Sunday, October 28, 2012



Fukoka is a modern city with a variety of outside influences as well as having plenty of local flavor

An "X" crosswalk 

I woke up early and had breakfast at a bakery down the street from the hostel. It's a hotdog in a baguette and a bean-paste roll. Also, they had cream for your coffee. This was heaven. In Korea cream can be hard to come by so this was an absolute treat. I must have put three creams in my coffee that day.

As I made my way to the Kawabata Shopping Arcade I spotted some Japanese kids playing rugby on their school playground.

Japanese kids playing rugby

I got to Kawabata Shopping Arcade and did some walking around and some expensive window shopping.

I found a store called Americaya that sold American cowboy and Native American clothes at an insanely high price.

I was feeling hungry so I went to a Tonkotsu Ramen place. Fukuoka is famous in Japan for their Tonkotsu Ramen. Tonkotsu Ramen is pork ramen that has a whitish broth because its made by using the pork fat. This was the best food I had in Japan. Very delicious. I actually went to this place twice.

Tonkotsu Ramen

Later that night I set out to find a specific a Tonkotsu Ramen place for dinner. I walked around for about 45 minutes and never ended up finding it. Frusterated and hungry I got some ramen from a ramen stand. 

As much as I can say traveling alone is a constant thrill, sometimes it becomes all to clear of how alone you actually are. Loneliness and boredom can settle in. I love traveling alone and the absolute freedom that comes with it, but sometimes (not often) there is a cost to that freedom. So seeing as I was traveling alone in Fukuoka didn't know anybody and I didn't know the city very well. I ended up going to a place called International Bar with hopes of meeting some people. It was a Sunday night so it was very slow, but I talked with the bartender a bit as I slowly drank one beer.

It was not all gloom and doom though. Also at this bar were two second-generation Korean-immigrants who were born and raised in Japan. A man and a woman. Interestingly enough, they barely spoke Korean. The woman explained to me that their was a bit of a stigma coming from Korea to Japan, so parents will often insist the children do not speak the language of their past country so they are better acclimated. I had heard of this in U.S. from a Mexican friend of mine I met in college who didn't speak any Spanish for the very same reason.

This woman was maybe in her 30's. A little drunk and was childishly giddy. I told her I was planning on going to Hiroshima in the next couple days. She took out a pen and started writing down all the things I needed to see and eat. She was also talking a mile a minute as she did this. "Okonomiyaki! Okonomiyaki! Okonomiyaki!" She clapped happily each time she said it. "I love Okonomiyaki! I get it with oysters but it gives me bad diarrhea" she said still excitedly smiling.

A mix of bad English and comically embarrassing honesty is always hilarious.

Thursday, October 25, 2012



Fukuoka, much like many cities in Japan, is home to a rich spiritual history, and is dotted with a wide variety of Buddhist Temples, Zen Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines.

Tochoji Temple

Tochoji Temple is located right in the heart of the city. There are a few temple structures in the plaza.

 The most striking is the 5 story red pagoda. Although it was recently constructed in 2011 to celebrate the temple’s anniversary it is still immediately striking.

Tochoji Temple is also home to a 30ft high wood carved Buddha.

Shofukuji Temple 

Shofukuji Temple is a Zen Buddhist Temple with beautiful architecture, grounds, and zen gardens. Needless to say it was very peaceful.

Kushida Shrine

Kushida Shrine is a Shinto Shrine and a place of worship for those practicing the Shinto religion. A Shinto Gate is a clue as to if you are entering a Buddhist or Zen Buddhist Temple, or a Shinto Shrine.

Shinto Gate


Kushida Shrine was abuzz when I was there. It seemed like a place of lots of activity. I saw people dressed in suits and a photographer. As it turned out, there was a wedding ceremony being held.

Ryuguji Temple

This is a small little temple is named Ryuguji Temple.

Suikyo Tenmangu Shrine 

I almost missed Suikyo Tenmangu Shrine as I was biking in to Tenjin. It’s located right outside of Tenjin and although it is small it has many nice features including a koi pond.

Monday, October 22, 2012



Tenjin area is the happening area of Fukuoka. Home to many bars and restaurants, Tenjin is the nightlife hub of Fukuoka. I met a fellow American English teacher residing in South Korea named Joe at the hostel and we took the subway to Tenjin. We went out to a skewer restaurant in Tenjin where you pick the raw meat skewers from behind the glass case and they cook it right then and there. We got beef, pork and a skewer that was hardboiled quail eggs and lil smokies.

We ordered 3 skewers each and a beer a piece and left paying roughly $15 for not much food. We walked around Tenjin and got a lay of the land a bit. (Note: There is also coin slot gambling here that is majorly expansive and super loud with coins crashing and the whirring music of several hundred machines. I wanted to get a picture, but was strictly warned not to)

Food stands serving sushi, ramen and all sorts of other food
were everywhere in Tenjin

Movie theater in Tenjin

The inside lobby of a karaoke lounge in Tenjin

Eventually we made our way to an ex-pat British pub called Murray’s.

I quickly recognized some Beetle co-passengers from earlier in the day. Rob and Michelle, were also American English teachers living in Korea. 

Pictured: (l-r) Rob, Michelle and Me

Rob and I instantly connected, in I had mentioned Oregon Country Fair (a Eugene hippy music festival in the woods) and then he mentioned that he had gone to it with his friend, musician Jason Webley. I had reviewed a Jason Webley concert (quite favorably) during my time writing for West Coast Performer Magazine and had since instantly become a Jason Webley fan, owning 2 albums and having seen 4 of his live shows. Anyone who knows vagabond accordionist Jason Webley, knows that he has a loving and beautiful fan community. So meeting a personal friend of Jason Webley’s boded well.
Jason Webley. Eugene, OR photo courtesy of Buckley Shaffer

 We spent some time at Murray’s and then made our way to another place called Jamaicxa (not a typo), a place run by a heavy and welcoming Jamaican man. We hung out on the balcony drinking Red Stripe. Looking over Tenjin, our elbows rested on a railing strewn with hanging and sun-faded Bob Marley flags. As Rob smoked cigarettes, we talked about our lives before and in Korea. The problems with America and the things we missed about home. Tomorrow he and Michelle would head to Nagasaki. We said our good-byes and made a loose plan to reconvene on Tuesday night, the eve of each of our departures.

Because the subway was closed and I didn't want to pay for a cab, I pursued the hour long walk back to my hostel. A plus was that I got to get to get a pretty good feel for the city.

A night time pop-up ramen stand on the banks of the canal

On my way home I walked by a placard paying homage to Fukuoka's sister city and my previous city of residence: Oakland, CA.