Saturday, February 28, 2015

Busan and Fukuoka Trip - DAY #3 "Ohori Park"

Ohori Park

After sleeping on a ferry floor and on a computer room chair, it was nice to finally wake up in a bed for once. Fresh hotel room. Freedom from work. And exploration in a new country. Life felt great.

Points of Interest:
Nakasu, Ohori Park, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka Castle Ruins, Maizuru Park, Gokoku Shrine, Nishijin, Fukuoka Tower, Robosquare, Nishijin Shopping Arcade 

Monday, Feb 16th - Fukuoka, Japan

It was time for breakfast... or brunch actually since it was kinda' late. We decided to try Mos Burger, a famous Japanese burger chain. Actually, they have many of these in Korea, but I have yet to try it.

A super clean fast food place: a rarity in Korea.

In fast food places in Japan, the staff actually serves the food to your table.

The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was damn delicious.

Before heading out, I sent a message to Mikako, that girl that I met in the club yesterday. I asked her if she wanted to meet. She didn't respond right away.

And then my friend and I were off to Ohori Park!

Got my all-day subway pass! It was about five bucks.

After a few stops, we had arrived at Ohori Park Station

Instantly, you can feel the vastness of the lake. I felt alive. 

Such beautiful scenery.

Vending machines seem to be everywhere in Japan, even more so than in Korea. The name piqued my interest so much, I just had to try it.

It tasted kinda' like a syrupy coke but had a clearish gold color. It wasn't bad. But not normal.

Across the bridge were a chain of small islands...

On the opposite end of the bridge.

Yeah, we like taking pictures on walkways. lol

And yet another bridge.

An unreachable island. 

Random historical building by the lake.

There was a nice path to walk surrounding the lake.

Our next destination was the Fukuoka Art Museum, but it was closed! I often go to museums, but forgot the golden rule; museums are closed on Mondays.

As we were exiting the park, we noticed a cat sitting there looking at us. Soon, we noticed several more cats and realized we were by some cat colony.

We went through the trees and discovered this...

This would probably be really creepy looking at night.

It's hard to make out, but in the distance, the cats' caretaker is giving them food.

The next stop was the Fukuoka Castle Ruins but we got side-tracked by this neighborhood...

To Japanese people, this neighborhood (which I would later find out was called "Jonai") must be so mundane. But to us, it was so novel. It's incredibly rare to find standalone houses and lawns in Korea as most people live in buildings and high-rises. Also, the houses had a sort of quaint Japanese charm to them.

Finally, we made our way to the Fukuoka Castle Ruins...

Unfortunately, the castle has been long gone and what remains are pathways leading to nowhere.

It's quite a shame as Japanese castles look amazing...

A picture taken from the internet.

Maizuru Park (where the ruins sits on) did give us a good view of Fukuoka Tower.

One of the few structures that did remain was this sort of watching post...

 I felt like I was in ancient Japan.

We made our way down to head to Gokoku Shrine...

Just across this bridge and across the street.

We had arrived.

Like everything in Japan, it looked so new and so clean. It looked as if it was just painted yesterday.

We went inside. Actually, we were not supposed to go inside, but there were no signs indicating not to enter.

Eventually, some holy man inside spotted us and kicked us out. It was a bit embarrassing but at least I was able to get these nice shots.

Some nearby sake barrels!

At this point, we had limited time and two options; we could go to the nearby Korokan Historical Museum or go straight to Robosquare near Fukuoka Tower. We decided on the latter.

So then we were off to the subway station.

Passed by this waterless pond.
Another part of Ohori Park.

Back to the subway station...

We arrived at Nishijin Station.

Finally, we were here. The problem was that our legs were so tired from walking around so much. Additionally, the museums and towers were not next to the station. So we bit the bullet and took a cab.

Fukuoka Tower!

The area felt a bit different than other parts in Japan. It was sparsely filled with several large buildings rather than many smaller ones. There were also a few modern-looking school buildings around and many school children around.

A very modern-looking hospital.

 This was the first high-rise apartment complex that I saw. These aren't common in Japan but everywhere in Korea.

We thought this may be Robosquare. However, the woman in the lobby directed us to adjacent building...

Finally, we made it to Robosquare...

The camera has face recognition and can add a digital costume of your choosing...


The robot spoke or moved based on your spoken commands. But we couldn't pronounce Japanese words well. lol

The staff was really friendly and actually spoke English. The place was more like a store rather than the museum I was hoping for. Also, there were no humanoid robots which I really wanted to see. Regardless, it was still an interesting visit and another very Japanesey experience.

At this point, we were hungry and needed to rest. The building had a food court. Unfortunately, we couldn't find one advertised Japanese restaurant and an interesting bento box place was closing for the day.

So we finally caved in...

A Big Mac and a Quarter Pounder!

It's always my goal to see how different McDonald's is in every country. Like Mos Burger, they brought the food to our table. Portion-wise, the drink was small like Korea but the fries were plentiful like in America.

As for the taste? It was salty as hell. And they added some kinda' light pepper or spice to the meat.

At this point, we were supposed to head up Fukuoka Tower, but the sky wasn't clear thus hindering the view. We decided to save it for tomorrow.

We headed towards the nearby Fukuoka City Museum, but it was closed! And not because it was Monday but because the closing time had passed.

Next, we had another neighborhood to explore, but we were exhausted and needed to rest.

So naturally, we went for karaoke!

Tiny room, but it was good enough. And they had a really extensive menu that we didn't order from. lol.

Just getting this room was a big test of my Japanese abilities. And it wasn't just asking the price and time. Apparently in Japan, you can't just go into a karaoke room. You have to fill out a form (entirely in Japanese) and signup for a membership card. But after a few minutes, we were in...

Japanese karaoke was amazing! And it should be since they invented it, and it's Japan. The sound system was much better than Korean singing rooms. And they had an amazing selection of English and Korean songs. Also, you used this cool touchpad to select songs whereas Korea has a simple remote control button pad.

Total price was like $5 each for an hour. It was a good way to refresh ourselves for the next area of sightseeing.

Night came, and it was the perfect time to see the illuminated streets of the Nishijin Shopping Arcade.

These back streets made me feel like I was in the back streets of Korea with it's narrow pathways and endless neon lights. Due to the cleanliness of everything, it felt like an artificial model of Korea.

An "American" restaurant. Also the first time I saw an American flag on my trip. Really cool.

In another life, I would have taught English in Japan.

Absolutely ridiculous name. I just had to take a pic.

Daiso is everywhere in Korea so I had to visit the Japanese one. It had pretty much the same products, but the store was more compact like a Chinatown store. Korean Daiso is more spacious like Walgreens.

A pachinko parlor!
There were at least a half dozen of these mega parlors on one stretch of the street.

Tons of machines. It was very loud and bright inside. All the players looked hypnotized by their machines. Also, no one wore a smile; they all seem kinda' tired and depressed. It was a weird sight to see.

For a truly Japanese experience, I wanted to play one. Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as dropping a coin into the machine and playing one game. From what I could tell, you had to register a playing card and deposit money onto that card. And you couldn't just play one game; you had to play a set.

It was too complicated so I left without my pachinko gaming experience.

Probably for the better.

Anyways, it was time for dinner and to try authentic Japanese ramen!

Inside the restaurant. We sat at a bar area. I wish I could have taken a shot of the whole restaurant.

It was hard to communicate with the chef and to read the menu. We just wanted to eat any Japanese ramen. He was very nice though and suggested to us "normal ramen". It was so good and so cheap. Under $4.

At the bar sitting next to us were these two girls that kept on staring at us. Apparently, our whole awkward conversation with the chef caught their attention. And when girls in Japan stare, they REALLY stare but at least with a smile.

Anyways, we tried to start a conversation with them and found out they actually spoke some English! It wasn't really the best conversation in the world, but it was fun. We also found out they were actually Chinese but raised in Japan. We probably spent a good half hour or so in that restaurant, trying to convince them to hangout with us. But it was not successful. lol.

We ended the day going back to our neighborhood Nakasu and walked around.

The rain gave the streets an illuminated glow. It was beautiful.

We decided to get some snacks at 7-11 (there are many in Japan) and retire to our hotel room. An interesting thing is when you buy alcohol in Japan, at the counter you must press "yes" on their touchpad to confirm that you are of legal drinking age.

Our hotel lobby. Gorgeous.

I got this orange-flavored Suntory beer with convenience store sushi. Both were excellent.

I have no idea what flavor this was supposed to be but the smell really stunk up our room. As for the taste; it was strong but edible.

Despite our failed plans to visit Fukuoka Tower and two museums, it was still a very productive and memorable day. Later that night, I finally received a message from Mikako.

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