Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visitors from Malaysia

From the 8th to the 15th of December, we welcomed a delegation of 8 students and 2 chaperons from our sister city in Malaysia and showed them all Fukuoka has to offer. I got some of my first interpreting experience while out and about with them, and while it was challenging, I am also quite proud of myself. It was also a lot of fun being out of the office for a few days and see some things that I hadn't yet had a chance to here in Fukuoka. As always, click for bigger pictures. And wave your cursor over the words in the captions because I linked a bunch of things, they just don't show up as such.
Welcome to Fabulous Fukuoka! Or is it Fantastic... I think it's both.
A beautiful morning at the Kyushu National Museum (ooh, shiny as always!)
The grand entrance to the museum. Reminds me of those underground passageways in airports.
Big honking trees at Dazaifu Tenmangu
Entrance to the shrine
The Heian Period scholar Sugawara no Michizane was exiled from Kyoto to Kyushu, where he spent his last days. There's this cool story about how after he passed away, Kyoto experienced all kinds of crazy things like plague and drought and the imperial court thought that it was the wrath of SnM, so they deified him as Tenjin (天神 heavenly deity, also the name of downtown Fukuoka). Ever since he's been honored as the god of scholars, and Dazaifu Tenmangu (along with Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto where he is also enshrined) draws students from all over the country who are taking their entrance exams for middle school, high school, and college. This picture is of a double-decker Kit-Kat bus that came out in support of all the entrance-exam-taking students, naturally.
The inner part of the shrine
This is the tobiume or flying plum tree that is believed to literally have flown from Kyoto to this spot because it missed Sugawara no Michizane, who loved plum trees a lot. I love plum trees too, but I don't see any flying to be by my side. However I am SUPER STOKED for plum blossom season, which is around the end of February. They are so much more gorgeous than cherry blossoms.
Nearly all of these ema boards say something along the lines of OMG PLEASE LET ME PASS THE ENTRANCE EXAM TO THIS SCHOOL PLZPLZPLZ
That's a miko, a kind of Shinto priestess gal, who can be identified by her red hakama.
Eating umegayamochi, the mochi cakes for which Dazaifu is famous, outside. Not too bad for December. Those gnarly trees off to the side are actually plum trees which will soon explode in gorgeousness OMG EXCITED!
Some late fall colors ooh!
A completely spectacular day. I forget the name of this temple.
I really love Dazaifu. It is gorgeous and reminds me of Nara, both of which have a nice "suburban" feel to them.
Fallen fall leaves. Still lovely.
More garden shots.
Another angle of the same beautiful garden.
Last of the fall colors. Holding out for Christmas?
Hakata weaving. Gorgeous and $$$$$$$$.
The Tenjin Chikagai (underground mall) in all its holiday festiveness.
Painting Hakata dolls in... where else, Hakata!
Oh hi! I cost $1,100!!
Standing ON TOP OF the big tank at Marine World. We got to go on the platforms where they feed the fish and SHARKS. We were like TWO FEET ABOVE THEM AAAAAH IT WAS A RUSH.
This sunfish was so freaking ugly and weird that I couldn't help but pretend I was one too.
How romantical.
Santa-san visited and explained what kinds of things are living in the tank! Thanks, Santa-san!
That's the city skyline in the background, because Marine World is on this thin strip of land called umi no nakamichi (海の中道 the middle road in the sea) that cuts across Hakata Bay. You can kind of get the idea of what it looks like in this map or this Nasa image.
Sea lion balancing a Kewpie doll dressed as a Christmas elf. Only in Japan!
Yaaay I still enjoy these kinds of things.
GUYS, THAT IS A WHALE. A JUMPING WHALE. Not the kind you eat.
The weather got better as the day progressed. My house is somewhere over there. Those are the mountains I can see from my veranda.
She's everywhere!!!


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