Utterly devastated in just a few seconds, Nagasaki was the target of the second US atomic bomb, as World War II moved towards its horrifying conclusion. More than 50,000 were killed, and the stories here are harrowing and poignant. The fact that Nagasaki still stands at all, and has embarked on a new mission to promote global peace with a message of hope, is a testament to the people of this extraordinary place, however.
The scars the city wears will never heal, but the colour, culture and creativity of Nagasaki may surprise you. Of course, the events of August 9th 1945 are unavoidable, and the Atomic Bomb Museum pulls no punches in its rendering of the story. Hear from survivors, known as ‘Hibakushas’, who speak at the centre, sharing tales of sadness, hope and resilience. The Memorial Hall is a glass structure of meditation and messages of peace left by visitors from every corner of the world. Nagasaki Peace Park honours the victims, while the Hypocenter Park marks the explosion's epicentre. Suwa Shrine stands just 800 metres away, and you can see the iconic, one-legged torii which was photographed, miraculously still standing amid the sea of devastation. Look out for the temple's scarred trees, which somehow survived the blast too.
Look out over the city, nestled in the undulations of the valley – as you reach the top of Mount Inasa - which actually served to protect and shelter Nagasaki from even more destruction. Up here, you can't help but consider the city's journey - as it spreads out before you. A ropeway or a bus will help you reach this spectacular vantage point, to observe the harbour glittering and glistening peacefully.