Weekend – shuumatsu しゅうまつ

By: Rora

Oct 11 2010

Category: Japan

1 Comment

My life has started getting busier as I’ve begun my new job, so weekends have gone back to feeling important rather than just another day of unmitigated free time. As much as unemployment was fun in its own way, I’m much happier when I’m busy and in some sort of routine. It’s a welcome change.

This weekend in particular was special because it was my birthdaaaaay AND a three day weekend. I’m not sure what the holiday even was today- sports day maybe?- but it was the best weather of all three days, so I’m glad that I had it off.

Friday night we went to Nakasu Kawabata, Fukuoka city’s red-light district for the Nakasu festival. All of the ladies from the community get together and carry a heavy float through the streets. There’s a lot of chanting and yelling involved, and the women were super cute in their matching robes and headbands.

Saturday morning was spent visiting temples in Hakata. I’ve been around Hakata a lot so far, but didn’t realize that it was home to so many large and beautiful temples, practically blocks from the train station. We also saw a giant Buddah (for free!) and 5,000 smaller Buddahs, as well as the temple dedicated to Udon and Soba noodles! Then we went to Ohori park, which is a large lake in the middle of Fukuoka that you can walk across. The park reminded me a lot of Boston common- there were even swan boats. After the park, we got cake, and eventually found our way back at the Nakasu festival for its final night. This time there were a lot of dancers and street performers, as well as a larger crowd, so I’m glad we went again.

Here is a video of one of the street performances we saw.

Sunday was amusement park day! Kind of. I had noticed on a map that north of the city, in an area called Uminonakamichi (so hard to say!) there is a park that seemed to have some sort of zoo and ferris wheel icon, so we figured it had to be pretty cool. And it was! I expected Uminonakamichi to be a big theme park, but it is more like a large regular park with a few cute kiddie rides here and there, as well as a zoo that was small but very worth stopping at. The park was gorgeous, with huge fields of flowers (mums and cosmos, for autumn!). There was a giant ferris wheel. And ice cream! The zoo had kangaroos and wallabees and capybaras. You could walk right through their areas and get weirdly close to the animals. I think the park normally has an admission fee, but nobody asked us to pay anything when we were greeted at the gate. Score!  Uninonakamichi is also right on the water and has lots of beaches- I can’t wait to go back this summer and swim in the ocean on a hot day. Also, the train from our house goes directly there! No connections, no hassle.

Monday, today, we went to Karatsu, a seaside town about an hour away known for its huge castle. The castle had a lot of stairs and great views. The town was quiet, but photogenic as hell. Lots of old buildings, temples at every corner, and cool murals and signs, including the one pictured above. The beach is lined with a pine grove that extends for 3 miles. The train ride to the town was right on the water, hugging the coastline and going in and out of mountain tunnels every so often.

Train travel is so amazing. It makes being car-less in a foreign country a hundred times more fun. Today on the train ride I kept wondering what it would be like if the US had a train infrastructure like this, where even the smallest towns have train stations with regular (ie, several times an hour) trains passing through. Not to mention bullet trains! I’ll definitely miss this when I move back home.


One comment on “Weekend – shuumatsu しゅうまつ”

  1. That street performance reminded me of how I do my arts and crafts here at home. Happy Birthday, Laura.

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