Chuseok Japan jollies – Fukuoka part 2
For Fukuoka Part 1 blog please check the side navigation and click:)
Day 2 Parks, castles, sushi and getting drunk again
After a good nights sleep we woke up early enough to have the hotel breakfast. It was only butter/jam and toast with drinks but was better than nowt!
We headed out and went on a mission to find a discount store close to Hakata station. It turned out to be Daiso – a Japanese chain popular in Korea. We bought some cheap souvenirs before getting the subway to Ohori Park in central Fukuoka. The sky was still a bit overcast but we wondered around there for a while. To be honest the Park is nice enough with a piece of shrubby land in the middle of a large pond and a pretty pagoda but is nothing that special. The ruins of Fukuoka castle are close by too so we checked them out. There are hardly any ruins left but it was nice, quiet (eep I’m getting old) and the skyline view from the top of the turret was pretty so Ash got some nice photos.
Next we wandered over to the harbour in search of something Fukuoka is famous for: street ramen stalls. However when we got there it was too early so they werent open. We were starving by this point so were on the hunt for food.
Close by we found a sushi restaurant, being sushi fans and so close to the sea we couldnt resist it so ordered a lunch set. A tip for eating nice food in Japan when on a budget is to have your main meal at lunch because most restaurants have a cheaper lunch set meal. For £12 we each got two salads, a bowl of soup, a plate of sushi, dessert and a cup of coffee which was a good deal I think. The sushi was super super fresh and melted in the mouth so I was sad to finish it.
After wandering around for a few more hours we realised that Fukuoka city centre is pretty small and recognised lots of places from previous days. We went back to the hotel to change and then went out in the evening in the search of nice ale and more food.
Warning: The bars are not where they seem.
We spent a long time trying to find a number of bars recommended on the internet and it was only by chance that we managed to. Similar to Korea a lot of bars were hidden in tall buildings and often there weren’t even signs outside. We ended up finding a reggae and rock bar purely by accident having seen a sign for a different bar outside. Our favourite bar of the night was without a doubt the Craic and Porter. It’s a tiny irish themed bar above a flower shop in Tenjin. There are ok directions for this on the internet if anyone wants to go. Anyway we ended up staying there so long drinking scrummy ale and lager and chatting away to other expats that we totally forgot about eating. On the way home we realised how much we needed food and found a street ramen stall. These are called Yatai and are what we had searched for earlier in the day. People sit around portable stalls slurping steaming ramen and drinking beer late in to the night. We got involved and I have to say this ramen was the best I’ve ever had, as was the cheesey eggy omelette delight that Ash and I shared. The staff were really friendly as were the other patrons so we had another great social and culinary experience before dragging our drunken butts back to the hotel.
Day 3 -Alarm bells and Nokoshima island
The next morning we were woken by someone speaking in Japanese through the loud speaker in to our hotel room, wtf? I started panicking because I remembered us coming back late and singing The Smiths walking up the road (pissheads) so in my delirious half asleep mind I thought they were telling us off. We realised 10 minutes later when the ridiculously loud sirens were going off that it was just a natural disaster drill. It went on for AGES which was annoying but made us hurry up to get out of the hotel.
We’d seen quite a lot of Fukuoka itself so wanted to get away and experience something different on our final day. We chose to catch a ferry to Nokonoshima island. We got an extortionate bus journey from Hakata station to the ferry dock (it cost 500yen so just under a fiver) we caught the ferry to Noko Island which only took ten minutes. Nokonoshima island is famous for a huge flower park, being a nature reserve and having a cool campsite and traditional village.
Once we arrived at the island we thought we had missed the bus, so we grabbed a map and started walking to the island park not really knowing how far away things were. After ten minutes we found a deserted temple and some ancient mongol warrior graves. It was pretty special because there was no one else around but me, Ash and a few butterflies fluttering around the statues and graves. It was still possible to see the ocean and other islands through the bushes and there was no other sound than the breeze rustling through the trees – bliss.
We took some pictures and then carried on walking for what felt like ages. After a while we saw a sign warning of wild boar which gave me the fear slightly. Realising it was 3.30pm and we were only half way there I was worried that we wouldn’t get to the park in time to have a good look around. Luckily as if by magic the first bus we’d seen arrived five minutes later and took us the rest of the way.
The island park was also really quiet because it was a weekday. There were pretty manicured flower gardens, oriental style trees, an animal corner with rabbits, chickens and goats sitting on rocks looking out at the sea. Women were farming a small field close by and behind them we could see dozens of islands dotting the ocean. We wandered around for a while, had a bowl of udon noodles with beef and then headed back on the bus.
That evening we went to Canal city to try to find food. We wanted to have a nice meal on the last night but other than super expensive restaurants in the basement of the Hyatt hotel (we looked like total scruff bags) there wasn’t much. We looked around Hakata staton but felt a bit overwhelmed due to the amount of choice and a lack of prices outside restaurants. We ended up at a bar/restaurant next to our hotel and I shit you not all we ordered were some small side dishes and two beers each and it came to £50! I was a bit gutted about that as it would have been nice to eat something delicious that night.
Next morning we were up early and flew home exhausted but happy that we’d been able to visit Fukuoka as it was a nice little city. Japan has a really nice atmosphere to it despite being expensive and I really want to go back next Chuseok to Tokyo or Osaka.