A special performance from Fukuoka's Robosquare.
As some of you may know, last month I hopped a plane to Japan with Stephanie and Christine for our winter break. It was a really wonderful trip. We went to Fukuoka, Okinawa, and Saga. I got to see an old friend, make a lot of new ones, eat delicious food (yes, that includes a LOT of ramen), and go from hanging at the beach to chilling in the snow within a day of each other. And, while I'm mentioning opposites, I also stayed in one of the nicest houses I've ever been in followed immediately by a brief stint at what was (hands down) the sketchiest hostel I've ever laid eyes on.
|Fukuoka style ramen|
|Fukuoka Tower from Momochi Park|
|The old guardhouse from Fukuoka Castle|
|Stephanie with a wolf shrine at a random temple we stumbled upon while looking for dinner|
|Also, there was some definite Chopper action on this trip. As far as Japan is concerned, Chopper is the man (and I guess Hello Kitty is the woman?)|
Okinawa was probably my favorite place that we visited. Of course, the fantastic sunny weather and beautiful beaches may have swayed my opinion a bit. I stuck my feet in the Pacific, had some of the most amazing sashimi I've ever eaten, and CLIMBED ALL THE THINGS!!!
|Warm enough to wear a t-shirt, but not quite warm enough to go swimming...|
|We found a random rope obstacle course in a park and things immediately devolved into a race to the top.|
|Climbing the lava rocks at Maeda Cape. It was so beautiful there!|
|At the top of Zanpa Cape Lighthouse with Glenn|
|Getting ramen for dinner with some of the super interesting girls from Glenn's American Culture class|
After spending 4 lovely days in the Okinawa sun, we hopped a plane back to Fukuoka to meet up with Christine's long time penpal, Rina, and go on the grand tour of Saga prefecture. Although the two of them had been writing for about 8 years, they had never met, so it was really fun to witness them finally getting together. Despite our major lack of Japanese skills, Rina's family was so warm and welcoming! Their house is lovely and so was the drive through the snowy Japanese country side to get there. It definitely gave me a new found respect for Japanese style architecture. Her grandmother took us to Kyushu castle and to an outdoor hot spring foot bath. Then, the next day, her mother took us to a beautiful temple in Fukuoka. And, everywhere we went, the food was phenomenal!
|Kyushu Castle in the snow|
|It was cold and I am the quintessential Floridian|
|Rina and Stephanie at the foot bath|
|Tempura and sushi for lunch? Yes, please.|
|The temple in Fukuoka|
|Stephanie and the unicorn-lion (lionicorn?) at the temple|
And here's some photobooth fun we had with Rina and her friend:
I'll leave you with this word to the wise (and follow up to my sketchy hostel comment): If you ever find yourself in Fukuoka, don't stay at the Aloha House Hostel. Seriously. Just don't do it. Even if there are no other options. You'd be better off passing the night at the local Denny's (which, for the record, are super fancy in Japan but still open all night and willing to let you chill indefinitely as long as you keep ordering coffee), a tact which we seriously considered after a very frustrating hour spent talking to the boss and a good look around.