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Full Circle

Day 41: Nagasaki

Nagasaki, Japan 
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Lone British participant. Okunchi Festival, Nagasaki.
Michael Palin - Full CircleNagasaki is smaller than it looks. Less than half a million people live amongst the folded hills that dovetail into the long narrow fiord of Nagasaki Harbour. This protected anchorage attracted the first European traders to Japan in 1571. They were Portuguese, allowed to open a base for commerce and missionary work. The missionaries were too successful for their own good and a reaction set in. Early Japanese Christians were crucified and the shoguns (warlords) withdrew into the two-hundred-year period of international isolation. Only Nagasaki kept the door to foreign trade ajar, allowing a small Dutch trading post on an island in the harbour, and it was Nagasaki that opened up to the West in 1859, encouraging entrepreneurs from Europe, anxious to spread the benefits of the Industrial Revolution, to use the city as their base. A Scotsman called Thomas Glover, whose European-style bungalow is now a major tourist attraction, brought Japan into the industrial age virtually single-handed. He introduced railways, laid the first telephone cable, opened the first coalmine, started the Kirin Brewery and, in 1868, set up the first modern ship-building yard. He sold it nine years later to a fledgling company he helped found. Its name was Mitsubishi. Today Mitsubishi's shipyards dominate the north side of the harbour and nearly twenty per cent of Nagasaki's workforce is employed by Mitsubishi Heavy Engineering.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 41
  • Country/sea: Japan
  • Place: Nagasaki
  • Book page no: 66

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  • Around the World in 80 Days