Fukuoka castle and Hakata temples

Staying in an apartment gave us the opportunity to prepare our own breakfast for  the first time in about ten days. After that we walked to the nearby Higashi-hie metro station and took a trip across to Tojinmachi Station. From there it was only a short walk to Ohiro Park. We came into the park from the north west entry. The main feature was an expansive lake. Large fish were quite visible as we came to the bridge at the edge of the lake.

We walked out along the bridge to the brightly painted Ukimi-do Pavilion.On the island there were park benches in various locations so we sat on one and ate our picnic lunch which we had prepared earlier in our apartment’s kitchen. There were lots of ducks on the lake which contrasted with the large paddle boat swans in the background.We retraced our steps back to the north along the bridge and began looking for the ruins of Fukuoka Castle. Some early spring colour was blooming in the garden beds along the side of the path.We soon found this tower, Shiomi Tower, at the edge of the park but clearly this wasn’t the main ruins so we continued our walk. We noticed a sign to the Maizuru Park Peony Garden so we thought we might as well look while we were in the area. Only a few plants were flowering.Continuing on we came to a canal and a section of castle wall, the Kaminobashi Gomon ruins.

Nearby we spotted a signboard which showed a map of the whole area so we were able to see where we needed to walk to be at the heart of the castle ruins.

After climbing some stone steps we came to a renovated section near the top of what would have been the original bailey. It had been modernised with decking and railings for safety.

From there you could ascend to the topto take in views of the lake below and the city further on.We took a different descent pathwhich at times dodged trees that had been there for far longer than the path.There were some fruit trees too but sadly they were barely beginning to blossom.After leaving the Fukuoka Castle ruins precinct we walked along to nearby Akasaka station and took a train back to the Gion station. We grabbed some snacks from a bakery  there and walked to Dekimachi park and sat down to have a drink and eat them. Next we walked to Tochoji Buddhist Temple in Hakata Old Town. It was the first of three temples in the area that you can visit on a self guided temple walk.After entering through the massive wooden gate a lovely garden revealed itself.The topiary on some of the trees was immaculately presented.We wandered freely around the grounds. In one corner there was a small cemetery where the Lords of Fukuoka, from the Kuroda Clan who ruled during the Edo period from 1600 to the late 1800s, were buried.The architecture was fascinating. The curves on the roof of this building appealed.However the standout was the magnificent orange pagoda.

We continued the temple walk, visiting Shofukuji Zen Temple next, only a five minute walk away. A temple has been on this site since the year 1195 when it was set up by Zen Master Yosai and Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo. Yosai is also credited with having introduced tea to Japan. We entered the grounds through the wooden gate.Only a few others were strolling around. We passed a number of wooden buildings as we made our way to the main temple

only to discover it was closed to visitors.So we continued to wander around the peaceful gardens.After nearly completing a full circuit we crossed this small bridge and made our way back out through the wooden gate. It took us just under a further ten minutes to reach the Jotenji-dori Temple complex found in the midst of many modern buildings. The various buildings were accessed through separate gates.We soon discovered most were not open to visitorsso we returned to the Gion station and took a metro train back to Higashi-hie station near our apartment. After a drink and a rest at our apartment we took a train back to Tenjin station. This area is usually a busy nightlife and eating area. There were a few people moving about but in our minds clearly it was a quiet night. Anyway we started to look at menus in restaurant windows. Sadly it was hard to find an English menu. In the end we found this window.On a previous trip to Japan we had eaten a few times at restaurants with similar displays and they usually had picture menus at the tables so we decided to take a chance. The entry was on the first floor so up the stairs we climbed. A young waitress showed us to a table and duly gave us two picture menus. Now Fukuoka/Hakata is famous for ramen so I selected a set menu which included a bowl of ramen. Karen just ordered a rice dish. We noted only four others in this small upstairs restaurant so our food came quickly. Here’s my meal with the renowned pork broth ramen, a few gyoza and some rice. The flavour of the ramen was really good but a bit saltier than my usual taste.Needless to say I enjoyed a Kirin beer with it.

Next post will feature Beppu, our next stop on Kyushu.

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