Captain's Log
Stardate 12202.006:

I am now on the Western side of Japan, on the island of Kyushu.  I am staying with my buddy Barrett who lives in the Northernmost town of Kita-Kyushu.  He has been working a bunch of the time, so I have mostly been poking around this area and some nearby cities (see pictures).  And eating.  Oh the eating.

Here are some of the things I have been eating:

  • Ramen!  I love the stuff.  Why can't they have ramen shops in the US?  It's so simple and soooo good, but all you can get there is instant noodles.

    Ramen is the staple 'quick and easy' meal here.  The restaurants are often set up like voting booths, with little 1-man stalls lined up and curtains hanging down so you can't see anyone else.  You just slurp 'em down and get along.

    They even have ramen shops in the train stations.  And I am talking about between the tracks!
  • Other noodles, like udon and soba.  Not as good as ramen, but still delicious.
  • Sushi.  Fresh, amazing sushi.  I found the trick is to eat it at restaurants which are next to giant fish markets.  Not only is it the freshest, it's the cheapest.
  • Yakitori means 'burnt chicken'.  It is the general term for a whole variety of different types of meat and vegetables grilled on little sticks.  The first time we went, they were out of the regular stuff, so we had cow tongue, chicken neck, chicken balls (not those kind), and chunks of almost pure pork fat.  It was fantastic.  Another one that could be easily ported to the US but is mysteriously not.
  • There is a type of Japanese meal called teishoku, which is a variety of small dishes all served at once.  It usually has soup, rice, salad, and pickled vegetables, as well as tempura, sashimi, or million other options.  Fun to eat, and tasty to beat!
  • Japanese curry is brown, mild, and pretty darn good.  It is considered fast food here.  You usually can pick the level of spiciness (none, next to none, or barely any), as well as what type of meat or vegetables you want dumped on top.
  • They like to make you cook your own dinner here.  Yakiniku (burnt meat) restaurants have an open BBQ pit on each table, which they load with hot coals.  You then order meat slices and vegetables and cook them in from of you.  It's fun, and at the end your clothes smell like a forest fire!
  • Okonomiyaki means 'your honorable burnt personal preference'.  This time the table has a hot metal plate in the middle and you order a mix of cabbage, egg, and different meats/veges/sauces.  You then stir this into a glob and spread it on the hot plate like a giant pancake.  They even provide you with little hourglasses so you know when to flip it.  10/10.
  • Weird Japanese hamburgers.  Actually pretty darn good.
  • All sorts of gummy little Japanese sweets.  Not as bad as Malaysian ones, but if there is one thing the Westerners do better, it is desserts.
  • Some things I have not yet tried: raw horse meat, whale burgers, live eel, slimy fermented bean curd (natto), and McDonalds.  *shudder*

We are sticking around Kyushu until Saturday night, and then taking a night train to the middle of the country, which has the cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara.  From there we will take the ultra-fast shinkansen to Tokyo.

Have a nice day.

Kokura Castle is currently covered in a protective shroud to hide its location from enemies, or to paint it.

This is what a cat looks like in Japan.  Instead of saying 'meow', they say 'mya', which is Japanese for 'meow'.

The ever-present vending machines.

This was a night festival that I attended.

Japanese malls: huge, ridiculous.

@^&%$# noodle shops in the middle of the ^&%@#$ tracks!!!  I love this place.

The town of Fukuoka has these tiny restaurant stalls all over the place.  They hold about 6 people, and some had lines outside.

Seen from Moji, this is the bridge connecting the largest Japanese island of Honshu to the 3rd-largest island of Kyushu.

An old traditional Japanese-style building.

Bananaman, which is Japanese for 'Banana Man', is said to have helped repel the Mongols during their 13th century attack on Japan.

Obligatory 'peaceful city life' scene.