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Dutch Slope a must-see when visiting Nagasaki

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By Elizabeth Sok

Dutch Slope, or Oranda-Zaka in Japanese, refers to a cobble-stoned street ascending a hillside in Nagasaki where foreign residents first lived when the city opened up to trade in 1859. This historical gem, close to other landmarks of cultural exchange, like Glover Garden and the Oura Cathedral, is a must-see when visiting Nagasaki. 

A History of International Exchange

Nagasaki is often known to visitors mostly as the site of the second atomic bomb dropping in World War Two. But, as the nexus of maritime trade with the Portuguese and Dutch since the late 1500s, it was long one of Japan’s key windows into the outside world. The Portuguese were the first major trading power in Nagasaki, introducing many Western items with lasting cultural influence, like the castella sponge cake and the origins of tempura. 

Yet, Dutch trade in Nagasaki in particular had a powerful influence on Japan. After the Portuguese were expelled in 1638 due to worries about the spreading of Catholicism, the Dutch took up residence on the artificial island Dejima and enjoyed a privileged trade relationship with Japan that lasted almost two centuries until the dawn of the Meiji Era. Dutch Slope, the hilly area where foreign residents made their home after Nagasaki opened to trade, is a testament to this relationship. It was so-named since most Western foreigners at this time were known as Oranda-jin (Dutch person) in Japan.

Higashi Yamate 13

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Good to see the Dutch slope getting also some attention after the recent article about Glover Garden, the visit is nice, there are many different places that can be interesting from the cultural and historic point of view, there were also some quirky shops around but unfortunately many could not survive the lack of tourism of the pandemic.

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