ryokan

Fukuoka: Robot Days and Ramen Nights

Fukuoka is anything but historic.

Yes, the area was invaded by the Mongols in 1274. Yes, there are the ruins of the 1603 Fukuoka Castle. And, true enough, we are staying in the very traditional Ryokan Kashima Honkan, a delightfully creaky old building.

But this is a back story quickly lost among the sleek towers of the city. This is Japan’s fifth largest city. It’s the place to come if you are a start-up company. The buildings are shiny, modern, new and Western. It’s a place to shop, to eat, to have fun.

This is the city we have come to see. (more…)

Shikoku: Why We Walk

April 19, 2017

The next two days will see us walking down the very same highway we sped along by bus yesterday. Then, it took a little over an hour to be whisked to Uwajima. Today’s 28-kilometre walk – 5 hours of solid walking at a brisk pace – will only get us part of the way there.

So why walk? Why not just take the bus? Today’s trek speaks to those questions.

As slow as two-footed locomotion may be, there is an intensity to the experience where every step can reveal something new. A chance to look up, down and around, to catch aromas from someone cooking as we pass by, to hear all kinds of sounds – to reflect – minute-by-minute.  (more…)

Shikoku: Temples

April 17, 2017

A slight drizzle accompanies our way out of Sukumo. Light enough to pack our rain coats away, letting the cool dew dampen our clothes and drip off the brows of our conical hats.

We head inland, away from the sea and up into the hills, following small roads and forest trails, cutting our way through dense fog. Out of the hazy white emerge splashes of vibrant colour. Wild rhododendron hang above us. Flourishes of red, yellow, white blossoms line our path. We pass through small hill villages and orchards of buntan, a large bright yellow citrus fruit, similar-looking to grapefruit. The pungent scent of Japanese onions comes and goes like the mist. (more…)