|Entrance gate to the Dazaifu Tenman-gū with a "Happy New Year" message on the banner.|
The first thing I did was get something to eat; a long line had formed outside one of the many food shops. I realized that they were all selling essentially the same thing: rice cakes made with ume, or Japanese plum (梅, and 매실 in Korean). But I got into the longest line, because if there's one thing I know about street food, it's that long lines means a worthwhile wait.
|Me in front of the main shrine at Dazaifu Tenman-gū.|
|These talismans are for writing down your wish. It's the 26th year of the current emporer, and also the Year of the Horse on the East Asian zodiac!|
|Torii, sacred gates.|
I ended up on a hiking trail that wound through the hills and passed a very small theme park complete with a rollercoaster, a racing track, empty stalls, and very creepy carnival music playing despite there being almost no guests in the park. I almost wanted to stumble upon a Spirited Away-esque adventure.
The Kyushu National Museum was also located next to the shrine, but I wasn't feeling it, so I took the trains back to central Fukuoka, got very lost in the underground shopping malls, and finally met Erik at a Starbucks. He took me on a quick tour of the Things To Do in Fukuoka, including eating ramen at a yatai (which are very much like the ubiquitous Korean food carts, 포장마차, but apparently are only found in Fukuoka in Japan), being solicited (...) in Nakasu, and shopping at the Tokyu Hands department store, the Don Quijote everything-store, and the various chikagai (underground shopping centers). It was a long evening after a long day, and I was tired but happy when I finally went to sleep. And that was Day 1 in Japan!
|Steaming, umami-licious ramen from a yatai. At this particular booth we made the acquaintance of a Japanese-American and her Taiwanese-American boyfriend who studied at Berkeley. Small world.|