Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Brian's second trip to Japan.
I was in Fukuoka from December 14th through 17th, four months after my first trip. I went alone this time and had a pleasant few days. The picture up there is the sun setting on the ferry terminal in Fukuoka; here are a few more.
Those are some pictures around Tenjin Central Park (天神中央公園), and the house is the former Prefectural Guest House. It's a couple blocks up from Canal City, which you'll see in some of the pictures, and a few more blocks from my hotel, which in turn was a couple blocks from Hakata Station. In spite of the cold weather I walked pretty much all over the city, as far west as Momochi Beach, and except for some sore legs in the morning there was nothing unpleasant or difficult about it.
The city was beautifully lit up for Christmas. Here are a few displays, in the daytime because I suck like that, in front of Solaria Plaza (ソラリアプラザ) department store:
A little further is Maizuru Park and Fukuoka Castle.
It was probably my favorite spot during the trip, and totally deserted because everyone was at work or at school.
You get a nice view from the top. You'll see the Yahoo! Japan Dome, home of the local baseball team, on the far right, and Fukuoka Tower. In the foreground is Ohori Park.
I took pictures in Ohori Park the next day, but for the sake of order I'll put them next. It's served by its own subway station, Ohori Koen, if you're not in the mood to walk.
Within the park is a little Japanese garden.
I didn't meet any of these.
A good bit of Korean at tourist attractions in the city. I was thankful for the hiragana, too, since I can't read or pronounce the characters.
From the park I walked toward Momochi Beach and the dome. I followed a map part of the way, though after a couple blocks I could see the dome and Fukuoka Tower. The Korean Consulate is about a block from the Yahoo! Japan Dome.
The stadium is home of the SoftBank Hawks.
Here's Momochi Beach, accessible by Nishijin subway station:
And here's the 234-meter-high Fukuoka Tower:
And a bulldog statue:
It costs 800 yen to go up the tower, though when I went the ticket office gave me a coupon book which gave me a discount. The view is nice.
That's looking at the beach, and this is looking back the way I came.
The carpet was a trip, too.
I'll pause here to put up a few pictures of food. I had breakfast at McDonald's, where there seems to be a strong aversion to filling the cup with coffee.
My second night I got some ramen from a yatai along Nakagawa next to Canal City and the soaplands.
Across the street from Fukuoka Tower I had some Indian-style curry---according to the menu, at least:
And, to get out of the cold, some Mister Donut:
My fiance has a bad memory, and is thus surprised each and every time I tell her that Mister Donut actually started as an American company. I saw them all over the place when I was a kid in Pittsburgh, but I can't remember the last time I saw one in the US. Wikipedia tells me some were bought out by Dunkin Donuts, some closed, and some were absorbed by Donut Connection. I think they're the best donuts you can buy.
Another place I visited was Dazaifu, a city inside Fukuoka Prefecture and a twenty-five minute train ride from Tenjin Station downtown. It's best known for Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine a short walk from the train station.
Kanzeonji Temple is about a twenty-minute walk from the train station. Next to it is Kaidanin, an old ordination hall, which I visited first.
It's got a different setting.
Nobody around except for artists:
Here are a couple from Kanzeonji, next door:
And a few from the neighborhood:
Across from the train station I had some ramen and dumplings. I'm a man who likes his ramen and mandu.
I'm getting tired now, too, so thankfully we're at the last thing, a temple across from Dazaifu Shrine:
There's a small courtyard out back:
Back in Fukuoka, the unwelcoming committee was out:
Here's my favorite character Rilakkuma---relax + bear---dressed up for Christmas:
And, a match made in heaven:
I've long since lost interest in transitions and cohesion, so I'm just gonna go ahead and talk about ramen again, recommending Ichiran as a place to get some fine Hakata ramen. There are locations all over the place, and I can't make sense of the pamphlet I got, but probably the most convenient ones are at the huge Canal City mall and underground near Hakata subway station. It's distinctive in that you sit in a little booth with partitions on either side of you and a curtain in front. You place your order through a machine at the front of the store, and your food is passed to you beneath the curtain. Here's more.
One final note---and the note will be about something other than the massage parlor catalogue I picked up outside a Lawson's---on the post I did about my trip to Japan last August I talked about trying to use my international debit card and not having any luck. Well, I was able to use it a couple times last month at 7-11---like commenter Randi said---so if you have an international debit card from KEB, and if it has the VISA Plus logo on the back, you should be able to use it. But don't take my word for it, because all too often people go overseas thinking their card will work only to find it doesn't.
I'll reiterate it was a really nice time, and I'd of course recommend Fukuoka to anyone in Korea looking to get away for a few days. In conclusion, Japan is a land of contrasts. Thank you for reading my essay.