Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 30 2017

Fukuoka 2

I started out the day dog-tired after a night of very little sleep, but the day was nice, and I was woken up further by the loud students begging loudly all along the way to the station. We had some very nice katsu don in the basement maze of restaurants before heading upstairs to the train platforms, passing the very Japanese smoking rooms, complete with instructions.

The air was murky despite the sun. Our train almost immediately met countryside and then back to suburbia on our way to Yanagawa, which took over an hour. It was nice to be speeding along on a Japanese train again.

Yanagawa is a small place, and I was wondering where the bucolic canal scenes were being hidden. We took a bus on a long journey of about 20 feet to the pier, where we got into a small wooden boat with a dozen other tourists and a happy old man, who pushed us out into the canal accompanied by a long, complicated, and no doubt fascinating diatribe about the history of the area, none of which I understood. I did understand, eventually after we went under several low bridges, that he was trying to decapitate us all. He also sang songs. I held a bottle of coffee in the cold water with one hand while doing a Facebook Livestream with the other. It was a lot of fun, and I’m sure living right on the canal would be a very neat thing. It kind of reminded me of the canals we used to ply our little boat on when I was growing up in Florida.

We disembarked, all of with our heads more or less intact, at an old Western-style building full of souvenirs. Chenbl deliberated buying mud-skipper instant noodles (“made with real crushed-up mudskippers!”) but decided against it, wisely I felt. Then we walked around the nearly empty neighborhood for a bit before deciding to eschew the tourist bus and walk back to the train station.

This took a while, but it was interesting walking along the canals and fields. Chenbl kept facetiming various people, so we had a host of friends along for the walk, which included some eel with rice enjoyed on the side of a canal.

The day was cooling off by the time we arrived back at the station, and we endured the annoying idiotic pseudo-English of a mainland Chinese family while we waited for our train to Dazaifu, which we’d already paid for.

Dazaifu was almost completely deserted by the time got there just before 7 p.m. We walked up a row of empty shops and tori gates straight out of a Miyazaki film into a temple complex that made the shops seem like they weren’t even trying. Huge thousand-year-old trees, ancient shrines…the works. All shut down, however. We were too late. It was kind of eerie, but somehow comforting. Like we had Japan all to ourselves for some reason. Or we’d slipped into another dimension somehow.

Luckily, the I-lan noodle shop by the train station was still open, and I swear I had the best noodles EVAR there. The fact that we’d hardly eaten all day might have also had something to do with it. The shop closed after we were done, and we caught a train back to Fukuoka.

I was still full of noodles, but Chenbl wanted to sample some of the food stalls along the river, so we walked through a loud crowd along a waterfront every bit as splendid as the one in Kaohsiung would be if Kaohsiung were serious about creating such a thing. The food was ok, nothing to write home about, but it seems to me that the people of this town, and it is, I have to say, a town I quite like, are noticeably more boisterously happy than in other parts of Japan. I wonder if this impression is going to hold out.

Dunno what we’re doing tomorrow. Couldn’t tell ya.

posted by Poagao at 11:50 pm  

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