Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day Two in Nagasaki

Konichiwa! On our second day in Nagasaki, we had big plans for a birthday lunch. To make the most of the day, we walked through a covered shopping area, checked out the Chinese New Year decorations in the light of day, went to a famous shrine, and then had a famous shippoku lunch at Kagetsu, toured the gardens, and then headed back to the bus for a long bus ride home.

More fun new year's decorations!

Stained glass for my mom! A cultural gift from the dutch:

A nice covered shopping area decorated for the new year. Lots of western influence in the architecture.

We walked to Sofukuji Temple in Nagasaki through the covered shopping areas shown above. This temple is interesting because it actually survived the bombing in 1945. The shrines in this area were routinely inspected over the years to make sure people weren't secretly becoming Christian or any other sects of Buddhism. Japan thought it was very important to maintain the status quo.

Arrival at the shrine

Joe at the shrine

Approaching the first sun-dappled shrine
Japanese love their stairs

Beautifully painted lotus on the woodwork supporting the roof on one of the temples. 

Gorgeous shrine with Buddhist apostles along the sides. Some date back to the 1300s.

I really don't know enough about Buddhism to explain temples. They are quite amazing to see though.

These guys were terrifying.

This looked like a cemetery but was incredibly gorgeous with the sunlight and shadows.

This massive cauldron was cast to make porridge for the townspeople during a WWII famine. One of the monks would make porridge and dish it out until there was nothing left.
Unfortunately, I'm not very knowledgeable about Eastern spirituality, so I don't think I got the full experience. Sofukuji was beautiful to walk around, but I think I've had enough temples. To be fair, I also realized I'd had enough churches when we were living and traveling in Europe. 
The big moment had finally come: my shippoku birthday lunch at Kagetsu! This is how Fodor's describes Kagetsu: 

"This quiet hilltop retreat is Nagasaki's most prestigious restaurant. Dishes are served kaiseki (Kyoto-style multicourse meals) or shippoku, an elaborate course blending Asian and European elements. The interior wooden beams date to 1618, when Kagetsu was reputedly a high-class brothel. According to another local legend, Meiji Restoration leader Ryoma Sakamoto once took a chunk out of a wooden pillar with his sword during a brawl, leaving a still visible gash."

We had an entire tatami room to ourselves and had a grand tour of the restaurant, including visiting the room with the famous sword gash. Our waitress/hostess/new best friend didn't speak any English but encouraged us to take lots of pictures. I wouldn't want the pictures to languish on my hard drive forever, so please enjoy!

All pictures courtesy of my lovely and talented husband. Here I am opening the lid on my green tea as we began our marathon meal.

Our hostess took us on a tour of the historic restaurant. This room has the famous sword marks in a wooden beam! The table is set for diplomats.

Looking out a glass window, you can see another part of the restaurant, the gorgeous gardens, and a peek of our hostess' obi (belt).

A torii gate in the garden.

A view looking down

Me and Joe back in Lilliput

Gorgeous scroll work in the museum-like area of the restaurant

The famous wooden beam where Sakamoto left a gash. New goal: I want to be famous enough to accidentally ruin peoples' things and have them become famous for it.

A parody of Dutch and Portuguese traders with their wares.

Geisha tools of the trade

I saw a horse from this.

Women traditionally play this two-string guitar.

Another nice scroll. All these ancient frames sit on little cushions. Adorable.

The stairs were so steep!

We arrived back at our tatami room for a tapas-style meal.

Delicious! We didn't eat the dandelion.

Nagasaki is famous for their braised pork belly. I'm not a big fan of it or the green gelatin.

Pickled vegetables in delightful jars.

Adzuki beans in syrup

This was possibly my favorite course. We each had one little basket full of tiny pieces of vegetables and the baskets were edible!

Our hostess stayed in the hall almost the entire time. I know it's weird that Joe took a picture, but she was the most darling lady.

I changed my mind! This was my favorite! Egg + Mushroom bite or the tiny wedge of a grilled cheese sandwich with mushroom inside?

The carrots are cut into cherry blossom shapes and another vegetable (rolled kale?) acts as a branch. The only other thing I can identify is the brussel sprout.

More braised pork belly plus peppers! The peppers weren't spicy at all, but the pork belly was too fatty for my taste.

Soup and pickled vegetables to cleanse our palettes

Of course, mashed adzuki bean with a dumpling for dessert!

This lady was so incredibly sweet! I told her it was my birthday (it was! in Michigan) and she was nice enough to pose for a picture with me.

More tea and a custard dessert with a melon ball, two pieces of strawberry, and a mint leaf.

Leaving Kagetsu with my birthday date!

Immediately outside the restaurant
Japanese gardens are so beautiful!

Koi pond!

Torii gate

You should know something about me: I can't resist a good topiary.

You should know something else about me: I *know* stairs like these lead to secret gardens!

A white dragon! Oooh! This one is in the display case for some reason. I learned that dragons are considered very lucky and a sign of purity in Japanese culture, unlike how they are terrifying in my culture.

Thanks for joining me on my photography tour of Nagasaki! Thanks so much to everyone who sent me birthday greetings too! 

Looking forward to two more birthdays in Japan,



  1. Love how colorful everything is! Re the dinner, the dandelion is the only thing familiar to ME. Wonderfully captured! Can't wait to see the gardens myself.