Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Japan 2011 Day 7 (July 3): A family trip to Fukuoka

Tanabata decorations at Dazaifu Jinja

We were up at 6:30- still getting better :) & after a breakfast of leftovers from dinner, we packed for a day trip & overnight at a nearby resort. 
Kazehiro-san had rented a van that sat 10 people & we all hopped in for about an hour to Fukuoka City. We stopped at the Hakata Canal City shopping complex there to visit the Jump Store- all Jump Comics related goods. It was very crowded (being a Sunday) but really neat. I caught-up on my Bleach manga & found neat Gintama & Sket-Dance souvenirs as well. On the way into the mall there was an Omikoshi on display, which will be part of a festival held in Fukuoka City this summer called Yamagasa. Groups of men carry these Omikoshi through the city for hours & hours & compete against each other like a race. It was simply gorgeous!

Our next stop was the Daizaifu Jinja, outside Fukuoka City. It’s a very famous Heian Era shrine  (about 1200 years old) dedicated to a god of learning. Tomoko said that most Japanese schoolchildren make a pilgrimage here at some point, to pray for good results on school entrance exams & the like. 

On the way in there were gorgeous displays for Tanabata, the Japanese holiday that occurs this week, on July 7th..

 Brendan & I bought Omikuji fortunes that Tomoko translated for us. I decided to take mine with me, but Brendan tied his fortune to a string of them to remain at the shrine. 

One thing that struck me again about visiting & touring with Tomoko’s family is that we never, ever see other westerners in this part of Japan. We were the only western faces at the Dazaifu & we got more than a few startled reactions when we stopped in shops & at lunch. Part of the startlement is our presence there, but part of it is that we speak passable Japanese & can talk to folks there. Many people commented on our Japanese being “jouzu” which means “skilled at”. My usual response was “ganbarimasu!” which means, “I’m doing my best!”
We had stopped for lunch at a soba shop on the way in, & on the way out we shopped some. Brendan bought ume (sour plum) flavoured ice cream. 
As we traveled throughout the day Brendan & I continued our Prius-counting game. In 2 1/2 hours in the car we saw 100 Priuses!! In total we saw 115 during the day. Amazing... In Japan, the Prius is comsidered a luxury sedan, being quite large by Japanese standards. The most popular car these days seems to be the tiny toaster cars, of which there are to many models to count (we saw called the “Dunk” :).
After visiting the Dazaifu, we headed back toward Mizumaki to a resort called Budou no Ki (Grape Tree). Keiko-san had arranged for Charlie, Brendan & I to spend the night there as a special treat. Since they all had work & school on Monday they couldn’t join us there, but they did explore our rooms with us & then have dinner with us there in a “bai-king”- style restaurant, which is the Japanese term for a buffet or smorgasbord. 
Cute statue at the Bai-king restaurant

The food was quite varied- from tenpura to fish to tofu-products, soups (including zenzai, sweet bean soup with mochi, which Brendan & I scarfed-up), salads, & dessert. They had 2 kinds of rice, regular white & a blends of grains & rice which was so delicious I bought a bag to bring home. 
everybody on the deck of the restaurant

Then everybody dropped us off at the rooms & said good-bye. We bought some snacks on the way back to our rooms so we could have them with some of the delicious teas that were provided in the room. 

Brendan fell asleep pretty quickly, but Charlie & I filled the big ofuro & both got in for a nice soak. The rooms were air-conditioned so we could enjoy the warmth of the bath without passing out :) Then we watched funny Japanese tv shows until 10:00 & went to bed ourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment