During our weekend in Kyushu, we were lucky enough to have Duncan show us around not just the city of Fukuoka but outside of Fukuoka too. Honestly, we were herded around and it was refreshing having to do very little thinking as Duncan navigated on and off trains.
We wandered around Fukuoka on Saturday morning, grabbing pastries and to-go coffees and then hopped on a train out of the city. Duncan brought us out to the Dazaifu Tenman-gū Shrine and the Kyushu National Museum. We learned some history about the area mostly through artifacts, art and an ear piece. My favorite artifact was a small figurine of Mother Mary disguised as Buddha. Christianity made a brief appearance in Japan but was completely banned, so people who wanted to practice created different ways to carry the religion around with them. The whole concept was interesting because what is the point if the statue looks like buddha?
We wrapped up the day back in the city at the annual Jazz festival, which was pretty rowdy (people were talking above normal volume levels!!) and then Chad fainted due to heat and dehydration, so that was crazy! He recovered pretty quickly after some water and we continued walking from stage to stage throughout the streets of Fukuoka into the night.
On Sunday, we ventured out into the Japanese country to Yoshinogari Historical Park. The further out we went, the more likely it was that Chad and I were the only blondes to be seen the rest of the day. We put on our rice hats and travelled back in time for a bit. We walked around re-creations of a small Japanese village complete with ancient ruins, artifact displays, reconstructed huts, burial grounds and all. We walked slowly throughout each area while relishing any bit of air conditioning from small indoor exhibits.
The park is pretty massive, so after our history lessons, we hopped on a bus and rode it to the area of the park where everyone was picnicking. I have to just gush for a moment, I feel like a true Leslie Knope, but the children’s playground design was so incredible; challenging rope climbs, huge slides, a big jumpy trampoline and giant bouncy balls. There was a small creek for kids to take their shoes off and dip their feet. It was truly kid-heaven. Actually, most of Japan is kid-heaven. It may be the most kid-friendly place I’ve ever been. There are parks every other couple of blocks, kid-friendly activities, and also the safety allows for more trust for them to do things on their own like take the bus to school or ride their bikes down the street.
After exploring the playground and wishing we were children so that we could go and play too, we started the trek home to go to try Japanese karaoke (ummm that’s another story for another day). Thank you, Duncan, for showing us Japan!