Japan Photo Blog: People, Food, Stuff & Things.
|Fukuoka's Seaside Momochi is just the right amount of sea, people and sand.|
For the past eight months I have been in Japan, I have taken my less bulky, slightly dangling A5000 mirrorless where ever I go while documenting whatever and whoever I encounter. It's a place brewing with life, a culture embroiled in deep rooted ethics and sizzling cuisine. And all this in an super livable environment where people can mind their own business while avoiding interpersonal conflict to the extremes.
Imagine that happening in Kathmandu and you can see why I absolutely love it here. You can read about the bleak state of my hometown [HERE]. I say bleak with optimism btw.
In order to create a "flow," a story of some sort with the array of random, eclectic imagery that I have at my disposal, I shall aptly start out with my adopted hometown; the city of Kitakyushu. Perhaps well known for its industrial base and also, for once being the most polluted city in world (now ranks as one of the cleanest), Kitakyushu, interestingly, was one of the two targets of the atom bomb in 1945. A mix of pollutants, weather and smoke from a previous bombing made the Americans choose Nagasaki instead. Funny how things you read in history lessons and thought were completely not related becomes a reality with a few changes in life.
|The city of Kitakyushu in Japan taken from Mt. Sarakura|
The way I see it, the go to fast food is ramen and rightly so. The region is famous for its Tonkotsu Ramen, a version that was crafted in Hakata, Fukoka and spread around the rest of Kyushu Island. At least, that's what I understand. You can do your own research on this one if you are one of those history buffs and is into amazing hot pork broth based noodles served with pork cuts.
|Japanese take their ramens very seriously|
I think I will seriously need a few bowls after this post.
Surprisingly, kare is also very popular here, a Japanese take on curry. To get an understanding of how its different, kare was actually first introduced by the Brits. Tells you all about what the flavoring might be. Mojiko's famous baked curry takes a notch up by, well, baking the curry once its prepared, a process that's unheard of in South Asia.
|Mojiko's baked curry is sensational, even for Nepalese who have had curry their whole life|
Mojiko is perhaps the go-to place in Kitakyushu. With a history of prolonged western contact, the area feels anything but Japan. If you ever here, this should be on your bucket list. There's also a German style brewery that adhers to reinheitsgebot (German beer purity law), if beer is your cup of tea.
|Public live shows at Mojiko is a common sight|
While the recommended way to get around the city is the train, bus or bicycle, I personally like to walk. On your two feet, you are able to see and observe more, be more present in the surrounding which could lead to instance like the one below; a small middle school orchestra performance at the middle of not-so-crowded market place.
|A young double bass player waits for the signal at Tobata, Kitakyushu|
But if you like a bit of Jazz action and want a nice calm drinking-listening experience, Piano Bar House224 [HERE] has you covered. I tagged along long, long time resident Dennis, a friend of mine who I (unexpectedly) met at the sauna and he was kind enough to coach me about the city and the bar.
|A customer at the Jazz bar takes center stage|
Going out and eating out though, can take huge toll on your wallet. That's because, unlike Korea, people here get paid well. Since the base income is higher, any service is naturally expensive.
|Gourmet hotdogs for $9 a piece. I mean, wtf.|
Things can be precariously difficult if you had a habit of going out for huge chunks of meat like I used to do in Seoul. I have had to learn to cut down from twice-a-week meat outings to well, once a month BBQ nights. I miss cheap Samgyabsal. I really do.
One thing I have been taking notice of is how many Nepalese there are in and around the city. They are all working on 7/11s doing part-time, some doing business and some opening up their own restaurants. Like this one in Kokura, Kitakyushu. It's hard to find any authentic Indian restaurants because the moment you step in, you hear Nepali.
|Made in Nepal. In Japan.|
The city of Simonoseki is right next to Kitakyushu, but is in the main Japanese island of Honshu. People make the trip up north taking either a boat ride, train or even walking (under the sea tunnels) particularly because it houses THE place for fresh fish, Karato Sea Market.
|Karato Sea Market in Simonoseki for the Sushi and Sashimi|
Which also attracts these beauties:
And sometimes, you will get to see some very well trained monkeys putting up shows. Not sure if I support this.
|I can't say I didn't enjoy the show but I cannot come to terms of supporting tethered animals|
If you head down slightly south to the major city of Fukuoka, or take the train for that matter, you will have to adhere to some basic train ethics. People can talk but they don't talk on the phone. Absolutely no sneezing, but if you have to clean your nose, you have bathroom on board. Also, people wear mask when they have slightest bit of cold because they are considering fellow passengers. For a person who comes from a culture where nobody gives a rat's tit about anyone in public, this can be very strange.
|A next generation Japanese finds something irresistibly interesting on paper, not phone|
Fukuoka, the 8th largest city in Japan, is probably the place I go often over the weekend. Train rides on the local take about one and half hours while if you fancy the bullet train Shinkansen, you will only need about fifteen minutes from the center of Kitakyushu to Hakata. Once you are there, it's either Hakata Ramen or straight to Tenjin for some sushi.
|A sushi chef makes eye contact just when I take the shot.|
Hyoutan Sushi in Tenjin, Fukuoka
Ohori Park in the city is a must go. It's riddled with life both with visiting sapiens and small wildlife. You can spend the whole day, sitting down, reading a book. Or there's Starbucks nearby if you want coffee and the view.
|Ohori Park in Fukuoka breeds life into the city|
My new favorite destination after that Nigerian beach party has to be Seaside Momochi. I mean, it's hard not to like a less crowded beach near a major city. Pop open that beer and you are off to a great start.
|Seaside Momochi in Fukuoka has people of all ages come together|
The city also hosts Kyushu Craft Beer Festival twice a year so I am not complaining.
|2017's edition was held at Hakata Station, Fukuoka|
While 2017's autumn edition of the festival, which features craft breweries from around Japan, was hosted at Hakata Station while 2018's spring festival was held near Ohori park. I would like to see 2019 near Momochi.
|Good beer makes everyone happy. Also very drunk at the middle of the day|
I am currently working on post dedicated to craft beer in Fukuoka but I am still one or two craft beer pub shy of completely a comprehensive guide. What I can say now is that a lot more is happening than a few pubs you see in Kitakyushu.
|Hakata Draft in Fukuoka is unique because the brewery is located inside a hotel|
Craft Beer Brim in Tenjin pairs up Japanese and Foreign craft beer -known locally as Ji-biru or Crafto-biru respectively- with Japanese izakaya food. I will be sure to have the link up once that's complete.
|Craft Beer Brim in Tenjin, Fukuoka serves local and imported craft beer|
Hakata Station's Good Beer Stand, a chain that serves up artisan beer from all over the place including Japan, has a great selection. Comes a steep price but hey, I have got to experience some world class, kick-ass ales and they are all worth the money.
|Good Beer Stand at Hakata Station, Fukuoka has a great taplist|
That should it for this post. I have ton of material to post up, but it will have to wait. Till next time.
|Sunset at Mt.Sarakura, Kitakyushu|