Nagasaki travel guide: Access and what to do

Nagasaki city

Nagasaki, capital of the prefecture of the same name, is a port city on the island of Kyushu. It has been a prominent Japanese city for centuries due to its proximity to mainland Asia. Nagasaki also holds an unenviable role in world history, that of being the second city to endure an atomic weapon.

In the years since that tragic event, Nagasaki has recovered and flourished. Today, tourists flock to Nagasaki to see breathtaking scenery, historic reminders, and religious relics. Start planning your next trip to Nagasaki with the help of this handy travel guide.

How to get to Nagasaki with the JR Pass

Travel throughout Japan is easy with the help of your JR Pass. Use yours to travel for free between the following cities and Nagasaki.

From Tokyo to Nagasaki

From any Tokyo train station offering access to the southbound Shinkansen bullet trains, take the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Hakata Station in Fukuoka. Then, transfer to the JR Kamome Limited Express bound for Nagasaki.

This journey will last around 7 and a half hours. Note that your JR Pass is valid on Sakura and Hakari strains, but the use of Nozomi trains will incur an additional fee.

From Kyoto to Nagasaki

From Kyoto Station, you must also take the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Hakata Station in Fukuoka.

From there, you should transfer to the JR Kamome Limited Express. This train will take you to Nagasaki. The whole trip from Kyoto takes 4.5 to 5 hours.

From Osaka to Nagasaki

From Shin-Osaka Station, take the JR Sanyo Shinkansen to Hakata Station in Fukuoka. There, transfer to the JR Kamome Limited Express train bound for Nagasaki. This trip takes about 4.5 hours.

When traveling from Hakata Station to Nagasaki, sit on the train’s left side in order to experience views of the Ariake Sea. You may also visit some interesting stops along the way, such as the onsen town of Futsukaichi or the historical houses and museum of Saga.

You may also want to experience a luxury ride on the Seven Stars Kyushu, whose 2-day itinerary runs from Hakata to Nagasaki Station, passing by Fukuoka and Japan’s largest volcano: Mount Aso.

Getting around Nagasaki

Once you arrive in Nagasaki, you will likely wish to travel by tram or on foot. Most popular attractions are located about a kilometer from Nagasaki Station. Those that are located farther away can be reached in as little as ten minutes by tram.

Four electric tram lines serve the city. From 6 am to 11 pm, the trams run every five to eight minutes. Riding the tram incurs a flat rate of ¥120 per ride, or a one day pass can be purchased for ¥500. If transferring from one tram to another, ask for a transfer pass to avoid paying for two rides. Remember to enter the vehicle through the rear door and exit using the front door.

Local buses are also available. Buses are most useful for reaching Mount Inasa or the Nagasaki Airport.

Things to do in Nagasaki 

One of the most popular attractions is the Nagasaki Peace Park, which commemorates the 1945 bombing of the city (like in Hiroshima). On a nearby hill, you can visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, which proclaims the mission “to inform future generations about the horror of war.”

Take the ropeway to the summit of Mount Inasa, where you will find an observation deck and restaurant. The view of the city at night is acclaimed as particularly stunning.

There are also a number of religious sites in the city, including the Sofukuji Obaku Zen temple, the Kofukuji Buddhist temple, the Confucian Shrine, and the Oura Church, the most famous Christian church in Japan.

One of the most interesting ways to see the city may be the Nagasaki Beer Train, which departs from Shokakuji-shita Station. This streetcar runs at 7 pm daily from July 3 to September 19, excluding Sundays and holidays. This “moving bar car” offers unlimited beer, whiskey, and snacks. The round trip lasts 90 minutes, with a brief stop at the Urakami Terminus.

So, what will you do in Nagasaki? Where will your adventures take you? With your JR Pass in hand, you’ll be ready to experience all that this coastal gem has to offer.

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