After raking in 37, 896 steps wandering Fukuoka the day before, I decided to give myself a chilled morning, lying in and appreciating how comfy my hostel bunk was.
Next, I had a shower and took my time getting ready, came down for breakfast and ate it with an ENGLISH BREW.
Completely based, I sat and did some writing in the lounge, before heading off to Hakata Station.
I met my friend there and we got on the subway, to Ohori Park.
If I’m honest, I can’t do the park justice, even with photographs. I can only say that I felt like I was in a film or a painting.
The park had a huge lake, and a bridge leading onto the island in the middle. Crossing the bridge, I sat with my feet dipped into the water, completely chilled for quite some time.
Afterwards, I walked around and back over the bridge I saw the biggest koi carp I’ve ever (and they were swimming with turtles!) I also spotted an older guy with his dog who, at command, picked up its own lead in its mouth and carried it! Seeing this, I just melted, much to the old guys humour.
After recollecting my cool, I headed over to the swan boats and joined the waiting list. I had time to eat apple pie by the lake, which was super nice. I even got to see the old man again! He sat outside with his dog, who kept nudging his head under the guy’s arm for strokes (and got them every time).
When our number got called I had to pull myself away from the cute little duo to float around the lake in a boat shaped like a colossal swan.
Oh, and when I say float, I actually mean peddle ferociously and noisily disturb everyone’s peaceful relaxation on the island… Sorry!
Later on I ended up bumping into my Tokyo-Orientation comrade and other friends and we stayed at the park chatting until sundown.
When our rumbling stomachs could be ignored no more we headed back to the city for food and a couple of drinks.
The night was awesome and on the walk back to my hostel, I got to call a friend and catch up.
I also found a family of alley-cats, mum and kittens, who were insanely cute. I chilled with them for a while before heading off to get some sleep.
The next morning I slept in, probably later than I needed to, but I still had time to get ready, pack and jump a bus to Dazaifu. The bus was full and I would have been standing for 45 minutes if a woman travelling from China hadn’t sat her little girl on her knee to give me a seat.
When I got to Dazaifu I was shocked by how busy it was. The main street leading up to Tenmangu Shrine was full of shops and stores, it even had a Starbucks! It was really touristy and I didn’t know which shops to look in.
Feeling overwhelmed I walked straight past and up, heading for the Kyushu National Museum, the main reason I had visited Dazaifu.
It was awesome. I had to get two steep escalators to reach the museum and I felt like I was in Jurassic Park when I reached the top.
The museum itself was really cool, it had artefacts spanning from like 5000 years ago up to Japan’s interaction and influence from the West.
It was really interesting to see all the artefacts. I think the most interesting parts I found were tools from the Jomon Period, the ‘ideal Asian’ and information about the Ryuku Islands.
After seeing the exhibit, I want to learn more about these points, and about Japan’s history in general; with the amount of information in the museum I definitely need to make a few more trips!
After soaking myself in information I headed down to see Tenmangu Shrine. It was insanely busy though and the difference from the quiet of the museum was intense! The shrine is associated with a deity of education and so is super popular for students and families with children!
I got to see a wedding party outside the shrine too, which was really cool. As I was heading back over the arched bridges, I stopped to find a guy dressed as Mario with a monkey dressed like Luigi doing tricks.
Seeing the monkey, I already knew I wasn’t going to like it, but I watched for a little while just in case. Safe to say after seeing the little guy get dragged left right and centre by the rope attached to its neck, I’d seen enough and headed off.
I jumped on the bus back to Hakata and managed to say goodbye to my mates before heading home.
My trip to Fukuoka was definitely an interesting one, and one I know I want to make again. Travelling to the city after getting used to inaka life is a shock to the system. The size of everything is just drastically different and the amount of people is crazy!
I was super grateful to my UK JET friend for showing me around and coming to see me. I was also absolutely chuffed to bump into my Tokyo friend; I can’t explain how happy I was and how insane it was to see a familiar face amongst a crowd of strangers.
This trip definitely had me looking back me on how far I’ve come and how much more independent and confident I’m becoming as a traveller, and as a person. Seeing my friend from Tokyo also reminded me how important it is to have friends, especially in a place you don’t know, and how precious those connections that you make actually are.