A visit to Fukuoka and Nagasaki Japan
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2018 - 12:00am

FUKUOKA-NAGASAKI: Just planed in to Fukuoka, Japan with the group formed by Bobby Joseph and friends for the three-hour flight from Manila. This is my second time to Japan in three years. I was here before I had my kidney transplant and it was here that I realized that my kidneys were failing. But in a way this is a thanksgiving tour to Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki where 26 Japanese martyrs were crucified and killed by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. This memorial has also the statue of our San Lorenzo Ruiz at the back. He was also martyred here.

Fukuoka-Nagasaki is like Davao to us in the Philippines. If you consider Tokyo as Manila and Osaka as Cebu. Taking the tour bus from Fukuoka Airport to Nagasaki City is a two-hour 20-minute trip into one of the most beautiful country roads of Japan. To show to you that the Japanese love to construct roads, the road to Nagasaki is now being beefed up with a new route to make the trip faster. Mind you they don’t even have a semblance of bad traffic that we have in Cebu or in Luzon.

I’ve always looked for news reports emanating out of Japan and I didn’t hear of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe making reports that he would be building new roads in the southernmost part of Japan. Unlike here in the Philippines the Duterte administration and his infrastructure minions were making a big fuss called “Build, Build, Build”. Of course, I can understand why the Duterte administration has resorted to this propaganda, it is because for six years under the Aquino regime, they had really nothing to show except the overpass near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

But the road from Fukuoka to Nagasaki is well-paved and practically a straight road. Honestly I don’t know how many tunnels they made, but when the road hits a hill or a mountain, Japanese engineers merely dig a tunnel. It makes me wonder what if Filipino DPWH engineers were to study road building in Japan…what would they learn? To build roads with safety in the mind of engineers or learn how to make more money from this type of construction? Pardon me if I’m complaining, but the newly constructed roadway that I saw on our way to Nagasaki wasn’t there three years ago…and it’s almost done already. But for infrastructure projects in Cebu…we are asking the DPWH what’s keeping them so long. Pres. Duterte has nearly reached his three years in office and we are zero in infrastructure in Cebu! Not much different from the time of PNoy Aquino!

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda during the 18th Grand Wine Experience and he told me that Filipino tourists visiting Japan had grown five times the usual number and on this trip you could say that Japanese tourism numbers are very accurate. What is not known to Filipinos is that Nagasaki is the most Catholic of Japanese cities, having many churches with worshipers hearing the holy mass.

No doubt, Nagasaki has a lot of history. For instance, it was the second city in Japan and the last to be attacked with an atomic bomb. On Aug. 6, 1945 the atom bomb dubbed “Little Boy” was dropped in the city of Hiroshima and three days later on Aug. 9 the atomic bomb dubbed “Fat Man” was dropped in the city of Nagasaki. Between 50,000 to 80,000 people were estimated to have been killed with the bombing in Nagasaki. Today there is the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum next to the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial for the atom bomb victims built in 2003.

But Filipino Catholics should make a pilgrimage to Nagasaki for this is where the Jesuits came in 1596 and tried to establish Christianity in the Japanese Islands. A visit to Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki is a must. It has a very nice museum of the 26 martyrs in Nagasaki. One of the forearms of St. Paul Miki is a relic that is on display there. Remember in Calvary there were only three crosses that the people of Jerusalem saw, but in Nishizaka Hill, there were 26 crosses all lined up of Christians who were martyred.

Two years ago, I saw the Martin Scorsese movie itled “Silence” based on the 1966 novel of Shusaku Endo starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. This story is about the Kirishitan in Japan hiding from the suppression of Christianity by the Tokugawa shogunate. It was a great movie that Christians should see.

Something travellers should never miss is a visit to Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki that recreates the Netherlands displaying Dutch buildings including their famous windmills and fields of tulips. When you are there, suddenly you’re no longer in Japan but in the Netherlands, including the Dutch food that they serve. Yes visiting this part of Japan is something you don’t see in places like Tokyo or Osaka.

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com


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