Japan: Nuclear Misinformation

This is Japan, in early May:

And this is also Japan, in late April:

This may be hitting the point a little over the head, but it’s worth making: the earthquake, tsunami, and accompanying nuclear crisis are all really big deals and do of course amount to a national crisis. But Japan is a big country, and hundreds of miles from the disaster zone, in places like Fukuoka, day-to-day life was and remains largely unaffected.

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Japan: Nokonoshima Island, aka Flowersplosion Island

I took a short ferry ride to Nokonoshima Island from Fukuoka after visiting the shrines. I didn’t quite know what to expect–my friend mentioned flowers–so when I stepped through the gates and saw a huge garden of carefully manicured fields of flowers and trees, I was blown away.

This may be the most naturally colorful place in the world, assuming they don’t put some sort of chemical in the water to make the flowers look like this, which seems totally possible to me:

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Japan: Gettin’ My Shrine On

Fukuoka has a number of impressive Shinto shrines; I made it to three separate sites over two days. They’re like nothing I’ve ever seen before–slightly similar but very different from Korean architectural styles.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Simply striking:

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Japan: Good Eats in Fukuoka

Japan? Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a Korea travelogue! Well, yes, but I’ve managed to break away from the motherland to visit a couple college friends living in Fukuoka (you can read about their adventures here) for a couple days.

Lots to process from this brief trip–both in terms of pictures and thoughts–so I’ll start with the good stuff: awesome Japanese food.

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This is one of a series of outdoor street food stands that set up at night. This one in particular served up tasty grilled meat on a stick–way better than the mystery meat on a stick you get in New York City.

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I ate perhaps the best ramen in my life in the appropriately named Raumen Stadium. They serve an impressive variety of ramens from across Japan, including the local specialty, Hakata raman.

I can’t remember if this one in particular was Hakata style, but I do remember it had thick, rich broth; thin, al dente noodles; juicy, tender pork; and a special boiled egg with a soft yolk on the inside. Just perfect.

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I ordered a small plate of gyoza dumplings as a snack from a mall food court. Notice how impeccably arranged and presented it is: even a humble dish with cheap chopsticks and napkin is still prepared with the utmost care.

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This coffee-in-a-can is notable for two reasons: 1) it’s served hot, straight from a vending machine, and 2) it lets you drink coffee LIKE A BOSS.

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Yet another meat on a stick grill. Watch the chef in action:

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Lastly, sushi on a conveyor belt:

I love the instant gratification that the conveyor belt offers. If you see it, and you want it, you can eat it, no waiting required. You can also request other items off the menu that aren’t already offered on the belt. And of course the variety is unbeatable.

Aaaand I’m hungry again. Good thing I have enough time to get another bowl of ramen before heading back to Korea for the final day of the trip!