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Taiwan4 March 17

Japan6 October 16

Europe May 16

Japan5 November 15

Korea2 March 15

Even More Trips

HongJapWan March 2014
Sichuan March 2013
Tokyo3 October 2012
China2 August 2012
Japwan March 2012
China November 2011
Korea September 2011
Taiwan March 2011
London3 June 2010
Japan May 2010
London2 February 2010
London September 2009
SE Asia December 2005

Japan November 2015 - Tokyo - Nagoya - Hiroshima - Shimonoseki - Fukuoka - Page 8

Day 22 - Monday, 23 November 2015

Other people

Its a national holiday, theres only one mountain of note that people living here go to, its peak leaf season, the internet warned of jam packed trails.
I went anyway, and it was perfectly fine, yes there were other people, but it didnt slow my progress at all.

Todays mountain is called Mount Homan, it is near what turned out to be the tourist favourite shrine and shopping location of Dazaifu.
I had allowed time to get here, because it seemed like a lot of stations, and one change, so I boarded the train which was a limited express, which then went directly to the station I needed, bypassing 20 others.
The small train to the shrine near the mountain was waiting for me, so all in all, 30 minutes at most.
The shrine however, was not really near the mountain, time for supplies and a 45 minute walk to the next shrine which is the start of the mountain, there sure are a lot of shirnes.

Once at the mountain, it was time to limber up, I had decided to go as hard as I could, after reading the path is all big rock steps that never end from the gate to the peak.
This description turned out to be exactly right, some of the steps were very high, and unlike most mountains, it got steeper near the end, the final grand rock staircase was over 400 steps straight up.
I pushed on as hard as I could, completely soaked with sweat on what is a beautiful 20 degree sunny day. I had dressed for the occasion is shorts and t-shirt, passing all the locals in their mountain survival gear.

There were quite a few people hanging around the top as you can see below, behaving like Koreans with mini radios blasting and gas stoves. There was also a small wolf puppy who was extremely happy. I hung around just long enough to take in the view, and headed down the looping path which rejoined the main path about half way down.
I swear I passed some people on the way down who I had passed on the way up, they were still not even half way. I saw a lot of people who I thought might need CPR at any moment, doubled over taking in huge breaths.
I got sick of answering Koninchiwa to everyone choking and attempting to Koninchiwa me whilst they were on their way up, but I feared failure to answer would end up with me being on the news as a rude foreigner.

Once back at the botttom, I decided to go explore the now extremely busy shopping and shrine area, and eat some street snacks. A highlight here was a little girl all dressed up who looked in a pram to see a baby under a blanket, and then a bulldog poked its head out and barked at her. She screamed and fell over. A minor argument between the two women who were the parents of the bulldog, and the parents of the kimono clad child then ensued.

Update!!!!! High resolution panoramas are back, links to the left in the table of contents area!!!!!

I got off the train at the last stop on the tourist spur line and spotted the shopping street. The hiking guide made no mention of this. Awesome weather despite rain being forecast.

Shrine number 1 of 10 today. They all seem to be having Labour Thanksgiving celebrations of some kind.

It was about a 45 minute brisk walk from the train to the start of the mountain trail, thats todays mountain in the distance.

The grounds of this shrine were nice and leafy.

The shrine itself, small and boring. Thats enough shrines for today.

Time to hit the trail, it soon became giant rock steps.

You cross a road a couple of times but there was no road to the peak itself today. That didnt stop all these people driving to a crossing point and starting their walk from half way up.
I called them lazy to their lazy faces.

Every now and then, another gate.

Like most mountains in Japan, there is rarely a view until you get to the top due to excess trees in the way. Hence when you do get a view, best to take a photo in case cloud rolls in.

Cloud was indeed rolling in, the next valley is a sea of cloud.

Now I am at the top, and theres Fukuoka.

And heres the other way again, OK thats enough view.

At the top, theres this thing with a bell. I guess its a shrine. There are no public toilets on the peak itself....

There are lots of people hanging around having a picnic.

Time to abseil down using the chains.

This takes you to a camp ground, which does have public toilets. I stopped here for my pocari sweat.
After this I put my camera away, in case I fell flat on my face during the descent.

Back where I started and the shopping street is now a hive of activity.

The place is popular enough to not only get a starbucks, but get a specially designed culturally appropriate starbucks.

It was a very nice street, there are shops selling crap but also some good shops, including branches of the museum shop, people making chopsticks, someone carving owls.

This seems to be the local snack, so I got one. Its red bean again, but unsweetened. The crispy shell was also not sweet, but it was hot as hell.

Since the above snack was flavourless, I thought I would try this one. I thought it would be ice cream but no. I think its rice crackers, with rice paste mixed with green tea. Also flavourless.
I had visited the street of flavourless snacks.

Sudden downpour

I stepped outside this evening, and the sky seemed to be 2 metres above my head, and it was very windy. It was forecast to rain this morning but didnt, but it felt like there was about to be a cyclone now.
Sure did have a lot of rain on this trip.
This required a sudden change of plans, I stood out the front of the hotel googling for indoor locations as the cloud seemed to get thicker and thicker, swirling all about. I could see it even though it was dark.
I decided on the nearby, canal city, apparently a futuristic indoor / outdoor shopping centre between Tenjin and Hakata complete with lasers. The internet tells me its designed by the same famous guy who designed the Osaka mall with the roof garden which I remember from a few trips back.
Course mentally plotted, I followed the canal from my hotel to the city named after the canal, it did not rain yet.

At one point, I looked outside from behind glass after being 2 levels underground for ages and there was a river running down the street! But it wasnt raining, I raced to get a better look, but by the time I got outside, just puddles were left, and I walked back to my hotel without a drop of rain from the sky.

Thats enough about the weather. This did however result in not many photos.

Canal city, and a canal.

Fukuoka sure seems to love their ramen, not only is there a big competition in town, now theres a stadium.

I watched the laser show for a while, and discovered its very hard to photograph lasers.

I wasnt going to have ramen, but the promise of soul burning devils ramen had me sold. Wasnt spicy, sorry Japan, go to Taiwan and report back please.
It was however delicious, best ramen I have had, the best kind of noodles, they are thinner and chewier.

The ramen stadium is not what I imagined. Its 10 stores next door to one another. I had an iron chef vision that was not fulfilled.

Everything you need for a happy life.

David on 2015-11-24 said:
hi Bob
As soon as I was out on parole I fled the country on a false passport.

bobule on 2015-11-23 said:
finally!!! why didn't i check here before?? i was wondering if you were dead or in prison. now i have a month of travel to catch up on!

Mother on 2015-11-23 said:
Just checked out your panoramas. Very clear and crisp. You need to do some night ones too.

adriana on 2015-11-23 said:
Not sure I have been to Canal City. Did it exist in 1999?

David on 2015-11-23 said:
Also, I got around to uploading the panoramas, links in the contents to the left at the top....

David on 2015-11-23 said:
small in comparison, 15km round trip from the station to the top of the mountain and back to the station

adriana on 2015-11-23 said:
Looks like a big walk. How many kilometres do you reckon?

Day 23 - Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Sand castle

It was looking particularly grey, and damp, so hanging around the city was the order of the day.
I decided to head west, after scrolling google maps for a while, and making a rough plan of things to see along the way, some I saw, some I missed.
It only rained once very briefly and the sun poked through for brief moments, but most of the time it was very grey, and very windy.

Along the way I saw shrines, ruins of a castle and some lies about it, a beach, and about 200 large under used shopping centres.

2 things I found interesting, I saw a 2 groups of school kids in different areas doing the same thing, like its some form of All Japan school kid emperors challenge.
They were bouncing a basketball with one hand, then throwing a tennis ball in the air, and catching it with their other hand thus forcing them to change the hand they were bouncing the basketball with. They would either walk forwards, backwards or hop whilst doing this.
Seems to me to be a cheap sport instead of letting the kids play soccer or basketball or tennis.

On my way back after walking nearly 20km, I caught the bus. Like most buses in Japan, its quite old, manual transmission. The driver would turn the bus off at every traffic light or stop to let people on or off, even if it was only for 5 seconds.
This is not a bus designed for stop start operation, it would shudder to death when turned off, then splutter back to life, complete with black smoke.
The only reason the driver would be doing this is to save fuel, which I doubt it would, but the impact this would have on the the engine, starter motor etc. would probably halve the life of these major components.
The driver also wore a microphone headset, and would occasionally mumble something, but most of the time he made a bizzarre frog croaking sound. Exactly the same sound comic impersonators make when doing an impression of Bob Hawke. This wasnt something he did just before speaking, he did it for 30 minutes straight.

First stop of the day is the Fukuoka castle, this is the outer moat, a lot of the inner area is being excavated currently for an archeological study. Or it was years ago and they left a huge field of weeds in its place.

Right now this shed is all thats left of the castle...that was never a castle, read on.
Obviously, I did some heavy editing of this photo.

This is apparently the foundations for a castle tower that was never built. Probably because the emperor up north found out and put a stop to it, however!
Due to the potential for tourism dollars, the town authority has now decided to invent proof the castle was completed at some point and stood there very briefly, however theres no record of this ever.
Armed with this 'proof', they intend to rebuild a new castle with escalators and gift shop, and get it added to the list of top Japanese castle re creations.

The view from the top of the wall is not bad.

More view, nice grey sky.

Nearby is a park that houses a man made lake, that for an unknown reason is a 1/10th scale re creation of the famous west lake in Hangzhou China. I have walked around the west lake there, it took all day, I would suggest Fukuokas version is more like 1/50th scale.
The perimiter makes for a nice jogging track. Ducks seem to love the lake too.

Sun turned up for a while.

Nearby is an old shopping street, mainly fish and vegetables.

And anywhere theres an old market, theres a shrine. Because you have to be thankful that you got to buy a fish today.

There were shrines everywhere here, but this one takes the cake. Its bright red, I tried to get to the base of it, it emerges from the roof of a factory shed!

I thought it was a trick of angles, but no, it really does, hes a plan of it I offer as proof.

Now I am heading to the beach area, and theres a huge baseball stadium for the local team, the Fukuoka Hawks. It seems impressive, has a roof.

They have their own shopping mall. But theres not a single person in it. This is a theme of Fukuoka.

The nearby Hilton Hotel is the biggest most impressive looking hotel I have seen anywhere in Japan. Not just the tower but the whole base that it sits on with the big garden conservatory. I couldnt get up there to have a closer look.

The team is called the hawks, and their were hawks everywhere circling over head.

This part of town called Momochihama seems as though its a recent re development of a former port. Theres some big office buildings but not a lot of places to eat.
Not to worry, if you are a salary man here, a fleet of little trucks will bring you all kinds of cheap boxed foods for lunch.

The photo of this tower came out well!

This is right in the middle of a man made beach area, it is a purpose made floating wedding town.

The beach was clean enough, its one of 3 separated by canals along here, completely man made. The sand doesnt really look like regular ocean sand to me.

I really walked a long way. I needed to get over there, across this canal thats more like a small sea.

Unfortunately the bridge was a mile up stream. But the mountains look very close. Why do I keep reading that theres no mountain to go to near Fukuoka? Perhaps you need a car to get there.

The only busy mall of the day is this Aeon one, which was older but busy. It didnt even make it onto google maps, I came across it by accident.

My planned destination was over another canal. The ferris wheel was a welcome site, legs were getting tired.

Another abandoned huge shopping centre. This one is called Marinoa city.

The lego store was cool though.

It is built on and in old cold storage houses in the old port, which made it kind of interesting.

I had eggplant with cheese and tomato for lunch. I got upsold into the all you can eat salad and bread bar because I couldnt be bothered arguing I didnt want the 'set', of which I had one slice of bread and a piece of lettuce.

Down by the ocean in the shopping centre car park is what looks like a church, but google tells me its a fantasy wedding venue.
I was grateful to spend some time sitting on the bus, which in addition to the story at the top of todays pictures, went over a huge curved double decker bridge over the main part of Fukuoka. An awesome view, but I sat there thinking about earthquakes.

Red lights dimmed

Tonights walking course was to loop through what is apparently the biggest red light district in all of Japan according to a very enthusiastic tourist website describing the awesomeness of Fukuoka.
I then planned to swing past the other part of Fukuoka, the second centre if you will, called Hakata, where the bullet trains come and go.

The red light district of Nakasu and the promise of blinding neon of questionable content was disappointing. I couldnt really find any notable building, laneway, street to take a photo of. It is situated between two canals, like everything in Fukuoka, but its mainly convenience stores and high end restaurants, as well as a few empty malls.
Gentrification, Japanese style.

Next I wandered through a covered souvenir street, busy closing early. Guess I wont be buying some Chinese made fans or a marble stamp with my family wax seal on it that actually just says 'paid in full'.
My last stop of the evening was the Hakata station, which is enormous. I really just skirted around the edge of this area but it was all happening. The most amusing site of the evening was Japanese children posing in front of the xmas decorations and instead of saying cheese or whatever whilst giving the peace sign and tilting their heads, they were saying CHRISSSSMASSSS!!!!.
This was not just one group of people doing this, everyone was. Japanese shopping fairy demands you buy buy buy.
I bought some curry.

Another corner, another megamall. No customers, lots of fancy carpet inside though. I wanted to have soup from here, but they had run out!

The red light district and its blinding neon, Kabukicho has got nothing on Nakasu...

A covered shopping street. Generally the older it is, the more cigarette vending machines it has.
And on that note, in Australia in any kind of shopping area with public toilets, the mens toilets will be further down the corridor than the womens. So the weak women dont have to walk as far.
This is never ever ever the case in Japan. The mens toilets are always first, cause men have stuff to do. Women can spend all day shopping for fish, taking their fish to the shrine, and then walking further to the toilet facilities.

I have no idea what this is but I like it.

I am always amazed that these temples everywhere are open and lit up at night. You can just wander about, buy something from the vending machine, use their bathrooms.
Theres never anyone there. No wonder they burn down so often.

Hakata station, in all its blue glory.

Hakata has gone the blue xmas theme, where as Tenjin has gone for gold.

There is a large christmas themed market, with heated beer, and stalls selling snow globes. You can also get various types of european sausage.
Europe sent all their sausage here once it was declared fatal if eaten just last month.

You can get up on the roof, but the view isnt great. I think its much better the other way, but theres no way to see over the wall there.
You fools, you stuck the viewing platform on the wrong side.

Instead you can hang out in the roof garden, which appears to have a heap of closed ramen shops, and a mini train that runs around it.

There are 3 floors of restaurants at the top, including one by Iron Chef Chen Kenichi! All these places had lines and cost a fortune, so I descended to the basement to hang out with the working class.

And I had double curry! 2 choices. It took us a while to agree on my two choices because apparently, too spicy too spicy.
Anyway, they had extras on offer, and one was fresh chopped tomato. Instead they tipped an entire tin of chopped tomatoes into a bowl which was a little unusual to eat raw.

David on 2015-11-24 said:
Japanese curry of course. They have Indian curry everywhere as you know, but its 99% naan bread

adriana on 2015-11-24 said:
Were they Japanese curries or Indian?

mother on 2015-11-24 said:
Did you buy some castle Lego then? Were you very early in all the malls?

Day 24 - Wednesday, 25 November 2015

No mountain

Surprise! Tomorrow I start a 30 hour journey home, which means I should be up a mountain today, but I am not.
Multiple reasons, its raining a little, theres not a lot of mountains around here, my knee still hurts when I wake up but strangely not when I walk on it, and I have some really annoying work to do for a few hours so I dont end up in trouble with the military on arrival back into Australia.

So with all that in mind, I set out for a 5 hour walk early, and to do some shopping. Instead of walking around the base of big shops taking photos, I actually ventured into some and saw some terrifying things coming sooon to Australia.
Other highlights include Star Wars and Christmas. No just kidding. Other highlights included opening my hotel room window cause its damn hot in here, only to have a knock at the door 2 minutes later to find out why I had opened my window.
I also noted that in a visit to a coffee shop today that the cups get marked if you are a white guy, because there was another white guy waiting for his coffee and his cup had the same texta mark on it. He wandered off and when his coffee was ready they were very insistent on giving it to me. Once he returned from the bathroom or wherever to collect his, all the girls behind the counter had shocked looks of confusion.

Finally, I think I saw someone attempt to shoplift in Yodabashi. The place had just opened, its the only place that opens at 9AM. A young guy put some headphones under a jumper he had folded on top of his man bag. The thing is, he knew I saw him, and he was now confused. So I kept looking at him with my piercing gaze, and he put them back and gave a small bow before scurrying off.
So there you go, I am now working part time as Yodabashi store security.

Boring photos today.

Gambling is illegal. Imagine if it was legal. Apparently the sole object in this world is to buy some ball bearings and feed them into a machine to win vouchers to buy teddy bears..... or gold and silver trinkets with a known value that a nearby hole in the wall will buy off you.

The allure of the sole object in this world has people lined up waiting for opening time all over Japan. Dont these guys have jobs? Its only men. If they have no job how do they afford this? I just read that 60% of all income in Japan is inherited so theres that.

The great thing about Japanese electronics shops is you can try everythng. In ear earbuds, electric shavers, electric toothbrushes, nose hair clippers, everything.
Especially useful is displays like this, where you can try all the interchangeable lenses on a tiny train set. I took photos of me taking photos. So meta.

I thought they were selling washing machine lids, but no, in Japan this is your household lighting. Enjoy the blinding white glow of fluro dome.

This is the craziest thing I saw today. Its an ear cleaning system you can buy, that has a camera on the end and some kind of mechanical scraper you insert in your ear.
You can either stare through a lense attached to the cable, or plug it into the usb port of your computer or tv for a big screen view of whats inside you.
Home colonoscopy attachment also available.

They take their chopsticks seriously. Personal fitting and modification service included in price.

Calbee is a junk food brand that make potato chips. They also have cafes where they will make you some sort of potato chip meal often involving ice cream, chocolate sauce and cream. I had 2 buckets.

These guys won a competition to stand in the street and yell at the building whilst holding various poses.

So I took up a seat nearby to enjoy the brass band playing the star wars theme. Not joking, it was all star wars hits back to back.

The tiny amount of rain was to my advantage, I got a seat that wasnt even damp to enjoy my bagel purchased from the basement food market. I was concerned what was going to be on the one on the left, raw fish paste perhaps? But no, its blueberry cream cheese.

Time to head into another shrine to thank pokemon for my bagel.

This is the god of sumo. He looks over this shrine.

Its very red.

And of course, theres a nearby fish market, where you can can buy live fish, dead fish, dried fish, liquified fish, fish cakes, fish cookies, fish balls and distilled fish essence.

It got cold

After a month of wondering why its so warm, tonight its going down to 11 degrees, cold enough to justify my jacket for once. Actually its going to be much colder the next few days, as I leave.
Strangely, Adelaide, where its going to be summer when I get back, has a forecast low of 9 degrees for my return. So there you go, Japanese winter warmer than Australian summer, remember Australia is the hottest place on earth.
No more weather talk I promise.

Tonight I tried to minimize the number of steps taken, but that didnt go exactly to plan.
I discovered a huge underground modern shopping street, possibly the biggest I have ever seen in Japan, I then tried to find the disobedient child street, Oyafuko-dori (literal translation). So named because its where teenagers who dont do well in school go to misbehave.
I read that this street was busy year round, day and night, and a true sight to behold if you can even get near it.... I think the tourism board has been writing the wikipedia page for Fukuoka.

Then it was time to have dinner, since I have excess yen left, I deliberately chose an expensive place, cost me nearly $15!
Now I better go to bed early, since theres no sleep from tomorrow morning until Friday night. 3 flights back to Adelaide with 2 x 4 hour layovers.

This is the underground shopping street. Theres 2 that run parallel, 3 different subway lines cross over it.
Given the layout, I think it might have been an underground train line itself at some point. Nearly exclusively high end fashion stores. I love Gucci.

I had dinner early to dodge the lines. Hamburger AND deep fried crumbed pork nuggets of some kind. The stuff in the green jar is a kind of dukkah / salsa for the rice that was quite unusual tasting. Almost tasted like grapefruit... and fish.

A future boy band is trying to master the robot.

This is a common form of corner police station, or Koban as they are called. Looks like a public toilet.

Best example of Neon I have found in Fukuoka, despite various big promises from enthusiastic bloggers.

This is inside an 11 level games arcade. 4 levels are games, but theres also ten pin bowling, golf simulators and a couple of 3 a side soccer pitches on the roof (according to the map).
Either the roof was closed or I couldnt figure out how to get up to it.

Instead I played a game of mario ghost busters, you suck the ghosts into this gun thing.

Outside, a new corvette drove past, picture doesnt show it properly but they are stupidly long. They also appear to have a bad plastic body kit and 4 trumpets trumpeting for an exhaust.

Finally I headed into the bookshop to pick up my star wars collectors plates in Japanese castle style.

mother on 2015-11-25 said:
Star wars Japanese style plates are bizarre. Take photos of Fukuoka airport as I can't remember what it is like.

David on 2015-11-25 said:
the great thing about Fukuoka is the airport is 3km from the city centre, only 2 subway stops.
The crap thing about Tokyo is when you get off the Shinkansen you still need to get to Narita.

mother on 2015-11-25 said:
Will you be shinkansening back to Tokyo to come home or flying from Fukuoka?

The next page is the last page, its all about flying home, so very boring probably


Hi Resolution Panoramas

Latest Update

Day 1 - Monday, 2 November 2015
  Mile high typing club
  Mobile mucus dispersion unit
Day 2 - Tuesday, 3 November 2015
  Still alive
  Quietly confident
Day 3 - Wednesday, 4 November 2015
  Electric cubes and gap toothed models
  Need to step up my game
Day 4 - Thursday, 5 November 2015
  Sleepy train ride
  The dark temple
Day 5 - Friday, 6 November 2015
  Suburban Tokyo
  Not much has changed
Day 6 - Saturday, 7 November 2015
  Mosquito mountain camera failure
  Beneath the tracks
Day 7 - Sunday, 8 November 2015
  Much rain
  Soup in a can
Day 8 - Monday, 9 November 2015
  Not been here before
  And still it rains
Day 9 - Tuesday, 10 November 2015
  Long day at altitude
  Bare minimum
Day 10 - Wednesday, 11 November 2015
  Osaka castle - Nagoya branch
  Also theres Oso
Day 11 - Thursday, 12 November 2015
  Monkeys castles and fighter jets
  For one no sorry
Day 12 - Friday, 13 November 2015
  Grey day on a bald mountain
  Aeon ozone dome walk
Day 13 - Saturday, 14 November 2015
  Looming rain
  Throw everything on a plate
Day 14 - Sunday, 15 November 2015
  My room is old
  Too many places to eat
Day 15 - Monday, 16 November 2015
  Not a bad view
  I found them
Day 16 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015
  Rainy bomb day
  Get wet to go somewhere dry
Day 17 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015
  Mystery fair and bad pho
Day 18 - Thursday, 19 November 2015
  Raining tourists
  I got to wander
Day 19 - Friday, 20 November 2015
  Giant phallus
  Closed at seven
Day 20 - Saturday, 21 November 2015
  Under the sea
  The busy side
Day 21 - Sunday, 22 November 2015
  Final destination
  More than Shinjuku
Day 22 - Monday, 23 November 2015
  Other people
  Sudden downpour
Day 23 - Tuesday, 24 November 2015
  Sand castle
  Red lights dimmed
Day 24 - Wednesday, 25 November 2015
  No mountain
  It got cold
Day 25 - Thursday, 26 November 2015
  The shed

Hi Resolution Panoramas