Enjoy Nagasaki Park (Japanese Garden) with Japan’s Oldest Fountain (1/2)
Nagasaki Park, which is the oldest park in the prefecture of Nagasaki, was founded in 1874. It is not a Western style park like many other parks commonly seen around Japan but was designed in a style that directly drives from traditional Japanese gardens. With some stone monuments scattered in the Japanese atmosphere, the park is filled with a very unique and specific ambience.
The park is surrounded by Suwa Shrine, Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, Nagasaki Prefectural Nagasaki Library and various other establishments, and provides a perfect venue for strolling. I took the photo above on November 27th, 2016, in front of Japan’s oldest fountain when the trees in the park were in their best viewing season with leaves the color of fall.
In this article, which is the first of a two-part series about Nagasaki Park, I will show you interesting spots to check out at the park based on my own experience of visiting it.
Park with Rich Nature and History
Going straight along the backstreet off Route 34, you will easily be able to find the magnificent-looking front gate of Nagasaki Park. If you go straight up the slope seen at the right in the photo, you will find a stairway on your right which will take you to Nagasaki Park. The park is adjoined by Suwa Shrine and much cherished by locals as a place of relaxation with rich greenery amidst the downtown setting. The slope and the stairway leading up to the park are lined with many pine and gingko trees, which make beautiful scenery for you to enjoy as you approach the park.
As you can tell from the guide panel in the photo, there are as many as 27 monuments and statues around the park, which suggests the park’s long history. Among many historical figures for who statues were erected in the park, let me introduce to you about the one who particularly had a deep connection with Nagasaki.
Statue of Jinzaemon Nagasaki
This samurai, named Jinzaemon Nagasaki, was a Christian feudal lord who lived in Nagasaki back in the 1600s. There were many feudal lords from the late 15th until the late 16th century who converted to Christianity and received baptism. Jinzaemon devoted a part of his domain to the Society of Jesus (the group of Christians who came to Japan around the late 15th century) and went through territorial conflicts with other feudal warlords including the Toyotomi, one of the most prominent forces at the time. He finally lost the conflicts and fled from one place to another before he died. The cross on the chest of the statue is a reminder of the fact that he was a Christian.
Other than the statue of Jinzaemon, Nagasaki City also has many other churches and historic sites related to Japanese Christianity such as Oura Church and the Monument of the Twenty-Six Martyrs. They are introduced on many Nagasaki tourism websites but especially among them, Nagasaki Official Visitor Guide introduces a recommended route in which tourists can experience a pilgrimage tour to visit the Christianity-related spots around Nagasaki. Make sure to visit the churches and historic sites around Nagasaki and learn about the history of Christianity in the area.
Visit Here for the English Version of the Website
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
Right after going through the front gate of the park, you will find Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture on your left. The regular exhibitions here are held at “History and Culture Exhibition Zone” and “The Japanese Government of Nagasaki Zone” besides special exhibitions held irregularly. The exhibition “Decorated Porcelain in Art Noveau Period” was under way on the day I visited here.
“The Japanese Government of Nagasaki” had a role almost equivalent to today’s city office. It was not only responsible for administrative and jurisdictive matters in Nagasaki but also the management and inspection of bronze and seafood which were exported overseas, the monitoring and suppression of Christians and various other important tasks. As the museum resides on the old site of the Japanese government office, you can find a lot of related historical materials here and also enjoy watching a short play by the local volunteers in which they represent various scenes at the government office in the past.
Basic Information of Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture
Location: 1-1-1, Tateyama, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki, MAP
Admission Fees: Adults 600 Yen / Children 300 Yen
Opening Hours: Exhibition Rooms and Museum Shop 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM (Last Admission 6:30 PM)
*The opening hours are from 8:30 AM until 6 PM from December, 2016 until March, 2017.
*The opening hours are from 10 AM until 6 PM from December 30th until January 3rd.
The article continues to part two, in which I will introduce to you about the park’s greatest feature, Japan’s oldest fountain.