Day 4: Kazusa Dolphin Watching Cruise --> Unzen Jigoku Hell --> Shimabara Spring Group (Carp Streets) --> Shimabara Castle --> Samurai Houses (武家屋敷) --> Dejima (出島) --> Hotel
Once we were done at the Shimabara Castle, our guide drove us a short distance away to the Samurai Houses of Shimabara. The area is also known to the locals as Teppo-machi or "Gun Town". It is where the samurais of the past used to reside. Now, these old samurai houses have been preserved and restored, and are open to the public free of charge.
Unfortunately, I found these houses to be creepy. They've put up life-sized mannequins to mimic the lifestyles of the old samurai families, but honestly, these were just creepy. Like the one in the picture above, just peeking through a hole, as if any moment, it would disappear and re-appear beside you.
*too much Hollywood shows*
Anyway, there were 3 samurai houses that we could have visited. We popped into 2 and decided that it was enough for the day. My parents were tired and I really didn't like the mannequins on display.
Needless to say, we were out of there pretty quick.
If this is something that rocks your boat, then I would suggest that you put the following 3 attractions together as they are really within very close proximity to one another. It would save you quite a bit on the travelling time.
Shimabara Castle, the Carp street and the samurai houses.
My guide then decided that we could still make it to see Dejima (出島), which was a small fan-shaped island built by the local merchants. Dejima was originally built to house the Portuguese traders but later became a Dutch trading post. Serious isolationlist policy Japan had back then. Today, Dejima is no longer an island as the surrounding land has also been reclaimed.
By the time we arrived at Dejima, we were cutting it a little close to the closing time. Hence, there was very little human traffic. By then, mom was also really tired but managed to put up a good sport and trudged through portions of Dejima. Good thing about the place, there are a lot of sitting spots. Mom would constantly find herself one of those many spots to rest while dad and I climbed the buildings to explore.
The Dejima now is more like a museum exhibit of (again) life back then in Japan as a foreign merchant. A lot of the exhibits pertained to the lifestyle (yes, again) of the people back then. What was interesting though, was that some of the exhibits were designed to be a little more interactive. At least, mom enjoyed herself more in Dejima than at the samurai houses.
Even then, after a couple of houses, you'll realise that most of the structures were similar. And after a while, we also lost interest in the exhibits. I mean, yes there's much to read and look, but there's only so much of our attention span to be had. And non-interactive exhibits (which was majority) isn't really the best way to hold one's interest.
There is also a scaled model of Dejima. However, it's all the way to the end and you'll have to trudge through a semi-grassy patch. Well, actually, it's not the grassy patch that's of issue, but that there were a lot of mosquitoes, flying insects and cobwebs around. And that's my biggest phobia: insects, especially of the flying variety. Yet I wanted at least 1 picture of the model. Once that was done, I was out of there pronto.
One of my biggest learning point of that day: Do not pack the itinerary if travelling with my parents. While my parents are still pretty mobile, they do tire easily. Particularly my mom, who does have some difficulty with her knees.
Day 4 was unfortunately, pretty packed with quite a bit of walking. Hence, before we were even done at Dejima (and we didn't spend a lot of time there), mom was asking for dinner to be served. So off we went to Chinatown for some grub.
Nagasaki's Chinatown is apparently one of the 3 Chinatowns in Japan, the other 2 being Chukagai in Yokohama and Nankinmachi in Kobe. Nagasaki's Shinchi (新地中華街) is the smallest of the 3 Chinatowns though. Like most Chinatowns, you can find medicine shops and shops selling Chinese wares, especially food. What's interesting though is apparently, this place also sells the Japanese version of the Chinese mooncakes!
Unfortunately for us, apparently, Nagasaki's Chinatown becomes a deserted street when it comes to evenings. Most of the shops were already closed. So there was nothing much really to see. In addition, most of the restaurants appeared to serve similar things. So, we just went with one of the restaurants that was featured in my guide book: Sosyuurin.
The food wasn't too bad but we all agreed that our lunch the day before at Horaiken Bekkan was the best of all the Chinese-Japanese meals we had in Nagasaki. Plus, the service staff at Sosyuurin felt more like the ones we have back here in Singapore! None of the enthusiastic Japanese hospitality at all! Perhaps an indication of the place really being too touristy.
We also happened to chance on some really awesome looking sweets in one of the shops after our dinner. And they were so amazing crafted! I probably took the picture at a wrong angle but that's a persimmon and an apricot that these sweets were supposed to resemble. Mom and I decided to buy to try as they really looked too pretty!
Unfortunately, it looked prettier than it tasted. Mom said next time to just take pictures and not bother. Heh. She sounded as if we could definitely come back again.
Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown marked the end of our day 4 and the end of our stint in Nagasaki. By then, we were so whipped, it was back to the Crowne Plaza ANA Nagasaki Gloverhill for a much needed rest.
Tip: To combine Shimabara Castle, Carp street and samurai houses on the itinerary
Address: Shitanocho, Shimabara 855-0052
Local Address: 〒855-0052下の丁山本邸、篠塚邸、鳥田邸
DID: +81 957-63-1087
Admission is free
Address: 6-1 Dejimamachi, Nagasaki 850-0862
Local Address: 〒850-0862出島町6-1
DID: +81 95-821-7200
Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown
Address: 12-7 Shinchimachi, Nagasaki 850-0842
Local Address: 〒850-0842新地町
Located within Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown
DID: +81 95-823-0778