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Japanese Window Sucking in the Whole World

Posted December. 25, 2002 22:59,   


At around 8 p.m. in the downtown Nakasaki. The street car that has become familiar through a SBS show runs in the middle of the street. The street dotted with hotels, shops and malls are lit up with Christmas decorations. The first place the guide Matsuo took me to was the cable car station in the Inasayama Park. It` s like Mt. Nam. On top of the park, one can see Nakasaki Port and the city sitting in a valley opening toward the sea.

The night view of the city shining with lights, coupled with the night sea, makes out a beautiful sightseeing. Along with Hakodate and Kobe, it is counted as one of the three most beautiful places in Japan. Ironically, it is place where the atomic bomb was dropped on August 9 in 1945, ruinning everything on it in three seconds. Then, how could we dare to compare it with the other two places!

Nakasaki is called a window to the world in Japan. When Japan resisted opening itself to the world, Nakasaki served as the only way to the world. The special history is hidden in every corner, such as in the name of an opera (or Madam Butterfly), in the name of an island (Dezima), in the Japanized name of a Chinese food, to name just a few.

Nice to meet the first morning on the Glover Hill. From here, you can see the whole city at a glance. There, you can find the Glover Hill Park and the cathedral Oura Teshudo, two establishments containing the traces of the city as a port that served as a window to the world. At around the time the cathedral was founded in 1856, the Edo regime started to crack down on Catholicism and to open Japan to the world, finishing its old policy of isolation. Here a miraculous event happened. 200 years after a harsh persecution brought about numerous casualties, no one believed there would be someone left who believed in Catholicism. But when the cathedral opened, 14 Japanese came back to the cathedral within one month. Then, they reportedly asked, “Where is the statute of Mother Maria?”

I entered the Glover Hill Park sitting next to the cathedral. There are several mansions showing the British style of the 19th century. British merchants built up their residents modeling their homes in Britain. In the garden, I found two statues showing one foreigner and a woman in Kimono. They are for Pucini and the Japanese prima donna Takami Miura who acted the main character in Madam Butterfly. On them inscribed is the following: Lady who helped the world understand the Japanese women by acting in an opera for 30 years.

On my way back from the hill, I visited Dezim and the China town located in front of the Nakasaki Fracture government hall. The former lost its marks due to land filling of the nearby gulfs. Only a miniature tells us how it looked like in the past. It was an artificial island like the Kansai Airport in Osaka. As Catholicism, which was introduced by Portugal merchants, got widespread and riots began to pop up, the Edo regime began to crack down, and built up the artificial island to limit the residence of the Portugal merchants. After the Portuguese were expelled, Netherlands’ merchants occupied the island. It is also the place Hamel who escaped from Chosun stayed and got onboard back to Netherlands.

The Fracture of Nakasaki has a 20th century version of Dezima, which is Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch theme park attracting numerous Korean tourists. It is the friendly attitude of Japanese toward Netherlands that has been firmed ever since the 17th century. This place was brought out by land filling the Omura gulf, having many similarities with Dezima.

The moment a person gets in here, (s)he forgets the fact that (s)he in Japan. Everything is exactly like that in Netherlands. That is why the signs read not “entrance and exit,” but “arrival and departure”?

Like in Amsterdam, Holland-styled buildings have canals between them on which boats are running. Windmills are winding and stores are selling cheese and Dutch wooden shoes. All the buildings in the “city” have narrow windows like those of the buildings in Netherlands. Every night, one can enjoy firework and laser show here. The Countdown Show that takes place on December 31 is one of the most favorite shows in Japan.