My cycling adventure in Itoshima had delayed my departure from there until the afternoon and left me very tired, to the point that I nearly fell asleep on the train ride to Fukuoka. When I arrived in downtown Fukuoka I had a little under half an hour before my hostel was open for people to check-in, so I walked over to the nearby Canal City shopping mall to do some work on my phone while I waited. The sunburns I had received hours earlier in Itoshima still felt fresh and I made sure to take a seat in the shade. Like that short period of time I spent at Canal City, my visit to Fukuoka was just a stopover. I had less than 24 hours in the city and then I’d be gone.
Once the proper time came I walked to the hostel to check in and unload my stuff. Normally I would have just dropped off my backpack at the hostel before the check-in time and gone sightseeing for an hour or two, but this time I was in no shape for that, hence why I sat around Canal City earlier. I really needed to rest and clean up. Right after getting my bed I took a shower, both to wash myself off and to assess the burns on me. Patches of my neck, face, and arms had gotten cooked but thankfully nothing looked serious and my skin wasn’t even red. My burns were warm, but weren’t itchy or painful, so I guess I dodged a bullet that time. I also rinsed out the shirt I had been wearing on the bike ride in Itoshima. After doing all that and prepping my bed I finally felt like I had largely recovered and was ready to head out. It was already evening at that point so I’d just be doing a short bit of exploring the neighborhood.
I spent my evening in the downtown part of Fukuoka near the Naka River. The city lights grew brighter as the sunlight grew dim. I gathered some photos of the area along the river and tried my best to take in the sights of the city. At one point a small tour boat passed by with a guy playing a saxophone for the people on the boat. For whatever reason this reminded me of a friend of mine who used to play the saxophone. Toward the southern end of Nakasu Island I passed by a stretch of Yatai stands that were being set up and accepting their first groups of patrons. Yatai are open-air food stands that only seat a small number of people and are something of a symbol of the city. None of the stalls that were open caught my interest, but if I were visiting Fukuoka with a friend (and if I actually spoke Japanese) I probably would have given one of them a try since they looked like good social environments. Later, however, I did try something new for dinner in that I visited MOS Burger, a place that I had seen in several cities across Japan but hadn’t gotten around to eating at. My burger had some sort of sauce that had onions in it, and while I don’t like onions the sauce completely masked the onions and I hardly noticed them. For a drink I had melon soda, which is green and has a flavor that I can’t quite describe. While eating I watched the trailer for Star Wars: Episode 8. If only I knew back then what I know now about that movie. On my way back to the hostel after dinner I stopped by a Family Mart to buy a few things for breakfast the next day. I could have gone to a number of other convenience stores and gotten the same stuff but I had never been to a Family Mart before so it was time for me to finally patronize them. Back at the hostel I wound down the day and got ready for a comparatively early bedtime. It was just after 9:00pm when I lay down for the night and it wouldn’t take long for me to fall asleep.
The next day was a fairly quiet and simple goodbye to Japan. I loaded my backpack up and after breakfast I left it at the hostel’s front desk while I went out for the rest of the morning. The city metro brought me to the Ohori Park where I’d spend my last bit of sightseeing time before leaving Fukuoka. It was a bright, sunny day but I stuck to the shade whenever possible to help my sunburns heal. On the plus side I knew the good weather meant I wasn’t in danger of my afternoon flight being cancelled. I walked across a stone bridge to the islands in the middle of Ohori Park and then made my way over to a vermillion pavilion that juts out into the lake. The pavilion is a popular spot for wedding photos in the city and it was there that I finally fixed a problem with my camera that I’d noticed the previous day. While I had been doing a good job of keeping the lens clean, I had utterly failed to be as studious with my camera’s sensor and bits of dust and a very tiny hair/thread had gotten on it over the preceding days and weeks of travel. If you’ve been looking at the photos in previous travelogue posts you may have noticed spots and blemishes on the images and I apologize for this oversight. While at the vermillion pavilion I got the hair/thread off the sensor and also cleaned off some of the spots, though not quite all of them. After coming home from Asia I bought a proper kit to clean my camera’s sensor and I’ll be sure to bring it on any future journeys. Anyways, I walked around the islands and the eastern half of the lake, and I also passed by Fukuoka’s most popular Starbucks. I don’t know how they acquired this location, but there’s a Starbucks right next to the lake in Ohori Park and the seats facing the lake are rarely vacant.
Right by Ohori Park are the ruins of Fukuoka Castle, which used to be one of the largest castles in Japan. Unlike many other destroyed castles in the country, Fukuoka Castle was not lost to war, fires, or natural disasters. Instead, the castle was torn down during the period after the collapse of the shogunate because it was emblematic of Japan’s feudal past and the new Japanese government wanted to leave that part of history behind them. The foundation stones remain but otherwise the castle has never been rebuilt aside from a few scattered buildings. I walked around the castle grounds for a few minutes and then climbed the stump where the castle keep used to be. From up there you have a half-decent view of the surrounding area, but nothing that I’d call a great view. By the time I was done up there I needed to return to the hostel to get my stuff. If I had more time I would have checked out a few additional places in Fukuoka like Shofukuji Temple and the area around Momochihama Beach, but unfortunately the schedule didn’t allow for that. I said goodbye to the castle and returned to the metro to catch a ride back to the hostel.
With my backpack recovered and once again fully loaded, I left the hostel and walked to Fukuoka’s main train terminal, Hakata Station. From there I’d be taking a train to the airport, but before that I had a final piece of business to attend to. My pocket wifi device, which had faithfully served me during my time in Japan, needed to be mailed back to the company I had rented it from. Thankfully there was a post office close to Hakata Station and after doing a final check of email and some other things I sealed the pocket wifi device in the prepaid envelope I had received when I first got it and then dropped the envelope into a mailbox. Then I went over to Hakata Station and caught my ride. Fukuoka Airport is only five minutes by train from Hakata Station, which is part of the reason I was flying out of Fukuoka instead of another city. I didn’t have any issues with airport security and got my backpack to the gate without incident. My backpack actually comes very close to exceeding the carry-on rules of some airlines, and probably does exceed it in a few cases, but I learned while in Japan and Korea that if I just confidently told the airline staff that I had no luggage to check then they didn’t ask any questions about my backpack. For my flight to Seoul I’d be riding Jin Air, a discount Korean airline. At the gate I snapped a photo of the plane with my phone and then just waited for my departure time.
After almost a month, I was leaving Japan. Sure, I’d be returning to Tokyo at the end of the trip for a few days before flying back to America, but it still felt like I was saying goodbye for good when I got on the plane. One leg of the journey had ended. Another would soon begin when I landed in Korea.