Beginning with when I first arrived in Japan, the trip so far has been fantastic. The best part about it is by the views and new experiences when combined with the history. Arriving at the hotel from the airport was fairly nerve-wracking given my lack of Japanese, but there was a sufficient amount of English to guide me back. As much as it was difficult, I wanted to explore; having done research on Fukuoka it was my personal quest to find and enjoy a yatai (food stall.) I rat would take a few night of searching and exploring, but the view from the Nakasu district area over the river was phenomenal – along with the tonkotsu ramen.
In the meantime throughout the days, our program leader Nozu Sensei would take us to serene Shinto shrines, and museums, near Fukuoka. The pristine gardens and reverent atmospheres of the shrines are something unique to the places, and some of the best areas were those tucked away behind the central commotion. Nozu Sensei, however, doesn’t just want us to attend as unkowning foreigners, but teaches as we travel. For the Daizufu shrine to Tenjin that we visited, Nozu Sensei instructed how precisely to “purify” one self before entering the shrine, using the water ladle to wash one’s hands and rinse one’s mouth.
We would continue learning as we reached Nagasaki, where we would stop at the Peace Memorial Gardens and Peace Museum. These places are sobering, and in a necessary way I think. The nuclear bombings they represent aren’t something that should be forgotten, and the stories and ideology against conflict are something still needed in the modern day.
Yesterday we just arrived in Beppu, a city known for it’s hot spring onsen. We spent a a good part of our first day on the Monkey mountain nearby, a reservation for a local population of monkey. The experience is a little crazy around feeding time, with the above 600 monkey in the park all wildly screaming and running towards the food. The afternoon, evening, and early morning sunrise were all spent relaxing at the onsen, however, giving me a some much needed rest to help me take in all we yet have to do. After all, it’s only been one week.