23 October 2011

3 Cities: Kumamoto x Fukuoka x Tokyo

Sorry, sorry, sorry...did I mention that I was sorry?! I know it has been so long since I've updated my blog! I thought to myself that this is a new year and so one of my resolutions should be to actually start writing in my blog more frequently. But before I can start doing that I need to write about everything that's been happening with me since October 2011.

I will change the date on each post to reflect the month that everything happened in and not the date in which I wrote it. So let's start with the month of October!

During this month it actually made 6 months since I had been in Japan which was a nice milestone to reach without having any major problems. Also in my company all of the Native Teachers have a lighter schedule during one of the weeks in October which is referred to as Halloween Week. During this week only the Japanese Teachers teach the students and so all of the NTs can have near enough a week off work. For me it worked out to be 3 days off, 2 days on then 4 days off again.

Because I had already received my yearly calendar I knew exactly when this week in October would actually happen so I told my mum if she wanted to visit me here in Japan that during the week of the 17th would be best. She ended up arriving on Sunday 16th which was even better. Although due to my mother not using her phone here in Japan it was a little difficult to communicate with her to arrange the best time to meet at Kumamoto Airport. It was actually a good thing that I missed the original bus that I had intended to get to meet her because her flight was actually delayed. It was really nice to see my mum here in Japan after feeling slightly lonely here in Japan at times.

The next day I took my mum to some of the familiar places in Kumamoto such as Kumamoto Castle and Suizenji Park. We also tried to go to the Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens but for some reason it was closed. My mum seemed quite impressed with Kumamoto Castle and she also enjoyed Suizenji Park. I also thought it was a nice place when I visited it for the first time. Later in the evening we went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes at the local Kadokawa Cineplex. This trip actually made it the second time that I had been to this cinema. I don't really go to the cinema here in Japan very often as some of you probably already know its quite expensive. One ticket costs ¥1,800 which is around £15 and this is just for the normal cinema! After the movie (It was really good by the way, I recommend it.) we went to eat at one of the restaurants just off Shimotori Arcade named Curry and Ethnic. It was my first time here too but the food was pretty nice and not so expensive at around ¥1,000 for one of their dishes.

The next day we went to Fukuoka City. Fukuoka City is about 2 hours away from Kumamoto City by bus or train. But I would suggest getting the bus because you can purchase a return ticket for ¥3,600 as opposed to ¥4,000 if you were to take the train. This was actually the first time that I had been to Fukuoka as well if I don't include my trip to the Airport.

Because it was both our first time to Fukuoka I was relying on the website WikiTravel as a guide for us in the City. The first place we ended up was the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum which gave us some historical information about the Hakata area. Right near the museum was a shrine which also had a giant type of sculpture which had many different types of figures on it such as Samurai, Priests, Horses and other interesting figures. I'm not sure what this type of sculpture is called otherwise I would provide you with a link. We also saw a smaller version of this inside the Museum.

Once we were finished at the shrine we walked over to Canal City Hakata. I had heard of this place before but once we got there I was quite impressed with the design and thought that Kumamoto could use a nice place like this. We didn't buy anything there however because a lot of the items were name brand and kind of expensive. From Canal City we walked to the the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum where we could see many interesting pieces created by artists all over the Asian continent.

Whilst I was at the museum I had remembered that my friend in Kumamoto had told me about a Jamaican Restaurant/Bar in the Fukuoka area that I should check out. I had a look for it on my iPhone using google maps and we were able to find it pretty easily. The name of the Restaurant/Bar was Xaymaca and it is run by a guy named Allan. He was very friendly and welcoming once we go there. He was also curious as to how we found the place since it was our first time here. I told him that a friend had told me about it in Kumamoto. However we couldn't stay there very long due to the last bus leaving Fukuoka for Kumamoto at about 11pm. So we had to make a quick dash back to Bus Station before it was too late. But overall we had a nice day in Fukuoka.

The next evening in Kumamoto we met up with a couple of my friends who are currently teaching on the JET programme. Both of them are from Jamaica which my mum was quite surprised by the first time I told her about them before she came to Kumamoto. We all went to Za-Watami right near the entrance to the Kamitori Shopping Arcade. This was the first time that I had also been to Za-Watami but I have to say that the food there was quite nice and it has now become my Izakaya of choice even though I do not drink. My mum also thought the food here was quite nice. We both thought it was so nice that we ended up going to the same place the next day for dinner.

When it was time for my mum to leave Japan she would be doing so from Tokyo. So I thought I could see her off at Haneda Airprot in Tokyo. But I thought it's not every day I go to Tokyo and so wanted to spend more time there. So I left one the Friday morning when my mum would arrive in Tokyo on the Saturday evening then catch her flight to London on the Sunday. I ended up staying in Kamata due to its location to the Airport and also due to the fact my mother had a really early flight so we wouldn't be able to take the train to the station. Luckily right near Kamata Station is an Airport Shuttle Bus that takes about 20 minutes and costs less than ¥300 which was very convenient.

I landed in Tokyo on the Friday and thought this would be a good time to check out Club Jamaica in Shibuya. Also this night happened to be a memorial service for a Japanese dancer named Issy who unfortunately died in a car crash. I was able to meet up with some more people that I previously had only knew from Facebook. This was a pretty good night because a lot of the people in the club were dancers so it was pretty fun.

Because I was in Tokyo again I thought it would be a good idea for me too meet up with some of my friends that I knew from Facebook. However two of them had to cancel to due one being sick and the other had to work that weekend. But I was still able to meet up with Kaori. This would actually be the first time that I met Kaori. I wasn't sure about what we should do so she suggest going to Odaiba since I hadn't been there before. We both ended up running a bit late but luckily we both got on the same connecting train towards Odaiba. I remember thinking that she was quite pretty and when we were with each other it felt like we had already met before.

We ended up just walking around Odaiba and talking. We went and had lunch/dinner at this Izakaya type place but I was a little disappointed with the food because it wasn't so cheap and the portions were kinda of small. After we had finished eating we went for a walk around the area again since now it had become night. The Rainbow Bridge looked really nice at night since now it had all of its lights turned on. After we had finished here we walked to Venice Fort which was a Venice themed shopping mall. We hung out there a little while mostly just talking. We couldn't hang out for very long however because Kaori had to meet up with her cousin and I had to pick my mum up from the Airport. But I had a really nice time with her it felt really natural like I said before it was like we had met before.

I went straight to the Airport from Odaiba but once I got there I couldn't find my mum. Because she didn't have a phone it made it difficult sometimes to contact her. Luckily she had used one of the pay phones at the Airport and left me a message. It turns out I was waiting at the wrong part of the Airport for her and that's why I couldn't find her. I remember she wanted to see Shibuya and the famous crossing there but it was about 10pm and I thought it's too late to do anything worth while in the area. So we ended up just going back to the hotel.

The next day I took my mum back to the Airport and saw her off. I was feeling really tired because she her flight was at maybe 5:45am or something. Once I got back to the hotel I went straight to bed. I remember once I woke up I sent Kaori a message asking what she was doing and she said just hanging out with her cousin. I told her I didn't have any plans for the day and she thought I couldn't come all the way to Tokyo and not do anything so she told me to come out and meet her and her cousin. I thought sure since she was kind of right about coming all this way.

I met Kaori and her cousin Akemi at Shinjuku Station. This was actually the first time I had been to Shinjuku even thought I had been to Tokyo quite a few times. We ended up going to an Izakaya in the area which happened to be better than the one that we went to in Odaiba. After that we hung out in one of the arcades near the Izakaya. However shortly after that Akemi had to go back home because she had to go to study. So Kaori and I just talked some more and walked around Shinjuku. I remebered that the Love Sculpture was in Shinjuku and I wanted to see it. So using google maps on my phone we managed to find it. After that we walked back to the station and said bye to each other. Once again I had a nice time hanging out with Kaori.

The next day I went to Yokohama since I had never been here before and it was close to my hotel in Kamata. The first place I went to was Chinatown, once I got there it reminded me a lot of the one back in London. After Chinatown I went for a walk along the river front. I then randomly went to the Yokohama Customs Museum just because it was there. However inside they had some interesting things that they had seized from various people. Some of the items included weapons, drugs and fake designer goods. I then continued to walk down along the river towards Yokohama Cosmo World which is home to the worlds largest clock which doubles as a Ferris Wheel. After I was done there I had to made a bit of a mad rush back to my hotel in Kamata where I had left my suitcase and then make my way to the Airport.

But October was a very interesting month with my mum coming to visit me here in Japan and also spending time with Kaori. I was able to visit Fukuoka and also places in Tokyo I hadn't been to before. So it was a nice month.

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