Autumn in Fukuoka
There’s a lot of chatter about Japan’s “four seasons” here, as if no other country in the world has four seasons. I find this a little strange as Iki, for instance, only has two seasons: Really Hot and Really Cold (but no snow). But, truth be told, depending on where you go you can experience some pretty damn gorgeous landscapes.
So last weekend, I went to Fukuoka with the other ALTs on the island. They were all taking the JLPT exam–I wasn’t, my Japanese isn’t quite at the level I want it to be when I take the test–but I decided to accompany them for shopping and tourism purposes. And let me tell you, it was cold! The first weekend of December, when we left Iki there was snow! Real snow! Just not sticking. But still, snow! I bundled up pretty thoroughly for this adventure, but thank goodness for hotels with heat-air conditioners, that’s all I’ve got to say.
On Saturday, Christine and I did some shopping. This was all in preparation for half of my reason to go: to see WallE! Finally! After Sissy spurned me in the summer, I still wanted to see it. Luckily, it just opened in Japan, so I got to see it on the big screen. And it was an excellent, excellent movie! A good moral, friggin’ amazing graphics (they looked so real in the very beginning!), an excellent soundtrack, and a-dor-able characters (“Eve-a! Eve-a!”). I lubbed it. Not quite sure if it replaces Happy Feet in my heart, but still a heavily satisfying movie.
Plus, before the movie, Christine and I spotted this HI-larious example of Engrish:
The following day, while poor Guy, Christine, and Nathan had to take the test, I wandered through Fukuoka. It was warmer on Sunday–though still pretty chilly–and the sky switched from dreary grey to excellently decorated blue and fluffy clouds. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Though I’d promised myself I wouldn’t spend too much money, I wandered first into Tenjin, the shopping capitol of Fukuoka City. Ended up drinking three cups of Starbucks that day (two of which were actual lattes! I know! Craziness).
I wandered around for several hours trying to find the Apple Store. Because my computer’s been having conniptions, I’ve decided to purchase an iMac. (Insert uber amounts of blubber here for the prettiness that will be my computer in about a month.) However, for some reason beyond me, it was hard to spot. In any case, it wasn’t as if I was rushed, and I got to see a lot of beautiful things. Much as I know I could never live in an urban area for a truly extended period of time, Fukuoka certainly has a great amount of charm. 🙂
So as I was wandering, I happened upon an amazing building. Okay, probably not that amazing, but I thought it was beautiful, and it just randomly appeared right near the Crocs store. (I’m addicted to Crocs now, did I mention that? The fuzzy inner lining = GENIUS indoor winter shoes.) Not only is it a great example of how to combine modern aesthetics with nature, modern society with carbon-dioxide absorbing plants, but it also offers a great view of Fukuoka from 10AM to 4PM. I’d arrived around noon–not good sun for picture taking, but still a breathtaking climb up (hey, I’m out of shape) and cityscape.
There was also a very stern looking security officer at the top who made me feel far too aware of myself. Still, it was a lot of fun. And may I comment additionally that wandering around a city by oneself with an iPod can lead to really great times. I felt like I had my own theme music as I went.
Which leads me to the next point…
So I made my way to another park (stunningly named Fukuoka Central Park) and happened upon a nice bridge and a place to rest just before my iPod started playing Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader, a song that never fails to make me want to dance. So… I danced. In the middle of a bridge. With Japanese people everywhere who could not hear the music I was listening to. For four minutes. And it was surprisingly awesome. It made me feel carefree and spunky and threw me a piece of my random self that I think I left in High School. (It’d been a long time since my last random dance party.) Yeah, I may have gotten some looks, but I like to think I made those very confused people’s day.
In any case, I made my way back to Starbucks for the second cup of the day (Gingerbread Latte = DELICIOUS) and discovered a very nicely stocked bookstore nearby. I say nicely stocked because usually the western sections of Japanese bookstores leave much to be desired, but this one was almost half of a whole floor. I peeked into the Rough Guide’s entry on Fukuoka which recommended I visit a place called Ohori Park–only two stops on the train away from Tenjin. It took some walking to get there (I found it difficult to find the right station to leave from), but once I got there, I was in love. Such a wonderfully gorgeous park, just smack dab in the middle of iron and concrete! Plus the Fukuoka Prefectural Art Museum was at one corner, which meant I could fill in my cultural bubble for the week. Oh man, seriously, this place was gorgeous. And it wasn’t just the view or the water, but the people running and chatting together, the way the buildings looked next to the trees, and the cool, crisp feel of the Fukuoka air entering my lungs. It was peaceful and welcoming.
In any case, it made me really [heart] Fukuoka. Like woah.
An explanation of the above sign, because it’s a little hard to see. There were signs all over the park saying that you couldn’t fish. However, starting at this side, there were signs showing that it was okay (the blue). But I have to assume the lake was not separated by an iron wall between the OK-Fish and the だめ-fish… In any case, found these two to be hilarious. And, at first ,though I thought Orange Jacket was doing a No-No, in fact his line is in the OK-Fish section.
So anyway, now whenever I go back to Fukuoka, I think I’ll make some time to go to Ohori Park. I’d recommend it to anyone going–and apparently the ruins of Fukuoka-jo is also nearby. If you’re in the mood for a break from city life and don’t have the time to come to Iki (I think Iki is way more beautiful than this, if in a different way), it’s a great place to visit–and doesn’t cost any money! The Art Museum is also cheap: 200 yen to see both of the permanent exhibits, and I think 800 yen for the Temporary. A pretty good deal, I’d say. But then I don’t really know one thing about art, I just like to look and think: Wow. Cool. Pretty. Interesting. Huh. Oh, don’t understand that one at all. Maybe that’s the point…
Well, in any case, my life is not particularly interesting at the moment, but if you have any questions, I’m always around.
Unless, of course, my computer decides that enough is enough and it really does kick the bucket. Cross your fingers that it makes it until I have the money to buy the iMac… I only need $3,000… ::looks shifty::
Well, I’ll leave you with this last picture of Fukuoka, proof that sunsets in cities can be just as dynamic as those in Arizona–though perhaps not quite as colorful. 🙂