Aigoo Adventures: Kyushu 2017

Aigoo Adventures

Last month, over Memorial Day weekend, I travelled back to Japan to visit Fukuoka and Karatsu! I chose to visit there mostly because I wanted to see Karatsu Castle, which was featured in Yuri!!! On Ice as Hasetsu Castle. With Karatsu being an hour away from Fukuoka by train, I decided that it made sense to fly into Fukuoka and find accommodation, and then just do a quick day trip to Karatsu and still have a bit of time to check out Fukuoka. Plus, the plane ticket was so cheap ($157 roundtrip with Jeju Air!), and so off I went on a short weekend trip to Kyushu, the southernmost island of mainland Japan. Enjoy this post about my trip, and keep an eye out for my next travel post in July, for I am making my way to Busan!

Flying to Fukuoka

This was my first time flying with Jeju Air, a Korean low-cost carrier. This time, I flew out of Incheon International Airport. The nice thing was that I was able to check into the “City Airport” at Seoul Station (including my luggage), and ride the express train to the airport (there was a small discount), and go straight to security (yahoo!). The neatest part about this was that there were no queues in the City Airport. I think this service is under-utilised, but I’m sure it will be a popular option soon with the 2018 Winter Olympics coming up. Anyway, my plane ride to Fukuoka was okay, despite leaving late. Thank goodness it was short.

Hakata Homecoming

Apartment Hotel in Hakata Apartment Hotel in Hakata Apartment Hotel in Hakata

I found this apartment hotel that recently opened up in March. I took a cab from Fukuoka Airport because it was nearby. I’m glad I did because the place was actually about a kilometre away from Hakata Station, and lugging my suitcase and backpack for that long would not have made me happy. This was a cool little place! It was clean, the bed was super comfortable, and the bathroom was decent. However, the toilet was in a tiny closet — sitting down, my leg went out the doorway! Also, this place came with a kitchen, but no refrigerator, which made no sense to me. Oh, and there wasn’t a desk. Those cons aside, I did like the place, and I liked how there was a Family Mart across the street.

Amazing Animate

Animate Tenjin Animate Tenjin Animate Tenjin Doujinshi Stash

After I dropped my luggage off at the flat, I made my way to Hakata Station to go to Tenjin Station for Animate! I admit to going a bit crazy in there, especially when I saw all the Yuri!!! On Ice merchandises, and this was where I spent one-third of my budget. Oops? I don’t regret it, though. I only wished they had some figurines, but I didn’t see any or missed them. This Animate is smaller than its main store in Tokyo, but I feel like it had much better selections than Osaka Animate did! Needless to say, my heart (well, more like my wallet) succumbed to this place.

Train Trekking

Karatsu Castle Karatsu Castle Yuri!!! On Ice Display in Karatsu Station

I woke up early to catch a direct train at 6:50am to Karatsu Station from Hakata Station. The ride took about an hour, and I saw the Japanese countryside and its coast. It was a beautiful train ride. In Karatsu, I discovered a small town that kind of made me feel like I was in Hakodate. I took a cab to Karatsu Castle, and upon my arrival, I walked around in circles trying to figure out how to get up to the castle. Once I did, I admired the castle, ran away from a humongous bee, and met some fellow Yuri!!! On Ice fans who were also doing the YOI pilgrimage. When I finished, I walked back to Karatsu Station, and there I saw the YOI display in front of the tourist office. It cracked me up!

Park Pleasure

Ohori Park Ohori Park Ohori Park Ohori Park

I rode the train back to Fukuoka, and I checked out Ohori Park. Actually, I came to this park for the Japanese garden, but that is on the southern end of the park, and the subway station is at the northern end. The park was quite decent! I feel like this is Fukuoka’s Central Park, and it’s a lovely place to come to unwind, exercise, or socialise.

Gorgeous Garden

Ohori Park's Japanese Garden Ohori Park's Japanese Garden Ohori Park's Japanese Garden Ohori Park's Japanese Garden

However, my goal was this garden, and this was a super lovely garden! It does have a small admission fee, but it is 190 yen ($1.80 USD). For that amount, this garden was worth it. It’s a pretty small garden, but it was so relaxing. The landscapes were eye candy, and a lot of people must think so, too, for there were two couples doing a wedding photo shoot or something. I have to say that this garden and Animate made my trip.

Ramen and Roaming

Shirodama Ramen at Ippudo Sannoten

I returned to Hakata Station, and I spent far too much time wandering around looking for two items on my shopping list — both requested by friends. Let me say right now that I really, really hated Hakata Station. It was crowded, confusing, and complicated. I thought Seoul Station and Gangnam Station were awful, but Hakata Station really ticked me off. After my horrible shopping excursion, I returned to my flat area afterwards, and I had a really late breakfast and lunch in Family Mart. By then, I’d walked 22,000 steps, and my feet rebelled against me. I was so exhausted and aggravated by a certain station, that I ended up taking a three-hour nap in the flat. When I woke up, I had dinner at Ippudo Sannoten; I had their shirodama ramen, gyoza, and this amazing cold tea. I asked the waitstaff for the name, but I wasn’t able to catch it. Full and content, I wandered around my flat area before returning to pack.

Final Fancies

Yuri!!! On Ice Souvenirs

I had the flat owner call me up a cab to the airport. Once there, I discovered that Fukuoka Airport is pretty bad. I waited in three wrong queues before finding the correct one. The airport is so small that the airline queue blends into the other check-in counters’ queues, so that was how I ended up in three wrong lines. Thankfully, the staff were nice, but the airport layout and size really wasn’t up to par for an international airport. That aside, I bought all these Japanese snacks in duty-free shop. I also tried vending machine french fries because I was curious and mystified. End results: it was microwaved fries, and it sucked. Eventually I boarded, and my flight was uneventful. Back in Korea, I took the limousine bus to Hyatt Hotel, and Daddy picked me up.

To conclude this post, I didn’t like Fukuoka. I love Japan, have always considered it my happy place, but Fukuoka, unfortunately, didn’t make me happy. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hakodate, and Karatsu left me content, but Fukuoka left a sour taste in my mouth. I also realised that Fukuoka just didn’t feel like Japan, and if anything, it felt like I was in Korea. According to what I saw online, Fukuoka is recommended as one of the first places to visit in Japan to get a good feel for the country, and that because it’s a smaller city, so it would be less overwhelming. I beg to differ and say that Hakodate would be my first city to recommend to people. There were a couple great things about Fukuoka, but for the most part, I am not keen on returning. Sorry, Fukuoka, but Hakodate stole my heart!

Comments

  1. Your trips to Japan are making me really want to visit! I think I’d have to group it all together, though, so basically do SK, Japan and stuff in one biiiig trip. Save money~

    Your apartment is cute! It’s a shame about the other stuff like no fridge and small toilet. How can you have a kitchen with no fridge? Not even a mini one? Lol.

    I saw your photos on Twitter of Animate and it looked so cool! I also love the display at the tourist office – bless them. They must get loads of visitors now because of Yuri!!! On Ice.

    The gardens will gorgeous. How beautiful does Fukuoka look? Gosh, I really just want to jump on a plane and go exploring! Also, I really want ramen now. I was literally been craving it all this week. I’ll be at work and randomly be like, “I want ramen” 😂

    I’m coming to you for Japan tips, once I decided when to go and when I have the money. Haha.

    Still, I’m sorry to hear that Fukuoka left a bad taste in your mouth – I guess you live and you learn, am I right?! Plus, it’s always great discovering new places even if you end up not liking it!

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  2. That’s awesome that you took a day trip to Karatsu! Ever since I saw it in YOI, I’ve been wanting to go, but it’s not near the areas of Japan I want to visit next, so it’s kind of inconvenient. (I want to go back to the Kyoto area and also see Hokkaido.) I’m glad YOI has helped the tourism there though!

    Oh my goshhhh the YOI merchandise in Animate. I’m jealous. I’d buy so many things! I have a couple YOI figures on pre-order, but they haven’t released yet. I want them to ship sooo bad.

    The park and garden look beautiful! They both look very peaceful, especially being able to walk by the waterside. That’s too bad the Fukuoka Airport is so confusing though. Traveling is already kind of stressful, so it’s even worse if the airport isn’t good. Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy Fukuoka that much either. Hopefully your next Japan trip will be better!

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  3. It’s so awesome that you got to go on a weekend trip back to Japan! I’m jelly that the plane ticket was so cheap! Whenever I fly, I try to go to the nearest “city airport” because of the shorter lines! Your apartment hotel looks cute! I’m not sure why there wouldn’t be at least a mini fridge in the room. Hope that didn’t stop you too much!

    UG I would go crazy over the stationery goods in Animate!! I love it whenever I have something in common with strangers. The easiest way to have a conversation XD. The garden is so beautiful! For that price, it was totally worth it! I skipped out on a garden once because it was $19 and I really regret it now @___@.

    I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like Fukuoka. At least you had the chance to experience the place and know to not return! I’m definitely keeping a note about where I should travel in Japan (in a few years to come XD). Thanks for sharing your experience :).

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  4. Awww, I’m sorry that you didn’t like Fukuoka! Hope I didn’t hype it too much for you on my blog :( Personally, I didn’t have much to compare it with since it was my first city in Japan, but I tell people now that maybe a day there would be enough. Other bloggers do say it’s a great jump-off point for the rest of Kyushu.

    At least you thought Ohori was nice! Certainly one of the loveliest parks I’ve ever been to! (It could also be because I went there during fall, so the colors are livelier!)

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  5. Sorry to hear you weren’t a fan of Fukuoka. It’s always a shame when reality doesn’t meet your expectations. It’s strange that people recommend it so much, when it isn’t all that. At least there’s plenty more places to visit!

    All the Yuri on Ice! stuff you got is so cool. I’d have loved to have visited a store with so much merchandise. I wish anime was as popular in the U.K. I mainly rely on cons/the internet to get my anime merch! I absolutely love the Yuri display! That’s so cool!

    As if your hotel didn’t have a fridge in the kitchen. Can it even be a kitchen without a fridge? I’d have been so annoyed, especially if I was planning to eat in the apartment!

    Hope your next trip goes much better!

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  6. Thats a shame that Fukuoka left a sour taste in your mouth, it looks really nice from the pictures, especially that park – it’s gorgeous! I actually don’t hear about people recommending Fukuoka much, everyone seems to either recommend Osaka/Kyoto or Hokkaido, which are definitely at the top of my list of cities to visit next in Japan. I hope your next trip goes much better!

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  7. I’m sorry to hear Fukuoka wasn’t your cup of tea, and Hakata Station! I remember you saying so on Twitter, what a shame. Your apartment looks lovely, though the size of the bathroom does sound a concern!

    Look at all the merchandise! I think you did well to only spend a third of your budget! If I saw that much Harry stuff I wouldn’t be able to control myself.

    The garden looks beautiful, so serene! What a wonderful place to relax!

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  8. Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Fukuoka as much as you were hoping to! It’s on my list to visit, but it’s definitely not a priority. Personally, I’m more of a “city girl,” so I want to explore Osaka a lot, visit Tokyo often, dabble around in Kyoto…all of which are fairly close to me, or at least closer than Fukuoka. If I want a taste of non-city Japan, I want to visit Hokkaido or Okinawa. I’ve heard fantastic things about both places!

    As always, your photos are gorgeous! I like the idea of an “apartment hotel,” and I think it looks super neat and clean. Weird it doesn’t have a refrigerator, but maybe that’s a thing there..? Huh.

    Ha, I love that you spend one-third of your budget at Animate! I remember you tweeting about that and thought it was wonderful. :P I can only imagine the great goods they had in there. For me, I really want to visit the Pokémon Center in Tokyo. Pokémon was a big part of my childhood and I want an adorable Charmander plush. Luckily for me there’s a Center in Osaka, but I really want to get to the Tokyo one!

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  9. Omg I love the garden! And $1.80 is a total steal to be able to witness such a spectacular treasure

    I have yet to see Yuri On Ice but after seeing so many people talk about it, I may just have to start it.

    I’m so glad you had a nice time and I enjoyed looking at your photos! Looking forward to hearing about your trip in July!

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  10. I thought I commented on this post but I guess I didn’t?? But wow $1.80 USD for the admission fee??? That’s so crazy. The admission fee to a Japanese garden in the states would be so much more expensive. Which I guess makes sense but still mind-blowing!

    I liked all your pictures of Karatsu and Fukuoka! The castle is really pretty. I’ve never heard of the Animate store but it looks really interesting as well. It looks like they have a wide range of products. It’s cool that you were able to pick up so many products you liked! I would be interested in seeing a Japanese haul, haha. I imagine you pick up a lot of things while you’re there!

    I can’t wait to hear about your trip to Busan. I definitely want to go visit on a future trip to Korea!

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  11. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy Fukuoka! At least you now know and are aware of this – thanks for sharing your experience, I’ve been looking at Japan/Korea recently for my trip next year so this is useful! I will definitely look at your recommendations, I have to admit Hakodate has really sparked my interest!

    Hahaha at spending your budget really quickly! I know that feel, I had that a lot when I went to NYC. The first 5 days I was already like omg, I’m out of money! I was crazyily spending but don’t regret it at all for the experience and memories!

    I am still really shocked by the $1.80 USD entry fee????? Comparing it to NYC, tickets ANYWHERE wouldn’t be less than $18 omg!

    I know how you feel about complicated stations – I had a similar frustrating experience in NY, the subways were SO confusing to the point I got on wrong ones all the time and wasted so much of the daytime trying to figure it out?! Gah!

    Have fun in Busan though! <3

    Reply

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