Tuesday, March 20, 2007

VISA Run to Fukuoka, Japan... part II: March 11th

I had planned to get up a little bit early in order to do a lot of sightseeing, since I would only be there a few days. I did let myself sleep in a little, though, and didn't get up until 9:30. I went down to the little restaurant for my complimentary breakfast. A Japanese breakfast. I am NOT a big fan of Japanese food. Almost everything is fish or seafood of some sort.Breakfast consisted of [clockwise from top left]: rice (of course), sauteed mushrooms and veggies (kinda good, actually), fermented mung beans with oil and mustard (just tasted like rotten who knows what), plain tofu (I did eat that, with some soy sauce), 2 pieces of fried egg (the little rectangles), some sort of fish egg, shredded dried seaweed, yellow something or other (maybe candied ginger?), a huge chunk of fish, and a bit of bean paste soup (slightly fishy but not so much that I couldn't eat it). Since I don't usually eat much to begin with, what I was able to eat was enough.
After I ate I headed back to my room to get ready to go out for a day of wandering about.
My plan was to go to Gion Station to wander about the area, as the map shows several temples and what not there. I wasn't sure what the distance was between stations, but since it was only one station away, decided to just walk and find out. They aren't too far apart, so it only took about 10 minutes to get there. I'm not even sure how many temples and shrines I went to, as I know I saw more than what is shown on my little map. I love Buddhist temples and shrines. The structures are always so beautiful, and I love the little gardens and such as well.
I also did a little bit of shopping (or looking) every time I found any sort of shopping street.I think the covered shopping streets are a great idea. They are easier to keep clean and don't have to worry about covering things when it rains. Behind one of the covered shopping streets was a small river/canal, of which there are several in the city.
I was looking for a folk museum that is mentioned on the map, and wasn't sure where to look, so I kept walking and ended up at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.

Tserennadmidin Tsegtmed, 1958-
oil on canvas
The Orkhon River is 1123 km in length and flows through the eastern Khangai ranges of Mongolia. The scene depicted here shows an actual site, the Red Falls on the upper reaches of the river. These falls are highly revered by Mongolians, whose grassy plains do not contain many waterfalls. Tsegmed is known for his depiction of the lively exchange between nature and people in Mongolia. The primary theme of this work lies on the sublime power of nature long revered by Mongolians. Similarities can be found between the artist's expression in this painting and the feminine lines of the traditional Buddhist figures unique to Mongolia.

I spent some time there, and quite enjoyed it. I had walked quite a ways past the museum I had been looking for, and so started to make my way back the way I came. On the way, I stopped for lunch at a fairly large bakery/cafe.
I was very pleased with my sandwich and mocha. :)
I did manage to find the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum. There do several demonstrations there at different times. The ones I saw were Hakata-ori textile weaving (which I got to try) and Hakata doll making. Hakata is a district of Fukuoka, and at one time, I think, was a merchant town.
After the museums, I checked out a couple more temples before heading back to the hotel. The clouds were starting to roll in and it was getting a bit cold. The last temple I wandered around, the Shofukuji Temple, seemed deserted; I didn't see a single person (and it was a huge temple!).
Note: I'll put up some pics of the temples in another post.

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