The Sea of Japan was calm as the boat made its way to Fukuoka. Black and white captions scrolled across the screen of the nearest television. An image of Trump cut to an image of Kim Jong-un before a news commentator appeared. I pressed my head against the cold glass happy that I hadn't missed the boat to Japan. I was even happier that I made the trip across the sea in the first place. A dose of media hysteria made me afraid to leave Japan. However, in South Korea I was greeted with calm not paranoia. My time away from the states made me forget how over exxagerated the news coverage can be.
Even though I had just gotten used to the rhythym of my life in Tokyo I knew I needed a break. I am a firm believer that frequent breaks from your environment helps you to appreciate it so much more. For me, that was reconnecting to why I love travel in the first place. My time exploring South Korea gave me just enough distance to return to Japan with a mission and a drive I hadn't felt since the plane took off from Newark Airport all those months ago.
Taking the ferry had many advantages over a direct flight from Tokyo to Seoul. I got to explore the city of Busan- aka South Korea's answer to San Francisco very briefly. As well I was taking two days to explore a small city called Fukuoka which rests on the island of Kyushu, the most southern of the main islands of Japan. But most importantly I didn't have to worry about any liquid limits and bought a ton of Korean skin care products.
Thankfully Fukuoka greeted me with sun and clouds as opposed to the intense rain storm that greeted me on the first leg of my journey. I was told that Fukuoka was known for a very intense pork ramen called hakata ramen. So my first stop after checking into my hostel was a big bowl of ramen. I was so hungry and tired from my marathon travels but trust me when I say I ate the most rich bowl of ramen in my life.
I had always hoped that the sadness which clouded the beginning of my time in Tokyo would lift and that I would develop an appreciation of the city even as I grew to realize that Tokyo was not able to give me what I needed. Those dreams were true the morning I woke up in Fukuoka. I had half a day to explore the city before heading back to Tokyo which I had begun to consider my home. Tokyo was so clear to me and I couldn't wait to take advantage of all that it had to offer. My original plan was to go to the Wisteria gardens and take some self portraits there. However, I was more tired than I anticipated and instead decided to keep it local. I ate some udon from a shop across from my hostel and then made my way to Ohori Park.
Ohori Park opened in 1929 and was modeled after the West Lake of China. This park is beautiful and a great place to relax by the water. What I really loved about it was the beautiful stone bridges that cut their way through the middle of the lake.
The main attraction is this stunning vermillion structure that juts off the edge of the mini islands. The city surrounds it and its really pretty. After wandering around the park you can also see the ruins of an old castle. I wish I had more time to explore Fukuoka and Japan. My tourist visa meant that I had to choose between traveling deeply or broadly. The only Japanese cities I planned on exploring besides Tokyo was Nara, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. I choose deep because I really wanted to create community and art in Tokyo which can only grow from a consistent time in one place. The choice of depth was a success even though I had to change my initial vision of what success meant to me.
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