Osaka day 3: The Instant Ramen Museum and the Minoh Waterfall

Eidan enjoying the stream on the side of the road in MinohEidan enjoying the stream on the side of the road in Minoh
Eidan enjoying the stream on the side of the road in Minoh16-Oct-2014 13:55, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 200
 

Instant ramen is serious business in Japan. Visiting the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum reminded me a little of visiting the Liberty Bell, in that there was a certain degree of reverence in the various displays. Momofuku Ando was the inventor of instant ramen, and they even have a life-size replica of the shack where he apparently worked endless hours to perfect the process of creating instant ramen. The boys favorite part was the mini-factory, where they could decorate their own personal cup of instant ramen noodles, and have it packaged with the broth and toppings of their choice.

The rest of the day was a very different experience – we visited the nearby small town of Minoh, for a hike to the Minoh waterfall. There were a couple opportunities along the way to go down to the stream, and Eidan was thrilled to have a chance to throw some rocks and sticks in the water. I realized that the boys haven’t spent much time away from cities since we arrived in Japan, aside from a few trips to the beach, so it made me especially glad we went.

Kai and his very impressive pancake breakfastKai and his very impressive pancake breakfast
Kai and his very impressive pancake breakfast16-Oct-2014 09:39, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
At the Instant Ramen MuseumAt the Instant Ramen Museum
At the Instant Ramen Museum16-Oct-2014 11:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 200
 
The history of instant ramenThe history of instant ramen
The history of instant ramen16-Oct-2014 11:28, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 400
 
An old instant ramen vending machineAn old instant ramen vending machine
An old instant ramen vending machine16-Oct-2014 11:31, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
 
Instant ramen in space!Instant ramen in space!
Instant ramen in space!16-Oct-2014 11:33, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
 
The instant ramen history timelineThe instant ramen history timeline
The instant ramen history timeline16-Oct-2014 11:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
 
The boys decorating their custom instant ramen containersThe boys decorating their custom instant ramen containers
The boys decorating their custom instant ramen containers16-Oct-2014 11:44, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 500
 
The cup noodles factory - you can pick your own flavor and toppingsThe cup noodles factory - you can pick your own flavor and toppings
The cup noodles factory - you can pick your own flavor and toppings16-Oct-2014 12:03, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
 
Outside the Minoh subway stationOutside the Minoh subway station
Outside the Minoh subway station16-Oct-2014 13:39, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 100
 
A beer vending machine in Minoh - you don't see these often in Japan anymoreA beer vending machine in Minoh - you don't see these often in Japan anymore
A beer vending machine in Minoh - you don't see these often in Japan anymore16-Oct-2014 13:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 125
 
The road leading to the Minoh waterfallThe road leading to the Minoh waterfall
The road leading to the Minoh waterfall16-Oct-2014 13:51, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 200
 
Ryuanji Temple, on the way to the Minoh waterfallRyuanji Temple, on the way to the Minoh waterfall
Ryuanji Temple, on the way to the Minoh waterfall16-Oct-2014 14:11, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 200
 
The boys near the road that leads to the Minoh waterfallThe boys near the road that leads to the Minoh waterfall
The boys near the road that leads to the Minoh waterfall16-Oct-2014 14:13, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 4.5, 8.285mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 160
 
A walkway near the Minoh waterfallA walkway near the Minoh waterfall
A walkway near the Minoh waterfall16-Oct-2014 14:29, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
 
The Minoh waterfallThe Minoh waterfall
The Minoh waterfall16-Oct-2014 14:50, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 200
 
Our Shinkansen bullet train, taking us back to Fukuoka from OsakaOur Shinkansen bullet train, taking us back to Fukuoka from Osaka
Our Shinkansen bullet train, taking us back to Fukuoka from Osaka16-Oct-2014 18:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
Back at Hakata station in Fukuoka - can you imagine 30th St station being this clean?Back at Hakata station in Fukuoka - can you imagine 30th St station being this clean?
Back at Hakata station in Fukuoka - can you imagine 30th St station being this clean?16-Oct-2014 20:55, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 

Osaka day 2: The Universal Studios Theme Park

Girls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme parkGirls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme park
Girls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme park15-Oct-2014 14:49, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 200
 

In 2007 we took the boys to Tokyo Disney, and visiting the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka last week was a similar experience. Both are replicas of their US counterparts, except of course everything is in Japanese. It’s great going to theme parks here, as they are in or near major cities, and are easy to get to by subway. So you can visit them without it having to be the major family expedition required for traveling to them in US.

The heart of the Universal Studios theme park is a fake city block that’s a replica of an American neighborhood. It actually triggered some mild reverse culture shock for me, since I’ve been away from the US for months now, and because of all the attention to detail, right down to the stop signs and ADA compliant curbs (wheelchair access is not well planned in most of Japan).

We went on a weekday, and it was still really crowded. But it was a fun crowd – they’re having a month-long Halloween celebration, and a lot of people came in costume.

In going through the park, it struck me that Universal Studios has a really mixed bag of movie properties, and almost all the attractions are based on movies from the 80s (Harry Potter being the only more recent one). There are attractions for some big hits, like Terminator, Jurassic Park, Jaws, and Back to the Future. But then there’s Water World and Chucky. I was happy to see that Woody Woodpecker is still alive and well in Japan though!

The crowd pouring out of the train to the Universal Studios theme park, on a weekdayThe crowd pouring out of the train to the Universal Studios theme park, on a weekday
The crowd pouring out of the train to the Universal Studios theme park, on a weekday15-Oct-2014 09:03, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
 
Requisite photo in front of the Universal Studios logoRequisite photo in front of the Universal Studios logo
Requisite photo in front of the Universal Studios logo15-Oct-2014 09:15, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 200
 
Cyberdyne Systems, from the Terminator moviesCyberdyne Systems, from the Terminator movies
Cyberdyne Systems, from the Terminator movies15-Oct-2014 09:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 3.5, 5.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
 
The Universal Studios theme park's re-creation of an American streetThe Universal Studios theme park's re-creation of an American street
The Universal Studios theme park's re-creation of an American street15-Oct-2014 10:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 160
 
The crowd at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"The crowd at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"
The crowd at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"15-Oct-2014 10:39, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
The mail room in HogwartsThe mail room in Hogwarts
The mail room in Hogwarts15-Oct-2014 10:44, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 500
 
Hogwarts CastleHogwarts Castle
Hogwarts Castle15-Oct-2014 10:50, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 160
 
Girls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme parkGirls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme park
Girls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme park15-Oct-2014 11:35, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
 
Girls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme parkGirls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme park
Girls dressed up for the month-long Halloween celebration at the Universal Studios theme park15-Oct-2014 11:37, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
Woody Woodpecker is alive and well in JapanWoody Woodpecker is alive and well in Japan
Woody Woodpecker is alive and well in Japan15-Oct-2014 12:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 
"Spider-men" instant noodles ("men" means noodles in Japanese)"Spider-men" instant noodles ("men" means noodles in Japanese)
"Spider-men" instant noodles ("men" means noodles in Japanese)15-Oct-2014 12:44, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 500
 
Outside the Back to the Future rideOutside the Back to the Future ride
Outside the Back to the Future ride15-Oct-2014 12:56, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 200
 
A raptor wandering outside the Jurassic Park rideA raptor wandering outside the Jurassic Park ride
A raptor wandering outside the Jurassic Park ride15-Oct-2014 14:22, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
The Water World showThe Water World show
The Water World show15-Oct-2014 15:04, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 320
 
The doctor is inThe doctor is in
The doctor is in15-Oct-2014 16:23, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 4.5, 9.324mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
Mel's Drive-In, at the Universal Studios theme parkMel's Drive-In, at the Universal Studios theme park
Mel's Drive-In, at the Universal Studios theme park15-Oct-2014 16:48, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
 
The Universal Studios theme park at nightThe Universal Studios theme park at night
The Universal Studios theme park at night15-Oct-2014 17:28, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 1600
 

Osaka day 1: The Kaiyukan Aquarium and Dōtonbori

The boys were on Fall break from school last week, and we had plans to take a vacation in Okinawa, but Super Typhoon Vongfong made sure that didn’t happen. So we went to Osaka for a few days instead, after the typhoon had finally passed through Japan. The boys had their first Shinkansen (bullet train) ride: we traveled the roughy 380 miles from Fukuoka to Osaka in 2 and half hours. To give you a US comparison, it’s about 310 miles from Boston to Philadelphia, and Amtrak can get you there in about 5 hours and 40 minutes.

We visited the Osaka aquarium in the afternoon, and then spent the evening in the Dōtonbori shopping area. We splashed out on a couple nights at the very posh Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel.

I’ll let the pictures tell you the rest…

The level below the Shinkansen platform at Hakata station. I'm still not used to the amazing cleanliness of Fukuoka's public spaces.The level below the Shinkansen platform at Hakata station. I'm still not used to the amazing cleanliness of Fukuoka's public spaces.
The level below the Shinkansen platform at Hakata station. I'm still not used to the amazing cleanliness of Fukuoka's public spaces.14-Oct-2014 07:54, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 200
 
Eidan enjoying his kids' eki bento on the shinkansen to OsakaEidan enjoying his kids' eki bento on the shinkansen to Osaka
Eidan enjoying his kids' eki bento on the shinkansen to Osaka14-Oct-2014 07:57, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 800
 
My eki bento on the Shinkansen ride to OsakaMy eki bento on the Shinkansen ride to Osaka
My eki bento on the Shinkansen ride to Osaka14-Oct-2014 08:01, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
 
Kai is not sure sure about his melon soda and vanilla ice cream floatKai is not sure sure about his melon soda and vanilla ice cream float
Kai is not sure sure about his melon soda and vanilla ice cream float14-Oct-2014 12:07, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
Eidan looking like a character from a Dicken's novel after trying his black vanilla bean ice creamEidan looking like a character from a Dicken's novel after trying his black vanilla bean ice cream
Eidan looking like a character from a Dicken's novel after trying his black vanilla bean ice cream14-Oct-2014 12:12, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
The Osaka aquariumThe Osaka aquarium
The Osaka aquarium14-Oct-2014 12:28, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 3.5, 6.216mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
Osaka Aquarium KaiyukanOsaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan14-Oct-2014 13:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 
Eidan at the Osaka Aquarium KaiyukanEidan at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Eidan at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan14-Oct-2014 13:30, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 1600
 
Jellyfish at the Osaka Aquarium KaiyukanJellyfish at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Jellyfish at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan14-Oct-2014 13:36, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1250
 
View from our room at the Osaka Marriott Miyako HotelView from our room at the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
View from our room at the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel14-Oct-2014 15:17, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
 
Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping areaOsaka's Dōtonbori shopping area
Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping area14-Oct-2014 17:05, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 200
 
Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping areaOsaka's Dōtonbori shopping area
Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping area14-Oct-2014 17:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
A marketing campaign that speaks to me ;-)A marketing campaign that speaks to me ;-)
A marketing campaign that speaks to me ;-)14-Oct-2014 17:11, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 400
 
Suds creature!Suds creature!
Suds creature!14-Oct-2014 17:18, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 200
 
Outside a restaurant in Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping areaOutside a restaurant in Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping area
Outside a restaurant in Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping area14-Oct-2014 17:23, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 800
 
Bicycle spotted in Osaka's Shinsaibashi SujiBicycle spotted in Osaka's Shinsaibashi Suji
Bicycle spotted in Osaka's Shinsaibashi Suji14-Oct-2014 17:29, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 3.5, 6.216mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 1600
 
Osaka street urchinsOsaka street urchins
Osaka street urchins14-Oct-2014 18:19, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1000
 
Eidan enjoying some chili cheese fries in Osaka's DōtonboriEidan enjoying some chili cheese fries in Osaka's Dōtonbori
Eidan enjoying some chili cheese fries in Osaka's Dōtonbori14-Oct-2014 18:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
A manhole cover in OsakaA manhole cover in Osaka
A manhole cover in Osaka14-Oct-2014 18:35, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1000
 
Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping areaOsaka's Dōtonbori shopping area
Osaka's Dōtonbori shopping area14-Oct-2014 18:39, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 3.5, 5.958mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 500
 
The lobby of the Osaka Marriott Miyako HotelThe lobby of the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
The lobby of the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel14-Oct-2014 19:36, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 
View from our room at the Osaka Marriott Miyako HotelView from our room at the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
View from our room at the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel14-Oct-2014 19:39, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 1600
 

You have to watch out for the cops here in Fukuoka. Some of them are tough characters.

You have to watch out for the cops here. Some of them are tough characters.
You have to watch out for the cops here. Some of them are tough characters.10-Oct-2014 14:27, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 100
 

I took this picture as Eidan and I were walking by the police station near his school. His school is near another elementary school, so they were probably going there to give a safety presentation.

Super Typhoon Vongfong

Typhoon Vongfong is due to hit Okinawa right around the time we're scheduled to fly there, for the boys' Fall break
Typhoon Vongfong is due to hit Okinawa right around the time we're scheduled to fly there, for the boys' Fall break09-Oct-2014 10:01
 

The eye of Super Typhoon Vongfong is due to hit Okinawa right around the time our flight is scheduled to land there on Saturday. It’s the strongest storm so far this year:

Typhoon Vongfong is the strongest tropical cyclone since last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, which had winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) which devastated parts of the Philippines, leaving over 6,000 dead and more than 1,800 missing.

Currently over open water, the storm, which is classed as a Super Typhoon, is heading north towards the Japanese island prefecture of Okinawa, according to the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

The outermost edge of the storm has already reached Okinawa. We were planning to go there for the boys’ Fall break. It’s a category 5 storm right now, but it’s supposed to weaken considerably by the time it gets to Okinawa, so hopefully it won’t cause many injuries or too much damage. We’ll figure out our travel plans tomorrow, after we see how the storm progresses in the next 24 hours.

This is a little bit too reminiscent of my flight to Fukuoka with the boys in July.

Interestingly, the news in Japan never refers to the typhoons by name. This is typhoon 19.

Shingu beach

A sand castle under construction, for the sand castle competition at Shingu beachA sand castle under construction, for the sand castle competition at Shingu beach
A sand castle under construction, for the sand castle competition at Shingu beach23-Aug-2014 13:45, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 

Before we get too far into the Fall, I need to catch up on my summer blogging! Shingu beach was our favorite destination when the weather was warm. It was about a 30 minute train ride, and the Shingu station is just a 5 minute walk from the beach, making it one of the easiest beaches to reach without a car. Its main attraction, as far as the boys as I are concerned, is that the water is very shallow, even at around 50 yards from the shore. This means it’s also quite warm for ocean water. There are man made barriers that keep out the ocean waves.

We went 3 times this summer. The first time, we were invited to the Rainbow Bridges school summer BBQ, by way of someone I met online. Before we came to Fukuoka, I was searching for co-working spaces here, and found a relevant post in a discussion forum by an American living here, so I sent him an email. We met in person after I got here, and he’s friends with the people who run the school. It’s an English language school, so it was nice to have conversations with some new people, without being limited by my pidgin Japanese.

The last time we went was on a Saturday in late August, and we stumbled into preparations for a sandcastle competition the next day. It was a beautiful day, but there was hardly anyone there. Maria explained to me that we were there after the Obon festival, and the Japanese traditionally don’t go swimming after Obon. One reason is that the spirits are believed to move through the water after Obon, and its best not to disturb them. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, the other reason is that the jellyfish come out. Kai and I both got stung a couple times, but the stings were very mild and didn’t bother us too much.

One thing that really struck me was how attentive the life guards were. Since there weren’t many people there that day, one of them was almost always standing right near the water, keeping a close eye on the boys.

The beach hut has a concession stand with simple, hot meals for sale, like yakisoba. And since this is Japan, and not the US, it’s no problem to buy a beer at the beach. They have a seating area with rows of low tables, so you sit on the floor (the tables were temporarily moved out of the way in my picture below).

The Fall weather is here now – it’s still sunny, but too cool for the beach. We’re headed south next week for the boys’ Fall break. We’ll be in Okinawa, where it’s still warm, so we’re not quite done with the beaches yet this year!

The Rainbow Bridges school BBQ at Shingu BeachThe Rainbow Bridges school BBQ at Shingu Beach
The Rainbow Bridges school BBQ at Shingu Beach27-Jul-2014 11:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
Shingu beachShingu beach
Shingu beach23-Aug-2014 11:43, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100
 
Kai and Eidan at Shingu beachKai and Eidan at Shingu beach
Kai and Eidan at Shingu beach23-Aug-2014 13:05, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 160
 
Preperations for the sand castle competition at Shingu beachPreperations for the sand castle competition at Shingu beach
Preperations for the sand castle competition at Shingu beach23-Aug-2014 13:46, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 11.0, 6.99mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 125
 
Preparations for the sand castle competition at Shingu beachPreparations for the sand castle competition at Shingu beach
Preparations for the sand castle competition at Shingu beach23-Aug-2014 11:42, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
The beach hut at Shingu beachThe beach hut at Shingu beach
The beach hut at Shingu beach23-Aug-2014 11:37, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 200
 
The beach hut at Shingu beach - no sandy feet, please!The beach hut at Shingu beach - no sandy feet, please!
The beach hut at Shingu beach - no sandy feet, please!23-Aug-2014 11:09, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 200
 
Shingu beachShingu beach
Shingu beach27-Jul-2014 12:45, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
The Nishitetsu Kaizuka Line train, at the Shingu stopThe Nishitetsu Kaizuka Line train, at the Shingu stop
The Nishitetsu Kaizuka Line train, at the Shingu stop27-Jul-2014 10:31, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
 

A troupe of jogging Marios

A troupe of Marios at the race in Ohori park
A troupe of Marios at the race in Ohori park05-Oct-2014 13:24, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 200
 

I was passed by a troupe of jogging Marios while passing through Ohori Park yesterday, on the way to my Japanese lesson. There was a big race going on, but the Marios weren’t wearing any numbers. It either wasn’t their time to start yet (as people were being called by name to the starting line) or they were there just for fun. I couldn’t find any information about the race, so I’m not sure what the distance was. It wasn’t the Fukuoka marathon – that’s next month.

Walking to Tenjin station during Music City Tenjin, by way of the ACROS center and the Tenjin Chikagai

I had a request from a friend to make a video showing the walk from our apartment in Daimyo to the nearby Tenjin subway station. I did it last week, during the Music City Tenjin festival. There were 24 stages set up all around Tenjin (mostly small ones), with performances going day and night throughout the weekend, so you get to see and hear snippets of some performances along the way. I also took a brief detour to the ACROS center. It has a step-shaped roof on one side, with a garden across the entire surface, and you can actually walk up. I climbed to the top, so I could record the view of the city. For the return trip, I went underground, so you also get to see the sprawling Tenjin Chikagai underground shopping center.

The video is a bit long at 10 minutes. I edited it down as much as I could, but there were a lot of interesting things to see and hear, so it’s worth the time!

This monk is in this exact spot every day. He only moves to thank someone giving him a donationThis monk is in this exact spot every day. He only moves to thank someone giving him a donation
This monk is in this exact spot every day. He only moves to thank someone giving him a donation21-Sep-2014 11:15, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 5.9, 21.5mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 160
 
Entrance to the main stage for Music City Tenjin, in front of the Fukuoka city hallEntrance to the main stage for Music City Tenjin, in front of the Fukuoka city hall
Entrance to the main stage for Music City Tenjin, in front of the Fukuoka city hall27-Sep-2014 11:54, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 200
 
Outside the ACROS centerOutside the ACROS center
Outside the ACROS center17-Aug-2014 13:20, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 8.0, 4.3mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 200
 
Inside the ACROS centerInside the ACROS center
Inside the ACROS center19-Aug-2014 14:28, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
View of the Hakata Port Tower, from the top of the ACROS center in FukuokaView of the Hakata Port Tower, from the top of the ACROS center in Fukuoka
View of the Hakata Port Tower, from the top of the ACROS center in Fukuoka27-Sep-2014 14:40, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 5.9, 21.5mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100
 
Looking east across Fukuoka, from the top of the ACROS centerLooking east across Fukuoka, from the top of the ACROS center
Looking east across Fukuoka, from the top of the ACROS center27-Sep-2014 14:41, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 4.5, 9.845mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
Records on display by a DJ in Solaria Plaza, for the Music City Tenjin festivalRecords on display by a DJ in Solaria Plaza, for the Music City Tenjin festival
Records on display by a DJ in Solaria Plaza, for the Music City Tenjin festival27-Sep-2014 15:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
 
Records on display by a DJ in Solaria Plaza, for the Music City Tenjin festivalRecords on display by a DJ in Solaria Plaza, for the Music City Tenjin festival
Records on display by a DJ in Solaria Plaza, for the Music City Tenjin festival27-Sep-2014 15:06, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
 
Maria and Eidan in the Tenjin Chikagai underground shopping centerMaria and Eidan in the Tenjin Chikagai underground shopping center
Maria and Eidan in the Tenjin Chikagai underground shopping center11-Jul-2014 19:48, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
 

My new best friend

My new best friend (in the Loft department store)
My new best friend (in the Loft department store)20-Sep-2014 13:16, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 125
 

I encountered Rilakkuma at the Loft department store in Tenjin, and just had to get a picture (for the record, I didn’t know the bear’s name until after I had the picture taken).

Festival Fail: The Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks

The huge, densely packed crowd for the Fukuoka Higashi-ku FireworksThe huge, densely packed crowd for the Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks
The huge, densely packed crowd for the Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks06-Sep-2014 18:44, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 1600
 

File this under First World Problems…

We’ve enjoyed almost all of our outings here in Fukuoka, many of which I haven’t had a chance to write about yet (I will catch up eventually!). But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. A few weeks ago we went to the Fukuoka Higashi-ku fireworks display, which sounded great:

Kashiihama Beach is the perfect setting to watch 7,700 fireworks illuminate the sea and the night sky. Held annually on the first Saturday of September, the Higashi-ku Fireworks Festival boasts a breathtaking location, a great food stall area with many different vendors, and original t-shirts and towels on sale to commemorate the event! 100,000 attended last year’s event.

The reality was something else, however. There was a special bus route for the event, with buses leaving every 20 minutes from Tenjin, but there was a long line for them that wrapped around the block. We were clever and got on a regular city bus instead, so we avoided the line, but what we expected would be a 20 minute ride took well over an hour, due to a huge traffic jam approaching the beach. So we missed our planned dinner with my Japanese tutor and her family. I was also sick to my stomach, as lunch hadn’t gone down well.

When we finally arrived, the crowd was overwhelming. Unlike the wonderful Ohori park fireworks, where the police were mostly standing around with nothing to do, the police here were very busy shepherding the crowd. For example, there were more than a dozen of them at the main intersection in front of the beach, with these large, wide straps stretched between them to form lanes at the crosswalks. They also had megaphones to loudly, but of course politely, encourage everyone to keep moving along correctly.

The beach was across the street from the Aeon mall, which was also mobbed. We went in to get some food, as the boys were starving. They voted for KFC. I wasn’t going to eat, so I hung out with the Colonel Sanders statue. Interestingly, the sign he’s wearing in the picture below is showing where in Japan KFC is currently getting all its chicken from. There was a scare recently over bad chicken from China, so they are reassuring people that the chicken is not imported.

When we finally got out of the mall, the fireworks had already started. After navigating for a while through the most densely packed crowd I’d ever been in, we found a place to sit with an obstructed view. But at that point I had lost interest in the fireworks – just sitting down felt like a small victory. When it was over, we planned to wait for the crowd to thin out, but it started to rain, so we stayed very close together and joined the zombie shuffle down the street towards the subway. It was a long walk to get there, but we didn’t want to repeat our experience with the traffic on the bus.

It’s a festival that needs re-thinking. It’s become too popular for its location. It’s hard to transport a lot of people there around the same time, and the narrow strip of land that’s available for it, between the mall and the beach, simply can’t accommodate the crowd.

With Colonel Sanders at the Aeon MallWith Colonel Sanders at the Aeon Mall
With Colonel Sanders at the Aeon Mall06-Sep-2014 18:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
 
The sign explains where in Japan the chicken comes from, as there was a recent news story about bad chicken from ChinaThe sign explains where in Japan the chicken comes from, as there was a recent news story about bad chicken from China
The sign explains where in Japan the chicken comes from, as there was a recent news story about bad chicken from China06-Sep-2014 18:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 400
 
Cool motorcyle, spotted at the Aeon MallCool motorcyle, spotted at the Aeon Mall
Cool motorcyle, spotted at the Aeon Mall06-Sep-2014 18:42, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
 
The Fukuoka Higashi-ku FireworksThe Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks
The Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks06-Sep-2014 19:26, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 4.5, 9.324mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1250
 
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