Nagasaki, Japan: More Than You Think

Outside of Japan, the port town of Nagasaki is simply known for one thing – the bombing that ended the second world war. There are plenty of reminders around the city, such as the striking single-legged torii gate (below) whose other half was blown off in the atomic blast, the stirring statues scattered about town and numerous memorials. It’s an important site in world history and worth going to for that reason alone.

Of course, no trip to Nagasaki would be complete without visiting Peace Park or the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, but there is so much more to Nagasaki.Yellow ceramic oragami paper cranes in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Yellow origami ceramic cranes in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

A monument under where the atomic bomb hypocenter was located.

Peace Park being visited by an elementary school field trip.

Nagasaki played an extremely important role in Japan’s history prior to World War II as well. For over 200 years, between 1633 and 1853, Nagasaki was the only port in all of Japan that was officially allowed to conduct trade with foreign countries. The impact of this role can still be seen today in the city’s food and architecture.

Megane-bashi, the spectacles bridge.

Megane-bashi, Japanese for “spectacles bridge”, is named for the reflection it creates in the water, is a very popular and romantic spot. Visiting around sunset is key and so is finding the heart-shaped brick in the stonework.

Castella, one of Nagasaki’s unique foods.

Today, Nagasaki is probably best known within Japan for its food. The two most popular dishes are castella (above) and champon. Castella is a simple cake that was brought in by the Portuguese. It’s rich with egg flavors and can be purchased virtually anywhere in the city. On the right is the original flavor and on the left is a green tea variation. Champon is a very popular pork and seafood noodle soup that was inspired from Chinese food. There is even a popular chain restaurant called Ringer Hut that sells Nagasaki champon throughout Japan.

The cute streetcars of Nagasaki.

Much like in the U.S., most cities in Japan used to have thriving streetcar networks. Today, most have ceased operation in favor of subways and making more room for cars. However, most of the big cities in southern Japan have held onto their streetcar tradition, including Nagasaki. It’s a convenient and fun way to get around the city and their bright colors are adorable.

Onboard a Nagasaki streetcar.

A row of torii gates at a local Shinto shrine.

Nagasaki is certainly not a main attraction in Japan, and quite a ways from many of the big name sights, but it’s worth it. It’s a quiet and quaint seaside town. It’s a great place to wander around and get lost in, to stumble across small neighborhood Shinto shrines and handicraft stores. There’s an important history to Nagasaki, without a doubt, but there’s a wealth of sights to see and things to do.

[Photo credits: Jonathan Kramer]

Martin Luther King Memorial Inscription To Be Modified

Martin Luther King Memorial
The Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C., was unveiled on August 28, 2011. It has since proved hugely popular, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million visitors in its first year. It has also proved controversial.

As Art Daily reports, several public figures complained about an inscription on the memorial that reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” The inscription is not in quotes because it’s actually a paraphrase of what King said. His actual words were, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Leading poet Maya Angelou told the Washington Post that the paraphrase makes King look like “an arrogant twit.” She went on to say that the civil rights leader was anything but arrogant and the paraphrase “minimizes the man.”

Now the full quote will be included. In September or October, after the summer tourist rush is over, two sculptors will change the quote.

The statue’s other inscription hasn’t caused any controversy. It reads, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Remembering 9/11 ten years later: Where you can pay respect




Everyone remembers what he or she was doing on September 11, 2001. From the moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center (8:46 a.m. EDT) to the horrific realization that the United States was under attack, every person has a story to share, whether of what they were doing on that fateful day to memories of personal survival or tragic loss.

Ten years have passed since the terrorism attacks of September 11 changed the world forever. From the war in Afghanistan to airline regulations, we live with the legacy of 9/11 on a daily basis. But while 9/11 is at the forefront of our minds, many of us have lost sight of the thousands of lives that were lost on that fall day. A decade later, there are three memorials – at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania – where we can remember the dead, honor the survivors, and reflect on the events of September 11, 2001.National September 11 Memorial and Museum
New York City

Located at Ground Zero, where the two towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed and 2,753 lives lost, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, known simply as the 9/11 Memorial, will be inaugurated in an official ceremony on September 11, 2011. The 9/11 Memorial will not open to the public until September 12, 2011, and its museum, to be located in a plaza underneath the memorial, is not scheduled to open until September 2012.

Like the Twin Towers, the 9/11 Memorial is huge in scale. Set on eight acres and filled-in with 415 trees, the memorial is comprised of two fountain cascades that are the exact size of the footprints of the two buildings. Lining the edges of the fountains is a bronze strip engraved with the names of the victims from the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and United Flight 93, as well as the names of the seven people who died in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.

Admission to the 9/11 Memorial is free, but visitors must reserve a time to visit. You can request visitor passes here, but note that as of this writing, the first available time available is on September 14. There are also 9/11 family member visitor passes for those who are related to victims listed on the memorial.

Pentagon Memorial
Arlington, Virginia

Open since September 11, 2008, the Pentagon Memorial is a quiet reminder of the 184 men, women, and children who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the southwest edge of the Pentagon. The memorial contains a series of benches, each etched with a name, laid out on the western side of the Pentagon Reservation. Benches pointing towards the Pentagon refer to those who were inside the Pentagon when the plane struck; benches pointing in the opposite direction represent the airline passengers and crew who perished. The Pentagon Memorial is free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Guided tours are not available.

Flight 93 National Memorial
Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Maintained by the National Park Service, this memorial to the victims of Flight 93 is located in the field where the hijacked plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001. The Flight 93 National Memorial has had several temporary memorials and is still under construction. But the official dedication ceremony of the first phase of construction for the permanent memorial will take place on September 11, 2011. Similar to the other two memorials, the Flight 93 memorial will contain a Memorial Wall of Names inscribed with the names of the 44 people who died. Admission to the Flight 93 National Memorial is free and the memorial will officially open to the public at 2 p.m. on September 12, 2011.

Image from Wikipedia

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Remembering the Confederate dead

Civil War,civil war, ConfederateNext year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. As state and local planning committees gear up for a host of events, a quiet spot in western Missouri has been commemorating the war for more than a century.

The Confederate Memorial State Historic Site in Higginsville, 53 miles east of Kansas City, opened as a retirement home for Confederate veterans in 1891. More than 1,600 former soldiers and their families lived amid quiet forests and placid lakes. Remarkably, the last one didn’t die until 1950. John T. Graves was a veteran of General J.O. Shelby’s Iron Brigade, the best cavalry raiders west of the Mississippi. The Iron Brigade saw countless battles throughout the war but Graves survived them all, to die in the modern world at the age of 108.

Today the Confederate Memorial is still a peaceful spot. You can stroll through the woods where old men once hobbled along swapping war stories, or fish in lakes that fed more than a regiment of veterans. The chapel is open to visitors, as is the cemetery, where the tombstones preserve the names of some of the best, and worst, men who fought for the South.

The most notorious rebel to be buried here is William Quantrill. A bandit turned Confederate guerrilla, Quantrill was the terror of the border states, looting and burning civilian homes as much as he fought Union troops. A young Frank James, brother of Jesse James, rode with Quantrill and participated in his biggest atrocity–the burning of Lawrence, Kansas, where Quantrill’s band killed about 200 mostly unarmed men and boys. Quantrill was killed in the last days of the war in Kentucky. Part of his body is buried in Louisville, some of his remains are interred in his hometown of Dover, Ohio, and the Higginsville memorial has three arm bones, two leg bones, and a lock of hair.

More honorable soldiers are also here, including several from the Iron Brigade as well as other units that saw action in every theater of the war. In fact, every Confederate state but one is represented here. Many veterans moved to Missouri after the war to farm its rich, underpopulated land, so a wide cross-section of the Confederacy ended their days at the home.

So if you’re driving through Missouri on I-70, take a quick detour and check out a piece of history. And keep an eye out next year for lots of Civil War articles here on Gadling to mark the 150th anniversary.

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