Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter in Japan

It wasn't quite the weekend I expected. My original plans to travel to Gyunju were changed to next weekend since the cherry blossoms are not quite in bloom yet. I went out Friday night to catch some live music at Mackenzie's Bar and then went on to Tombstone bar with Jo to finish the night off. I met up with my friend Matt, whose brother is visiting from the UK. They had plans to travel to Japan Saturday morning, with their friend Blake, and invited me to join them. Being the spontaneous 'gal that I am, I said yes. We left the bar around 4:30am so I could pack a few necessities, grab my passport and then headed to Busan to catch our Ferry to Fukuoka for 8:30am.
Arriving in Fukuoka around noon, we decided to check out the many temples around Hakata Station.
After visiting a few temples we walked along a road and came across a little park where there was a large group of people standing around. Curious travellers that we are, we inquired what was happening and were told that the large group was some of Fukuoka's homeless who were there to eat a Sunday dinner served by a local church. Matt and Blair offered to help dish out the food and help pass out chopsticks.
It was incredible to meet these people, none of who could speak English, but were more then polite and offered bows of thanks to us Foreigners helping them. It was a truly humbling feeling, especially when they offered to feed us, even though people were still lining up for food.
After the dinner was served and our help was no longer needed, we moved on to explore one of Fukuoka's most popular Temples, Tochoji Temple. It is home to the largest wooden Buddha in all of Japan and is a magnificent building.
Later we went for a quick bite to eat and then we were off in search of a cheap hotel to spend the night. Unfortunately in Japan, nothing is cheap, so it took a bit of searching and guidance from a bartender at an amazing Irish pub (I had my first Guinness since leaving home ...and it too was amazing).
The hotel we found is actually a 'love motel' and offers rooms ranging from stays for a few hours to a whole night. An interesting experience to say the least. The staff were a little concerned when one girl and three guys showed up to rent a room. The language barrier was a challenge and we eventually understood that they were going to let three of us stay in one room..but not four (I guess that is taboo?). So we opted for two rooms to avoid any further hassle. The rooms were clean and the beds were comfy. Considering none of us had been to bed yet and to save some money, we decided to take showers, grab some beers and food and relax in the room.
This morning we caught the noon ferry back to Busan and visited Busan Tower. It was good fun, but the rain was quite heavy at times and the walk from the Ferry Terminal to the Tower was a wet one.
I am home now, tired and ready for bed. It was a great weekend and I am glad I decided to go.
Thanks to the boys for inviting me along! And thanks to Jo for understanding why I ditched our plans to go hiking.
Off to bed soon.
Ciao and Happy Easter to everyone!


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