I haven’t had much opportunity to play tourist here in Fukuoka, mainly because I’m having to be a resident for real, which means locating important places – post offices, grocery stores, 100 yen stores, Animate, Lupicia tea shops (yes, my definition of important probably differs from the norm!) – and getting stuff for the apartment so I can settle in. Which isn’t to say I haven’t seen anything yet, but my touristy ways have been limited to a quickie intro to the Daimyo area of bars/restaurants, Tenjin’s vast array of shopping, and my immediate neighborhood.
My neighborhood is an odd mix. It’s mostly residential, as far as I can tell, but with some small businesses and an interesting assortment of eateries that mostly open only after dark. Within 3 minutes’ walk, I have:
- my branch post office (with handy Japan Post ATM)
- a 24 hour grocery store
- a drug store
- a German bakery
- an amazing coffee shop
- a Jamaican restaurant
- a Korean BBQ place
- a sushi place (apparently very good)
- a small Japanese restaurant that used to be a Spanish restaurant
- an even smaller Chinese restaurant (10 seats, tops, always smells delightfully of garlic)
- a dry cleaner’s
- a shoe store
- a massage parlor—er, relaxation spa (it does seem to be on the up and up)
- a take-out bento place (Hotto Motto)
- a hamburg restaurant (think hamburger steak) named, oddly, Don Quijote
- a restaurant I’m guessing is Spanish, as it’s named Pulpo (octopus)
- and then there’s the 7-11 next door, dangerously convenient
And there’s much more I haven’t fully explored. There’s also three parks, including the somewhat grassy area in front of my office/apartment, where a two day event with flea market, bands and food from the local restaurants happened over the weekend. I plan on getting to know the two bigger parks, Nishi to the north, and Ohori, to the south, this upcoming long weekend. The latter has the ruins of Fukuoka castle, an art museum, a Noh theatre and a lake with walking path.
Tenjin is a bustling – well, bustling for Fukuoka – shopping area. It’s kind of a mix between Shibuya and the Ginza. big name stores (Mitsukoshi, Daimaru, Parco) share space with more typical Japanese department stores (Solaria Stage, Tenjin Core, Vivre) and numerous little tiny stores and boutiques. Underneath it all is the Tenjin Chikaigai, or underground shopping mall, also filled with shops (found a nice blue leather and leopard print purse there on sale this weekend). There’s tons of places to eat, both inside the department stores and scattered around, and no shortage of coffee shops, whether your tastes run to Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Tully’s, Dotour or more obscure espresso bars. Two Bic Camera stores are here as well (though so far I’ve discovered Amazon Japan to be cheaper than Bic on most counts, at least, for all the items I want, except printers) and a multi-story Loft. There’s a movie theatre in the Solaria Plaza, showing a mix of Hollywood and Japanese movies.
Kego Shrine.The basement of the Parco has a specialty foods store, with some imported goods, including one of the finest selections of chocolate bars I’ve ever seen. And they have my Shirokuma shio (salt) ramen. Will definitely be back! The Vivre is home to the local Animate, which is well-stocked, if overwhelmingly busy on Saturday mornings. There’s an excellent Daiso 100 yen store across the street from the Vivre, filled with many inexpensive (most items are 108 yen, including tax) and useful things. My apartment has a wide variety of cute, pink things from there. There are a number of organic makeup/facial product stores in the chikaigai I will be visiting in the future.
There’s also two shrines in Tenjin, Suikyo Tenmangu, across from the ACROS complex, and
Tomorrow, which is a national holiday (Showa Day), I’ll explore Hakata briefly, at least around the station.