Trip to Nagasaki Prefecture from Battleship Island Contest

Written by Ken Tan, winner of Battleship Island Contest and Nikon COOLPIX AW130 camera

Edited by Michael Laidlaw

Date of trip to Nagasaki Prefecture (including Battleship Island, Nozaki Island and Ojika Island) – October 2015

I came across the Battleship Island Contest at Liang Court Mall in Singapore, when I wanted to go and purchase some Japanese food products, which were only available at Mediya Supermarket. The contest caught my attention as I felt how little people actually know about Battleship Island, which is also known as Gunkanjima. I knew a little about this island through the famous James Bond movie, “Skyfall”. Also one of the famous anime movies which will be released at the end of 2015, “Attack on Titan”, announced that they will be using this deserted island as their main filming location. After spending some time reading the history and viewing photographs, I decided to try my luck and I was so elated when I found out that I had won a valuable trip to Nagasaki, plus a Nikon COOLPIX AW130 camera and the highlight was a day tour to Battleship Island!


my travel companions in Nagasaki Prefecture

Currently, there are no direct flights from Singapore to Nagasaki. However, it is not a difficult task to get there. I took a flight to Narita Airport, transited to their domestic flight and directly landed at Nagasaki Airport. It took seven hours to Narita Airport, then their domestic flight took only two hours and the total fare was around S$900.

I was really excited to board the ferry to Battleship Island, as I knew that it had recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status and the tickets to the island were really hard to get even if you book in advance! Hence, I was very thankful to have this opportunity to be able to visit and see this fortress with my own eyes.


one of the buildings in Battleship Island (taken with Nikon COOLPIX AW130)

Unexpectedly on the way to the island, I learnt many facts through the videos that depicted the populated island from 1887 to 1974, showing how the island started as a coal mining facility and how they built the first concrete building and grew plants on the rooftop which showed how prosperous and advanced the island was, until the closing in 1974 where everyone was sad to part ways with one another. Emotions and excitement welled up in me as I reached the island and was able to see history’s fingerprint.


– interactive 3D experience in Gunkanjima Digital Museum

Shortly after the island tour we headed to Gunkanjima Digital Museum, which has many interactive displays. One of my favourites was the “Road to the Coal Mining Site,” which illustrates a virtual travelling experience of how the miners get from the surface to the mining site by cage and cart. Another exhibit, “Rhythm of the Island,” simulated the densely populated bustling streets depicting the lively days of the island using a 1:150 diorama. Overall, the exhibits really brought the island back to life, using excellent digital effects, and I definitely would have liked to work as a miner on Battleship Island during the 1920s as I would really appreciate the close bond between neighbours which I gleaned from the exhibit, “Expressions of Gunkanjima.”

Other than Battleship Island, I would want to recommend the Atomic Bomb Museum as another highlight of my trip to Nagasaki. I was haunted by the sheer extent of the damage caused, especially the helmet containing the remains of a skull, and also there were heartbreaking testimonials of the survivors’ first-hand experiences which showed me every angle of this devastating experience. The final stop was the Peace Park, located about five minutes’ walk away. As I saw the flowers left in front of the Peace Statue, I was reminded that we should never take peace for granted and it was so touching to see there thousands of paper origami cranes folded by the students who were praying for peace.


paper cranes

We got to experience traditional Shippoku cuisine, which was a perfect fusion of Western, Chinese and Japanese, where we received an array of dishes on a round red table which included marbled pork belly and other seasonal specialties. It was unique to me, because as I learned during the exquisite meal the dishes are slightly sweeter compared to other parts of Japan due to the abundance of sugar available in Nagasaki as it was the first point of contact between Japan and the world.


– Shippoku Cuisine, the perfect fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Western culture, with origins dating back over 400 years ago (taken with Nikon COOLPIX AW130)


– 古民家レストラン藤松, a restaurant that retained the traditional house with a touch of modernization (taken with Nikon COOLPIX AW130)

Ojika Island is a beautifully preserved island, which reflects a vintage vibe of Japan in the ’70s. Hence, this was such a precious escapade for me as I got to experience the rural side of Japan. We started off by walking down the streets of Ojika to know more about the culture that is unique to the island. It is a common sight to see the Buddha statue, which is said to protect children when they are outside. I experienced the laidback side of Japan with many undiscovered spots, like a Letterpress print shop which has a huge collection of print characters which currently can’t be found anywhere in Japan. We also stopped by Hime no Matubara, which has numerous pine trees planted along the road making it a majestic scene, And also the Akahama Coast where I found sea glass which is beautiful in contrast with the red sand and clear waters.


– Akahama Coast, beautiful contrast of the red sand and clear waters (taken with Nikon COOLPIX AW130)

At Nozaki, I experienced the beauty of an island untouched by humans. The deer were roaming and grazing freely and the Nokubi coast has ombre shades of blue sea with the clean white sand, but the highlight was the Former Nokubi Church which is a UNESCO heritage site, is well-preserved and stands testament to how Christians in Japan maintained their faith in the face of terrible obstacles.


sunset at Nozaki Island (taken with Nikon COOLPIX AW130)

I would strongly recommend Nagasaki as a destination for tourists who are interested to explore the authentic culture and history of Japan, which to me remain undiscovered gems to most who traverse its contours.


  (taken with Nikon COOLPIX AW130)








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