Some photos around Fukuoka

This year took me for the second time on a work trip that started in Fukuoka. Last year was my first time visiting Fukuoka, so I spent the half day of free time I had wandering around the city visiting temples and eating ramen at a yatai stall. This year I was much less adventurous. I think I was just excited to be in a real city (Naha, the capital of Okinawa does not classify as a city in my opinion), so I spent most of my time shopping at stores I don't usually have access to.

I wandered across to Hakata station and visited their rooftop garden and shrine that is dedicated to safe train travel. I took in the views of the city. I ate comfort food. I did my nails and a face mask in my hotel room. It was just what I needed. 

Tetsudo shrine is dedicated to safe train travel and is on the rooftop of Hakata station in Fukuoka
Tetsudo shrine on the roof of Hakata station devoted to safe train travel
You should wash your hands before you enter the shrine

Tetsudo shrine is dedicated to safe train travel and is on the rooftop of Hakata station in Fukuoka
Such a tiny shrine

Artwork on the roof of Hakata station

View of Fukuoka city from the top of Hakata station
View over Fukuoka

Flower shops in Japan are always so beautifully presented and really well priced
Florists in Japan always have the most beautiful displays

Canal city shopping complex in Fukuoka City is a really cool place, great for shopping and getting some good photos
Canal city is a shopping complex in Fukuoka city

Ichiran Ramen

While I was in Osaka on my work trip last week, I used an afternoon to wander around the Dotonbori area. It is probably my favourite area in Osaka because it is so lively and a great spot to take photos. I decided I would also use the opportunity to finally try Ichiran Ramen, one of the most popular and famous ramen places in Japan (and the world).

I used google maps to locate the closest branch, knowing I would be in for a wait. When I got to the location in Dotonbori, I could already see a large line out the front. I was, however, lucky enough to spot an Ichiran employee guiding a group of people to what looked like another Ichiran location that was newly opened. I decided to follow along instead of lining up, and it was a wise move. 

The second Ichiran location was just off Dotonbori and only a couple of minutes walk from the first one. When I got there there was only a small line, and I was seated in about 5 minutes. 

Ichiran ramen in Dotonbori, Osaka is delicious and a must-eat for the best ramen.
Check the line-up out the front of Ichiran Ramen
Some of the set options available at Ichiran ramen
Different sets you can choose
When I arrived, and employee handed me a sheet which I would use to customise my ramen. I could choose the firmess of the noodles, the level of garlic and spice as well as whether or not to include chashu (pork). Of course I chose a high level of garlic and spice!

To order, I inserted my money into the vending machine and chose the ramen and any extras I wanted to order (you could choose gyoza, egg, drinks etc). When I was finally seated in my individual booth, I gave my tickets to the staff member and my ramen was made and delivered back to me through a screen to my booth. Basically you have privacy as you slurp your noodles and no doubt make a mess! It really did feel like the best way to eat ramen. Oh, and did I mention it was delicious!

You need to order your ramen from a vending machine at Ichiran
Order what you want from the vending machine

You can choose your ramen preferences

individual booths

Delicious bowl of Tonkotsu ramen from Ichiran
The deliciousness

The less busy joint

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The best ramen in Japan - Ichiran ramen is a chain of delicious tonkotsu ramen restaurants. It is a must-try when in Japan. You can customise your ramen to your liking.

The Ichiran branch I visited is the second one in the link here and super easy to find!

A walk around Dotonbori, Osaka

This week I have been on a work trip which, so far, has taken me to Fukuoka for a couple of days, and i've just come to the end of my second day in Osaka. Today I was lucky enough to have some free time from about 3pm, so I headed out to Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori to do some shopping and eat some ramen! I had all intentions of staying out until it got dark so I could take photos of Dotonbori at night with all the neon, but i'm exhausted and need some rest before a huge day tomorrow starting with work in Kobe, and travelling to Tokyo at night.

If you ever visit Osaka, you really should make the effort to check out the Dotonbori area at night. There are TONS of restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as a lovely canal lit up by all the neon lights surrounding the area. If you're in Osaka, and want to try their famous local foods, Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, there are plenty of places in this area to try these things.

You can access the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi areas of Osaka using the Midosuji Subway line on the Osaka Subway system. I chose to get off at Shinsaibashi station and walk down the covered shopping street before arriving at Dotonbori. If you want to head straight to Dotonbori, get off at Namba station.

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.
The canal running alongside Dotonbori
The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.
The famous Glico Man sign

Always so many people in Shinsaibashi-suji

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.


Look at the line-up outside Ichiran Ramen! I was smart and went to their new location just down the street without a line :)

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.
I love the crazy restaurant fronts on Dotonbori

The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.


The Dotonbori area in Osaka is a must-see. It is the place to go to try any of the Osaka specialities like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki or Kushi Katsu, as well as shop and party until the wee hours.

So many shops along Shinsaibashi-suji
Have you ever been to Osaka? What did you think? Do you prefer Osaka or Tokyo?
”wanderfulwednesday”


Life Lately - August

Life lately has been BUSY! Very busy! My role at work has changed a fair bit, which means more work for me and we've had lots of visitors! I feel like this year has flown by since our first visitors arrived in March, and I don't think it's going to slow down until the end of the year (if it actually does).

A couple of weeks ago my family came over for a visit. My mum had been to Okinawa before when I first moved to help look after G while we got settled in, but the weather was horrible, cold and windy. I was so paranoid about the weather leading up to their visit, but it ended up being perfect. I flew up to Tokyo to meet them when they arrived. We had a whirlwind stay in Ueno, where I took them out to an Izakaya for dinner, and we spent the next morning at Sensoji Temple, then exploring Ueno before catching a flight down to Okinawa.

I was lucky enough to get summer leave while they were here so we went snorkelling every day, which everyone knows is one of my favourite things to do here in Okinawa.

This weekend I am leaving for a week long work trip visiting different universities in Japan, travelling from Fukuoka to Osaka, Kobe and Tokyo. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Japan, but am going to miss my little family like crazy!

Sea Turtle hatching in Okinawa
Sea turtle nests on my beach! Look at that cutie!

Learning the pianica
Ryu-pin at Onna no Eki in Okinawa sells the best kakigori of all!
Summer calls for Kakigori.

if you arrive to visit Sensoji temple in Asakusa early in the morning (before 10am) you can look at the beaufful shutters on the shops on Nakamise street before they open!
Shuttered shops early on Nakamise street, Asakusa Tokyo

Sensoji

The parents in Tokyo

I love koi!

Fruit stall in Ameyoko Ueno is great on a hot summers day!
I love the fruit stall in Ameyoko, Ueno

In my happy place

Coral snorkelling at Maeda Cape in Okinawa.
I need a better underwater camera

At Ocean Expo Park, Motobu

Eisa for Obon in my neighbourhood.

Lotus Flowers in Shinobazu Pond - Ueno, Tokyo


Lotus flowers in Shinobazu Pond, Ueno, Tokyo - These beautiful flowers bloom in Summer (Late July - August) and are a must see!
Lotus flowers in Shinobazu Pond, Ueno Tokyo

Last week, I was up in Tokyo for just one night, picking my parents up to bring them down to Okinawa, and was lucky enough to be in Ueno during the lotus flower blooming at Shinobazu Pond.

I've been to Ueno many many times, but don't ever recall having seen the lotus flowers in bloom. A quick Google search tells me that these flowers bloom in Late July-August, so the timing was perfect for my quick trip there!

I waded my way through the crowds of people (most of whom were playing Pokemon Go - seriously!) to snap some photos of these beauties. If you've never been to Ueno, Shinobazu Pond is split into a few different ponds, one of which is huge and completely covered in the lotus plants as far as the eye can see. The lotus flowers themselves were HUGE, about 30cm across. Anyway, I took way too many photos!

If you happen to find yourself in Tokyo at this time, I really recommend a stop in Ueno to check out these flowers. You can also have a ride on one of the swan boats while you're there!



Lotus flowers in Shinobazu Pond, Ueno, Tokyo - These beautiful flowers bloom in Summer (Late July - August) and are a must see!


Lotus flowers in Shinobazu Pond, Ueno, Tokyo - These beautiful flowers bloom in Summer (Late July - August) and are a must see!


Turtles sunning themselves

So cute!

A great activity when in Tokyo, is to take a ride on the boats in Shinobazu Pond, Ueno
Paddle boats in Shinobazu Pond

”wanderfulwednesday”