This past weekend, I was geared up for a whirlwind trip with my boyfriend and his two friends. The three of them took the ferry from Busan but were only able to stay for about 22 hours, as their ferry left the next morning. I was excited to show them around and show off my fluency in the Japanese language and culture.
However, it turns out my weekend was not what I expected. I picked up the guys from the ferry terminal, and ran into one of my JET friends on the bus there. It was so good seeing Junkyu again, and his two friends already know me well after multiple meets ups while I was in Korea and all the Skype calls he sends me when he is with them.
I knew I would need back up figuring out things to do, so I invited a friend along. It worked out because she has been hearing me talk about my boyfriend nonstop so it’s nice that she got to meet him. Before she arrived, however, the guys wanted to get sushi. I thought ramen would be a good choice as well, since Fukuoka is famous for their ramen, but that choice was vetoed.
We went to a kaiten sushi and they ate while I snacked on fries. I’m not a fish eater, so I was starving by the time we left. I met up with my friend and we were able to eat some ramen together before setting off on our sightseeing tour. I unfortunately decided to wear some new shoes, which are high heeled boots, because my boyfriend is much taller than me and I thought it would be fun to match his height better. Big mistake on my part. I am a converse girl, so I was tripping a lot and my feet started to ache a few hours into our day.
I powered through and we took the subway to Ohori Park, which is huge. It was a gorgeous day and the weather had warmed up, so it was fun walking along and people watching. There was a bridge to a little island in the middle of a lake, and it was fun to watch the carp swimming and the ducks floating along beside us.
We stopped in a cafe which happened to be a large Mr. Donuts with a fake carousel inside. We ate cupcakes (my first time eating a cupcake in Japan!) and sipped tea while we rested our legs. We decided to go see a small shrine because I wanted to show them really Japanese cultural places. We had to walk up a big hill and it was kind of boring, but we had a fun time talking on the way there.
It got darker, which meant it was finally time for us to visit Fukuoka Tower. My boyfriend actually visited the tower after we first met. I stayed in Nagasaki but he went back to Fukuoka to sightsee. But I had never been before this past weekend, and they always light up the entire tower with lights to look like a Christmas tree around this time. The tower was beautiful inside and there were a lot of great photo opportunities. It was cozier than Tokyo Tower, and there were romantic couple spots, Santas, and beautiful views of the ocean and the city.
The best part for my boyfriend and I was going under this flower arch that was shaped like a heart. We held hand and touched heart shaped panels, completing the circuit and causing the arch to light up and a bells to ring. It was fun taking pictures as a couple. Being long distance makes our time together more special, so we try to do as many couple-type things as we can.
Night came and we went outside to see the trees lit up with blue lights, and the tower was an enormous Christmas tree. We were dazzled by all the lights and music, but we were hungry again. Unfortunately, the barbecue place we decided to eat at was so full that we would have had to wait an hour. I was frustrated and in pain, but we got to eat at a steak place instead. My head was hurting from all the translating and running around. I had to speak in Japanese, English, and Korean the whole day and it was hard to keep sane.
Finally, we made our way back to Hakata Station and took pictures with the gorgeous winter illuminations. There were Christmas trees, snowflakes, and even a stage with lots of shouting (but not exactly Christmas carols). My feet raw and our time running short, we went home for drinks and good conversation. It was nice to be able to relax for really the first time all day.
The next morning, I accompanied the Korean guys to the terminal once again, and I rode the bus home alone, when just hours before I had been with four other people. I always feel a shock of loneliness once I go home alone, especially after being around people for so long. Even though the trip was hectic and painful, it was exciting and fun, and I was sad to see it end.
Thankfully, Japan had a holiday on Monday, so I was off from school and took the day to recover. My feet really appreciated it. I was feeling blue after sending Junkyu and his friends off, so as soon as I walked in the door, I eased my sorrows by calling and reserving my ferry to South Korea for the Christmas and New Year’s break. Thank goodness I saved up a lot of my paid vacation last year, because I’m using a lot now.
The next few weekends until Christmas are going to be busy but hopefully not as stressful as having to use my brain for three languages and mapping out a plan. I am going to see Big Bang and now that I have my trip to Korea set in stone, I should really study. My graduate school class is winding down, but I still have a few big assignments left. Soon, though, I will be with my loved ones celebrating the holidays!