[as of 2020 ]


Recognized as seaport city: 1571
Population: 513 643 (01.06.2019)
Location: Nagasaki

The city on the island of Kyushu, a seaport at the tip of the natural harbor. The city core is relatively small, with most of modern Nagasaki's administrative area gained following a merge of the surrounding towns into Nagasaki in 2005.

The city acquired world's recognition alongside Hiroshima following the atomic bombing by the Americans during World War II at 11:02 am, August 9, 1945. Nagasaki was bombed mostly due to its shipyards and steelworks. However, the city was a substitute target, and had a misfortune of been bombed due to restrictive weather conditions around the original target, the city of Kokura (Kitakyūshū). The bomb was dropped in the northern part of the city, while the central area saw less destruction due to the area's natural hilly terrain.

Nowadays Nagasaki is a vibrant rebuilt city, however, some neighborhoods in the central area still retain the older traditional feel.

Network Stats

Private operator: Nagasaki Dentetsu (Nagasaki Electric Railway)

System opened: 16.11.1915
Gauge: 1435 mm
Track length: 22,6 km. (one-way)
Number of services: 4 (Routes 1, 3, 4 & 5)
Number of passenger vehicles: 78

Network map: 2020

Timetable: 2020

The compact tramway network reflects the past development between 1914-1933, and mostly serves the city core. Except for some street streamlining following the rebuilding of the city after the war, the system remained largely intact ever since. The only notable exception is the long suburban line to Akasako to the north, opened 05.1960. There are perpetual plans to extend that line by 3,4 km. farther into the northern suburbs from Akasako to Teragawa-uchi.

The tramway network is operated by Nagasaki Dentetsu (Nagasaki Electric Railway), a private carrier. The operation is dense, with constant presence of tram in the city center. Trams operate between 6:30 - 23:30. Most of the day the headways are as follows:
Line 1: 5 min.
Line 3: 6 min.
Line 4: 20 min.
Line 5: 9 min.
There is one fare zone (2020: 120 JPY (~1,12 USD) single ride, 500 JPY (~4,68 USD) day pass). Boarding is through the rear door, payment upon exit through the front door.

95% of tramway tracks are within the street grid in mixed traffic, however, there is a 100% tramway priority use of the right-of-way with no mixed traffic operation except for intersections, defined solely by road markings. The only Urakami tramway depot opened 08.1953, located on the line to Akasako. It replaced the old depot at the Ōbashi Stop nearby. The main dispatch and operator's relief point is at the depot-adjacent mid-route stop. There is a storage yard at the Hotarujaya terminal, which was an independent depot from 03.1937 until 10.1972. Since the system opening, trams used to operate with twin poles, however, these were replaced with pantographs around 1950. The tramway network is notable for the following points of interest: the single track Ishibashi line along the canal; the central trunk line along the Nakashima River bank; the short tramway-only street in the city center; two tramway-only bridges and two tramway tunnels (one in mixed traffic and one tramway-only) - see gallery below for full photo coverage and locations.

Unlike in Hiroshima, the Nagasaki tramway network suffered relatively less destruction during the atomic bombing. The explosion epicenter was near the Ōbashi depot, however, mostly the northern segment of the system was affected, while most of the rest of the network was shielded by the hills. 117 employees of the tramway company were killed. 16 two-axle cars out of 63 were destroyed. However, soon thereafter Nagasaki was able to send some cars to help out the city of Kagoshima, which was firebombed. The tram service was reinstated in late 12.1945. Unlike in Hiroshima, there is no atomic bomb attack-related heritage fleet on the property.

Due to the prevalence of older rolling stock from the 1950-60s (see data below), an abundance of street running, and the traditional feel of older areas of the city where trams operate, it is this author's opinion that Nagasaki can be the most attractive city in Japan for a visiting tram enthusiast.

Rolling Stock

150 class Hattori Seisakusho : 1 car [appx. 1925, rebuilt], ex-Ōdawara (1957), ex-Tokyo
200 class Nippon Sharyō : 5 cars [1950] + Hitachi : 11 cars [1950,1951]
300 class Hitachi : 10 cars [1953]
360 class Nippon Sharyō : 7 cars [1961]
370 class Nippon Sharyō : 7 cars [1962]
500 class Naniwa Kōki : 6 cars [1966]
600 class Shin-Kinami-Sharyō : 1 car [1953] ex-Kumamoto (1969)
700 class Naniwa Kōki : 1 car [1955] ex-Tokyo (1969)
1050 class Niigata Engineering : 1 car [1952] ex-Sendai (1976)
1200 class Nagasaki Urakami / Kōki style : 5 cars [1975]
1300 class Nagasaki Urakami / Kōki style : 5 cars [1975] body ex-Kitakyūshū
1500 class Nagasaki Urakami / Kōki style : 7 cars [1975] body ex-Kitakyūshū
1700 class Nagasaki Urakami / Kōki style : 2 cars [1999] ex-Nishetetsu
1800 class Nagasaki Urakami : 3 cars [2000,2002] equipment ex-Kitakyūshū
3000 class Alna Kōki : 3 cars [2003,2004,2005] 3-section, low floor
5000 class Alna Sharyō : 2 cars [2011,2012] Little Dancer design, low floor

Heritage and special cars:

168 Kawasaki [1911] ex-Fukuoka (1957) Brill bogies, wooden body
87 Fukugawa Seisakusho [1911] ex-Fukuoka (1978) workcar
88 Morimachi / Tōyō Sharyō [1927] workcar, US equipment and trucks

Notable formerly operated cars:

2000 class Alna Kōki / Kawasaki : 2 cars [1980, scrapped 2014]- Japan standardized tram project

50 out of 77 regular service trams (or 65% of all trams) were built between 1950-1966. This makes the Nagasaki's fleet the 2nd oldest in Japan (following Kōchi with 90% of cars from the 1950-1960s). However, the Nagasaki's fleet is more diverse. All older trams retain authentic bodywork and all appropriate sounds. The 1911-built 4-axle wooden body car 168 by Kawasaki is considered a historic car. It operates in service on rare special occasions, works special event service, or chartered runs (2020: 10400 JPY (~97 USD) per car one-way fare, 2 weeks advanced notice). The 1953-built car 310 by Hitachi is branded 'Minato' and operates seaport-themed runs specially marked in the regular timetable. There are only 5 low floor cars from 2003-2012, which operate runs also specially marked in the timetable.

08.1980 Nagasaki received 2 cars built as a part of the 'Japan standardized tram' project (conceptually similar to the PCC project in the USA in the 1930s). A total of 3 cars were produced by Alna Kōki / Kawasaki - one double-artic car for Hiroshima numbered 3501 there, and two single cars for Nagasaki numbered 2001 and 2002. The Nagasaki cars were too fast, considering other older slower cars operating in the streets on the very short headway, and were the source of constant bunching. Both cars were consecutively scrapped in 2014. The Hiroshima car 3501 still survives.



Last updated: 14-May-2020
© 2002 Author: Yury Maller - Usage of material found herein for public display is possible with authors' permission only.

Special thanks: Jack May - photos