A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 74, Wednesday March 26th, 2014
Tuesday March 25th, 2014
Still feeling under the weather I decided to have a rest day today in the hope of kicking whatever bug or virus I may have. However I decided to do some gentle sightseeing in the middle of the day.
I started the pilgrimage in Fukuoka, and prior to that had visited many times. I am not a big fan of cities in general, but Fukuoka is possibly my favorite one in Japan. There is a feel here that is a little cosmopolitan, perhaps because the city has always focused on its historical links with mainland Asia, but it is also a little more open than most cramped Japanese cities. There are not many parts of the city I haven't been to so today I decided to gently explore one I haven't been to before, the area around Ohori Park.
Ohori Park is built around a small lake/ large pond that was originally part of the defenses of Fukuoka Castle, hori being the Japanese word for moat. The path around the circumference of the water is very popular with walkers and joggers but in the middle of the lake are three small islands and they are all connected by bridge, so I chose to walk across the lake.
It was an overcast day and low cloud still clung to the mountains in the distance but it was still quite an impressive view being out in the middle of an expanse of water with the city skyline all around. Once I got to the other shore I was near a small Japanese garden, and it was a very pleasant surprise.
It is a stroll type garden and I was really impressed with it though it is by no means well known. One thing you will often encounter in Japanese gardens are recently married couples having their wedding photos taken and today in this garden was no exception. After the garden I headed towards the castle ruins, passing the rather striking architecture of the NHK building. I passed by the Museum of Art. I had heard that they have a Dali but I decided, as I often do, that the entry fee was out of my budget.
The cherry trees in front of the museum were blooming, a portent of what I would find later. The castle grounds were, like the Japanese garden, quite a surprise. There is mostly only the stonework left and just a few reconstructed turrets, but it is massive, in fact it was the biggest castle in all of Kyushu. The grounds were filled with cherry trees just about in full bloom. Down below the highest point where the keep once stood is now a sports park with gyms and stadiums etc and here was a hive of activity.
Crews of men were busy erecting tents and stages and sound systems and lights. Starting in two days there was going to be the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, something I would do my best to avoid. There is one final stop before I head back to my room to recuperate and rest up for the final couple of days walking, the Korokan, was a grand reception hall and lodgings for diplomatic envoys from mainland Asia in the Nara Period.
Hakata was the only port of entry for official visitors to Japan and they would be entertained here before being allowed to travel on to the capital. Inside a giant factory-like structure archeological excavations are ongoing, but at one end they have reconstructed a section of the hall which not surprisingly is in Chinese style. Best of all, to my way of thinking, the price is right with no entry fee.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 73
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