Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Eastern most point of the Mongol Empire

I took a 7 hour bike ride today, which has left me exhausted. It was a lot of fun though, I went WAY out to the opposite end of Fukuoka, about 20km away. I didn't have any specific plan in mind but ended up taking a lot of sites related to the attempted invasions of Japan by the Mongols in 1274 and 1281 AD.

I first started at Higashi park, which is actually not far from our place. It has a large statue of Nichiren, a 13th century Buddhist monk somehow involved of all of this:
I then cycled all the way out to Iki no Matsubara, which is west of Fukuoka. This is where the Japanese defenders built a 20km wall along the coast to repel the Mongols. They actually built it between invasions, so it only played a part in repelling the 1281 attack. This is the wall:
The wall itself isn't much to look at, but the scenery around it is quite nice. This is what the samurai defending the wall would have looked out on, waiting for the Mongols:

The beach it is one is quite nice too, with lots of pine trees:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meeting friends

Our former student Akiyo from Himeji was in Fukuoka with her friend Hoyo so we spent the day with them. Akiyo and her relatives were some of our closest friends in Himeji and we haven't seen them for a few years so it was cool to catch up. We met them at Canal City (seems we always end up there):

We stopped for coffee and cake in a cafe:
And posed behind a Ramen stand:
Finally we went and had Motsu nabe. "Motsu" means "cow's colon" so you can guess how much I enjoyed the meal, but we had a really good time:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kyushu Conference

A conference on Special Economic Zones in Asian Market Economies was held at Kyushu University over the weekend. This was a collaboration between Kyushu and two Canadian universities; my alma mater the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University.

The conference went quite well, I was able to see a number of people from UVic who I hadn't see
in a while. This is me and my old boss:

And with another UVic/Kyudai alum:

These are some group shots with my classmates:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shikanoshima Part 2

I ended up cycling all the way to Shikanoshima again today, only this time with 20 friends in tow! We all got together at the suggestion of my Ukrainian friend Oleg to go to Uminonakamichi and after we got there decided to go to the island that I had been telling everyone about. Unfortunately Ena was busy again today and couldn't make it (though she's joining us for dinner), otherwise it would have been a perfect day. This is the group photo (except for me because I took the picture) at Uminonakamichi (the amusement park):
This is a couple of smaller group photos from later at the beach near Shikanoshima. It was sunny and the temperature got up to about 20, which is crazy for February. We literally could have gone swimming if we had brought our swimsuits and towels (the water was warm too)!:

Then we went up to the temple on the island with the plum blossoms:
This is me getting robbed. I was just about to eat this shellfish when Tai Ching, my classmate, decided she wanted it and tried to steal it from right off my chopsticks. Fortunately I was able to defend myself and eat it:

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Today was my first day after exams finished and it was a beautiful sunny, warm day so I decided to take my most ambitious bicycle ride yet. Ena had to go into work so I was on my own, but I rode my bike all the way to Shikinoshima, which is an island connected to the mainland by a really narrow spit of land. It was about a 2 hour ride but it was well worth it. The ride took me across Island city, which is a large artificial island near our place that is currently the site of a half-built mini city that is quite nice. I also passed by Uminonakamichi, which is a huge amusement park. I didn't stop at either though and just kept on riding until I got to the island. This is the spit of land that connects it to the mainland, you can see its only about 30 or 40 metres wide with the sea on both sides. The water on the left is Hakata Bay, the water on the right is the open Pacific Ocean (well, actually I suppose technically its the Sea of Japan):
There are miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches leading up to Shikanoshima with some really excellent views:
Me on the beach:
Unfortunately it took me so long to get there (and I had to get back to town by 4 to meet some friends) that I didn't get much of a chance to explore the island. I did however manage to take in this Temple, which had a plum tree in blossom overlooking the Ocean:
A little further exploration turned up this nice waterfall:
I'm definitely going to go back there with Ena sometime to explore the whole island, probably in the spring though!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sean and Ena do Fukuoka

I decided to take a break from studying today and go for a bike ride with Ena. What started out as a little ride ended up being an 8-hour cycling tour of half the city. First we went to Hakozaki Shrine, which is near the Kyushu University Campus:
After that we rode downtown, stopping here and there to do some window shopping. We ended up at this interesting temple in the city:
In the building behind me (with the orange walls on the side) there is a giant statue of a seated Buddha (it takes up the whole building). Under the statue there is a tunnel called "hell" tunnel. When you go in, there are a bunch of paintings of the Buddhist hell with pictures of demons eating people, etc while a recorded voice explains how bad it all is. Then after that the second half of the tunnel you have to navigate in pitch blackness. You just feel your way along by holding onto this railing. It is supposed to be a kind of spiritual experience, though its kind of scary.

All in all its probably the best free entertainment in town!

After that we stopped at Canal City for cake and coffee, which we always end up doing when we are in town.

Then we ended up cycling all the way to Ohori Koen, which is way further than I thought we would end up going. Its a really nice park with a big lake and some islands connected by footbridges. This picture of Ena was taken on one of the little islands:
I made good use of the panorama function on my camera too:
Finally we ended up having dinner at a restaurant in Youme town, a big mall. Its crazy how much cheaper you can eat out in Japan, this whole, quality meal with drinks and dessert only set us back 20 bucks: