If you are anything like me, your favorite type of cruise port is the kind where you can simply walk off the ship without any fuss, taxi, bus or tram and can enjoy the city on foot. In many cases, the cruise ports in Japan are like this, like the Shimizu port, brimming in attractions like shopping, dining and even a fish market.
In the case of Nagasaki, visitors may feel the port entry is sparse of attractions, but the slow-paced traveler may find that entirely untrue. If you are the type of traveler who prefers a nice stroll through a new city versus a fussy cruise excursion, then you'll enjoy what I have to say about Nagasaki cruise port on foot.
In this article you will find:
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What You Won't Find On Foot in Nagasaki Cruise Port
You may be gung ho on seeing some of the famed Tripadvisor sites in Nagasaki like the Atomic Bomb Museum or One legged Torii Gate, but you won't get those on this walk.
What You Will Find On Foot in Nagasaki Cruise Port
You'll find life. You'll stumble upon local men playing a chess-like game in courtyards, or women walking hand in hand with their children. It was Easter day when we visited, and a young woman stopped my daughter and handed her a bag of Easter grass and real, painted Easter eggs. It was such a sweet gesture, and such a simple one that we wouldn't have found parading off of tour buses elsewhere.
This itinerary (if you can call a meandering stroll an itinerary) also focuses heavily in on the Shinchi Chinatown and Hamamachi Shopping Street areas. You'll find shopping and dining, and just enough to satisfy your curiosity about the city before returning back to the ship.
All you need to do is plug in Shinchi Chinatown to your phone map and generally meander towards that direction.
What Can I Expect in Shinchi Chinatown?
You may already be familiar with the Nagasaki Chinatown, which is Japan's oldest Chinatown. There are many Chinatowns in Japan, like the vast and wonderful Chinatown in Yokohama, but this one is said to be the oldest.
Take a stroll through Minato Park, or take photos of the Chinatown gates. Cross one of the several bridges and explore the lanes that follow.
In particular, seek out bao bun street food or duck into a Totoro themed store and pick up a souvenir from the beloved Japanese film.
Food in Chinatown
In Nagasaki's Shinchi Chinatown, you will want to hunt down and sample a few particular treats known to Nagasaki including:
Champon (a soupy noodle dish)
Kakuni Manjyu (Gua Bao) - bao buns
Or perhaps you want to find the best Chinese food around? I didn't visit, but based on my research I think Lao Lee, a Taiwanese restaurant in Shinchi Chinatown, would be a great take. The food and atmosphere looked great.
Visit Hamamachi Shopping Street
This busy shopping arcade is quite a step above some of the food markets and souvenir stalls you may find in Osaka or in Kochi. The stores are all a bit more expensive than we found elsewhere, but still fun to pop in and people watch during your stroll.
If buying is on the brain (versus window shopping), seek out the many side streets featuring stores like Daiso, Japan's 100 Yen Shop, or other similar discount stores.
Food in Hamamachi
After wandering the shopping area, you may find an adorable alley or two full of Italian restaurants. It was like stumbling into Little Italy. Window boxes were full of flowers and the smell of garlic filled the air. If I hadn't already been craving yakiniku, I'd have stopped in for some Italian food!
I want to make note that the restaurants in the Hamamachi arcade area were all expensive and very busy at the lunch hour, so I do suggest getting away from the tourist hubs and seeking lunch elsewhere.
Yakiniku in Nagasaki
If you want something truly splendid though, go for a yakiniku experience while you are in Nagasaki.
I did some Googling on the spot and found an incredible restaurant for the family called Yakiniku Kakura. A large place, we didn't need a reservation. Tables were private booths tucked behind curtains in an intimate atmosphere.
We ordered endless plates of beef and pork, vegetables and more and cooked it on our grill-top table. It was perfection. We enjoyed wine, sake and beer and got to spend a nice relaxing couple of hours soaking up the experience before walking slowly back to the port.
And That's It!
With a bit of walking, shopping, dining, and soaking in the atmosphere of every day life in Nagasaki, we got to enjoy a quiet port day without any fuss. I recommend that if you are in Nagasaki, you try the same!