atomic Bomb Museum. Nagasaki has many attractions for visitors and one of the most popular short excursions is a boat trip to the spooky Hashima Island, once a coal mining facility but now called the 'lost island' and completely uninhabited and covered in ruins.