This morning, 2 July (Sunday), we woke a trifle earlier than normal to enjoy scenic cruising through the Kanmon Straits – even at this time of the morning, a busy, narrow twisting body of water that goes under the Kanmon Bridge across the narrowest point heading west towards Busan. The two major cities on either side are Moji and Shimomoseki.
We sailed through fog to enter Busan and dock early in the afternoon.
The second largest city in South Korea, Busan is your gateway to a fascinating land whose culture is a unique amalgam of old and new. Modern high-rise towers dwarf ancient Buddhist temples. The city’s bustling business district offers a stark contrast to the serene grounds of Yongdusan Park. In short, Busan is a microcosm of South Korea, a nation whose startling economic success often obscures one of Asia’s most sophisticated and venerable cultures.
Busan was the scene of bitter fighting during the Korean War. The United Nations Memorial Cemetery marks the final resting place for the troops from 16 nations who gave their lives during the conflict.
We visited here in 2012 when we visited Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, the fish markets, and Dongbaekseom Island (APEC House).
It took two hours to go through immigration, and then we took the shuttle to the markets for a relatively short visit before returning to the ship.
Again, the ship sailed through offshore fog on the way to Nagasaki.
Today was our third visit to Nagasaki (previously 2012 & 2008). We have seen the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Museum and many of the other attractions including Glover Gardens, Oura Catholic Church, Shimabara, Arita, Mt Inasa, and the city on foot.
An estimated 75,000 people perished in 1945 when the city became the second target of a nuclear attack so Nagasaki’s Peace Park was our first stop this morning. The massive “Peace Statue,” erected in memory and a symbol of world peace, dominates Peace Park commemorating the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.
After immigration formalities (the fourth entering Japan this trip), we took several trams (one planned sector turned out to be on way the other way) to the park and spent some time there. Then a return trip to the Shianbashi area for a walk through the local neighbourhood where there were many shrines. Caught another tram back to the ship with many other passengers.
Nagasaki is celebrated as the setting for Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly – and for building the Diamond Princess (also the Sapphire Princess).