Friday, November 30, 2012

Eating in Hakata, Fukuoka

Along with the shrines and temples, Hakata is also famous for its food stalls. These outside restaurants have become pretty rare in other parts of Japan, but thanks to strict food safety laws, they are still thriving in Hakata.

There are 3 major zones of food stalls in Hakata - near Nakasu (the red light district of Hakata), near Tenjin, and near Nagahama. I went to the ones near Tenjin.

If you do decide to go to the food stalls, find one that's fairly busy. Find one that is clearly following the laws: (1) the menu should be clearly visible, and (2) no raw food is allowed to be served as a main dish (so no salads, sashimi, etc).  Even if the menu is in Japanese, as long as you find a good stall you should be OK - the locals will be more than happy to help you chose what looks good.


These food stalls in Tenjin are very easy to find, since they are in front of major department stores.  I ended up going to the same stall for two straight nights since the regulars were really kind and the food was fantastic.

Naka-chan, in front of Hakata Takashimaya

The stall is surrounded on three sides with benches, so while making room for other customers, I ended up being surrounded by the locals.  They gave me a lot of advice, such as that Naka-chan has large portions (so always ask for a half serving) and which dishes are yummy.  And yes, I had my fill of shochu!

Mentaiko and egg

Oden
Fishballs and other surimi products are originally from Kyushu.  The locals especially urged me to try "Gyoza-maki" (yep, a gyoza wrapped in surimi)

Being seated near locals meant that they shared their dishes with me.  Yum yum! 

 Horumon Yaki (stir fried pork intestines)

Yamaimo Teppan yaki
Ground Yamaimo grilled like a pancake, similar but fluffier than an okonomiyaki

A view inside Naka-chan's counter

I thought it hilarious to see a huge neon sign for "Ukon no Chikara" ("the power of cumin"). This drink is said to relieve hangovers - how fitting to put a neon sign right near the bars!

All of the major areas of Hakata are quite close to each other - I could walk from my hotel to Tenjin, passing through Nakasu. Here is a view of the Nakasu food stalls.


 Hakata is also famous for pork bone soup ramen. It surprises me that most Westerners now consider pork bone soup to be the only soup for ramen - it was not that popular in Japan until a few years ago. Ippudo, which also has stores in the US, started in Hakata.

And yes, I went to Ramen Stadium in Canal City (a shopping center) to eat my ramen.


The ramen was yummy, but honestly, I can get good pork bone soup ramen in Kobe now. On the other hand, I had a blast at the food stalls!! 

I'm finally done with my trip to Hakata. Hope you enjoyed my trip as much as I did!

xoxo, K

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Welcome to Dazaifu Tenmangu, where students go to pray

On my way back from Nagasaki, I went to Dazaifu.

One of the major attractions of Dazaifu is Dazaifu Tenmangu, a shrine built over the grave of Sugawara no Michizane.  It is considered the most major shrine in Japan dedicated to schoolwork and better grades. 

January, February and March are the major seasons for entrance exams in Japan, so there were a lot of students coming to pray.
There was a HUGE space to buy lucky charms - a sign that this place becomes PACKED.

I was in city during the annual Sumo games in Fukuoka. The Fukuoka games are known for being very supportive of locally born professional sumo wrestlers. These flags with local sumo wrestler's names on them were prominently displayed in Dazaifu.


 My last post about my trip to Kyushu is coming up - the food post!

xoxo, K

Monday, November 26, 2012

Welcome to Nagasaki - Oura Church, Glover Garden, and Chinatown

Another thing that Nagasaki has been famous for is the influence it had as a major port city. Nagasaki received lots of foreign trade, manly Portuguese, from the 15th century. For example, Nagasaki is famous for Kasutera, which is a Japanese cake of Portuguese origin.

Because of this, many Portuguese missionaries came to Nagasaki. Combined with the distance from Tokyo, there was a large resistance to the ban on Christianity that existed in Japan from the mid-17th century. Even after intense persecution led to the 26 Martyrs being executed, Christians formed underground communities, worshiping for 200 years in secrecy.


Soon after the ban on Christianity was lifted, Bishop Petitjean built the Oura Church. It is said that after opening this church, he met with a group of people who had been worshiping in secrecy. Pope Pius IX declared that the continuity of Christianity under 200 years of persecution was "the miracle of the Orient". Oura Church is now a designated national treasure of Japan.

Next to Oura Church is the Glover Gardens. The Glover Gardens are another example of the Ijinkan (designated foreigners' residence), similar to the one in Kobe.

The view from the top was quite beautiful. You can see that similar to Kobe and Yokohama, Nagasaki is still a robust port town.


I later went to Chinatown. Along with Kobe and Yokohama, Nagasaki Chinatown is considered one of the 3 major Chinatowns in Japan.

Going to Nagasaki Chinatown = eat Chanpon.  Chanpon is a noodle soup which is different from ramen in that the noodles are cooked in the soup. Chanpon is a regional specialty of Nagasaki.

Nagasaki Chinatown is quite small, though. Yokohama Chinatown is a huge city with a thriving Chinese community, but Nagasaki is really a tourist area with lots of good thing to eat.

Next up, my visit to Dazaifu!

xoxo, K

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly Reads #86: November 24, 2012

Recently, I noticed that one of my favorite bloggers had returned to blogging after a break. Excited of her return, I went over to her blog to read... a post reviewing a product with no connection with what the blog was about. "Sponsored post!", it screamed to me, before I saw the disclaimer at the end.
I know there is nothing wrong with writing sponsored posts. As long as there is disclaimer, I should be fine with seeing a blog post that was paid for. I also realize that for some people, income generated from blogging is essential in helping them make ends meet.
I don't really understand why I was slightly upset about this. I have read tons of sponsored posts and have never felt quite like this. Perhaps it is because the product had nothing to do with the blog. Perhaps it is because I had just read another blog reviewing the same product. I don't really understand, especially since I too have reviewed products that were sent to me.

While I mill over that in my mind, please take a look at the blog posts which I did enjoy!
 
What were your favorite posts this week? 

Connect with me! I love chatting and connecting with people, and sharing interesting stuff around the web!

You can also subscribe to Cosmeddicted through the feedemail, or Bloglovin!

xoxo, K

Friday, November 23, 2012

Welcome to Nagasaki Peace Park

While I was in Hakata, I decided to take a day trip to Nagasaki. Nagasaki is famous in Japan for quite a few things - mostly for being the site of the second nuclear bombing during World War II, and for being a major port city from the 16th century.

If you take the Shinkansen from Hakata, be sure to sit in the "A" seat (window seat on the left hand side) so that you'll see this beautiful view of Ariake sea. Ariake is known for producing the highest quality nori, although it suffers from increased pollution in recent years.


The major mode of transportation in Nagasaki is the street car system.

As I mentioned before, Nagasaki was the site of the second nuclear bombing of Japan during World War II.  Because of the historical importance of this city, many high school students go to Nagasaki on school trips. I met quite a few while I was there.

If you look at this statue's face, you can see that his features are distinctly Japanese.


There are several stories about people suffering from thirst immediately after the atomic bomb, due to the intense radiation. This fountain is a memory to those people.

This monument shows the "Ground Zero" of the bomb. 

There are also a few museums in the surrounding area, with artifacts showing the impact of the bomb.  If you have a chance to come to Nagasaki, please come and visit this area!

xoxo, K

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Welcome to Hakata, Fukuoka - Sumiyoshi Shrine and Ohori Park

Continuing my trip in Hakata, I next went to Sumiyoshi Shrine. Along with Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka and Sumiyoshi Shrine in Shimonoseki city, this shrine is considered one of the 3 major Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan.

Because I went during Shichi-Go-San, there were lots of families having their children blessed. Shichi-Go-San is a festival for children to celebrate their growth.



I next went to Ohori Park. This park was once the outer moat for Fukuoka Castle (which no longer exists), and is basically a huge lake with some small islands in the middle.

It was just amazing to see this huge body of water in the middle of a major city!

This bridge takes you to 2 small islands in the middle of the lake.

There were many people running along the outer edge of the lake, including students in sports teams. The track was probably around 3 km.  I would run every day along that track if I could!

Next up - my trip to Nagasaki!

xoxo, K

Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome to Hakata, Fukuoka - Temple & Shrine hopping!

Many of my readers may know that Japan is an island country, with 4 major islands. I had never gone to Kyushu, the southern most island, so I recently took a few days off to go there.

Hakata (博多) is the last stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. On the map, this area is called Fukuoka city, Fukuoka Prefecture, but it is historically known as Hakata city.

I went by Shinkansen (the high speed bullet train), but if you are going from Tokyo, going by airplane is much faster and usually much cheaper.  Fukuoka airport is a short subway ride from Hakata station.
Hakata Station

I stayed in an area with several temples and shrines.  I first went to Kushida Shrine, which is the center of Yamakasa festival, one of the most important festivals in Hakata.




I then went to Shofukuji temple, which was built in 1195, making it the oldest Zen temple in Japan.  The grounds are designated as a national historical monument.



This golden Buddha is not open for general public viewing, but can be seen through the windows of the main temple.

I then went to Tochoji temple, which houses a carved wooden Bhudda.



These three are all in walking distance of each other. The weather was pretty bad, but I still enjoyed the walk. Autumn is definitely the best time to travel in Japan!

Next up - a few more landmarks of Hakata!

xoxo, K

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Reads #85: November 17, 2012

Finally, finally, my winter clothes arrived through customs. My parents were nice enough to send me a few sweaters that I had left at their house when I moved out. I had been out in a thin hoodie, so I was SOOO grateful for the thick clothes which arrived!

What were your favorite posts this week? 

Connect with me! I love chatting and connecting with people, and sharing interesting stuff around the web!

You can also subscribe to Cosmeddicted through the feedemail, or Bloglovin!

xoxo, K

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Welcome to Fushimi Inari Taisha, home of 1000 toriis

In many train stations in Japan, you'll find great pictures of different locations around Japan, enticing you to visit them. One of the most famous, and most impressive of those pictures is the scene below.


This is Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, which has been around since the 8th century AD.
 It is the head shrine of Inari, which is a Japanese god of fertility, industry, and other things. The other thing this place is famous for is for its 1000 torii (red gates).

One of the key characteristics of Inari worship is the significance of foxes (kitsune), regarded as messengers of Inari. Statues of foxes can be found throughout Inari shrines, in locations usually reserved for other animals.

This shrine is actually a set of shrines built on a mountain. At the bottom of the mountain is the main shrine.  There is a path through the mountain, passing through several smaller shrines and thousands of private worship areas.

One thing many tourists, including most Japanese people, do not realize is that if you want to go through the entire shrine, it is a 2.5 hour mountain hike!


Entrance of Fushimi Inari Taisha

Kitsune figures can be seen throughout the shrine

Gate to the main shrine

In other Japanese shrines, the entrance to a shrine is guarded by dogs. In Inari shrines, they are guarded by kitsune (foxes). 

The left hand one is the female.

The right hand one is the male.

The red gates start...

Here is the inner entrance... and the hiking begins.


The map clearly states that this is a 2.5 hour long mountain hike, but most people do not stop to read the map before starting out.

Up...

And up...

There are small shrines along the way

And smaller places where people can privately worship.


The kitsune are everywhere!


Finally at the top!
(It seriously did take me about 2 hours to get to the top. Then, of course, you need to get down)

It was a good, long hike. Definitely wear layers, bring water, and bring some candy for a quick burst of energy. I would also advise not going in the middle of summer or winter because the weather in Kyoto can become quite extreme.

Notice the writing on the torii (red gates)? They are only visible from the back side. These are the names of the companies/individuals who contributed money for each torii. There is a separate price for the different sizes.

Hope you enjoyed this overview of Fushimi Inari Taisha, the head shrine of Inari and home of the 1000 torii gates. If you do decide to visit when you come to Kyoto, remember to be prepared for the 2.5 hour mountain hike!

xoxo, K

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