Nagasaki - Encyclopedia




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NAGASAKI, a town on the south-west of the island of Kiushiu, Japan, in 32° 44' N., 12 9 ° 51' E., with 163,324 (1905) inhabitants, and a foreign settlement containing a population of 400 (excluding Chinese). The first port of entry for ships coming from the south or the west to Japan, it lies at the head of a beautiful inlet some 3 m. long, which forms a splendid anchorage, and is largely used by ships coming to coal and by warships. Marine products, coal and cotton goods are the chief exports, and raw cotton, iron, as well as other metals and materials used for shipbuilding, constitute the principal imports. The value of imports approaches £2,000,000 annually. That of exports has fluctuated considerably. In 188 9 it was £1,005,367, but in 18 9 4 it was only £444, 8 39, and does not generally exceed £450,000. The most important industries of the town are represented by the engine works of Aka-no-ura, three large docks and a patent slip, the property of the Mitsu Bishi Company. Steamers of over 6000 tons have been constructed at these docks, which, as well as the engine works, are situated on the western shore of the inlet. The brisk atmosphere of business that pervades them does not reach the town on the eastern side, which lies under the shadow of forests of tombstones that cover the over-looking hills. Nagasaki is noted as a coaling station. The coal is obtained chiefly from Takashima, an islet 8 m. S.E. of the entrance to the harbour, and in lesser quantities from two other islets, Naka-no-shima and Ha-shima, which lie about 1 m. farther out. These sources of supply, however, show signs of exhaustion. There are several favourite health resorts in the neighbourhood of Nagasaki, notably Unzen, with its sulphur springs.

Nagasaki owed its earliest importance to foreign intercourse. Originally called Fukae-no-ura (Fukae Bay), it was included in the fief of Nagasaki Kotaro in the 12th century, and from him it took its name. But it remained an insignificant village until the 16th century, when, becoming the headquarters of Japanese Christianity, and subsequently the sole emporium of foreign trade in the hands of the Dutch and the Chinese, it developed considerable prosperity. The opening of the port of Moji for export trade deprived Nagasaki of its monopoly as a coaling station, and the visits of war vessels were reduced when Russia acquired Port Arthur, Great Britain Wei-hai-wei and Germany Kiaochow. On the north side of the channel by which the harbour is entered there stands a cliff called Takaboko, which, under the name of Pappenberg, has long been rendered notorious by a tradition that thousands of Christians were precipitated from it in the 17th century because they refused to trample on the Cross. It has been conclusively proved that the legend is untrue.

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