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It's both unfortunate and important that the name Nagasaki (長崎) is synonymous with the dropping of the second atomic bomb. This history undeniably overshadows everything else, yet if that's all you experience during your visit you'll be missing the point. As paradoxical as it may seem, Nagasaki is vibrant and charming, and it begs to be explored far beyond the bomb museums, monuments and memorials.

Spend some time here and you'll find that this welcoming, peaceful city also boasts a long history of trade with Europe and China, interesting churches, shrines and temples, and an fusion culinary scene, all set prettily around a gracious harbour. A few days will only let you scratch the surface.

Not that the WWII history can be overlooked: it's as much a part of the city's fabric as the hilly landscape and cobblestones, and a visit to the scenes of atomic devastation is a must.