Vending machines were everywhere! Back alleys, front alleys, side alleys, and parking lots host these gleaming oases. What do you need? Soda? Candy? Coffee? Cigs? Japan has you covered if you got the coin.
The Japanese seem to like whiskey more than Koreans. Some cafes sell it at all hours of the day. I was shocked by the quantity of Jim Beam as well. Bourbon is a leprechaun in Korea.
These historical gates might be the most Japanese thing I saw.
I never ventured inside Kokura Castle. I just took a picture just so you would think I did ;).
Kitakyushu hosted a marathon that morning. I was too early to see any runners, though.
If my ignorant self knows anything, its that the Japanese are super good at war (except against the U.S.). I’m sure these cannons helped.
These Buddhist temples felt out of place in the heart of a downtown area, but it made for an enriching tourist experience.
Why did I think Yahoo revived itself by selling phones in Japan? It’s a totally different company, but come on.
At 1,100 yen ($10.10), I would argue this museum was supercharged!
This woman in the front is not kiddin’. Not a fan of my camera :P.
These covered malls were awesome. I ate so much junk! What happens in Japan stays in Japan.
“What about me, Ian? Did you get some chicken?”
“Sorry, Colonel. What happens in Kentucky stays in Kentucky as well.”
Can you believe this was at a 7-Eleven? I’ve commented on my love of Korean convenience stores before. Japanese convenience stores take it a step further.
Smoke-filled pachinko parlors dotted the urban landscape.
I have a weird thing about photographing a country’s emergency vehicles. Japan has some nice ambulances. Fortunately, I don’t know what the inside looks like :).
Japanese busses tripped me out. Foreign symbols overpopulated the walls. Also, every time the bus hit a red light, the engine shut off. A public bus so quiet, one could hear a mouse fart.
I love these Asian neighborhoods – compact rusty-roofed barrios sit in the shade of skyscrapers.
If only more shops were open. Maybe it would feel more like a market and less like a trap.
Zen is very popular here in Japan.
Did I mention that I feasted on junk? Oh, how good it feels to be so bad.
Strange English perplexed my native-speaking brain. My Korean students acknowledged and appreciated the rhyme. I was so proud.
Hiking in Japan may have been even more enjoyable than in Korea. For one, the air was a bit cleaner this time of year. But for a mid-size city, Kitakyushu looks huge from this vista.
I also have a weird thing for taking pictures of corner markets in suburban neighborhoods. I appreciate how every remote small market flashes an iconic Coca-Cola sign.
It was election season. Like in Korea, trucks drove by as speakers blared promises. Women in bright yellow vests and white gloves waved and smiled.
They said the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow would never find love. They were wrong. Let this be a lesson for those of us who think there is no one out there for us.
I could almost hear chickens clucking and horses neighing as I ate their relatives’ meat. I was surprised at how not violently-ill I felt after appreciating such raw delicacies.
I culminated my last night with a meandering Ferris wheel revolution. What a trip. I ate way more sweets than I am comfortable to admit, met some of the friendliest people, and successfully solo-traveled and returned in one piece. That last fact alone gives me comfort and hope.
Now I relax in the comfort of my California childhood home. I hope I am munching on a feast of avocado-laden tacos and whatever superfood is trending amongst my people.
Soon I will depart for Vietnam to build upon newfound travel lessons and further broaden my worldview.