Typhoon delays and Osaka

I can't believe it's already September! In under 3 weeks i'll be in Tokyo for a little family vacation, and in 3 and a half months, i'll be back home in Australia for Christmas!

Continuing on with my work trip, on Tuesday Typhoon Goni hit Kyushu. This was problematic because we were meant to leave Fukuoka early in the morning so we could arrive at Osaka and go to the University in the afternoon. We spent the whole day in Fukuoka waiting and waiting for the trains to start running again. Finally at 7:30pm, we boarded our Shinkansen and didn't arrive at our hotel in Osaka until 11:30pm. Unfortunately this meant missing the day at Osaka University and also I was too exhausted to get to do any exploring of the city. Luckily i've been to Osaka many times before so I wasn't too disappointed. 

When we arrived I spotted a really lovely mural on the wall and managed to get out early in the morning to take a photo of it. We spent he rest of the morning at Osaka University, and then left straight after lunch to head to Tokyo...

Crowds of people at Hakata station waiting for the trains to start running again.

A much deserved exhaustion shinkansen beer

Late night Umeda/Osaka

I really loved this mural.

More Fukuoka

Before inundating you with more shrine photos from Fukuoka, I thought i'd show you some of the rest of the city. Even though I only had an afternoon/evening to explore, I feel like I did it justice and I really liked the city. I will definitely consider going back with my family when I feel the need to escape the island.

For dinner, I really wanted to try Hakata ramen. I love ramen, and just before I left Melbourne Hakata Gensuke Ramen opened in Melbourne. I thought I should try ramen at it's origin. Every night in Fukuoka, yatai food stalls open up all over the place. I headed for the ones by the river for the setting. It seemed to me that they all mostly sold the same thing - ramen, yakitori, oden and beer. I randomly chose one and ordered. Honestly, it was good, but not mind blowing, but I think that's just because the yatai stalls aren't trying to be anything fancy, and are catering to tourists to a certain extent. Still, I was satisfied and am glad I went to one.

Sunset over the river

Yatai food stalls

Well deserved after an afternoon walking all around the city

That's oden floating in the soy soupy mix.
Hakata ramen!

Assorted yakitori

The next day I was down to business. We headed out to Kyushu University for some lab tours, and for me to meet with the careers services there (for students, not me).

After we got back to the hotel in the evening, I was super exhausted, but managed to work up a tiny bit of energy to go to the Tokyu Hands at Hakata Station, just across from my hotel. If you don't know Tokyu Hands, it is a "Creative life store" basically full of everything you could ever imagine, from household goods, to super cute stationary, and luggage. There is a tiny one in Okinawa, but this one was about 5 floors, so I had to go in. The nest day we were supposed to be leaving on a super early shinkansen to Osaka to be at Osaka University by the afternoon, but Typhoon Goni hit Fukuoka, and we couldn't leave until 7:30pm. The day involved a lot of waiting and frustration, before finally making it to Osaka at almost 11:30pm!

Ramen shops everywhere!

A one man car. The smallest i've ever seen!

Best store ever

Hakata station

Sumiyoshi Shrine Fukuoka

This week I am on a trip for work which is taking me from Fukuoka, in Kyushu at the south of the mainland, right up to Hokkaido, and the top, with stops in Osaka and Tokyo in between.

We arrived in Fukuoka yesterday, just beating the typhoon out of Okinawa, and were lucky enough to get the afternoon free to explore. I've never been to Fukuoka before so I tried to cram in as much as possible. What I wanted to do the most was visit some shrines and temples, because there aren't really any in Okinawa, and they are one of the things I miss the most about mainland Japan.

First stop was Sumiyoshi Jinja (shrine), which was chosen mostly because it was only a short walk from my hotel. Sumiyoshi Jinja is a Shinto Shrine, in the Hakata area of the city. It was really lovely, and even though it was really hot out, as soon as walking into the shrine grounds, everything seemed much cooler than the rest of the city.

I love Koi. One day I would love my own koi pond.

This tiny shrine was really cute

This tree had grass growing on it's branches.

I love the scaffolding to keep the branches up!

Love this orange colour!

I got my fortune, and asked some people whether it was good. They said it was ok. Not bad, but not amazing.

Hi from the mainland!

Tour Guide for a day

Right now we have visitors from Canada, and yesterday I was lucky enough to take the day off work to play tour guide around the island for their first full day in Okinawa. Luckily, we had the most perfect weather!

The first plan for the day was to go snorkelling at Cape Maeda, but for some reason (I have no idea why - maybe a bad rip or something) it was closed. Not letting that deter us, we headed down to Maeda Beach to try snorkelling there. I think everyone else who had wanted to snorkel at the Cape was also there, but we didn't care. The water was super clear, and the snorkelling was actually great. We saw heaps of amazing fish, then came back up to the beach to rest. Over to the right side of the beach was a little rocky alcove that was empty of people (amazing, considering the rest of the water was teeming with snorkelling groups), so we perched ourselves in the little secluded slice of paradise.
I think this is my new favourite beach spot.

Even though Maeda Beach was crowded, we found this little private slice of paradise.

These little fish had a nibble on my feet!
After lots of morning beach time, we headed to Cafe Doka Doka (mostly to show my visitors the amazing view) and had taco rice and mango juice for lunch.

Taco Rice lunch at Doka Doka
After lunch we headed for our second beach of the day, Sun Marina. By this stage the sun was super hot, and I was really paranoid about getting burnt, so we didn't stay in the water too long, and I kept a towel wrapped around my shoulders while we walked over the sea wall and bridges. Alas, I still ended up with the worst sunburn I think i've had in about 20 years!

Sun Marina Beach

Finally, we ended the day at Onna no Eki for the tropical shaved ice dessert I had in my last post.
It was basically my idea of the perfect Okinawa day, and i'm so glad that I got to share it with some first-time visitors.

That's right. That's around $50 for two big mangoes!

Summer leave date day

The leave policy at my work is awesome. Every year during summer, we get 7 additional days of leave to take (but they must be used during July, August or September - you don't use, you lose). Anyway, H and I used one of these leave days on Monday to give ourselves a long weekend and have a child free date day.
The original plan was to do some snorkelling, but the weather was rainy and we were enjoying some quiet time too much. We did eventually get out of the house and decided to try a Thai place in Yomitan, that we hadn't been to before. Shirokuma is super cute! It's open everyday for lunch and dinner except Wednesdays. The interior is really lovely and quirky and the staff were really nice. They were happy to adjust the dishes to vegetarian for H.

Inside Shirokuma
H chose the curry sampler, which had all three curry options in little serves ( red, yellow and green) and even though it was a Thai restaurant, I couldn't resist trying the pho. Pho is one of my all time favourite foods, and I had never seen it on a menu in Japan, let alone Okinawa (I'm sure you can get it, i've just never seen it). Anyway, the curries were delicious, and the pho was also really good.  We will definitely be going back there.

The lunch curry sampler

Beef Pho
After lunch we stopped in at Onna no Eki for dessert and got this amazing shaved ice tropical dessert. These are really the best during summer! The colour of the dragon fruit was crazy vibrant.

Kakigori dessert

All in all, even though the weather kind of sucked, we had a lovely day.

Maeda Flats and Cape Maeda

So a few weekends ago, when we had lovely weather we decided to try out a new beach, Maeda flats. Prior to this, I met up with a work friend who had never been snorkelling at Cape Maeda, even though she had lived up the road for more than a year, so we went and had a snorkel there before meeting up with my family at Maeda flats beach.
Maeda beach was really lovely. There is lots of shady areas, so there's no need to bring a beach umbrella or a tent, and the water was gorgeous. It is nice at low or high tide as well, which is great.
While we were there we met some lovely Japanese people that had lived in Australia, and offered us some of the giant watermelon they were eating! Delicious! 
There are quite a few different beach areas at Maeda. We went down the path across the road from Pizzeria Da Enzo. You just park your car on the side of the road and walk down.

I finally got a photo of these fish that accurately depicts the colours!

My friend enjoying hanging with the fish at Cape Maeda

Maeda Flats Beach

It's hard to see, but I spotted three poisonous lionfish while I was snorkelling at Maeda which freaked me out a bit. If you look closely it's in the middle on the left side of this picture
Not my picture, but this is what I saw.