After spending a few nights in Busan (see the earlier post) we took the Miraejet hydrofoil ferry to Fukuoka. We had already visited the ferry terminal the previous day to compare the prices of the different ferry companies, and we decided to pay a little bit more for a much faster connection. We also considered taking the overnight ferry to Osaka, but there wasn’t any service on Sunday when we were leaving. A one-way student ticket for the hydrofoil costs around €60 when bought from Korean side, and as we learned later, about €110 when bought from the other side of the Korea Straight 🙂
As we boarded the ferry, I was a little bit surprised because I didn’t realize the hydrofoil is so small vessel. In practice, it’s like taking a short flight. You board the plane, go to sit in your designated seat, buckle up and wait for take take-off. The ride only took around 3 hours and I have to say that it was extremely comfortable. Because most of the ship is on top of the water at cruising speed, you don’t feel almost any swaying or waves hitting the hull.
The hydrofoil flying on the water 🙂
Since we hadn’t made any specific plans for the trip, we decided to visit the tourist information as soon as we arrived in Fukuoka terminal. We were a bit shocked to find out that all of the hostels were full because on the following day the Japanese would have a national holiday when they pay their respect to their elders and grandparents. After a long bit of phone calls and negotiations (and angry looks from the people in the queue after us), we found a hostel that had one vacant bed. We agreed that Irina would stay there and us guys would go to a capsule hotel, which didn’t seem such a bad option. Most of the capsule hotels don’t accept females guests, and I really wanted to experience one, so for me the situation was pretty good.
Capsule, Japan's gift to the travelling people
After we had dropped our bags in our respective lodging venues, we headed towards the Tenjin area, which is the one of the city’s downtown areas, the other being the Hakata area. We were all very hungry and Kasper had been talking about the infamous Hakata Ramen (noodles) the whole trip, so naturally we had to try them in the local way, in a yatai, a mobile street kitchen with small benches around it. The noodles, which were served in a pork rib broth, were really tasty, and proved to be one of the only dishes we could afford during out trip there 🙂
The Japanese really like their vending machines
Hakata Ramen in the making
Later we went to explore the city by foot, especially the Nakasu area, a district separated by two rivers from the rest of the city, forming a some sort of island. We found a cool spot near where the rivers combine with some talented local guys doing all kinds of tricks with their bicycles. We sat the for a good hour or so, enjoying some beers and tetra-packed sake which we found in the local convenience store.
Kasper just finished his McBreakfast 🙂
After the long day we headed towards our capsule hotel, eager and excited as small buys going to the toy store. I have to say that I really like the whole concept of the capsule hotel, and I’m puzzled about why there aren’t anything even remotely similar in other countries. The concept is pretty simple: after checking in you go to the locker rooms to change in to a, very stylish, bathrobe which you will wear until checking out the next morning. Then you go to the spa to soak yourself in hot and cold baths, relax in saunas or to take some massage if you like, after which you dive into your own small capsule, equipped with radio and tv, and sleep there. I slept like a baby in the capsule and started the following day with a visit to the spa again. I can’t think of any better start to a day 🙂
Ohori park in Fukuoka
On Monday we spent countless hours trying to plan our remaining trip, but because of the holiday, all of the buses to Hiroshima, where we wanted to go, were full. Most of the staff at the bus station and tourist information were eager to help us, but because of their lack of language skill, the whole thing proved to be very difficult and tiresome. In the end we decided to spend another night in Fukuoka and take a night bus to Hiroshima the following day. The rest of the day we spent in a hot spring near Futsukaichi, some 30-minute train ride away from the city.
Seagulls lined up for their daily quarter-mile flying competition
On Tuesday the weather was extremely hot, and it was total agony to do any proper sightseeing, but we still managed to see some spots like the Ohori park a few metro stops west from Tenjin area. At some point we had to take a small siesta in a internet cafe, in where you can actually sleep and enjoy free slush and juice-drinks, take a shower or just browse some Japanese comic books.
Fukuoka tower might be the nicest radio tower I've seen
In the evening we went further west to see the area with Fukuoka tower, the new Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome and the Momochihama beach. We also planned on visiting the Robosquare, where you can some of the latest crazy Japanese inventions, but unfortunately it just closed its doors when we got there. We waited a bit to see if the robots would have started a party after the staff left, but sadly I have to report that nothing happened 🙂
Tommi found a moment of Zen at Momochihama beach 🙂
Before our night bus to Hiroshima, we ate a couple of Quarter Pounders in our local hotspot of Japanese culture and cuisine: McDonalds, which was our main supply of nutrition (at least in solid form) during the trip. In fact, we were devastated in Hiroshima when we found out that the promotional campaign of 200 Yen Quarter Pounders was over, and was replaced by some weird Tamago monstrosity 😀
After Seoul and Busan, Fukuoka seemed a little bit quiet city with wide streets, few people and in general very clean and sleek looks. Of course some of the areas in Tenjin were more lively and the younger Japanese were hanging out there, but perhaps because of the holiday the city seemed a bit deserted in certain areas. The Japanese people are really nice and helpful, and most of all, really really polite. Sometimes the amount of politeness goes to almost ridiculous proportions, at least from a Finnish point of view, and also the way the Japanese people communicate, both in English and especially in Japanese, is so different from what I’m used to. I guess the underlying idea is that you must not appear rude in any situation, so even a simple answer, like “no, im sorry, we don’t have any free rooms” must be veiled in a 1-minute monologue of politeness 🙂
Again, I have to stop writing here, but I’ll pick up from this point later on, perhaps as early as tomorrow. HAI!