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Kyushu Travel Guide


Blessed with a breathtaking location, Nagasaki is strung together on a long series of hillocks in a scenic valley that follows the arms of the Urakami River down into a gentle harbor. Unlike Hiroshima, the city was left with no suitably intact reminders of the atomic bombing, and perhaps for this reason, there were apparently no compunctions about rebuilding the town right up to the edge

of a tiny ground-zero circle with a stark steel monument at its center. Still, relatively new as it all may be, everything here exudes flavors of Nagasaki's international history, from the city's lively and compact Chinatown to the European-style mansions and Catholic churches on the hillsides.

In the mid-16th century, Portuguese missionaries, including Saint Francis Xavier, came ashore to preach throughout Kyushu. This new and altruistic religion—coinciding with the arrival of firearms—threatened to spread like an epidemic through the impoverished and restive masses of the feudal system. In 1597, to give bite to a new decree by Chief Minister Toyotomi to stifle worship, 26 followers were publicly crucified in Nagasaki, an act that brought condemnation from the world. This cruel and shocking display was followed not long after by Tokugawa's nationwide edict making the practice of Christianity a capital offense.

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