When Nagasaki was permitted to trade with foreign nations earlier than other coastal cities around Japan, this led to a fusion of the cultures of Japan, China and many Western lands. Essentially having a monopoly on foreign trade during the period of national isolation between the mid 17th and mid 19th centuries, Nagasaki’s second claim to historical fame is based on a far more devastating event – the use of the atomic bomb on its people, businesses and infrastructure – making it one of only two cities to suffer this fate in the history of humanity.
Nagasaki’s international history dates back to 1571 when Portugal requested the then shogun open a Japanese port to trade. Around the time it truly flourished as both a port and a window via which the Christian faith could enter Japan. However, just 16 short years later, in 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi banned Christianity and ruins related to Christianity’s existence in the city at this time and its subsequent demise can still be found around town. In 1635, points for use in foreign trade were restricted to Nagasaki. After the official reopening of Japan, foreign settlements were built in Minami Yamate and Higashi Yamate and later, on August 9th, 1945, an estimated 75,000 people died the instant the atomic bomb exploded in Nagasaki. Peace Park, built beneath the focal point of the blast, was erected in part to vow to future generations to never start war again but also to act as a wish for world peace for the children of today, the adults of the future.