Last year when I flew to Japan I got taken aside by a customs officer, shown a section from a folder in English asking if I had any narcotics, gold bars, wads of cash, etc. on me. This time was no different; I got my passport stamped, picked up my backpack from the carousel, went to get my passport checked to leave the airport and I got stopped. The Botswana stamp on my passport raised concern so after having all my luggage and phone swabbed, looked at, being presented the English page of a folder with pictures of contraband, and questioned about my time in Japan, why I’m there and what I’m doing, I was free to go.
Upon landing in Fukuoka I felt excited to come back to Japan; I hadn’t been a huge fan of China, and in Seoul I felt as though I was dossing as opposed to travelling. Japan feels familiar to me as I’ve been here before and I’ve really planned the next two weeks. Last time I was in the country however, I had worked for around 20 days with just one day off on day five or six, and the night prior to leaving I went out and the hangover wrote me off for about a week. This time, I’m really going to make the most of my stay.
Travel days I try not to do a lot; I use them to Google what’s about and to be a grown up. Last night I went to some Yatai stalls – there’s a few in a row next to the river here, which is basically an outdoor restaurant with a few seats. I opted for a beer to celebrate being in Japan, and a few meat skewers. One of the options I went for was just chicken skin on a stick which was glorious – if the world needs more of one thing, let that be bbq’d chicken skin.
Today I woke up at a semi-reasonable time and made it to the reclining Buddha, 20 minutes from the city on the train. I have been trying to not rely on my phone so much but it is so much easier just to Google what platform I need to be on when I cannot read the language. The Buddha is in quite a large area with a few statues, taking about an hour to look around the site before heading back into the city.
Once back in the city I went to the Ramen Stadium – basically a food court of ramen restaurants, and you don’t need to talk to anyone to order. It’s potentially one of my new happy places. I’m aware and very OK with the fact that my diet for the next two weeks will consist of ramen, so I went back there for dinner too. During the day I went to a couple of temples and also had a nap before going out for a walk. One temple was pretty impressive and the other not so much, but no photos allowed.
Tomorrow I’m off to use my Japanese Rail pass for the first time. I’ve really enjoyed today in Fukuoka, and excited for the next couple of weeks ahead of me.