We started going to Japan because of the Tokyo Marathon. And we kept going for the Tokyo Marathon because of the onsens (onsens felt especially good to fatigued bodies). And then, what started in 2009 became a yearly outing for the rose running club.
In 2011, we decided to go it easy and do what normal people do when they travel ie eat, drink and sightsee. We had planned to see the sakuras in Tohoku region from late Mar but because of the 3.11 earthquake we postponed the trip to late Oct and re-routed to Kyushu instead.
By then, membership had swelled to 14.
One of my memories was that of trying to fit 14 people anywhere. Hotels, buses, trains, restaurants, shops etc. It was pretty challenging not to mention our rose having to entertain one question, 13 times – everyday. But nothing fazed the rose. naturally.
What Men Want, Men Get (First Night @ Fukuoka 福岡)
A lot of things can happen in 1 night.
Fukuoka had a different feel from Tokyo – somehow. Perhaps it is smaller and way more accessible. We stayed at our favourite Toyoko Inn (東横イン) in front of Gion station 祇園駅. Everywhere was within walking distance from our hotel.
Because the men were feeling ravenous after checking in and even though it was almost midnight, we went in search of supper. Like sharks that smelled blood, they brought us right into the heart of Fukuoka’s famous/infamous red light district – Nakasu 中洲.
Nakasu is a sprawling district of adult-entertainment establishments and eateries (3500 of them as claimed). The big neon signs and pictures of heavily-made up girls and pimps/bouncers (maybe yakuzas too?) standing outside the clubs were something we had only seen on TV. At first the bouncers attempted to stalk the men. But backed off when they noticed us ladies behind. Sorry dudes! We’d make ourselves scarce next time.
Unsurprisingly, there were many mainland Chinese working in Fukuoka. Since it is quite near to China. Waiters, hostesses. hotel managers. They blended so well we didn’t realise until they heard us conversing in Mandarin and started chatting with us.
Now, actually, we were looking for the yatais. Yatai 屋台 or street stalls are similar to our 路边摊. Apparently this is a uniquely Fukuoka feature. According to literature we’d picked up @ the airport, we were expecting a huge night market of 200 stalls. Heh! Then we read the fine print again and realised the 200 yatais were spread throughout the city. Ah … but anyway the yatais were not really cheaper than the Izakayas.
Next up, Fukuoka in the day