Nagasaki is a special port for the Sapphire Princess, since it was constructed here. As we sailed in past the shipyards we were greeted by a tug boat giving us a water spray salute. The Magami Ohashi Bridge linking the two sides of the city was finished two years ago and sailing under it gave the illusion that our mast would buckle as we passed.
During a two hundred year period ending in the late 1800's, Japan kept itself isolated from the outside world. Fears of conquest, power sharing, and loss of culture were factors in this decision. Commodore Perry finally opened Japan for the US, but before then, the only western contacts were allowed in Nagasaki. The Portuguese stayed long enough to begin to spread Christianity and their delicious recipe for pound cake which is sold in every souvenir shop. The Dutch took over when the Portuguese were kicked out for aggressive prosteletizing. Their enclave was confined to a fan shaped island isolated from the rest of the city. Nagasaki still prides itself on its pioneering role in economic and cultural exchange.
Sadly, Nagasaki's main claim to fame is as the site of the second atomic bomb dropped by the US on Japan. All the ship's tours lead to the Peace Park, a spot that commemorates this event at the epicenter of the bomb burst. The first time we visited Japan we met my exchange student at her home in Hiroshima and she and her family gave us a tour of a similar commemorative site and museum. It was especially horrible and wonderful to tour this site of so much suffering with a family who still had the glass shards from the explosion buried in the beams of their home. All this happened before we were born and there are plenty of arguments on both sides as to whether the bomb should have been dropped. All we can say after touring Hiroshima is "never again." This made touring the bomb site unappealing and unnecessary for us so we decided to strike out on our own without a tour.
We followed groups of Japanese students up a steep hill to the Glover Gardens. Thomas Glover arrived here from Scotland in the early 1900's and was instrumental in economic development. Among other achievements he and his buddies started the Kirin beer brewery, which is still flourishing today. The locals have lovingly preserved the western style homes of Glover and his associates and the gardens around them provided fine views of the city, our ship below, and the bridge across the harbor. It would have been a steep climb to the top, but escalators throughout the garden made it convenient for the most feeble of tourists. A creature enjoying the nectar from the flowers took over our attention for an extended period of time. Was it a humming bird? Was it a bug? Unfortunately the locals walking by could not help - they did not know the word humming bird and may not have known what this creature was either. It was fun trying to catch its swift movement with our cameras.
Before we sailed out a special ceremony honoring the return of the Sapphire Princess to her home town, was held in our theater. Flowers and gifts were exchange between our captain and the local VIP's. Another energetic drum band pounded itself into insensibility on our stage, and it was already time to leave. Sailing back under the Magami Ohashi Bridge provided great views of this attractive city.