Fukuoka is not the typical city one would be intrigued enough to visit in Japan. Many want Tokyo. Some want Osaka & Kyoto. Others would want Hokkaido.
I came to know Fukuoka through Canadian vlogger Ciaela way before Cebu Pacific opened its hub in the city. Ciaela has always been a genuine fun content creator in Youtube living in and promoting the city to international travellers and foreigners for many years. I learned so many about Japanese culture through her and at some point I felt I already know Fukuoka enough for someone who hasn’t even stepped on the land. And so when Cebu Pacific finally is flying to Fukuoka, I was pumped.
I needed a different view. A lot of things have become so nerve-wracking I wanted to get out and explore. When I am beaten, my amusement about the world dries out. I longed to write to release but I was blocked. To be honest, this is the first time I travelled just because I wanted some sort of I-don’t-give-a-pinch-of-concern-about-anything-in-the-world vacation so I can be in wonder of the world again.
There was no itinerary. I was tempted to make one. When it was a week before the trip, I became so concerned about what we should do in Fukuoka that I gave up and quickly surfed the net. Then I stopped.
If I wanted to calm down then I should not be putting a bar of expectation on this travel. Just wing it, Olive!
And so I winged everything too much that I ALMOST missed my flight. I was still on the road one hour or so before my flight. My friend was so worried that she simultaneously did one task after the other in the airport to make sure I only need to run off straight to boarding gate if ever I can get in time. Well. I came at the last second, still needed to check in my seat, pulled out a bag of underwear so the luggage can be squeezed in and raced through the boarding area looking for our gate. We made it! I winged it – literally.
Fukuoka is the fifth biggest and populated cities in Japan. Nicely located in the southern part of the country and only a ferry from Busan, we initially thought of travelling as well to South Korea and really make the most of the summer season of both countries. The city of Fukuoka (and Busan) is home to a good number of beaches and small islands that are perfect for a day of chilling and sunburn. Take only 2 hours domestic flight from Fukuoka to get to the ultimate summer destination of Japan – the Okinawa. Fukuoka is also accessible by bullet trains from the most common tourist destinations Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto. In short, you can never go wrong with a city that has the best grid in geography.
Get out of the city for a short 30-45 minutes train ride and you will be in the midst of nature and tranquillity. Yanagawa is becoming the Venice of Japan for its boat punting. It is not the most beautiful waterway like what you would imagine Venice is but if you are in dire need for peace, man, you would love the ride and more so when the boatman starts singing. It is okay not to understand a word because you can just be in serenity with the soft beat of the song complementing perfectly with the sweet wave of a boat passing by the small houses of locals.
We rented bikes and rode around in Uminonakamichi Seaside Park while adoring the sunlight filtering through layers of leaves above us. It was a lovely movement of scenery. Did you know that there is actually a word for this specific moment in Japanese? Komorebi. No direct translation in Tagalog and probably also in English. But it is interesting to know that some words exist only in specific cultures. That maybe because of only certain culture value or aware of the existence of these moments.
I hesitate sometimes to travel out of the country for summer vacation knowing that I live in a country of islands. But I came to realize that each country shows a different side of their culture in each season. I never thought that Japanese locals would effort on having a good body until I saw a bunch of good looking bodies in Momochi Beach. Men and women have abs and lean bodies! I was glad I did not dare to wear my swimwear. My belly would pop out! Embarrassment, I know. I also thought I was in Boracay with the music vibe and drinking ambience of Momochi Beach.
I gained weight. Ate a lot. Did many groceries. Had cones upon cones of ice cream. Steamed Eel in Yanagawa and Rice Cakes in Dazaifu. Yatai. We hunted down Ichiran Ramen. Never shared a single huge meal with each other. And then just the other day, I was informed that there is a famous Hakata Ramen in Fukuoka. We missed that! How was that for not having an itinerary? Haha.
Summer is also a best time for flower viewing. If you stumbled upon a viral post about a tunnel of flowers, it probably is the Kawachi Wisteria Tunnel located outside Fukuoka city. A field of sunflower is also open for public in late July. Sunflower is so fun and bright to look at in summer and I know that the trip would have been more than perfect if only we arrived earlier. But I still did enjoy seeing sunflowers in Ohori Park. I was tempted to pluck one and make it a bookmark. 😂
Ohori Park is my favorite place in Fukuoka by the way. It is free. Runners are everywhere. Drinking coffee with the view of the lake right in front of you. There is also an art museum and a garden. A temple right outside the park. And our Airbnb is only 20 minutes walk.
Haaah. I can say Fukuoka is the place anyone needs to visit when in need of loosening up. For 7 days ― I explored. I ate. I jogged. I wrote. I prayed. I meditated.
I winded down.