Autumn 1996, and the time had come to leave Yokohama
to open a new school in Fukuoka. Rather generously we elected to drive
the van and half of our possesions the 1,000 + kilometers there, and
make a holiday of it into the bargain.
First stop was Kyoto, and after a few temples (once
you've seen one...) we headed to the old daimyo's abode with its 17th
century intruder alarms - ingenious squeaky floorboards.
Yoko - Fuk
Kites & Balloons
Sue / Japan
Unfortunately, soon after we arrived the weather turned
English, that is, except the temperature remained at
a steamy 30 C + throughout the rain.
Back into the airconditioned car and onto...
Akagi-cho, Shimane. (See Snowboarding) Lovely spot
to visit, but how James "The Loose Canon" stuck it out for
2 years I'll never know. Every morning at 7:00am a siren sounds, followed
by a, "Hi-de-Hi! Morning Campers!" message. 9:00am - "Time
for work and school!" 12:00 - "Lunchtime!", 13:00 - "Back
to work!", 17:00 - "Time to go home to your families!"
and at 19:00, broadcast direct into every living-room (the speaker has
a volume control but no OFF switch) :-
"This is the Mayor of Akagi with todays news.
Births - none. Deaths six. The wake for Mrs Akiko Satoh will be held..."
Country towns are so desperate for young blood that
they are now literally giving houses away to young couples on the sole
condition that they STAY.
If Akagi's plight seems desperate, take a look at this
tree, found on the Japan Sea coast of Shimane before we re-crossed the
backbone of the nation to...
There is absolutely nothing remarkable about this Japanese
city. It is neat, well ordered and, above all modern, just like Tokyo,
Yokohama, Dresden or any other city that was obliterated during the
Except of course that it is different. How different,
you can't really appreciate until you visit the Atom Bomb Museum.
Whatever you may think about nuclear bombs, blanket
bombing of civilians etc. you have to respect the American's decision
to avoid Kyoto, Nara and palces like this, Itsukushi Island.
Left alone by man, it was still flattened by a Super
Typhoon in 1991 (weeks before Mum and Dad went to see it) and again
by another one the year after this picture was taken.
It really is very pretty, but after a quick hike down the mountain
behind the shrine (took the cable car up :-) we hoppoed back on the
ferry to the mainland, back into the van, down the last couple of hundred
kilometers of Honshu and crossed the bridge to Kyushu.
Our first day in Fukuoka, home for the next 3.5 years.
Fukuoka has won Asiaweek's Most Livable City Award
3 years straight (this year tying with Tokyo).
It is undeniably comfy, and its residents are exremely
proud that it is "Near the mountains and near the sea" (name
one Japanese city that isn't) and "is not too big and not too small".
I prefer to call it CHU-TOHANPA - halfarsed.