Well, we finally went to Nagasaki! Taking advantage of the three day weekend and celebrating our first year anniversary (whatttt?!?), we were on the road immediately after work to reach the city by nightfall. We decided to couch surf for the first time. Until now, we have only been hosts but never surfers and we thought we would give it a shot! If you’re unfamiliar with couch surfing, it’s a great way for backpackers and budget-travelers to explore the world while staying on hosts’ “couches” and in return, you’re expected to be willing to host fellow travelers. It’s like a pay-it-forward system of travel accommodation.
So, we decided to stay with Yuki in central Nagasaki. He was the sweetest guy who lives in an old traditional Japanese house on a hill above the city and conveniently located near everything that we wanted to see. On our first morning, we strolled to Oura Catholic Church and Glover Garden. On the way, we sampled the famous castella cakes and admired the European architecture and landscape of the area.
Our first stop was Oura Catholic Church. The church was built after the end of Japan’s “sakoku” or period of isolation when Japan closed it’s borders to all foreign influence and trade. Oura was built to honor the 26 Japanese and European Christians who were martyred for their faith in 1597. Before coming to Nagasaki, we knew a little about the underground and hidden Christians of Kyushu but it was truly an impactful and educational experience to stand in such a place and feel the weight of the things that happened to these people. We are thankful that Japan now allows the freedom of religion and we pray that even now, God will be glorified thorough their stories and all Japanese Christians would be bold enough to stand for their faith.
After a few more castella samples, we headed to a different part of the city for lunch. Yuki took us to a tiny Japanese teshouku restaurant serving local dishes like chanpon alongside national staples like curry-rice. We explored the shops, walked down to the waterfront, and ended the day with a fancy (little) pizza and cheese-board dinner near the ocean.
We were out early the next day in search of some nature. And since it was a bit toasty, we headed north to Omura for a short hike to a swimming hole and waterfall. It was absolutely beautiful and everything we needed. It was also a bit of a culture shock for the two of us to witness people actually jumping into the water! And not only that, but they were Americans who had come from the nearby Navy base in Sasebo. Living in Nobeoka for a year, we haven’t been around many loud groups of beer-drinking, cliff-jumping, rope-swinging Americans in tiny swimsuits. It didn’t take long for us to jump in and escape the scorching heat!
That night, we spontaneously found a cheap hotel in a city called Kurume. It turned out to be an amazing city full of international cuisine, beautiful lantern-lined streets and gaudy karaoke bars. We explored the streets for a while, unable to decide what to eat but eventually wandered into an empty Italian restaurant for the best Italian food we have had in a long time. It’s funny how the best things are always so random and unexpected!
Costco was the last item on our agenda. During the hour drive from Kurume to Fukuoka, we felt like kids on our way to Disneyland. We were slightly skeptical about the options at a Japanese Costco but as we stepped into the massive warehouse, we were pleasantly surprised to see many of the American products along with the ridiculous crowds and gi-normous bulk sizes (so thankful for giant bags of tortilla chips!). We even lost each other a few times! And the best part was the pizza. Can we all just agree that COSTCO HAS THE ABSOLUTE BEST PIZZA EVER!? Even in Japan. We bought a whole cheese pizza and finished half of it before we left. We had been deprived for far too long.
Now back in Nobeoka, we are finished with classes for the term and looking forward to our US trip! We will be in the states for the first two weeks of August and can’t wait to see family and friends, especially those who we haven’t seen since our wedding! So, if you’re reading this and you want to see us while we are there, please contact us via Facebook Messenger or email and we’ll try our best to make it happen!
And last, Kaya got her Japanese driving license after the second try so we are pretty excited about that!