Friday, 23 May 2014

Fukuoka Visa Run: Day 5

Today we went to the other side of where we were staying, and explored the Momochi area! It looks like a pretty touristy area, with lots of big, expensive hotels (including an absolutely ridiculous-looking Hilton). Unsurprising considering it's right next to the seaside and two of Fukuoka's big tourist traps: the Yahoo! Stadium and Fukuoka Tower.

Again, it was only about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The weather was gorgeous, and as we got closer to the beach, it all suddenly got very... Mediterranean?

Having skipped breakfast, our main prerogative was to find food. After circling the small shopping area, utilising our usual trick of "can we see any romaji?", we settled on a little restaurant-cum-grocery store, where we were drawn in by two salesmen with calls of "IRASSHAI" and "JAPANESE DONATSU!"

The lady inside, whom I assume was the owner, was very lovely despite claiming to not know much English, calling over one of her younger assistants when my stumbling Japanese proved to be less than useful for ordering food.

Being by the seaside, I started channelling my Iwatobi feels and ordered a mackerel meal set, while Nick went for Miso Buta. Mm, buta.

[More after the jump!]

The interesting thing about Japanese food is that it always looks like very little but fills you up PERFECTLY. I never feel painfully stuffed after a meal, but I'm never left feeling hungry, and I'll remain in such a state for hours.

At some point, owner-lady (I think) asked me if I knew there was a fork and spoon to use, and I said I was okay. She (again, I think) complimented me on my chopstick skills, how very flattering! I promptly denied it with the best of my anime-derived Japanese and got a wonderful smile. Everyone in Fukuoka is so smiley. I feel so comfortable.

We went to take a stroll around the beach, but as we were leaving I wanted to buy a Japanese doughnut (ftr, it's very much like a Filipino binangkal, without the sesame seeds. For those that don't's like a cookie with fluffy doughnut inside?) Anyway, as my doughnut was being packed up, I spotted a distinctive cooking range in the back.

"Takoyaki desu ka?"
"Hai, takoyaki desu."

Cue excitement.

Now totally stuffed, it was time to climb Fukuoka Tower. At 234m tall, it's the tallest seaside tower in Japan. With a Fukuoka Tourist brochure I'd picked up at the airport, we got 20% off the already very reasonable entry fee, and went up.

One floor out of the three observation decks has been designated an official "Lovers' Sanctuary", whereupon you can buy a cute little padlock and attach it to a row of bars a lot like the Pont de l'Archevêché in France. There's also an adorable archway decorated with flowers, where it suggests you stand in the middle, holding hands with your partner. Each of you then touches a small silver heart on either side, and together you complete a circuit which makes a bell ring and music play. It's all very cutesy and adorable, and I'd expect nothing less from a Japanese date location such as this.

Each of the observation decks lets you walk all the way round, giving you 360˚ views of Fukuoka and the surrounding area, as well as lots of little games and attractions, such as the Fukuoka Tower shrine. I imagine this is aimed more at children (mainly due to the fact it's VERY low to the ground), but for ¥100 and the promise of a fortune actually written in English, I couldn't really resist.

I'm not entirely sure of the tradition that goes with tying a fortune to a string with hundreds of others, but we tied Nick's up and prayed for good luck with our visas. Convenient that a lot of the shrines here are dedicated to gods of travel and diplomacy.

After that, there wasn't much left to do, and we'd probably taken enough photos to make a full 360˚ panorama, so we decided to leave. One of the observation floors is in fact a restaurant, with really tasty-sounding food, but it looked mostly like western dishes such as pasta, and a few cakes. Seeing as we were already full, we carried on down the tower.

There's a great little shop in the lobby, full of weird and wonderful things, but my eye was caught by the really weird Attack on Titan merchandise, and the creepy-looking yet abundant Kumamon. There's all kinds of strange and interesting foods, but due to a lack of suitcase space and in the interest of saving our budget, we passed.

We grabbed some unusual ice creams from one of the vending machines outside before moving on to our final destination: Robocentre.


We had so much fun we actually forgot to take more photos. It's a little (free entry!) exhibition of how robotics is coming along. Most of the robots there were just varying degrees of AI, mostly for the purpose of companionship or education, so one example was a cute Pixar-esque droid that can hold a conversation (in Japanese, alas) to keep senior citizens company. The staff at Robocentre were all very kind and friendly, and all spoke a good degree of English. We went close to closing time, so there weren't many people there which gave us a very personalised and attentive experience.

The best bit was an AIBO, a much newer model than the robot puppy I lusted over in my childhood, but just as cute.

Unfortunately, the robots all spoke Japanese rather than English. Meaning they could only understand Japanese commands. That's okay, we had a cheat sheet and I know a couple of words and phrases, right?

Wrong. After a couple of failed attempts, the lady attending to us gave a small laugh before apologising and explaining that AIBO couldn't understand my Japanese because my accent was "too cute" for it.
There you go kids, don't learn your Japanese from shoujo anime. Pah.

Finally we headed home and OH isn't Fukuoka a pretty city?

(On the right, just above the white car, that's the Korean Consulate compound!)
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