This weekend just gone I was lucky enough to wrangle a 5 day weekend - combining a long weekend with my final days of holiday leave. I decided to go to Nagasaki and Fukuoka - south of Hagi.
It took around 5 1/2 hours to get to Nagasaki on Saturday morning. Actually, one of the trains was really fancy - it had fake wooden floors, leather seats and glass paneled doors. Once there I was lucky to be on a tram with a nice driver, because I didn't have the correct change, but I turned up at the hostel too early! They were out on their lunch break, so I had to wait outside for a while, luckily there was a nice breeze and a chair in the shade.
Whilst in Nagasaki I went to the Peace Park area, and unfortunately I couldn't help but make mostly unfavourable comparisons to Hiroshima. In Nagasaki the park is a lot smaller, and looks less well cared for. The Peace Museum is a lot smaller, but has about the same number of displays so it is both repetitive and overwhelming. However, in Nagasaki there is a Rememberance Hall. 2 floors underground there is a hall filled with glass pillars which water runs down. The victims of the atomic bombing desperately wanted water but there was none that had not been affected by the radiation.
In Nagasaki I also walked around the Chinatown area - which was smaller than I had been led to believe - and I also went to the Glover's Garden. A Dutch family, unsurprisingly named Glover, lived in Japan briefly after it re-opened following the self-imposed isolation from the West. The family didn't seem to do much, so the restorations weren't that exciting! And it was just so hot! It was so much hotter in Nagasaki than in Hagi.
I had heard that the feeling in Nagasaki was decidedly anti-American but I certainly didn't pick up on that. I felt that the museum was balanced, as it is in Hiroshima, and there were no restrictions on where foreigners could go. On that point, across in Iwakuni there are plenty of signs up excluding foreigners from bars and restaurants as the foreigners are US Marines from the Iwakuni Base (and are unwelcome).
On my last morning in Nagasaki I wandered down Temple Road despite the rain. There is a major temple at either end of the road, various small temples along the way, and a seemingly continuous ceremony running behind all the temples.
In Fukuoka I went to the Asian Art Museum. While is has a large collection it only has a small space so whilst I enjoyed what I saw I would have liked to have seen some of the other works that I read about in the gallery guide book.
I also went to the Yahoo! Dome and saw a baseball game. First of all, I must say that I am still entirely unsure of the rules. There was lots of stuff that I imagined would exist in an American game - cheerleaders, mascots. But there was a crazy MC, a foreigner who spoke Japanese well but using English intonation so it sounded a little crazy! Then there were all these organised cheers and songs and dances. The craziest thing was that at the end of the 6th innings all the fans blew up these long balloons (but left them untied) and after singing and dancing with them they were all released and as the air escaped they all came back down. I really did think at the time the other 51,999 people in the stadium were speaking a different language and were probably from a different planet than me. I spent most of the game confused, but it was really fun.