All posts tagged: Nagasaki

Reconstruction of Dejima

This is from a visit to Dejima, the Dutch settlement and trading outpost in Nagasaki. It is now being reconstructed to accurately represent the time when Dejima was one of the few places in Japan that were open to the world. Here, it was pointed out to me by a high school girl that I am, in fact, tall. I would give so much to live in a place like this.

Fishing on Gunkanjima

  Hashima has fascinated me for years. A small island in the bay of Nagasaki, it has been nicknamed Battleship Island, or Gunkanjima, for its appearance. Once, it was run as a coal mine by Mitsubishi. When it became unprofitable, it was abandoned by the company overnight. People didn’t even have time to empty their apartments. I find myself thinking about it all the time. How it must have felt to live so densely with other people, in such an efficient, corporate space. Living quarters, shops, common areas, a school, a hospital, neatly stacked and crowded together. Workers descending deep below the sea floor every morning and blackening the water in the public pool every night. The island could easily serve as the prototype for a Mars colony, or as a lair for a James Bond villain (actually it has). Long it had been illegal to visit because the ruins where considered unsafe. Now, tourist boats go there multiple times a day. Still it is not allowed to explore the island fully and most of the island is fenced …


I was in Dejima, the old trading post in the bay of Nagasaki. It was first used by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and for centuries it was one of the few places where Japan had contact with the rest of the world. I was walking around in one of the town houses. Since I am tall and doorways here are not, I was about to bow down to get my head through, when a high school girl behind me shouted “takai!”, “tall”. I am used to surprised exclaims about my stature, so as usual I looked at her, smiled and nodded. You should have seen the shock on her face. I turned away from her and was about to leave when I heard her mutter “kikoeta”, “he understood”. Then she ran away to her friends and excitedly discussed her encounter with a giant.