At one stage my plan was to go straight from Hiroshima to Nagasaki. That would have been one of the last stops on my adventure; after that, a brief return to Kyoto to see the cherry blossoms, followed by Osaka, Mt Fuji and then getting a job.
As I was organising, I discovered a trip to Nagasaki would involve changing trains at Hakata station in Fukuoka. Looking at Fukuoka I spotted the familiar names Iga and Koga. Centuries ago, these villages were the heartland of the shinobi techniques. Men from here were hired to act as spies or assassins for Samurais all over Japan. Today we call them ninja.
Fukuoka itself seemed like a cool, modern city, so I found myself a nice hostel and added a destination to my adventure.
I arrived last night, absolutely shattered from climbing mountains then lugging my gear to Hiroshima station and again from Hakata station. I made a skype call to my family, spent half an hour studying Japanese, then fell asleep listening to Dire Straits.
I woke up today and decided to spend my day exploring the city before coming home to do some writing and plan out my day trips to see the area’s history. Unfortunately, it was absolutely pouring with rain.
Despite this, I found some cool temples and shrines. Right near my hostel I found one of the coolest temples I’ve seen yet, full of animal statuary and a great display of this enormous portable shrine.
A little further away, I came across a temple with a monument to something very dear to my heart: the introduction to Japanese cuisine of the soba and udon noodles.
At the train station were three separate multi-storey department stores. On the 8th floor of one, I found my second Pokemon Centre, though it didn’t seem to have as much unique local flavour as the one in Hiroshima. The lady on the door gave me a nice big window sticker of Snorlax, though, which was nice.
Overall, Fukuoka seems to be a bit like a smaller Tokyo. The ramen I had for tea was nice and thick, a local flavour, there’s a bit more greenery and the city hugs the coastline more tightly. Fukuoka is described as the entrance to the Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan, and so far I’m liking the Summery vibes, even despite the weather.
I sat down at my hostel and started making plans for my next couple of days. It was at this point I discovered that the real, historical Iga and Koga are actually near Kyoto. Koga in Fukuoka is a new, modern city which just happens to share the name. I guess I'll find other stuff to do then . . .