Trip to Kyushu!

For the recent long weekend, my wife and I visited Kyushu, because we’d never really spent much time there before. In this case, we mostly stuck to the northern part, around Fukuoka. One thing I’d heard about Fukuoka City is that yatai food stalls were a major part of the local culture. I’d always imagined that, say, there might be three or four out by major train stations, or something like that.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Along this river, at least on weekend evenings, there were dozens of these yatai. Probably as many as thirty or forty, with plenty of others scattered throughout the city: there were many more near the major train stations, and even just in various open spaces. We even saw one that was simply out on the sidewalk in front of a convenience store. This river is also kind of a famous part of Fukuoka City, apparently, and has the sort of large neon signs that Japanese cities’ nightlife districts tend to be known for.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the sorts of older, “animated” neon signs you’ll see in Japan that generally date back several decades. The pre-LED kind.
Our trip also took us to Dazaifu, home of Dazaifu Tenman-gu, a major shrine.
The train station architecture alone provided a solid sense of what to expect in terms of why this town is on the proverbial map.
Apparently, it’s common to come to the shrine to pray for success on, say, tests and other examinations, so there’s a ramen shop next to the station selling gokaku ramen, served in a pentagonal bowl. In Japan, wordplay is often a major part of things that are considered lucky or auspicious, and in this case, it’s based on the similarity between the words gokaku (pentagon) and gōkaku (successfully passing a test). The walk to the shrine was nice, with a number of charming old storefronts, and a definite theme of ume plums in their names and products. This makes sense: the shrine is a Tenman-gu shrine, dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, or Tenjin, and ume plums are generally associated with him. (Come to think of it, Fukuoka’s nightlife district is also named Tenjin. I wonder if there’s any connection.)
A sweets shop named “Baien,” or “Plum Orchard”
Along the way, though, we also encountered one shop that didn’t quite feel like it fully belonged there, though it was very impressive nevertheless.
I have no idea why there was such a fancy Starbucks here, but… there was! The wood design continued inside, all the way through to the back of the shop. (Pardon the animated image; it was very difficult to capture the 3D feel of the design otherwise.) Not much later, we made our way to the shrine! It was nice.
We also made our way out to Karatsu, Saga for another event while we were in Kyushu: the Karatsu Kunchi festival. Float-based festivals are always fun, and this one was very impressive.
Each part of town has its own elaborate float, made mainly of lacquered wood, and people pull the floats around town with drummers and flute players aboard, sometimes even breaking into a sprint. At some points along the route, the groups come up very close to the edge of the street, where people were gathered to watch, and turn at the last moment.
A few of them, like this goldfish one, even have articulated parts! In this case, the fins move back and forth, and the whole top part is up on a pivot to tilt it forward and back. The floats tended to draw from mythology and history, with a few giant replicas of famous samurai warriors’ masks and helmets, as well as other designs like this treasure ship…
…and this shachihoko, a sort of mythical fish that you’ll often see on Japanese castle rooftops, as a way to ward off disaster.
On the way home, I couldn’t resist taking a few photos while we were at Fukuoka Station before getting on the Shinkansen to go home. We got castella cake from Fukusaya, a famous old shop that dates back hundreds of years. They’re based in Nagasaki, but they have a shop in Fukuoka, as well. Kyushu has a long history of sweets in particular, because for a long time, all of the sugar Japan imported came in through Nagasaki’s Dejima port, and as a result it’s common to add sugar to all sorts of cooking in Kyushu, even today. On the other hand, if I am going to be honest with myself, I took this photo mostly because Fukusaya’s logo made me think of Batman.
And with that, it was time to head home. Just one thing left to do before leaving:
Time to pick up some Kyushu souvenirs. Kyushuvenirs.

谷口吉郎・吉生記念金沢建築館

今年、金沢市にオープンした谷口吉郎・吉生記念金沢建築館。
https://www.kanazawa-museum.jp/architecture/

新しいもの好きとして早速行ってきたのですが、建築の専門知識がなくても展示物を追っていくと谷口親子の偉業と建築の楽しさに触れることができる素敵な施設でした。

特に印象的だったのが、金沢の風景を望むことができる2階のフロア。
そして、こちら。
窓枠、ベンチの角、床材の接合部がすべて一直線に。
意図的なものだと想像するのですが、こんな部分にまでこだわっているのですね。
入場料も安いので、気軽に行きやすいと思います。 ただ、駐車場がないので、その点はご留意ください。


谷口吉郎・吉生記念金沢建築館
〒921-8033 石川県金沢市寺町5-1-18
TEL:076-247-3031 FAX:076-247-3032

開館時間
9:30 – 17:00 (入館は16:30まで)

観覧料金
一般310円 [260円]、65歳以上210円 [210円]、高校生以下無料
*[ ]は20名以上の団体料金
*特別展は別途料金が発生する場合があります

休館日
毎週月曜日*月曜日が休日の場合はその直後の平日
/年末年始 *12月29日から1月3日
*展示資料の整理のため休館することがあります。

にわかラグビーファン

ラグビーが熱い。
真のにわかファンだが、熱心に観ている。
不思議に思うのは、その用語だ。
”ノットリリースザボール”とかいう、笑っちゃうぐらい英語そのまんまのファウル名もあれば、”ジャッカル”という、狼の名前ような技もある。
実際、選手が団子状態のときに姫野のジャッカルは決まっているので、一体全体ジャッカルとは何なのか、まだ謎である。
ボールを前に落とす”ノックオン”。 これを覚えてからは、自分で何か前にものを落とすたびに、あぁ、ノックオン取られた と思ってしまう。落とすときはなるべく後ろに。
ラグビーをやってみたいが、メガネかけたままじゃ難しそうです。
何度観ても美しいので、稲垣のトライ動画を貼っておきます。

兼六園・金沢城公園周辺「Walking Map」

兼六園・金沢城公園周辺を歩いて巡る「見て歩きMAP」を日本語と英語の2言語で作成しました。

We have created two language pamphlets, Japanese and English, for “Seeing and Walking MAP” that walks around Kenrokuen and Kanazawa Castle Park.

石川県が誇る兼六園・金沢城公園。このパンフレットはその周辺にある8か所の名所を表・裏共にイラストや写真付きで楽しく紹介しています。

Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park, proud of Ishikawa Prefecture. These pamphlets have fun introduction to the surrounding 8 places with illustrations and photos.
英語版はこちら。海外からの観光客にもわかりやすく説明してあるので、とても好評です。ぶらぶら歩いている途中にカフェでまったりしても良し。便利なロケーションから順番に施設を巡るのも良し。誰でもこの施設を訪れれば、石川県の伝統文化をもっと知りたいと思うようになるかもしれませんね。

This is an English version. I am very pleased with the explanation given to foreign tourists in an easy-to-understand manner. You can relax at the cafe while walking around. It is also good to go around the facilities in order from a convenient location. Anyone who visits 8 facilities may want to know more about the traditional culture of Ishikawa Prefecture.

台湾旅行

先日台湾へ行ってきました。 日本によく似ているんですが、 ところどころ余白が残っている感じで、素敵な場所でした。 1日目は大雨でフライトが遅れてしまい…
夕方に到着し、火鍋が有名な「無老鍋」で夜ご飯。
日本の火鍋より、スパイスがふんだんに 使われていて、それはそれは美味しかったです。このお店、是非とも日本に進出して欲しい。 2日目は台北をブラブラしつつ、故宮博物館へ。
様々な至宝が展示されていますが、その中でも特に、 天然石を使った宝飾品がとっても綺麗で、ずっと眺めていられました。 3日目は千と千尋の神隠しの舞台でも有名な、九份へ。
九份最古の建物を使用した九份茶坊に入りました。
香り高いお茶と、高台からの景色に、大変癒されました。 夜は夜市へ。
この、モツと、牡蠣が入った麺(正式名称不明)が何とも言えず美味しかった。
出汁が凄く効いていて、麺は、そうめんのような、うどんのような…
でも、日本にはない味。
麺は細かくカットされているので、スプーンで頂きます。 滞在中はずっと快晴で、ホテルや街の人もみんな親切で、
大変満足な3日間でした。