Friday, March 30, 2007

VISA Run to Fukuoka, Japan... part III: March 12th

I slept in a little and then got ready to go to the Korean Consulate. The Consulate is very near the Fukuoka Dome (for baseball) near Toujinmachi station (6 stops from Hakata Station, where my hotel was). I was getting close and then remembered that my recruiter said in a message that I had to have 60000 Won (Korean money) for the processing fees. I thought that was a bit strange, being that it was in Japan, not Korea. I had that much in my hotel in an envelope but had forgotten to grab it so I went back. It was a waste of money to go back as they don't accept Korean money, of course. The subway trip is 250Yen each way (~US$2.11, CA$2.45).
On the way back there were a couple of guys on the train that were also heading to the consulate. Every day, there are many people going to Japan to get VISAs for Korea. As it was almost 11 by the time we got to Toujinmachi, we shared a cab to the consulate. Not a cheap method of transportation there, but it was fast enough to get us there before they shut the gates for the 1.5/2 hour lunch break. There weren't many people actually at the consulate so it was fairly quick once we were there. The guys had only arrived that morning and had not even stopped to check into the hotel yet, and were a bit tired. I think neither of them had slept the night before.We went for lunch at a little Italian restaurant near the Dome and then they headed back to Hakata Station to check into the hotel and get some rest (it seems that most people that go to Fukuoka for their VISA run end up staying in that hotel). I decided to do some more walking and sightseeing. My first stop was Ohori Park, one station from Toujinmachi. I walked, of course, as to go one stop on the train would have cost me 200Yen!!!Ohori park is quite large and is basically a huge man made lake with a park through the middle and around the edges.At one end, there are HUGE koi and other such fish. There were so many of them it would be nearly impossible to count them all. People were feeding them, so there was also a huge flock of seagulls and pigeons. They kept trying to scare the birds away, though, as the food was meant for the fish.[The birds started flying as just as I took the picture. They had been all on the water.][This might give you an idea of the size of the fish. That wasn't even one of the biggest ones!]I watched them for a while before heading along through the park that split the lake in two (the first part is a huge bridge, though, not actually park). Along the way, I was a bit confused by the signs. Fishing is allowed only in certain areas of the lake.Along the park, there are signs saying fishing/no fishing, no fishing/fishing, fishing/no fishing, etc. What difference does it make, really?
There were huge ravens all over as well as the pigeons and gulls.On a small island in the lake (not accessable), there were also some massive birds. I'm not sure what all of them were, but I know some were herons (on the ground and in the water on the left).
Once across, I tried to go to a Japanese garden that was shown on my map, but the gates were closed. The Fukuoka Art Museum was also closed, due to the fact that it was Monday (I was later told). So I headed on to the Gokoku Shrine.The Gokoku Shrine covers a very large area. Most of it is just open space. The meaning of Gokoku is something along the lines of guardian of the State. Where I was standing to take this picture is on a big tarmac. Beyond the gate is a huge grassy area with a wide gravel path leading all the way to the building. There is also a gravel path intersecting that one.ALL of the gravel is kept raked (there is a lot of it). The lines in the gravel basically followed the edges; running the entire length of the paths, for example. In this pic, I am standing on the steps of the building. There is a set of lines going around the building and then the other ones follow the edge of grassy area.
From there I went to the Fukuoka Castle Ruins and Maizuru Park.At the ruins there isn't much to see other than very high fortress like sides with gardens of different types of flowers and trees on the different levels - plum tree garden, cherry tree garden, azalea garden, iris garden, etc.Some of the trees around the place are MASSIVE!!! There is a woman standing beside the tree in the picture (front right), to give you an idea of its size.
At one of the higher levels of the Castle, (the sign for the area said the Tamon Tower courtyard), there is a very long building along the edge but I'm not sure if it is part of the original Castle or not, as it looks fairly new. Maybe it was re-built?There is only one very old looking building on the other side (the Kinen Tower).When I finally tired of walking around the ruins, I went to Tenjin Station (2 stops away) which is supposed to be a very good shopping area with underground malls and such. I wandered about for a while and then went for a walk. I decided to try to find the Yanagibashi Market. I didn't find it, but did see quite a bit of the city. By the time I got back to the hotel, I had walked for over 9 hours since the guys had left for the hotel. I was exhausted.
I took advantage of the little bathtub. Even though it was small, it was quite deep - about knee deep on me (I have long legs).
For more info on where to stay in Fukuoka, check out

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