Enjoy Nagasaki Park (Japanese Garden) with Japan’s Oldest Fountain (2/2)
Now let’s take a look at other features of the park. After you have learnt about history at Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, now you can get close to animals.
“Animal Square” Filled with Approachable Atmosphere
“Animal Square,” which is about 1,000 square meters in size, has 6 kinds of mammals including Japanese monkeys, and 7 kinds of birds including Indian peacocks. Every week from 1:15 PM until 2:00 PM on Tuesday and Thursday (except rainy days and holidays), you can enjoy feeding rabbits from your hands at the rabbit hutch (no admission fee applies). You can also feed Japanese monkeys and goats the feed you can buy at the feed shop (Opening Hours 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM).
What especially caught my attention here were the two Indian peacocks. Indian peacocks here are very popular and when a male peacock died in January, this year, many fans mourned its death. Then on March 15th the same year, Nagasaki Park newly accepted a pair of male and female Indian peacock from Osaki Peacock Park in Kawatana-machi, Nagasaki City. I heard that the male was crying a lot and the female was restlessly flying around for a while after they came here, but they were very calm on the day I visited. Whenever you have a chance to visit the park, make sure not to miss out on the chance to see these gorgeous birds.
Japanese Garden with Japan’s Oldest Fountain
The Japanese garden in the photo is the main tourist spot of Nagasaki Park. Within the Japanese garden is a beautiful pond, trees, restaurant called “Tsukimijaya” and a literature monument. If you go through the garden, you will come out onto the path leading up to Suwa Shrine.
As the stone monument here suggests, the fountain in the photo is the reproduction of the fountain which was built the earliest among other decorative fountains around Japan and has a very long history. When I visited here, there was nobody around and I could enjoy the scenery just for myself in the sheer silence.
Restaurant Tsukimijaya and its Delicious Udon Noodles and Botamochi Rice Cake
Tsukimijaya is a Japanese style restaurant located near the pond with the fountain mentioned above. The interior of the restaurant is filled with a good old atmosphere of the period from around 1960s to 1980s, which perfectly matches that of the whole park. Among what they serve here is cold carbonated drink called ramune, udon noodles in hot soup as well as botamochi rice cake, which is the restaurant’s specialty item.
Botamochi Rice Cake
Photo by flickr
Botamochi rice cake is a traditional Japanese sweet. The dough for botamochi is made by combining mochi (glutinous) rice and uruchi (non-glutinous) rice and steamed or boiled to an extent where grains are not completely melted. The dough is then shaped into balls and wrapped with sweet azuki bean paste. It is most typically eaten at the time of “Ohigan,” one of the traditional Japanese events in which people pray for the repose of the dead souls.
The black paste on the surface as seen in the photo is made from azuki beans. Wrapped inside are balls of sweet rice cake made from mochi rice and uruchi rice. While the name “botamochi” contains the word “mochi,” which means rice cake, the texture is more like that of glutinous rice than typical rice cake. Here at Tsukimijaya, you can enjoy two kinds of botamochi, a sweet azuki bean paste variation and a sweet kinako (soybean flour) variation, not only at the time of Ohigan but all through the year. Give at least one try on the delicious botamochi offered here.
Nagasaki Park is easily accessible from Nagasaki Station in about 15 minutes by tram and foot. It is cherished by locals as a strolling spot. The best season to visit here for viewing colored leaves is sometime between late November and early December. Plan a trip to visit the park around the best viewing season of colored leaves!
By Train: From the tram station in front of JR Nagasaki Station, take a Route 3 tram tram bound for “Hotarujaya”, get off at “Suwa Jinja Mae” station and walk for about 5 minutes.