01.01.2014 - 01.01.2014 12 °C
Heading south west on the Shinkansen, we ventured off of Honshū and onto the island of Kyushu, arriving at Fukuoka for a brief stop. The main attraction for heading to Fukuoka was that the guidebook indicated it was one of the best places to eat in Japan, with lantern lit Yatai carts popping up along the river at night.
For the afternoon we wandered around different parts of the city, exploring a couple of temples, including the oldest zen Buddhist temple in Japan founded by the guy who also introduced tea to Japan, then down to Oharu Park to check out the castle ruins. Despite being mid-winter the park grounds were quite nice, however would be spectacular in either spring or autumn with the colors of blossoms or leaves respectively.
We then thought we might explore the shopping district of Tenjin, however as it was New Year's Day pretty much everything was closed, so no luck on making some impulse purchases that afternoon. The discovery of the day though was the Beard Papa's, a little bakery that does custard filled cream puffs, which are competing with Momiji cakes to bemy new favourite desert.
As there was not much else left to explore and our legs were still feeling the stairs of Miyajima, we chilled at the hotel for a bit before heading out to find the Yatai carts after sunset. I am not sure whether New Years impacted, but there were only a handful of carts set up on the river, which I thought there may have been more given the attention they are given in guidebooks. Irrespective, it was an experience worth trying. Around the carts, temporary walls/doors/tarp curtains are assembled and little stools set up for you to sit at around the cart. You need to almost poke your head into each one to see what they serve at their respective carts, which is generally ramen (local version is famous for pork); grilled meats; tempura; or udon. As we were not very hungry, we went for a grilled meat and tempura cart. The tempura ebi (prawn) was excellent, but the grilled chicken was not so much.
After dinner, we wandered around for a bit trying to find a bar where we could have a drink (I was in the mood for a whisky), but failed to find anything open that wasn't a seedy men's club, so we headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Whilst Fukuoka was probably a little underwhelming given my high hopes based on the guidebook, it would be premature to write this place off as not worth visiting as we were here on New Year's Day which is not only a national holiday but also an important date in the Japanese culture, so we did not get to see the city in full swing. Definitely worth another visit should the opportunity arise.