Nagasaki, where the 2nd atomic bomb was dropped that finally ended WWII. The major highlights of Nagasaki are the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park, the Glover Gardens and main house, which served in the 1880’s as Puccini’s inspiration for writing what is probably his most famous grand opera, “Madame Butterfly”, and a small memorial park to US Commodore Perry, who opened up Japan to trading with the USA in the 1860’s.
Going back as far as the 1700’s under the Shogunate, the only Japanese port open to foreigners for trade was the port of Nagasaki. The Shoguns wished to keep Japan “closed” so their people would not be exposed to Western influence. How things have changed! Every young person in Japan seems to be wearing T-shirts with Latin letters on them as a kind of status symbol, and although you still see women walking around in traditional kimonos, the trend is definitely that the younger generation has rushed headlong into trying to adapt many Western mores and customs. One such sign is that so many stores at this season are decorated in Halloween colors, with pumpkins, witches, spider webs, ghouls and ghosts, etc. and places like the 100 Yen stores and many others sell not only decorations but also doll-sized props to go with the holiday. And on Christmas something similar will happen, even though very few Japanese are Christians. Some stores are already taking out their Christmas “stuff” to sell.
In short, on our previous visit we had really seen everything in Nagasaki that interested us, but there was one thing we had only seen in walking down the steep road from the Glover Gardens on our last visit and that Nina remembered, and that was the “Fish Spa”. A more appropriate name for this might be, “The Day We Became Fish Food.” In Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and perhaps in other places, you can get a pedicure by putting your feet into a small tub and having hundreds of small fish the size of guppies, nibble at the dead skin on the bottom of your feet, around your cuticles, etc. It’s an experience not quite like any other we’ve experienced, and we decided to go for it. For $5 each, we both put our feet into the “fish spa” for 10 minutes, and boy did those babies go to town! The moment you put your feet into the water, these tiny fish are all over your feet. The first 30-60 seconds, it feels like you are getting your feet tickled by thousands of tiny bubbles. I am very ticklish, so I started laughing and squirming, but after a minute or so you get used to it. You need to remember to lift your heel off the bottom of the spa so the fish can get to the dead skin on your heel, as well as on the rest of your feet. The water reached up to a few inches above the ankles, so the fish worked on both the dead skin on the tops of our feet and around the ankles, the cuticles and skin between our toes, and con the bottoms of our feet. After we finished in the fish spa we took a close look at our feet and man, this really worked. This was only the 2nd or 3rd pedicure I have ever gotten, and the first one like this, but when we get to China and Vietnam, if I have a chance to do this again, I’m gonna!
From the Fish Spa we took a trolley to another shopping arcade in Nagasaki, around which is surrounded a major 3-day celebration in Nagasaki, of which today was Day 2. There were many food stalls out, serving all kinds of strange things, some of which I couldn’t identify, but we didn’t see any festival-like activities beyond this. Nina found a yarn shop and bought a unique book of knitting patterns printed in Japan that had hundreds of patterns but no text. The intent is to use the patterns and, using scrap and leftover yarns, to make beautiful sweaters, socks, etc.
The Japanese have elevated umbrella-making into a fine art. In our window shopping we came across an umbrella shop with what can only be described as high-end pieces of umbrella art. These are not the $4.00 plastic umbrellas that the ship gives out. In the store we saw one umbrella selling for nearly US $200 made of silk and what looked like a decorated bone handle. The gorgeous color pattern, which was an illustration of a field of flowers with mutli-colored butterflies, was remarkable because then entire color pattern one would see on the outside of the umbrellas was just as completely visible – and bright – from the INSIDE of the umbrella. We were joking about “If we had the money…” when Nina said, “Lose a $200 umbrella by leaving on a bus or in an office? No, I don’t think so…” We also saw an umbrella for even more money – $270 – but the “less expensive” one was the most beautiful. Everything artistic that the Japanese put their hands to, seems to be executed with a precision and an attention to detail that can only be described as a love of the aesthetic.
On the way up to Glover Gardens
I got you licked L’via!
Inside the fish pedicure place.
Japanese High Schoolers in their uniforms
Girls in uniform
More food stalls
On the bus
Yarn Shop, that has everything from quilting to custom kimonos to Yarn!!!
Slippers for Kimonos
Penny Loafers. I wanted to teach them how to put in a penny!
High Schoolers wishing us Bon Voyage!