Day 3 (1 November 2017)
1. Nokonoshima Island Park
2. Canal City
After exploring the city for the last couple of days, we decided to head farther out to Nokonoshima Island Park to see some flowers and beautiful nature. With our 2 day pass, we took the subway to Meinohama Station (K01), which is 10 stops away from Hakata Station (K11) on the Kuko Line. The subway ride was about 25 minutes long. From the Meinohama Station, we had to catch a bus to the Meinohama Ferry Terminal. The ferries run every half hour in the morning and every hour in the afternoon. (See http://nokonoshima.com/en/access/ for more details) It is 230 yen one way and takes just 10 minutes to get to the Nokonoshima Ferry Terminal. Once you arrive at Nokonoshima Island, you still need to get on another bus to reach the Island Park. The park entrance fee costs 1,200 yen. But if you do your research, like me, you can get a 10% discount if you purchase beforehand from Lawson convenience store ticket service using the this code: L CODE 81604. I asked the cashier who was kind enough to help me get the voucher from the ticket machine and then exchanged for the discounted tickets for 1080 yen. (See http://nokonoshima.com/en/service/)
We got to the Island Park and started our walk in the Flower Field. Unfortunately, there were not many flowers to see there, but there were some very tall and green trees! You can also play golf around there!
We took a short break near the entrance/exit area and bought some snacks. They sell fried chicken, sweet potato, chips, and okra. On the opposite side is an ice-cream vendor. The fried chicken was absolutely mouth-wateringly good! It was greasy but, so worth it! The fried sweet potato was great too!
We followed the path down and admired the flowers and trees all around. Along the way, we played with some of the games in the Children’s Playground and bought some souvenirs from the shops nearby.
Finally, we arrived at the Panorama Flower Garden. We lied down on the grass and looked out to the sea and sky and just relaxed for half an hour.
We went to the udon noodle shop for lunch, and I know I’ve been saying ‘the best’ for everything I’ve eaten, but this is the best udon I’ve ever had! The texture is so smooth and soft, it just slides into your mouth. The soup broth is not too salty either. If you go there, make sure you try the udon noodle shop! Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of the delicious udon there as I was too hungry and gobbled it all down!
After lunch, we visited the rabbit enclosure and the goat houses. I bought some rabbit feed from the machine and fed the adorable rabbits. There were so many roaming around, all different colour fur too! The goats were quite cute, poking their heads through the fence, looking at us. While I was taking some photos, one of the goats pushed another goat down the hill! It was so aggressive and scary! That poor baby!
I really didn’t want to leave this park but we had to catch the ferry back to town. I think this park would be worth visiting in the summer or spring when more flowers are in bloom. I can just imagine a field of multiple colours stretching far and wide!
We took the ferry, bus and subway back to Hakata. After a short rest, we headed out to Canal City. It is about a 20 minute walk from our hotel. We got a bit lost and had to ask a few locals for directions. They suggested taking the bus but we knew it wasn’t that far so we kept walking and eventually arrived. There was a fountain and light show there in the middle. We watched a bit of it and went to dinner. We tried their sets which looked quite enticing with nine squares filled with different delicacies. I wasn’t quite sure what everything was but they all tasted very nice.
After dinner, we walked around some of the shops there. There is a store selling lots of Studio Ghibli design stuff, especially Totoro. I bought a cute little towel for a friend. I kind of wish I had bought one for myself too! At around 9:00 p.m., there was a bigger and more exciting light and fountain show with animation projections on the walls. It was quite entertaining, even though I didn’t understand the story. The animations were from the One Piece manga series.
Day 4 (2 November 2017)
1. Hakata Machiya Folk Museum
2. Kushida Shrine
3. Traditional Craft and Design Museum
4. Bayside Place
5. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
We decided to check out some local museums in Hakata in the morning. We took the subway to Gio Station and walked about five minutes to the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum. The entrance fee is 200 yen. There is a discount coupon on the back of the Visitor’s Guide, but I discovered this a little late. It’s very cheap already anyway. The museum had lots of dolls on display and models of the old Hakata. There was a video showing the tradition of the Yamakasa Festival in Fukuoka. They spend a few days making the floats which would be used in a race between seven neighbourhoods in the Hakata city. The whole race course is five kilometres long, starting from the Kushida Shrine and ending near the Asian Art Museum.
On the other side of the museum, we saw a hall where a weaving demonstration was taking place. I even got to try doing some weaving myself too! Further in, there was a painting demonstration as well. If you have time, you can also try some painting yourself!
The Kushida Shrine was just next to the Folk Museum so we took a walk in the area before going to the Traditional Craft and Design Museum. People like to come to the shrine to pray for success in business, youth and long life. The Yamakasa Festival will take place there in the summer in July.
Next, we went to the Hakata Traditional Craft and Design Museum. Entrance is free. If you fill out a survey, you can get a postcard as a souvenir! The museum exhibit showed how silk was made and the whole process of dyeing and weaving. There were several videos explaining the whole process but we only watched one of them. I was totally amazed by the detail and the effort involved in this craft! They sold many products from the silk weaving at the souvenir shop and I bought several items for my friends. They really are quite beautiful!
After our museum hopping, we headed to Bayside Place by bus. Originally, we wanted to have a seafood lunch there, but we needed to catch a ferry to the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park and there wasn’t a lot of time for a seafood lunch. So we just bought some bread from the bakery. They were surprisingly good and really cheap! Only 100 yen each! We bought a selection and ate them on the waiting chairs next to the ferry terminal. We took the ferry to Saitozaki terminal. The ferry ride was so quiet as there were hardly anyone on it! Other than our group, there were only three other people there! We could sit anywhere we wanted! When we arrived, we still had to walk about 15 minutes to reach the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park.
This park is so much bigger than Nokonoshima Island Park. The entrance fee is even cheaper! 410 yen per persona and if you are a senior, it’s only 210 yen! There is so much to see here! Unfortunately, we only arrived at around 2:00 p.m. We had to select a few places to visit only. We decided to hit all the flower gardens including the Flower Museum, Rose Garden, Canal Water Fountain Terrace and the Floral Art Garden. We barely saw half of this enormous park and we were so sad to leave this place after only 2.5 hours there. We really need to return another time and seriously explore this place! They have animal houses, kids playground, put put golf area and several large ponds. We only saw two of them. On the other side is the Marine World Aquarium which we didn’t have time to see. I wouldn’t mind spending two days here and staying in the hotel there! I highly recommend this island visit and is so worth it! The flowers would definitely look beautiful here as there are really large fields and gardens all over this park. The parts we got to see, the flowers were quite scarce and some were damaged due to the typhoon that hit last month. However, I wasn’t too disappointed. The Flower Museum and Rose Garden are very quiet and peaceful areas with some tables and chairs to sit down and relax. The Water Fountain Terrace was a really amazing sight. We took so many photos there!
We reluctantly walked back to the ferry terminal and waited for the ferry to arrive. It was around 5:00 p.m. so we would be able to see the sunset from our ferry ride! Just before stepping onto the ferry, I saw the moon appear as well! I held up my camera on the ferry to capture the seaside view of the sun setting. What a lovely scene!
We even bumped into some sumo wrestlers when we got off the ferry!
We arrived back at the hotel and enjoyed yet another buffet dinner because they were serving Hokkaido crabs! We went totally crazy at the buffet and I don’t even remember how much food I got! I still saved some room for dessert though!
Day 5 (3 November 2017)
We went out for a traditional Japanese style breakfast and did just some more shopping around as we needed to head to the airport at around 1:00 p.m. We bought our lunch from the Hankyu Department store – sushi bento boxes, salad, and chicken wings. I also went to the book store and bought a book about Japan culture written by a self-proclaimed geek. It is quite entertaining!
I returned the wifi device when we arrived at the airport and we checked in our luggage. We then learned that our flight had been delayed and would have to wait for another hour!
This had been one of the most exciting trips I’ve had. As we did not join any tours, we navigated everywhere on our own and took public transportation. It was not as scary as I had thought and it was quite relaxing to do things at our own pace. I am looking forward to my next trip already – Nagoya!
(End of Part 2)