Thursday, December 31, 2020

Fukuoka, Kyushu [Day 7] - Solo Itinerary to Ohori Park and Fukuoka Tower


My final day in Fukuoka was a bitter sweet one. It was the only day I got to wander about by myself but it was also my last day in Japan, my last 24 hours in Fukuoka. I headed out early, rolling out of bed at 730am to take a leisurely stroll along the canal to Nakasu. 

Where was I going at such an ungodly hour while on holiday? To buy presents and sourvenirs of course from my favourite shopping place in Japan - Don Quijote. This outlet was opened 24/7 perfect for last minute or in my case, early morning shopping. I usually save all my shopping until the last day to get everything at Don Quijote aka Donki because a) they have everything from clothes to groceries to snacks (to ehemmm adult toys) and b) it's tax-free for tourist if the total amount is above JYP5,000 (JYP5,400 with tax).

Long story short - I ended up buying so many things that I had to buy an extra suitcase to bring the souvenirs back to Malaysia. But I didn't mind because my new suitcase was hella adorable. My exorbitant purchase also got me a Donki woven bag to carry my stuff back to the hostel with. 

My hostel, The Life Hostel and Lounge provided a simple breakfast of cereals, toast and coffee at the lounge area until 11am. While I recuperated from my shopping excursion over breakfast, I plotted out my solo plans for the day. While my parents and grandmother opted to explore the surrounding area of Hakata, I wanted to go further and just wander around like I used to do whenever I travelled alone. So I hopped on the train and found myself in the youthful neighbourhood of Daimyo. 

Exploring Daimyo was fun. It was devoid of the typical foreign tourists (with the exemption of me) and filled with the local young adults looking for hipster cafes, bars and vintage shops. Just walking through the streets was a visual treat. 

My other objective was also to visit the Tenjin Ichiran outlet for lunch. Ichiran in Fukuoka was sort of a treasure hunt for its fans with the ramen served in different bowl shapes at a few of their outlets. This outlet serves the ramen in a lunch box. They have two floors with the first floor with booth seating and the upstairs floor for group seating. If you're a Ichiran fan like me, then by all means, do visit this outlet. You will find it's mostly frequented by the local tourists. 

My wandering around Tenjin resumed at BIC Camera and then at Animate Tenjin within Parco Fukuoka Mall. If you're an otaku, you will love this mall as most of its upper floors are filled with anime, manga and gaming merchandises. 

After being stuck indoors for a while, some fresh air was needed and I knew just the place to go for that. Fukuoka's own version of central park, Ohori Park. The great thing about cities in Japan was their easy connectivity via train or buses and to get there, I had to hope on the closest station to me and take it to Ohori station. 

There are a lot of things to see and do in Ohori Park with its main centerpiece being its giant lake. A running track going around it makes for a great running spot for runners. On a good sunny day, you can see a lot of people boating on the lake. They also have a Japanese garden and several bridges and several mini islands dotting the lake for the animals to inhibit. 

But my main target that day was to get a milk tea frappacino from the Ohori park Starbucks. As expected, it was packed to the brim with people and it took a while to find a seat. Fortunately this was one of those Starbucks that had solo seats facing the lake and I ended up chilling there for a good hour, just soaking up the atmosphere. 

For my next stop, I hopped on the city bus and took it to Fukuoka Tower, the tallest seaside tower in Japan. It just happened there was a summer festival at the foot of the tower that day and with food, games and beer, it was quite an experience to wander amongst the locals. The grilled mitarashi dango I bought from a random stall was perhaps one of the best I've eaten during my trip with a generous amount of soy sauce and a nice char beneath. 

Fukuoka Tower was also located next to Momochi Seaside Park and a stretch of manmade beach for those wanting to splash about before indulging in some Blue Seal ice cream. Blue Seal used to be only found in Okinawa but has since made its way to the mainland. 

After loitering about in Momochi park, I made my way up to the highest floor of Fukuoka Tower. It only cost JPY800 to enter the tower. Standing at 234 meters above sea level, the tower is covered by 8,000 half mirrors, giving it a sharp clean appearance to its triangular structure. What is interesting was that there was only four floors in the tower - the main lobby, two observations deck and one restaurant. The rest of the tower was actually hollow, making for an interesting elevator ride up as you can look outside on the way.

My prime objective as always with towers was to catch the sunset. After an hour of wandering up and down the tower, snapping photos everywhere, I found a spot where I could set up my camera for a timelapse and just sat back to watch the glowing ball of flames sink into the horizon on my last day in Japan.

To get back to my hostel, I took the city bus all the way back to Hakata station and brisk walked my way through the giant station to find the Pokemon Center for some last minute shopping. By the time, I actually got back, I didn't mind feasting on instant cup noodles. My body was weary but my heart was full with the memories of this trip (as was my two suitcases of souvenirs). 

After packing and repacking, I was honestly tempted to sleep in the next day just to miss my flight home. I mean missing my flight to Malaysia on my birthday wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. 

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