Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Random Fukuoka Street Scenes

The new year is upon us. 2011 was a pretty busy year for us. We got a dog. Umh....yeah that alone pretty much explains why we were so busy. Well, I`ve also been much busier with my thesis than I was in 2010 and Ena has been extremely busy with work too, so those also contributed.

Anyway, this is a bit of a melancholy new year for me as in all likelihood it will be our last in Fukuoka. I`ll be graduating in 2012 and in all likelihood wherever I end up working after that will not be here.

Its been three years since we arrived and the place has really grown on me. If you ever get the chance to live somewhere in Japan, make it Fukuoka if you can.

Far and away the thing I will miss most is simply riding my bike around the city and the countryside around it. I haven`t done as much of that this year as in the past (as I said, we got a dog), but just riding around on a bicycle surrounded by interesting things everywhere you go is an experience like no other.

I made a trip into town the other day and brought my camera along with me to photograph some of the random scenery that I pass. On the way in, the Gofukumachi area near the Shofukuji temple has some interesting old shops on very quiet streets:
This alley in Tenjin, which is actually quite close to where Ena works, has always interested me just due to the sheer volume of air conditioners that have been crammed onto the side of that one building:
The details are often what make things interesting:On the way back it is dark. The city looks quite fun after the sun has gone down, especially in Nakasu where the nightlife is kind of bustling:
Whenever possible I like to ride through Nakasu at night, but in all our time here I`ve never actually had a night on the town there. Not surprising I guess given my age and marital status.

This alley here is near Canal City. It is devoid of any interesting architecture so its the type of place nobody ever notices. Whenever I ride by it though I just have to look at it. Somehow the combination of everything in it I find very visually appealing. The distance between the buildings, the amount of dirt on them, the mess of signs and lights - it is like they are all perfectly calculated to look right. Everything is well balanced. Most such alleys don`t get it right. There is always something amiss - too much space between the buildings, not enough lights, a building that has been torn down to make a parking lot - something is always out of place and it ruins the image. This one somehow got everything right though.
This here is a really small shrine on a street in Hakozaki. I love riding past it at night because the neon sign next to it, which is an ad for a shop up the block, illuminates its white roof in a pretty way. Its another one of those pleasant accidents in the placing of objects that gives the city its charm.
This is the Nishitetsu Kaizuka Station. Its an ugly station and the only reason I photographed it is for my own memory. Ena returns home from work there everyday and when I go to meet her I usually wait in the spot from which this photo was taken. Its just another one of those little things that I`m going to miss.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas in Fukuoka

Christmas season has arrived in Fukuoka. Ena and I decided to do some shopping last week in the evening so that we could take in the illuminated bits and pieces.
First stop: Daimaru department store
The big illuminated teddy bear and Christmas trees are made of plastic soda bottles. The lettering is done with the bottle caps:
We had dinner at a little cafe on the right of the picture up there. It was kind of nice:
After that we headed over to Keigo park, which is just behind the Mitsukoshi Department store. They have a skating rink (made of plastic, its way too warm here for ice):
Ena has never skated before and my last memory of doing so ended in me falling down and whacking my head on the ice when I was a kid, so we didn`t skate ourselves. It was kind of nice to see though.

We walked around the park a bit, which had a lot of trees and other Christmassy lights:
Got the last of my Christmas shopping done today, all we have to do now is countdown to the big day:
The dog really likes the advent calender.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Tree in the Road

Been a couple of months since I posted anything here. The only excuse I have is that I`ve been busy writing a thesis that was supposed to write itself but has thus far been entirely uncooperative.

I thought I`d once again try to revive the blog with a post about a tree.

Not just any tree. This tree:
This is a side street on Hakozaki campus, not far from the architecture department. I love this tree. Its existence is absolutely mind boggling to me. In any country having a tree growing in the middle of a road would raise a few eyebrows, but in Japan it is virtually unthinkable.

I once had a friend who was an engineer working for the Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure. He explained to me the difference in road building strategies between Japan and Canada.

`In Canada` he explained, `if they come across a hill when building a road, they just build around it. In Japan, we just get rid of the hill.`

An exaggeration to be sure, but anyone who has driven down one of the major expressways here probably knows what he was getting at. Which makes me wonder why they didn`t get rid of this tree when building this road.

Its not a particularly old tree, nor is it an endangered species or anything. Just your standard black pine.
And there it is, blocking traffic. Wonderful. I hope when they move the campus to Ito whoever takes over the land leaves this tree in place. It is probably the coolest thing on campus.