This weekend, my last 3 day weekend for a while, I decided to hit the road with my lifelong companion, Winnie, to Fukuoka. Fukuoka is a 3 hour bus journey north of me, in the next prefecture (at the top of Kyushu).
Fukuoka is well known for the shopping utopia (or dystopia if the thought of 8 floors of retail turns your stomach) ‘Canal City’ and other destinations like the Tenmangu Shrine, Ohori Park and the Nanzoin Temple.
On Friday 5th, after flying out of work surrounded by my usual orbit of tote bags, getting home, finishing packing, getting changed and pulling the rain shutters on my house for the oncoming typhoon; I got the highway bus and made it to Fukuoka for 9pm.
I spent my first night in Nekokura Cat Hostel, a 20 minute walk from Hakata Bus station.
I excitedly dragged my suitcase through Fukuoka’s city streets, impatient to see the cats. Sadly though when I got there the shelter was closed, so my preceding weeks of excitement to chill with some cats was squashed. Instead, I decided to walk around for a bit and enjoy just being in the city.
When I got back I clambered up to bed, my first time on the top bunk at a hostel. My attempts to get in and out of bed made me realise that a) staying on the top bunk was pretty cool, as were hostels and b) that I have no sense of grace when ascending to said top bunk. I discovered the latter after swinging wildly outwards when trying to get down, slapping the wall behind me and nearly kicking the docile cat-lover, most likely sleeping behind their bottom-bunk curtain.
The next morning, I ate breakfast at hostel’s small shared breakfast table. I looked out of the window for a while, watching the howling winds of the typhoon, when I got talking to a traveller from France. After a good convo, we decided to head over to Canal City together.
On the way I dropped my bag off at my next hostel (as Nekokura was booked out). This all took place during the typhoon and, needless to say, I got soaked. When we reached the salvation from the typhoon, I was completely overwhelmed.
There were 8 floors of shops, restaurants and a cinema. Oh and a full section for Ramen too. Stunned by food choice, I went for the most mature and sensible, a strawberry brownie crepe.
It has to be said, the fillings were amazing, but the pancake itself was a bit plasticy. While this was a little disappointing, it didn’t stop me ABSOLUTELY devouring it.
After some time wandering Canal City in awe and excitedly buying a Cadbury’s chocolate bar, I went off on my own to visit the Asian Art Museum.
On my way to the museum, I found a little shrine nestled into the modern cityscape. I crossed the arched bridge, over a fresh water pond with huge koi carp swimming in it.
After praying, I walked around the shrine and found a cat, just sat chilling out. Remembering the Bakeneko risk, I still went over and stroked the cat, who seemed pretty happy about it. I was pretty happy too, and my disappointment at Nekokura hostel was long forgotten.
Getting to the art museum, I found it different to what I was expecting, in a good way!
The modern art, instead of focusing on traditional Japanese culture, tended to focus on Japan’s interactions and perspective aligned with other Asian countries.
My favourite exhibit came from Yokoo Tadanori. Tadanori, I learnt, was born in Hyogo (1936) and was deeply influenced by Indian culture and spirituality.
You could definitely see the influence in his 1970s exhibited artwork, which definitely fuelled my interest into Tadanori’s other work.
After looking around the gallery, I found a library inside the museum and decided to plant myself in a very large and comfy egg chair and read about some Japanese sculptors. Now, I have to say at this point I was feeling very cul-CHAIRED. hehe.
Bad puns aside, next on my list was finding Tenjin’s underground shopping centre (which took a while as I forgot that it was underground). I visited The Body Shop and met up with another UK JET. We walked around the centre together and decided to go on a second-hand store hunt!
Turns out second hand stores in Japan are NOT like the ones back home. The clothes were designer, really cool and reallllly expensive.
Despite the cool clothes, I have to say it made me miss scratching through dozens of the same white crochet M&S cardigan, stopping at a threadbare punny t-shirt and occasionally landing on a wacky, but awesome jacket that you may or may not ever have the confidence to wear after investing that hefty £4.50.
If I had the budget though, I would definitely be sponsored by Second Street.
Next was dinner, back to the hostel and then out for a couple of drinks. It seems like the planets aligned at this point, as I was sat down with my vodka and coke, in walked my mate, another UK JET, that I flew in and spent most of my time with in Tokyo!
I was literally speechless. Needless to say, the rest of the night was spent doing a lot of catching up. After a couple, I headed back on the subway (on my own for the first time!) and had an AMAZING night’s sleep at my hostel. I woke up ready to explore some more.