The Kyushu National Museum is one of the three national museums in Japan (the other three being in Tokyo, Nara and Kyoto). Exhibits at the museum mainly cover Japanese history. We did not have time to visit the museum but we did visit a small free exhibition gallery where one can play various games and instruments of Japanese origin. There, I had the chance to play a real gong with a huge hammer, which was quite impressive.
Yanagawa is renowned for the the many hundred kilometers of canals wandering across the city. Those canals that were once used for commercial transportation are now used by tourists taking part of a boat tour of the city. The tour guides steer the boats by using long perches to push on the canal’s bottom, propelling the boat forward. Our guide was a charming individual. I’m sure his guided tour was quite nice but I didn’t catch too much of his Japanese. It didn’t really matter because he was quite an entertainer, mostly singing folkloric songs along the way. Halfway during the trip, our guide stopped at a dock where stores were selling ice cream and beer which could be purchased from the boat! Highly recommend on a hot day! I’ll keep fond memories of the day I spent in Yanagawa.
The Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Kyushu and is located a short walk away from the Dazaifu station. The shrine’s grounds are extensive and include beautiful gardens and a museum which houses the shrine’s treasures. The main walkway leading to the shrine passes over an iconic large bridge and then under an impressive Torii gate before arriving at the main altar. Shinto rituals are performed at the shrine and can be witnessed by visitors.
The street leading from Dazaifu train station to the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is lined with gift shops, cafes, ice cream stores and bakeries preparing the Umegae Mochi, which are treats made of sweet azuki bean filling wrapped in a layer of mochi. Some coupons exchangeable for Umegae Mochi were included in our train passes on our day trip to Dazaifu so we got to sample this delicacy which is famous in the region of Dazaifu while walking towards the shrine.
Yatai are small food stalls selling a variety of delicious Japanese street food including Ramen, Oden and Yakitori. They were once popular throughout Japan but are nowadays more prevalent in the city of Fukuoka. One of the most popular places to eat Yatai food is along the Naka river where the photos shown here were taken. Perhaps the best way to enjoy Yatai is to move from one cart to the other for a chance to sample a diversity of Japanese delicacies.
The Kushida Shrine is an important shrine of the district of Hakata. The shrine is known for hosting the Yamakasa Gion Matsuri, the biggest festival in Fukuoka. During the festival, giant floats are carried around the neighborhood. One of them is displayed permanently at the shrine. The shrine features a large Shimenawa rope above the altar and some peculiar long-nosed Tengu masks. Lanterns, and the whole shrine grounds, are lit in the evening creating a truly special atmosphere.
The Hakozaki Shrine is an important shrine of the city of Fukuoka dedicated to the goddess Hachiman. Founded in 923, the shrine has a long history. It was restored after being completely destroyed during the Mongolian invasion of 1274. The shrine can be recognized by the long street which starts in front of the shrine and extends to the sea. Three Torii gates are located on that street: one in front of the shrine itself, one in front of the sea, and the last one is located roughly halfway between the two others.