Asian Adventures, Spring 2015: Fukuoka and Beppu, Japan

June 8th, 2015
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As I’ve spent a few weeks spending some time in Japan, Korea, and China, over the next few posts, I’ll be outlining my itinerary with explanations of what exactly I experienced and thought of the cultural exposure in each of these countries. You can read what I’ve posted already by clicking on the link below:

Japan

Fukuoka was my last stop in Japan which served three purposes.  One, I read that one of the major festivals in Japan celebrating the end of Golden Week (the week which has the most public holidays) was taking place the last weekend I was in Japan. Two, I wanted to do a day trip to Beppu and Fukuoka was closer to Beppu that Hiroshima. Finally, I wanted to take the ferry across to Korea.

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Dance Performance in Fukuoka

Fukuoka is a modern city known for its ramen. Not only did I read about Fukuoka’s ramen and food stalls, I was also told about it by a couple Japanese girls that I spoke to in Tokyo. Fukuoka has two centres, Hakata and Tenjin.  Hakata is the area around the train station while Tenjin is centrally located area in Fukuoka.  I was staying at a home in Hakata and found that I could walk 20 minutes to Tenjin, although mostly I rode the 100 yen bus into town and walked back to where I was staying.

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Fukuoka Parade

The mall that is part of the Hakata train station was nice looking, multi-level mall like most of those that I visited at other train stations in Japan.  I found myself here most often over the course of the stay in Fukuoka as I was spending the last of the yen I had at the mall.

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Fukuoka Parade

I checked out the festival’s parade and other festivities on the Sunday after I arrived in town.  Although it wasn’t the greatest weather, the parade was nice to see with the groups either dancing or playing music.  There were a few floats and groups in costume. Some of the parks around town had stages with performances going on.  I checked some of those out too.  By the time I was ready to head back to the apartment I was staying at, I stopped at one of the food stalls.  The food stalls are called Yatai and often spring up on busy walkways around the dinner hour. They stay open until late at night before being dismantled.

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One of many Yatai in Fukuoka

The one I picked seemed to be one of the busiest as I had to wait about 20 minutes to get a seat. I was told what the top three items were for this particular stall as the menu was entirely in Japanese with no pictures or English words.  I ended up with ramen (picked because that’s what the couple next to me was having) and gyoza (Japanese dumplings) as it was one of the top three items along with some beer.  All of it was delicious and sitting with a bunch of strangers at a yatai was super fun too.

Yatai in Fukuoka

Yatai in Fukuoka

On my last full day in Japan, I made my way to Beppu which is about a two hour train ride from Fukuoka.  It’s known for its hot springs which are generally known as the eight hells.  The hot springs are called hells in Beppu as they are too hot to be diluted down for use as an osen (hot spring that we can bathe in).

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Beppu’s Hot Springs

Once in Beppu, the tourist information centre was super helpful in getting me sorted out and suggested that I buy a package that would allow me access to all eight of the hot springs.  I had this information online as well before arriving. What I didn’t know beforehand was that the hot springs were about a 45 minute bus ride from the train station.

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Beppu’s Hot Springs

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Beppu’s Hot Springs

It was such an enjoyable half day at the hot springs and I managed to see six of the eight before I got tired and headed back to Fukuoka.  I could definitely see the steam and sometimes smell the hot springs before I actually saw them.  The hot springs were very different from each other and a couple of them had little pools set up that you could dip your feet or legs into.  I did try this at one and it was hotter than I expected and it took a couple tries before I could fully submerge my feet and keep them in long enough to take a couple photos.

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Beppu’s Hot Springs

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Cooking using the steam from Beppu’s Hot Springs

The remainder of the time in Fukuoka was relaxing.  The next morning after breakfast, I made my way to the ferry terminal to take the 11:30 a.m. ferry to Busan, Korea.  Unlike flights into any airport, there wasn’t any issue with how much liquid I was carrying or other issues that are typical with flights.  The ferry ride itself was pretty good and the weather outside was nice and sunny which made for a pleasant journey.

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