December 06, 2003

Japan 3: Atop Fukuoka Castle

Sitting atop Fukuoka castle ruins. Not really much left but the battlements, which basically consist of huge stones arranged in pyramid-like walls. Must've been a huge, labrynthine place in its time. Now it's interspersed with gardens, shrines and sports grounds - baseball, an athletics stadium (the 57th International Fukuoka Marathon Championship seems to be happening tomorrow), and even a rugby pitch!

Really just been wandering this morning. It's still pretty early on Sunday, so the shops aren't open yet, but you're still assaulted by ads everywhere you go (except atop the battlements). Very garish, upbeat ads. Video screens. Huge vertical banners hanging from the side of monolithic department stores. All the crosswalks have their own theme tune. Heard the one from the Animatrix!! Definitely my favourite one so far, and I could see why it was chosen. Ther others pretty much all sound like some corporate theme-song, or a pale parody of some nationalistic tune. Either way, a little too upbeat and one-dimensional.

Was starting to feel very tired last night on the second plane from Tokyo to Fukuoka, but seeing Jon did the trick. Very weird to see him being so impressively fluent in Japanese. Still has the loping gait, though. Still the same Jon, if in some ways changed by the experience [I'd like to just take this time, now back in San Francisco, and reflecting on the trip, to thank Jon very much for being such an excellent host. It was cool to see you, my boy, and I was so glad to be able to spend time with you, have you show me things from the local's perspective, and to get to meet Emi. Good times, good times].

That first night, we went out to eat at a place that looked and felt very similar to some of the sushi houses in San Francisco. Sliding wood panel doors (automatic). After a ton of food and two very huge beers, we were ready for.... more food and drink. So we found another place that was (from my perspective) much more authentically Japanese. After being led through a subtely lit corridor with dark wood walls that stopped just short of the ground to reveal pebbled channels on either side of the walkway. The hostess took our shoes and then we climbed three flights to the room we were to eat in. Sort of a medium sized room with low, cubicle-like dividers of the same dark wood with low tables and cushions to sit on. We ate as little as was polite and had some potato-based bevvy, mixed with hot water. In the continuing adventures of my encounters with Japanese bathrooms, this place had bathroom slippers that you wore while in the john.

Our hotel room was neat and clean, but definitely on the small side. The two beds were separated by the bathroom, which was slightly raised. This was a little unfortunate, because the space you lost by raising the bathroom was taken out of your head room in the shower. And we were provided with wee willie winkie style night gowns to sleep in. The bed was very firm and comfy. Breakfast was great - miso soup and thick slices of a sticky rice roll with pickles. Hit the spot for sure.

As we came walking out of the hotel towards the train station, there was a pair of idiots stumbling across the intersection and waving traffic to slow down. Quite refreshing in all this well orderliness to see some revellers still at it early on a Sunday morning! And just when we thought the amusement was over, one of them stepped back on the sidewalk/pavement, stumbled, and fell back into a hedge. We cracked up, and the poor guy had to be helped out of his new residence by his drinking buddy, as he couldn't seem to leverage himself out.

Posted by mthaddon at December 6, 2003 08:55 PM