Japan Log #2 – Fukuoka Frenzy

by Grungi

Well, ok, maybe not so much frenzy as you may think, but hey, it made for a nice-sounding title.

Last time, I was telling you we had to choose between going to Canal City to eat ramen, or going to the Yamato-ya. Well, we did both!

The morning of our second day in Fukuoka, my idea was to show Joan around the Fukudai University a bit. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my SD card in my computer, so we only had my mobile phone to take pictures. The weather was great though!

Near Fukudai, where many students ride bikes.

Before going through the campus and going to the International Exchange Hall, where Pascale lived for almost a year, we had something to take care of : our grumbling stomachs. So we headed for the Yamato-ya restaurant. For the story, this is a restaurant held by an ex-boxer, and it kinda shows in the meals… For example, I ordered a karahage, costing around 4 euros…

This thing is humongous. And you can ask for an “extra large” portion.

Last time I was there, I vanquished this meal, but this time, it was too much for me, and I left some rice. Joan ordered a bowl of rice with beef on top of it, and it was also really huge. But the food is really, really tasty. If you’re ever in Fukuoka, I can’t recommend you to go there enough. I had forgotten the machine to order meals was in Japanese only though, without pictures… But thanks to Joan recognizing the kanji for “beef”, and me asking a waitress for “karahage”, we managed!

Then, it was walking around time.  Instead of describing with long-winded sentences what we saw, I’ll let pictures do the talking.

The Yamato-ya from the outside.

The international houses. Memories, memories…

Between the Fukudai campus and the International House.

Afterwards, we dropped by Fukudai to greet Mrs. Degroote, a French teacher participating in the exchanges between Louvain-la-Neuve and Fukuoka. She was, as always, very friendly, and pointed us towards the Momochi neighborhood, which is apparently very pretty around this time of the year. Plus, it’s by the sea, so we decided to heed her advice and go spend our afternoon there. The weather was nice, and we got a good view of the beautiful Fukuoka Tower before spending some time at the beach, and finally head back to our hotel in order to prepare for our evening.

The Fukuoka Tower, towering (pun intended) over Momochi.

The plan was to go to Canal City, a shopping mall near the river, and featuring usually nice illuminations. Plus, it is the home of the Ramen Stadium, where 8 ramen shops from across Japan offer their tasty dishes. Around Canal City, there are also many small ramen stalls that see salarymen from around come to enjoy some noodles before heading home.

Canal City from the outside.

The small ramen stalls near Canal City.

We elected to try some of the ramen in Ramen Stadium (for convenience, mostly), and ended up ordering miso ramen coming from the northern part of the country (which Joan guessed correctly seeing how she found the soup quite full of fat).

It was then time to call it a night, but not before a quick stop at the arcade. We played a game of taiko drums, and a 3D horror game that made Joan scream more than once! Then she managed to catch a small Totoro plush on her first try with an UFO catcher. We were thus happy of our evening when we arrived at the hotel. Having managed to dodge the rain by coming out of Canal City at the right time was the icing on the cake!

The next day was meant to be more relaxing than the previous one. We had to take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima in the evening, and before that we had a meeting with another group of friends, namely Masami, Kenta and Aya. So we spent some time going around shops and the like. I made, of course, a stop at Tower Records, and got myself a Spangle call Lilli line DVD, as well as adding several records on my ‘to-buy list’ for this trip.

Then, the evening came, and we met Kenta in the Starbucks Coffee near Hakata station. Then came Masami and … surprise Shoko! Aya came a little later. It was so great to see them all again. After our coffee/chocolate/other beverage, we went for a purikura together, and Kenta and I played a round of the same horror game I had tried with Joan earlier. So much fun!

Thank you for a wonderful time!

Aya and Shoko had to leave at this point, and the time of our Shinkansen was fast approaching, but Kenta had a last gift in store for us. Through elevators and escalators, up flight of stairs and around corners, he led us to show us Fukuoka as I had never seen it. From up high.

Fukuoka, more beautiful than ever.

It really was a beautiful sight to leave us with, but it didn’t make leaving Fukuoka any easier. As we waved Kenta and Masami goodbye from the escalator leading to the Shinkansen tracks, we felt really sad to leave all those memories behind us, along with the friends that gave them to us. But on and on the train rolled, to bring us to our next destination: Hiroshima!