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January 25, 2016

Dreaming of a White Fukuoka

The night before, we sit at the window seats, warm inside Ohori Park Starbucks. I'm writing a letter to a friend while Kamil reads. The weather outside goes from small flurries to strong wind and steady snow, but still not enough to settle on the ground. Some brave ojii-sans are still jogging laps around the lake, despite the increasing snowfall. We drive to the supermarket and shop for dinner and as we go back to the car with our groceries I take a few moments to make a mental note of what the shotengai (shopping street) looks like with snow falling. People scurry about with their umbrellas as shields, buckling against the wind. The vending machines glow and illuminate the falling snowflakes. The shop selling karaage fried chicken has never looked so pretty. We escape into the warmth of our little car, heading home to cultivate warmth in our living room.

Gokoku Jinja Nominoichi Flea Market

On a very chilly Saturday we visited one of my favourite regular events in Fukuoka - the Gokoku Jinja Nominoichi Flea Market. The market is a great mix of antiques, handmade items, food, drinks and more. I'll let the photos do the talking.

January 20, 2016

Snow Hike! Nanshogataki, Fukuoka

A little bit of snow is the basis of a huge deal of excitement in our household. We two Australians are not at all used to the sight of snow. It seems unreal and a little magical. Although we rarely get much snow in Fukuoka, we are on constant snow-watch when it appears in our weather forecast. Yesterday we had light snow showers all day but not enough to settle on the ground. After that little taste we wanted more, so we sought it out in the mountains with a snowy hike to Nanshogataki. The route is known for its frozen waterfall in winter about 1.5 hours up the mountain, so that was our destination today. 

It was my first hike in the snow and first time to use crampons in Japan (the little spikes you attach to your boots for better traction in the snow). The forest looks so different dressed in white and the frozen waterfall was simply amazing.

January 4, 2016

White Desert Landscape: Lancelin Sand Dunes

Happy 2016! I rung in the new year at home with family in my hometown of Perth, Western Australia. On the last day of 2015, Kam and I took a road trip with my brother and his girlfriend (also both visiting from Japan) to Lancelin for a swim at the beautiful Back Beach and a trip to the sand dunes.

It's hard to believe that I lived in Perth for the first 22 years of my life and never made it to Lancelin to see the unreal sight of the white sand dunes. 

December 7, 2015

Momiji Hachimangu: Kōyō Comes Late

Excuse me while I post a HUGE selection of photos from a walk I took this afternoon. I usually ride my bike to the supermarket for food shopping but the weather was so splendid today that I decided to walk instead. I took my camera incase I bumped into something pretty and I'm so glad I did, because I ended up walking to the nearby Momiji Hachimangu shrine. It turns out that autumn didn't completely elude us this year, it's just fashionably late!

December 6, 2015

Neighbourhood Walks: Fujisaki

Everyday moments here are special. Your eyes are always ready to drink in scenes that are a little bit magical, but for reasons you can't really pinpoint. Yesterday I took my camera on a little walk around the Fujisaki/Takatori end of the Nishijin Shotengai.

November 28, 2015

Hakozaki Flea Markets: Winter is Coming

Just like that, it's getting wintry again in Fukuoka. We ended our long winning streak of warm autumn weather this week and now is the season to break out the heat-tech thermals, turn on the kotatsu, fill up the hot water bottles and get ready for winter hibernation. The funny thing is, before living through our first few winters in Japan, I used to prefer cold weather. But entering our fifth winter in Fukuoka, I'm nonplussed to say the least. Maybe it has something to do with our old apartment building that has no hot water through the taps and no central heating? 

November 25, 2015

On homesickness and the constant state of "missing"

It's a regular weekday morning and nothing monumental has happened, but I find myself sitting alone on the tatami crying. My face is all scrunched up and every now and then I let out a big sob. It's not the first time that I've cried out of homesickness - and I know from experience that every other time it has passed within a day or two - but that doesn't help me to rationalise.

November 21, 2015

Yusentei Japanese Garden

Today I'll share another Fukuoka highlight that we've been meaning to visit for awhile, and we're glad we finally made the trip. A pleasant bike ride away from home, we found ourselves this afternoon at Yusentei Japanese Gardens in Jonan-ku, Fukuoka City. Although the kōyō autumn leaves are not at their best this year because of the unseasonably warm autumn, Yusentei would be a great place to visit at any time of year. Peaceful, verdant gardens and the historic tearooms overlooking a pond full of genki koi... what more could you want?

November 18, 2015

Fukuoka Two-day Tour: The City and the Mountains

Visitors from afar always put a smile on my face. Tokyo-based Kat came to experience Fukuoka for the first time this week and, although she was only here for two full days, we made it worthwhile and covered lots of ground. Day one involved an all-day bike tour to see some of Fukuoka City's landmarks (Ohori Park, the Fukuoka Castle ruins, ACROS building, Nakasu river, Canal City), a lunchtime cat cafe visit, some Daimyo vintage shop browsing, and the obligatory Hakata ramen for dinner. Day two was off to the mountains for Kat's first hike and first onsen experience at Wakasugiyama, followed by a pitstop at the reclining Buddha at Nanzoin, and night-time view of Fukuoka Tower. We finished it all off with a final kaisen-don lunch and purikura session at Hakata Station. Phew! Here are some snaps from along the way...