For the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday, schools are out Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Most foreigners take this Five Day Weekend as an opportunity for an extra mini vacation. I spent two full days in the small southwestern city of Fukuoka, Japan.
I booked my stay at The Guest House on AirBnB. I stayed in a dorm room with two bunk beds. Nobody else checked in, so I had the whole room to myself.
My first stop was to Tochoji Temple. There’s nothing to do there, but it is pretty.
My next stop was to Kushida Shrine , which is a must-see for any visitor. It’s located within walking distance of Kawabata, and easy to walk to from the subway station. It’s a beautiful place where you could lose track of time from taking so many pictures.
There was a large group of elementary students there, and they must have thought that I was an English teacher in Japan because one boy yelled “Sensei!” while pointing at me.
There’s a bronze cow you can pet for good luck. You can buy a fortune for 50 Yen. You can write a prayer on a wooden tablet. The saki barrels are a work of art.
In my opinion, the two best spots to get your picture taken are under the Red Torri Gates and under the red lantern at the entrance.
My Korean-American friend James asked me to meet him at the owl cafe in Kawabata. It’s called Owl Family Hakata . I didn’t realize how close I was to it at the time, so I asked two Japanese women to take me there. I showed them the address he texted me. They didn’t speak any English, but they were nice enough to lead me there.
We went upstairs, order a drink, and listened to the rules. You could take pictures, but not videos. Big owls could only perch on your index finger, but small owls could also perch on top of your head.
Nearly every owl that perched on James, went to the bathroom, but not on him.
One of the big owls tried to fly away from me, and James got the picture.
From there we went to Fukuoka Castle, which was disappointing. I was expecting so much more. What you see in the picture is all we could see.
Fukuoka Tower, on the other hand, was much more exciting. It’s 234 meters tall, and costs 800 Yen to take the elevator to the observation room at the top. With windows going all around, this room provides a great 360 degree view of the city below. But what’s inside the room can be just as entertaining.
We ate dinner at Freshness Burger. My burger and drink cost 669 Yen. It was a bit greasy, but quite tasty.
I began my second, and final, full day by visiting Myotenji Temple, Zendoji Temple, and Hakozaki Shrine. The first two temples were just okay, but Hakozaki is highly recommended. It’s a classic Japan experience. There were women in kimonos. A group of men in traditional robes marched into the shrine. There’s a long street lined with dozens of different food stalls. At the end of that street is Hakata Bay.
From there I took a bus to the Canal City Hakata, which is a gigantic mall. If you go there, you have to eat at Ramen Stadium. It’s very popular, so expect a long wait. But the wait is worth it. My bowl of ramen cost 770 Yen, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life.
There’s a machine, like a vending machine, but with a touch screen. You insert your cash and select the meal you want, take your ticket and wait in line. When you reach the front of the line, the hostess takes your ticket and brings it to the kitchen. You’re seated as soon as a seat becomes available.
Next I visited Wakamiya Shrine, which is a great place for a photo op.
Finally, I returned to Fukuoka Tower to see it lit up at night. The way the tower is lit up is different for every season. It’s not easy to take a quality photo of the tower at night with an iPhone, which is why I took a video.
If you only have two days to spend in Japan, I would recommend Fukuoka. Nobody speaks English, but they are friendly. Everything is expensive, but the food is amazing.