As our month in Japan was coming to its climax towards the end of 2012, we ventured from our great experience surrounded by the art and exhibitions at the Beppu Art’s Festival and made our way to Nagasaki, one of the most travelled to cities in Japan by full-time travellers and holidaymakers alike.

Our time in the city was to be quite short as the end of our Japanese visa was nearing it’s ugly head, our budget for our month in the country was shrinking fast and our ferry trip from Japan to South Korea across choppy waters was soon approaching.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (1)

Making The Most Of Time Cut Short

Having arrived via the train into the city using our cost-saving Japanese Rail Passes, we met with the next in our line of fantastically friendly and welcoming Couchsurfing hosts and made our way to his place.

Knowing just how short of time we were and of how busy our English teaching host was going to be whilst we were in town, we got as much information and as many recommendations as we could and ventured into town to make some observations and discoveries (off-the-beaten-path, of course) of our own.

Having not wandered too far from our hosts typical Japanese one-room-as-all-rooms abode, we came across the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (2)
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (3)

Opened in April 2005, this art museum is the work of Nihon Sekkei, Inc and architect Kengo Kuma (most notably known for this fantastic and unique Starbucks design). Comprising of one public and free to access gallery, temporary gallery, permanent exhibition hall and the standard museum collection of shop, cafe and conservation rooms, given the large space given to the building it’s a relatively small affair with very little to keep you occupied for more than an hour or ninety minutes of art gazing.

Once inside, you’re immediately in the shop on the ground floor of this two story building. There are more souvenirs than you can shake a wallet at. Comprised of a regular collection, they also host a large collection of themed items for whichever exhibition is currently running. For us, it was a co-organised exhibition between the Finnish government and the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum showcasing the elegance and world leading design of the past fifty years from Finnish designers.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (4)
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (5)

“Sorry Sir, no pictures”

Unfortunately for us and yourselves, we were not permitted to take pictures inside of the gallery spaces, a subject that both has led to much frustration as we strive to provide you all with a glimpse into what art the world has on offer for you once you step out that door and onto that plane. We are currently looking to work with museums in future to remedy this.

One picture we did manage to cheekily snap, however, was this remarkably similar photo found in the public galleries world photography collection running at the time. Can you see the resemblance?

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (6)

spot the differences!

Walking through the building it has a familiar modern-build museum feel with plenty of light streaming through in the communal corridors and sealed gallery rooms with the standard white walls and perfected lighting throughout. The cafe area that runs inside of the glass corridor that spans across the stream that separates one part of the building to the other is also another bright and open space, but not in any way as bright and open as the rooftop garden found down another corridor and out a double set of doors.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (7)
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (8)

One out the doors you are out onto a view of the whole Nagasaki bay area and most of which holds the majority of the city itself.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (9)
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (10)

Up another set of stairs is another elevated level where the view is even less restricted (and open to the elements as we were so beware) and you can really get a good look at the boats passing in and out of the bay as ferries usher people all around the coast of Japan and further afield.

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (11)
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (12)


Adults: 400YEN / £2.70 / $4.00 / €3.10
Student (university): 300YEN / £2.00 / $3.00 / €2.30
Student (school): 200YEN / £1.30 / $2.00 / €1.50
Senior (over 70): 300YEN / £2.00 / $3.00 / €2.30

notediscounts are available for groups over 15pp


2-1 Dejima-Machi
Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture

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In Summary

The Nagasaki Prefectural Art Gallery is a modest and brief affair and can be covered in less than two hours at a slow stroll and with lunch at the internal cafe included.

Whilst it may not set the world alight with it’s rather small offering of local and international art that doesn’t go past any period over 50 years ago, it’s location is perfect for following on with a stroll along the bay or for popping into to take advantage of it’s observation point on the top floor. Also, the architecture is subtle but effective and worth venturing to for a moments observation of it’s ‘breathing’ style.

Have you ever been to Nagasaki?