Our first adventure outside the city took us to the town of Dazaifu. The city is about a 30 minute train trip southeast of Fukuoka. According to our brochure, 1,300 years ago this is where Kyushu was governed from and the seat of government stayed there for about 500 years. The shrine that currently resides there was built in 1591. It is probably the most important Tenmangu Shrine in Japan. The shrine is dedicated to the god(s) of learning – I am thinking about a field trip here for my classes before our next big test. 🙂
A group of 11 of us took the trip to visit the monthly flea market and learn the ins and outs of train tickets and station transfers. We did a pretty good job except for when we found ourselves doing a stand-up comedy routine for the local Japanese passengers by going to the wrong platform (where no one else was) and sitting on the wrong train (which was empty) until the station manager told us to go to a different platform. A good rule thumb in Japan: if you go to a train platform and no one else is there and then you get on the train and no one else is on it, then chances are you are not in the right place. When we finally got to the right train, two older Japanese men next to us looked and pointed over to where we had been and were laughing “with us”.
The grounds of the shrine were beautiful and the buildings were very interesting. But..it was brutally hot and humid. Rose and I walked around and took in the scenery and shopping as much as possible but we had to get inside to some air conditioning.
So, we headed to the National Museum. We were glad we did…the architecture was stunning and the history on the inside was very educational. We certainly know a lot more about the role the Chinese and Koreans played in the history of Japan than we did before we went.
We finally had lunch around 1:45, and I was starving. We were on our own at that point, so we just picked a restaurant on the main street that looked good. A young girl brought us our menus (which fortunately had a few pictures) and we played our usual game of “food roulette”. I ended up with some cold soba noodles mixed with a broth topped with shredded egg, wasabi, and re-hydrated fish of some kind. It was fantastic and very refreshing after the hot day. Rose ended up with a bowl of rice topped with a battered pork cutlet, a cooked egg and some type of sauce. And yes, it was also very good. After lunch we met up with the rest of our group and rode the trains back to Fukuoka without incident. We are all expert train travelers now!
Click on any picture to see more photos of this trip.