TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2018
Sunday, 29 October, 2017 20:59

We Head South To Kyushu

Back On The Shinkansen ….   From Sendai we hopped back on the Shinkansen for the 1400 km trip to Hakata on the island of Kyushu.  This trip took just over 7 hours with two changes of trains so the average speed was nearly 200 km/hr including stopping at stations and two changes of trains.  Top speed of the Shinkansen is 300 km/hr. It is interesting to see the changing architecture to more traditional houses the further south we headed and the changing landscape from housing, rice paddies and factories to mountains and and oh so many tunnels.

Paddy fields

Rice paddy fields from the Shinkansen

We Can Finally Unpack ….   We booked an AirBNB in Fukuoka for 9 nights so we could finally unpack. This is our base to explore Kyushu with day trips as well as exploring the local area.  Our apartment is centrally located in Fukuoka so we can easily walk to many of the major attractions.  We stocked up on basic supplies at a local supermarket.  Always an adventure as it is all in Japanese but had lots of fun translating into English.  Thank goodness for Google Translate.   Cannot find tonic water in any supermarket but they all sell gin.  How strange.  

Dazaifu

Main street Of Dazaifu – Lots of Tourist shops

Our First Full Day ….  We awoke to a perfect weather day so took off early by train to a small village 20 km from our apartment called Dazaifu. It is a tourist town with traditional villas, museums, temples,  many gift shops and even an amusement park for children.  The town was established in the 7-8th century and holds a lot of history.  

Dazaifu

The beautiful gardens in Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Dazaifu Main Shrine

Dazaifu Tenmangu Main Shrine

A Canal Tour ….   From there we hopped on another train a further 60 km south to the township of Yanagawa.    This town is know for its canals and so we took a canal punting tour for 70 minutes.  Very relaxing and fun as the elderly punt operator insisted in singing under every bridge and made everyone on the punt join in.  This elderly punt operator does three round trips each day. 

Canal punt tour in Yanagawa

Canal punt tour in Yanagawa – Yes that is Liz on the right

Stopping for refreshments

Stopping for refreshments during the canal tour in Yanagawa

Nagasaki And The Peace Park ….  Another early start by train to Nagasaki to visit the Peace Park, the atomic bomb hypocenter and the Museum.  On the train we met this lovely young Japanese lad who works in Osaka and was visiting his Grandma.  He insisted on accompanying us for the day which was very nice of him. 

Statue in Peace Park

Peace Statue in the Peace Park. Right hand points skywards to the threat of nuclear weapons, the left hand asks for eternal peace

The visit to the Peace Park turned out to be a very moving experience as we met a survivor of the atomic bomb blast named Mr Inosuke Hayasaki.  He was 1 km from the hypocenter of the blast and was blown behind a large concrete pillar which protected him from the heat ray and blast.  Only 2 out of 32 workers in the Mitsubishi Arms factory survived.

Survivor of the atomic bomb blast

Liz meeting a survivor of the atomic bomb blast, Mr Inosuke Hayasaki.

We also had the opportunity to speak to another survivor who spoke very complimentary of the Americans who within 10 days of the blast came in with food, drinks and medical aid to support the survivors. 

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb replica – Nicknamed “Fat Man”

Atomic Bomb Museum ….   The next 1 1/2 hours was spent in the Museum looking at ruins from the blast, learning about the bomb and looking at many exhibits related to this devastating event.  I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of Japanese tourists at the Museum who admitted they were worried about North Korea and Kim Jong Un.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Up The Ropeway ….  In Japan cable cars are called ropeways and we always take the opportunity to use these in cities we visit.  Nagasaki Ropeway travels 1 km up the side of Mt Inasa to a height of 333 metres and at the top has a 3 story observatory offering 360 degree views of the city.  With clear blue sky and 25 oC it was a perfect day for this visit.

Mt Inasa Observatory

View from the Mt Inasa Observatory

A Day In Fukuoka ….  We awoke the next morning to rain as Japan experienced a tropical storm off the east coast.  Fukuoka was on the fringe of this storm so rain but no wind.  As a result, a day in Fukuoka was in order,  so we visited the Kawabata Shopping St and then on to Canal City, a massive shopping center right opposite our apartment. 

Kawabata Shopping St

Kawabata Shopping Street – Perfect on a wet day

Halloween – A Big Deal In Japan ….    During our time at Canal City there was lots of activities related to Halloween. Displays in nearly every shop, face painting, dress up competitions and Halloween related entertainment. 

Halloween In Canal City

Halloween celebrations in Canal City Shopping Centre

Late Lunch or Early Dinner ….  We then took the opportunity to have a traditional Japanese lunch called Katsu Curry.  On entering the restaurant you order via a vending machine where you make your lunch selections, pay and then take tickets to give to the waiter.  A very efficient system. 

Katsu Curry

Katsu Curry for lunch at Canal City

Sunday, A Day Of Rest ….   After a hectic 10 days we decided that Sunday would be a day of rest, well nearly.  We went to Hakata Station to book Shinkansen Tickets for tomorrow to go to Kagoshima for the day, a city at the southern end of Kyushu. We then went by train for a 3 minutes ride to Takeshita to visit the Asahi Brewing Company for their free tour of the factory,  and of course the complimentary beer tasting. 

Asahi Brewery in Hakata

The Asahi Brewery in Hakata – All stainless steel and no entry without special clothing and decontamination

This turned out to be a great experience.  The brewery is amazing and spotlessly clean with nearly all areas of the brewery made of stainless steel. The workers have to change clothing and go through decontamination before entering.   The beer tasting turned out to be a highlight.  Four different beers and full size 250 ml glasses.  Everyone on the tour was very happy by the end of the tour.  We may even go back next week for another tour. 

Asahi Brewery

Enjoying the tasting experience at Asahi Brewery

Asahi Brewery

Our guide demonstrating how to correctly poor a beer into a glass

We are now 5 days into our stay in Fukuoka.  From now on we venture further afield on the island of Kyushu.

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