An 'Engineer in the East' - 16
Joe's Blogs; The latest updates from our colleague in Japan.
Visit to Fukuoka.
In retrospect, it may seem like my time spent in Japan is spent wholly on blissful holiday, that would be an incorrect assumption, but what is it with Japan and so many public holidays!? I am in fact writing this on a holiday, so by the way happy national school sports day from Japan.
So, as it occurred, on one of Japans more weighty holidays (in fact an almost Asian wide holiday), golden week, myself and Natsumi took a trip to Fukuoka (city/prefecture) on the Japanese island of Kyushyu. The reasons for this were two-fold, firstly to meet all of Natsumi’s family, it is after all her home town and secondly, meh, it’s just over a week long holiday, what am I going to do? Sit at home in my pants? Not this this closet hermit! No!
For those who aren’t on friendly terms with google maps, Kyushyu Island is the Southernmost of Japan’s for main Islands and as I discovered during my visit, it is somewhat of a laidback paradise, giving off wonderful pacific island vibes, which maybe just because I live in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan sprawl and can’t accurately remember what the colour green looks like (joking, seriously Tokyo parks are just the greenest).
We stayed at Natsumi’s mothers house for three nights, eating dinner together with the whole family on the first night and I am happy to report that Natsumi’s mother is a world class feeder, stratospheric. She and the rest of the family graciously hosted us whilst we explored Natsumi’s home town and surrounding area.
Located just 1 hour out of Fukuoka city limits it was incredibly, wonderfully rural, for which Natsumi apologized profusely, but for which I was incredibly happy. I am a country boy at heart, give me some maps, water, provisions a sleeping bag and a tent, drop me in the wild and I will be very happy. Until I die of pneumonia, starvation or am attacked by wolves, whichever comes first.
Over the next few days I had the good fortune to meet Natsumi’s close circle of childhood friends for lunch and we enjoyed a smashing bbq on a river nestled between some mountains with Natsumi’s family.
Following on from this we left the rural idyll for the neighboring prefecture of Saga to stay at a marvelous onsen ryokan for the night. After all the eating it was nice to bob around in some hot water for a while, contemplating the stars and heavens, nature and humanity, dinner.
After a refreshing night soak and sleep we headed back to Fukuoka City proper, to get a taste of the local culture and re-integrate ourselves back in to city living. Fukuoka is, by comparison a much more relaxed city than Tokyo. Whilst not wanting to cast a negative light on Tokyo, Fukuoka people seem to have a more healthy work life balance and regularly stop to smell the flowers. They also specialize in a fantastic variety of barbequed (kebab style, aka on a stick), salted, crispy chicken skin that is just… heart clogging.