sights / Historic

Lonely Planet review

In 1641, the Tokugawa shōgunate banished all foreigners from Japan, with one exception: Dejima, a fan-shaped, man-made island 560m in circumference (15,000 sq m) in Nagasaki harbour. From then until the 1850s, this small Dutch trading post was the sole sanctioned foreign presence in Japan; about the only local contact for the Dutch segregated here was with trading partners and courtesans, and an annual official visit to Edo, which took 90 days!

These days the city has filled in around the island and you might walk right past it. Don't. Seventeen buildings, walls and structures (plus a miniature Dejima) have been painstakingly reconstructed based on pictorial representations into the Dejima Museum . Restored and reopened in 2006 and constantly being upgraded, the buildings here are as instructive inside as they are good-looking outside, with exhibits covering the spread of trade, Western learning and culture, archaeological digs, and rooms combining Japanese tatami (woven floor matting) with Western wallpaper. There's excellent English signage. Allow at least two hours.