The Japanese are fond of making lists, and tourist attractions aren’t exempt from categorisation. Think of the near-legendary Three Views (which dates from the 17th century and probably started the whole set-of-threes mania), the Three Famous Gardens, the Three Famous Castles … you name it, there’s probably a list somewhere for it.
And amongst those lists is the Three Great Night Views of Japan (日本三大夜景, Nihon San Dai-Yakei), one of which can be seen right here in Nagasaki.
With an elevation of 333 metres, it’s no surprise that Mount Inasa (稲佐山, Inasa-yama) is the best place in Nagasaki to enjoy a view of the city. Its prominence is apparent even during the day, with the densely forested hill and its neighbouring peaks forming a rather stunning backdrop to the heavily industrialised shores of Nagasaki Bay.
Here’s a shot from my previous post, taken as we were sailing into the harbour from Gunkanjima. Mount Inasa is the tall peak at centre-left, its summit crowned with broadcasting towers and a round, glass-enclosed observatory.
It’s possible to drive or take a cab all the way to the top of Mount Inasa (where a limited amount of paid parking space is available), but since I couldn’t drive and didn’t want to spend a fortune, I was left with a couple of options involving public transportation. The masochistic choice – after a long, tiring day of sightseeing, that is – involved taking an infrequent direct bus to a stop that was still about a quarter of an hour’s climb away from the summit. The sane alternative, and the one I ultimately settled on, called for a short bus ride to the lower station of the Nagasaki Ropeway, where an enclosed cable car gondola would whisk me up in sheltered comfort to the peak. As of this writing, a one-way ride on the gondola costs 720 yen, whilst the discounted round-trip fare is 1,230 yen. (The Japan Guide entry for this attraction has a good summary of the various access options.)
After I got off at the ropeway’s upper station…
…a pedestrian walkway garishly illuminated by colour-changing LED lamps led the way to the hilltop observatory.
If the weather is less than cooperative, the indoor corridor that rises in a long spiral around the building’s interior offers views through large plate-glass windows…
…but on a fine, clear night such as this, there was no excuse for avoiding the spectacular open-air rooftop observation deck.
And there, my friends, is the city of Nagasaki herself, brightly decked out in her best evening finery. Quite a looker, I must say.
On my way back to the hotel, I paused briefly at the small Fuchi Shrine near the ropeway’s lower station. Not much to see here on most days, I imagine … except that the sakura wave had already begun and the shrine’s few cherry trees were approaching full bloom.
I saw even more cherry blossoms the next day, along with a splendid traditional garden and not one, but two towering castles … a story that we’ll save for the next few posts.