—  Core city  —
長崎市 · Nagasaki City
Nagasaki's vibrant waterfront features events like visits from sailing ships

Location of Nagasaki in Nagasaki Prefecture
Nagasaki is located in Japan
Coordinates: 32°47′N 129°52′E / 32.783°N 129.867°E / 32.783; 129.867Coordinates: 32°47′N 129°52′E / 32.783°N 129.867°E / 32.783; 129.867
Country Japan
Region Kyushu
Prefecture Nagasaki Prefecture
District N/A
 – Mayor Tomihisa Taue (2007-)
 – Total 406.35 km2 (156.9 sq mi)
Population (January 1, 2009)
 – Total 446,007
 – Density 1,100/km2 (2,849/sq mi)
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
City Symbols
- Tree Chinese tallow tree
- Flower Hydrangea
Phone number 095-825-5151
Address 2-22 Sakura-machi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki-ken
Website City of Nagasaki

Nagasaki (長崎市 Nagasaki-shi?) (About this sound listen ) is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Nagasaki was founded by the Portuguese in the second half of the 16th century on the site of a small fishing village, formerly part of Nishisonogi District. It became a center of Portuguese and other European peoples' influence in the 16th through 19th centuries, and the Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki have been proposed for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Part of Nagasaki was home to a major Imperial Japanese Navy base during the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War.

During World War II, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made Nagasaki the second and, to date, last city in the world to experience a nuclear attack.[1]



Macau Trade Routes.png

Medieval and early modern eras

A small fishing village secluded by harbours, Nagasaki enjoyed little historical significance until contact with European explorers in 1543 — among them, possibly, Fernão Mendes Pinto — when a Portuguese ship landed nearby in Tanegashima. Soon after, Portuguese ships started sailing to Japan as regular trade freighters, thus increasing the contact and trade relations between Japan and the rest of the world, and particularly with mainland China, with whom Japan had previously severed its commercial and political ties, mainly due to a number of incidents involving Wokou piracy in the South China Sea, with the Portuguese now serving as intermediaries between the two Asian countries. Despite the mutual advantages derived from these trading contacts, which would soon be acknowledged by all parts involved, the lack of a proper seaport in Kyūshū for the purpose of harboring foreign ships posed a major problem for both merchants and the Kyushu daimyo (feudal lords) who expected to collect great advantages from these trade intercourse with the Portuguese. In the meantime, Navarrese Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier arrived in Kagoshima, South Kyūshū, in 1549, and soon initiated a thorough campaign of evangelization throughout Japan, but left for China in 1551 and died soon afterwards. His followers who remained behind converted a number of daimyo. The most notable among them was Ōmura Sumitada, who derived great profit from his conversion to the "Kirishitan" religion through an accompanying deal to receive a portion of the trade from Portuguese ships. In 1569, Ōmura gave permit for the establishment of a port with the purpose of harboring Portuguese ships in Nagasaki, which was finally set in 1571, under the supervision of the Jesuit missionary Gaspar Vilela and Portuguese Captain-Major Tristão Vaz de Veiga, with Ōmura's personal assistance.[2]

a Japanese Nanban byōbu detail depicting a Portuguese carrack arriving at Nagasaki, circa 1571
Kameyama Ware Jar With Nagasaki Dutch Trading Ship, 19th Century

The little harbor village quickly grew into a diverse port city, and Portuguese products imported through Nagasaki (such as tobacco, bread, textiles and a Portuguese sponge-cake called castellas) were assimilated into popular Japanese culture. Tempura derived from a popular Portuguese recipe originally known as peixinho-da-horta, and takes its name from the Portuguese word, 'tempero' another example of the enduring effects of this cultural exchange. The Portuguese also brought with them many goods from China.

Due to the instability during the Sengoku period, Sumitada and Jesuit leader Alexandro Valignano conceived a plan to pass administrative control over to the Society of Jesus rather than see the Catholic city taken over by a non-Catholic daimyo. Thus, for a brief period after 1580, the city of Nagasaki was a Jesuit colony, under their administrative and military control. It became a refuge for Christians escaping maltreatment in other regions of Japan.[3] In 1587, however, Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaign to unify the country arrived in Kyūshū. Concerned with the large Christian influence in southern Japan, as well as the active and what was perceived as the arrogant role the Jesuits were playing in the Japanese political arena, Hideyoshi ordered the expulsion of all missionaries, and placed the city under his direct control. However, the expulsion order went largely unenforced, and the fact remained that most of Nagasaki's population remained openly practicing Catholic.

In 1596, the Spanish ship San Felipe was wrecked off the coast of Shikoku, and Hideyoshi learned from its pilot [4] that the Spanish Franciscans were the vanguard of an Iberian invasion of Japan. In response, Hideyoshi ordered the crucifixions of twenty-six Catholics in Nagasaki on February 5 of that year (i.e. the "Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan"). Portuguese traders were not ostracized, however, and so the city continued to thrive.

Meganebashi (Spectacles Bridge)

In 1602, Augustinian missionaries also arrived in Japan, and when Tokugawa Ieyasu took power in 1603, Catholicism was still tolerated. Many Catholic daimyo had been critical allies at the Battle of Sekigahara, and the Tokugawa position was not strong enough to move against them. Once Osaka Castle had been taken and Toyotomi Hideyoshi's offspring killed, though, the Tokugawa dominance was assured. In addition, the Dutch and English presence allowed trade without religious strings attached. Thus, in 1614, Catholicism was officially banned and all missionaries ordered to leave. Most Catholic daimyo apostatized, and forced their subjects to do so, although a few would not renounce the religion and left the country for Macau, Luzon and Japantowns in Southeast Asia. A brutal campaign of persecution followed, with thousands of converts across Kyūshū and other parts of Japan killed, tortured, or forced to renounce their religion.

Catholicism's last gasp as an open religion, and the last major military action in Japan until the Meiji Restoration, was the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. While there is no evidence that Europeans directly incited the rebellion, Shimabara Domain had been a Christian han for several decades, and the rebels adopted many Portuguese motifs and Christian icons. Consequently, in Tokugawa society the word "Shimabara" solidified the connection between Christianity and disloyalty, constantly used again and again in Tokugawa propaganda.

The Shimabara Rebellion also convinced many policy-makers that foreign influences were more trouble than they were worth, leading to the national isolation policy. The Portuguese, who had been previously living on a specially-constructed island-prison in Nagasaki harbour called Dejima, were expelled from the archipelago altogether, and the Dutch were moved from their base at Hirado into the trading island. In 1720 the ban on Dutch books was lifted, causing hundreds of scholars to flood into Nagasaki to study European science and art. Consequently, Nagasaki became a major center of rangaku, or "Dutch Learning". During the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate governed the city, appointing a hatamoto, the Nagasaki bugyō, as its chief administrator.

Consensus among historians was once that Nagasaki was Japan's only window on the world during its time as a closed country in the Tokugawa era. However, nowadays it is generally accepted that this was not the case, since Japan interacted and traded with the Ryūkyū Kingdom, Korea and Russia through Satsuma, Tsushima and Matsumae respectively. Nevertheless, Nagasaki was depicted in contemporary art and literature as a cosmopolitan port brimming with exotic curiosities from the Western World.[5]

In 1808, during the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Navy frigate HMS Phaeton entered Nagasaki Harbor in search of Dutch trading ships. The local magistrate was unable to resist the British demand for food, fuel, and water, later committing seppuku as a result. Laws were passed in the wake of this incident strengthening coastal defenses, threatening death to intruding foreigners, and prompting the training of English and Russian translators.

Mushroom cloud from the atomic explosion over Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m, August 9, 1945

The Tōjinyashiki (唐人屋敷) or Chinese Factory in Nagasaki was also an important conduit for Chinese goods and information for the Japanese market. Various colourful Chinese merchants and artists sailed between the Chinese mainland and Nagasaki. Some actually combined the roles of merchant and artist such as 18th century Yi Hai. It is believed that as much as one-third of the population of Nagasaki at this time may have been Chinese.[6]

Nagasaki Prefect Office, Meiji period
Nagasaki City Office, Taisho period

Modern era

One legged Torii
Part of Urakami Cathedral that remained standing after the atomic bombing

With the Meiji Restoration, Japan opened its doors once again to foreign trade and diplomatic relations. Nagasaki became a free port in 1859 and modernization began in earnest in 1868. Nagasaki was officially proclaimed a city on April 1, 1889. With Christianity legalized and the Kakure Kirishitan coming out of hiding, Nagasaki regained its earlier role as a center for Roman Catholicism in Japan.

During the Meiji period, Nagasaki became a center of heavy industry. Its main industry was ship-building, with the dockyards under control of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries becoming one of the prime contractors for the Imperial Japanese Navy, and with Nagasaki harbor used as an anchorage under the control of nearby Sasebo Naval District. These connections with the military made Nagasaki a major target for bombing by the Allies in World War II.

World War II and atomic bombing

On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki was the target of the United States' second atomic bomb attack (and second detonation of a plutonium bomb; the first was tested in central New Mexico, USA) at 11:02 a.m., when the north of the city was destroyed and an estimated 70,000 people were killed by the bomb codenamed "Fat Man." According to statistics found within Nagasaki Peace Park, the death toll from the atomic bombing totalled 73,884, including 2,000 Korean forced workers[7] and eight POWs, as well as another 74,909 injured, and another several hundred thousand diseased and dying due to fallout and other illness caused by radiation.[8] This bomb was supposed to be more destructive than "Little Boy" but was dropped in a valley, and therefore did roughly the same amount of damage as Little Boy.

After the war

The city was rebuilt after the war, albeit dramatically changed. New temples were built, as well as new churches due to an increase in the presence of Christianity.[citation needed] Some of the rubble was left as a memorial, such as a one-legged torii gate and an arch near ground zero. New structures were also raised as memorials, such as the Atomic Bomb Museum. Nagasaki remains first and foremost a port city, supporting a rich shipping industry and setting a strong example of perseverance and peace. On January 4, 2005 the towns of Iōjima, Kōyagi, Nomozaki, Sanwa, Sotome and Takashima, all from Nishisonogi District, were merged into Nagasaki.

Geography and climate

Nagasaki and Nishisonogi Peninsulas are located within the city limits. The city is surrounded by the cities of Isahaya and Saikai, and the towns of Togitsu and Nagayo in Nishisonogi District.

Nagasaki lies at the head of a long bay which forms the best natural harbor on the island of Kyūshū. The main commercial and residential area of the city lies on a small plain near the end of the bay. Two rivers divided by a mountain spur form the two main valleys in which the city lies. The heavily built-up area of the city is confined by the terrain to less than 4 square miles (10 km2).

Nagasaki has the typical humid subtropical climate of Kyūshū and Honshū. Apart from Kanazawa it is the wettest sizeable city in Japan and indeed all of temperate Eurasia, and in the summer the heat and humidity can be very unpleasant, with wet bulb temperatures sometimes reaching 26 °C (79 °F). In the winter, however, it is drier and sunnier than Gotō to the west.

Climate data for Nagasaki
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9.4
Average low °C (°F) 3.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 74
Source: BBC[9]

Nagasaki in Western music and song

"Nagasaki" is the title and subject of a 1928 song with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Mort Dixon. Nagasaki is also the setting for Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. Nagasaki is also the name of a 1987 guitar solo track by the Christian glam metal band Whitecross from their self-titled first album.[10]



  • Kwassui Women's College (活水女子大学?)
  • Nagasaki Junshin University (長崎純心大学?)
  • Siebold University of Nagasaki

Junior colleges

  • Nagasaki Junshin Women's Junior College (純心女子短期大学?)
  • Tamaki Women's Junior College (玉木女子短期大学?)
  • Nagasaki Women's Junior College (長崎女子短期大学?)
  • Nagasaki College of Foreign Languages (長崎外国語短期大学?)


A busy street in Nagasaki

The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport in the nearby city of Ōmura. The Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) provides rail transportation on the Nagasaki Main Line, whose terminal is at Nagasaki Station. In addition, the Nagasaki Electric Tramway operates five routes in the city. The Nagasaki Expressway serves vehicular traffic with interchanges at Nagasaki and Susukizuka. In addition, six national highways crisscross the city: Routes 34, 202, 251, 324, and 499.



Monument at the atomic bomb hypocenter in Nagasaki
Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims
Peace Statue in Nagasaki Peace Park near the hypocenter


Nagasaki Lantern Festival

The Prince Takamatsu Cup Nishinippon Round-Kyūshū Ekiden, the world's longest relay race, begins in Nagasaki each November.

Kunchi, the most famous festival in Nagasaki, is held from 7–9 October.

The Nagasaki Lantern Festival,[14] celebrating the Chinese New Year, is celebrated from February 18 to March 4.

Foods and souvenirs

  • Chinese Confections
  • Urakami Soboro
  • Shippoku Cuisine
  • Toruko rice (Turkish rice)
  • Karasumi
  • Nagasaki Kakuni Manju


  • You-me Plaza
  • Hamanomachi Shopping Arcade
  • Amyu Plaza
  • Cocowalk

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Sculpture in the Peace Park commemorating Nagasaki's sister-city relationship with Saint Paul, Minnesota

The city of Nagasaki maintains sister-city or friendship relations with other cities worldwide.[15]

Within Japan

Outside Japan

See also


  1. ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6. 
  2. ^ Boxer, The Christian Century In Japan 1549-1650, p. 100-101
  3. ^ Diego Paccheco, Monumenta Nipponica, 1970
  4. ^ so says the Jesuit account
  5. ^ Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan, Richard Bowring and Haruko Laurie
  6. ^ Screech, Timon. The Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo Japan: The Lens Within the Heart. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. p15.
  7. ^ Mikiso Hane (2001). Modern Japan: A Historical Survey. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3756-9.
  8. ^ Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII) report to the National Academies of Science, 2007
  9. ^ "Average Weather for Nagasaki". BBC. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  10. ^ "Whitecross". 1995-05-23. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  11. ^ "お知らせ 長崎市平和・原爆のホームページが変わりました。". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  12. ^ "長崎歴史文化博物館". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  13. ^ a b "移転のお知らせ". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  14. ^ "長崎ランタンフェスティバル". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "Sister Cities of Nagasaki City". © 2008-2009 International Affairs Section Nagasaki City Hall. Retrieved 2009-07-10. [dead link]
  16. ^ "International Relations of the City of Porto". Municipal Directorateofthe Presidency Services International Relations Office. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 

External links

Media related to Nagasaki in ruins at Wikimedia Commons Media related to Nagasaki at Wikimedia Commons

Panorama of Nagasaki.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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