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August 15th 2010
Published: August 17th 2010
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Japan has been a long time coming. It is a country where you can find traditional culture and beliefs as well as being on the forefront of technological innovation of all forms. It has the fastest bullet trains, most densely populated cities, home of the Sumo, massive video game arcades, calm and orderly people, neon lights all over buildings, grown men reading manga comics, karaoke, super toilets, etc. Basically it's a place like no other and some might say almost on a different planet. Definitely a place I'd always been curious about visiting.

The boat left from Busan on an overnight ride towards the land of the rising sun. On board I met a British couple who kept me company. We had beer and stayed up quite late. The boat arrived at six am and I was still exhausted but the excitement of a new country forced me up. I went through customs, got my fingerprints taken, and had one of my bags searched but, unlike in China, they were really nice about it all. The British couple had a much more difficult time for whatever reasons.

The town I'd arrived at was Fukuoka, on the southern major island called Kyushu. First thing I did was get a bus ticket to my next destination. Alas the bullet train was out of my budget, even the greatly reduced JR pass, and I resigned myself to take night buses, not just because they were cheaper although slower but also using this means of transport would save me nights of accommodation. I shoved my backpack into a coin locker, the cost of which would have got me an entire nights accommodation in most of the countries I would have visited on my trip. Then I went looking for something cheap to eat, eventually found something but the portion was so small it was laughable. I would have to surrender the notion of being full while here. But this is Japan, downside of which is most things are expensive.

I got a map and then walked along towards the river that cut through the city. Fukuoka was quite compact and quite modern. Another thing I noticed right off the bat was the extreme cleanliness from city streets to parks. There weren't even that many rubbish bins but somehow everything was bare. I thought Korea was clean but this was a new level. I was happy to see major things had English signs so it also helped getting around easier. Traffic was super orderly and, amazingly, because this is not the norm, the cars will actually stop way before and make sure all pedestrians are through. It didn't make sense in my head because of previous places I've been where whoever was bigger had the right of way.

I came to Japan in the worst season, which I call sweat-bath season. It was 35 degrees, and felt like 100% humidity. My clothes were drenched within minutes of being outside. The most frustrating thing was that the Japanese don't seem to sweat at all, making me look even more like a freak! As a result it was tough walking from place to place, I'd have to constantly stop in the shade or indoors somewhere to cool off and stop sweating.

I visited a castle ruin near the middle of town. There seem to be many castle ruins all over Japan. Then there was a nearby park with a man-made lake in the middle. Loads of birds and flowers could be seen. I continued and went by a baseball stadium. Baseball is HUGE in this country although in my opinion it's a hell of a boring game. Then I went seaside where there was a small beach and gigantic seaside tower. I walked along the peer and people were fishing. Near this was also a massive video game arcade where loads of people were congregating. They love their video games like I do.

By now it was already night time and it had been hours since I'd eaten anything. I looked for a while and eventually just went into a 7/11 and picked up a Bento box, popular eating option here that resembles a tv dinner but with traditional Japanese feed instead. Since I was so hungry it tasted great. The buildings were all lit up in neon lights and the city was very much alive. It was still excessively hot and humid even though the sun was long gone. Finally I made my way back to the bus station ready to head out. The driver checks everyone's name as you board and to when I did he looked at the list and exclaimed with a grin "Ah Janiel-San!" This made me smile.

Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 25


24th February 2011
Beyond The Lake

It's Blue
Lots of water. I would have cropped it but that's just me.
1st March 2011

These are all the rough shots, used them for the blog on the fly. The cropped stuff will eventually be up when I get a chance to do em.

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