Yokohama to Fukuoka

 

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.

 

Home

Early Days

1st. Apt.

Mountains

Snowboard

Yoko - Fuk

Thailand

Beaches

Shimabara

Shikoku

S. Kyushu

Parties

UK 1998

Yamakasa

China

Kites & Balloons

99 Islands

Sue / Japan

UK 2000

N. Japan

O-tori

 

 

Unfortunately, soon after we arrived the weather turned all English.

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...

Hiroshima.

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 war.

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.