I usually go back to the US to visit during the summer but this year, tickets were too expensive, so Ryoko and I decided to travel to Kyushu; one of the small southern islands of Japan. Our destinations would be Fukuoka and Nagasaki. We planned things a bit late, so airfare was already pretty high, so we decided to just take an overnight bus.
left for Shinjuku on the train I always take. Our bus would leave from
Shinjuku station. Before heading there, we stopped in Takadanobaba and
I took Ryoko to the good kebab place we usually eat at. I had a beer
and Ryoko tried this Turkish liquor similar to Greek Uzou (which is like
a black licorice flavor). We had a little time to kill so I popped my
head into Mikado. A GG ranbat was going on. I was too late and didn’t
have time to enter but I played a few games of casuals. Also, Akinori
was there playing so I introduced him to Ryoko. The first game of
casuals I played, I grabbed the stick and the whole thing caved into the
cab lol. I played a few games on another cab and then we pretty much
had to go cuz our bus would leave soon. We headed to Shinjuku and made
it on the bus like 5 minutes before it was ready to leave.
bus was a lot nicer than the ones I usually take when I travel to
Kansai. There were only 3 seats per row (as opposed to 4) so the seats
were wider and there was more room between them. This would be about a
15 hour bus ride. I brought a few beers on the bus. I played some
Phoenix Wright on my DS and listened to some music. The rest stops
didn’t sell any beer so I had to make do with the few cans I brought on,
but it was enough to get a buzz before I fell asleep eventually. Also,
after a certain time, they put like these curtains around all the seats
so that everyone was blocked off from each other in their own private
cubicle. It sure would make it easy for someone to fool around in those
if they wanted to. Just sayin… lol
arrived in Fukuoka at about noon. We couldn’t check into our hotel
until 3 pm, so we started off by just looking for it for the time being
and exploring the area cuz Ryoko had a big luggage and we wanted to see
if they could at least hold our bags for us. We found it after a bit of
walking and a few beers on the way. They were nice enough to hold our
After dropping off our bags, we got some ramen, which
supposedly is one of the foods famous in Fukuoka. It was pretty good but
I think Hokkaido ramen is better, and honestly even the place near
Mikado is better but it was still good. After eating, we went to this
one shrine called Kushida-jinja. Took a lot of pictures. Then we found
a shopping arcade and walked around in there. I found a really good
looking US style burger place. We didn’t eat there but I kept it in
mind for later.
Eventually 3 rolled around so we headed back to
the hotel and checked into our room and got to take a shower finally
after that long bus ride. After getting ready, we headed out again and
went to Canal City.
Canal City is a huge famous shopping mall.
They had all kinds of cool stuff in there. I found this one store with
micro brew beers so we got a few of those as we walked around. Also one
of those caricature artists like you find at amusement parks was there
so we paid like 1000 yen or something and she drew our pictures. It was
pretty cool. Though she made my hair black and my eyes brown. I guess
shes not used to drawing foreigners. Otherwise it looked good and we
are even holding our beer bottles.
After exploring Canal City for
quite a while, we were hungry so we went back to that shopping arcade
and tried that burger place which was called LA Diner. For some reason
they had a Miller beer sign but they didn’t even sell Miller beer (not
that I would want some anyway cuz they had better beer than that there).
I got a big burger with lots of shit on it and the meat was really
good and I also got these giant onion rings. It was some of the best
greesy food Ive had in Japan.
After that, we went drinking. We
kinda just walked around this one area near the hotel and found like
this one decent bar. The atmosphere was kinda nice but not many people.
I asked them if they had any rock and the closest thing they had was
visual K so they played some of that which was OK I guess. The beer was
good and the prices were decent. It was like a 400 yen table charge
but then EVERYTHING on the menu was 400 yen. The guy who owned it was
younger than me and said his business was really successful. Sorta
gives me hope for the future about opening my own bar someday. Also
some group of people came and I guess it was this one girls birthday and
they sang to her and gave her a cake. Ryoko was a little worried about
my drinking all day so we had a long talk about that too, but I assured
her that I felt fine and promised id cut back if it started to hurt, so
after that it was all good.
After we left that bar, we found a
small arcade. I was already drunk by now. They didn’t have GG, but
they had vanilla SFIV so I tried to play that but the guys on the
machine wouldn’t get up when they lost so I just said fuck it and left.
We then went to this one other bar that had a lot of foreigners and it
was a little more western style I guess. The DJ there played some
Michael Jackson for us cuz they didn’t have any rock heh. We got some
drinks and also some pickles (like regular western style pickles which
are sorta hard to find here so I enjoyed it a lot). After that, we
headed back to the hotel.
woke up and ate at this one restaurant where I ate some really good
fish. Then we headed to the Hawks Town Mall which is another big mall.
The Hawks are the local baseball team. We came here today because they
have a trick art museum inside the mall with all kinds of cool optical
illusion art and stuff. You can see some of the artwork in the pictures
we took. Lots of the stuff looks like its 3d but its not. Other
things look like one thing and then another based on how you focus your
vision. It was pretty cool. We also found this one store at the mall
and Ryoko bought a pretty hot bikini there for cheap cuz it was on sale.
I got a cool t-shirt too. There was an arcade in the mall but the
only fighting game there was Tekken 6 so Ryoko and I played a few other
games together. Also I did Purikura for my very first time. (Purikura
stands for pring club and its those photo booths targeted at young girls
you find in Japanese arcades that you can like decorate the pictures
after you are done). Ryoko and I did it together and had fun messing
around with it and then she got some free hair scrunchy thing for
whatever reason. There was also this cool bungie cord trampoline thing
at the mall that looked fun as hell but the line to use it was fucking
long so we gave up on that but it would have been cool to try.
that we went to a very famous temple called Dazaifu. We took a lot of
pictures there. Not much to say about it other than it was pretty cool.
You can see it in the pictures.
After leaving there, it was
already getting late so we went to get dinner. We found another really
great area with lots of bars and restaurants and stuff in the Tenjin
area. We walked around a bit there and I found a Taito Station. I
could tell it was a good place cuz SBO quals were held there (they still
had the sign up for it). I went to the basement and they had tons of
fighting games. They had 2 GG cabs and someone was playing on one so I
got on and fought him. I was already pretty buzzed at this point from
drinking all day but whatever. It was a Ky player and I beat him twice.
Then this HOS player got on and beat me. It was 2 credits for 100 yen
so I used my other credit to rematch him and won. Then he played me
one more time and I lost. He seemed pretty good. I probably would have
won if I hadn’t drank so much but its all good. Ryoko was playing UFO
catchers on the upper floor while she was waiting for me. I didn’t
wanna make her wait long so I just played those 5 matches and then found
her and we left. She won a few small stuffed animals which was cool
We walked around a bit more looking for a place to eat.
We eventually found this really good looking yakitori place. It was
huge and packed as hell. There was a small line to get in. 2
foreigners waiting in line said the place was good as hell and that they
go there often. We decided to go eat there. We only waited to get in
for about 10 minutes. They all kinds of great food and the prices
weren’t bad either, and they had black kirin on tap which is always
good. Ryoko drank an entire bottle of red wine too while we were there.
that, we went looking for bars. We then found this one other bar that
was all like tropical looking and they had a big screen TV sorta like at
PSY where they were showing a DVD that was just like beautiful scenes
of nature and stuff as like background. Ryoko ordered another wine and
the glass ended up being HUGE. I got some beers. By the time we were
done drinking there, Ryoko was already really drunk.
left there, we stumbled down the street and found like this park area
that no one was in. We sat down there for a bit. Then some stuff
happened that I will not write about in this blog but it was fun times
We eventually made it back to the hotel and passed out.
we woke up and checked out of our hotel. It was time to head to
Nagasaki for the 2nd half of our trip. We took a limited express train
so it took about 2 hours but it was nice and comfortable. The view from
the window was awesome with lots of great scenery. I knocked back a
few beers on the train too.
After we arrived at Nagasaki station,
we took a cab to our hotel, which was a little far from the station,
but ended up being in an area that was way better than the area near the
station anyway. Our hotel was also literally right next to Chinatown
which was cool. We stayed at the Washington hotel. Since it was
already like near 3 pm when we got there, we were able to check in right
This was like honestly one of the hottest days I have ever experienced. The heat was scorching and it was humid as hell too.
checking into our room, we walked to this Wharf area called Dejima
Wharf that was lined with bars and restaurants and there were lots of
cool ships parked there with a nice sea view. It was early in the day
so not many people were there but we got a quick icecream and a hotdog.
Then, we headed to this place called Glover Garden. It’s a historical site left from Thomas Blake Glover
who came to Japan from Europe in 1859. You can click that link if you
wanna learn more about him but basically he was one of the key people in
the industrialization of Japan and he also helped to found Japans first
brewing company which would later become Kirin Beer co. The place was
full of nice gardens and old houses. They looked very western with old
European influence. Nagasaki was one of the only places in Japan that
often did foreign trade a long time ago and they often trade with
Holland. As a result, there are many buildings there with a Dutch
looking influence and Nagasaki also has street cars (like trolly style,
the train bus hybrid looking things, which is the only place I have seen
them in Japan).
After leaving Glover house, on the way out,
there was an area with a bunch of shops. We went inside for a bit and I
found some more different local micro brews. I got a bottle of the
Dunkel and it was pretty good. There was also this other shop that had
crazy Halloween type masks and trick stuff. Like they had various
devices that shocked you like those joy buzzer things. The dude tricked
me into trying the fake lighter and Ryoko got tricked into using the
fake pack of gum.
After that, we headed to Chinatown for dinner.
We looked around a bit and then decided on this one restaurant that was
pretty awesome. I got the sweet and sour pork and it was pretty fuckin
Then we went lookin for a place to go drinking. We
figured we would go back to Dejima Warf and see how it was at night, and
it ended up being full of people so it was pretty cool and the night
view was pretty awesome. We had a few beers and sat by the water and
enjoyed the view and nice weather. Then, we went inside another bar
over there and had another drink. It was all sea and ship themed. The
tables were like glass on a big wooden barrel and you could see inside
and it was full of shells and stuff like that. It was a nice
Then we walked around a bit trying to find more bars
away from the Wharf. We found a decent area but most of the places
around there ended up being snack bars and hostess bars.
this one bar called Lock Stock. It ended up being empty (aside from
the bartender) when we went in but we figured we would at least have one
drink. The atmosphere was actually really cool and they had all kinds
of cool figures and stuff decorating the bar. It reminded me of like a
rock bar mixed with a manga culture bar I guess. They were showing
anime on the TV. Anyway so were drinking, and suddenly the power just
goes completely out. The bartender checked the hallway of the building
outside and it seemed to only be the bar we were in. He tried to flip
the circuit breaker to get the power back on a bunch but he couldn’t get
it to work. We sat there in the dark for like 10 minutes until we
finally just finished our drinks and said we were gonna leave. The
bartender said the drinks were on the house but told us how much he
would have charged us and between the small mini sized bottle of wine
and the one beer I had, the charge came to almost 3000 yen which seemed
ridiculous. There must have been a table charge and that wine must have
been really expensive or something. I felt bad for the guy so I gave
him some money anyway (but not the full 3000 yen. That was pretty steep
given the wine was pretty standard and all I drank was one regular
After that, we ended up going to this one place that was a
darts bar. Ryoko had never played darts before but I taught her how
and she ended up loving it so we played several rounds of darts and just
drank a bunch and it was fun.
After that, we headed back to the hotel.
we woke up I turned on my TV in the hotel room to see that there were
all kinds of reporters at Heiwa Koen (Peace Park), which is basically a
big memorial built on the remains of an old prison that was demolished
by the atomic bomb. The park was built very near where the center of
the atomic bomb blast hit Nagasaki in 1945. We were planning on going
to see this today, but we had no idea that today was August 9th, the
exact day the bomb had dropped on Nagasaki, so everyone was going there
in memory of that day for its anniversary.
Before heading to
Heiwa Koen, we ate at Sasebo Burger, a sorta small but famous burger
chain in Kyushu. The place was just a tiny little stand but the burgers
were fuckin AWSOME! Id say the LA Burger place had slightly better
meat, but Sasebo just had awesome ingredients and the way that they made
it was overall just a little better, and it was HUGE! It had like
everything on it plus egg, cheese, and thick Canadian style bacon. We
also got fried cheese potato things and thick garlic fries with it too
which was really good. The place wasn’t even indoors so we sat outside
on patio furnature. The weather was a little overcast so it wasn’t hot
out today thankfully. There was like this little shop next to where we
were sitting outside and they were showing Tom and Jerry episodes on the
TV so I could hear the sound effects and music from that the whole time
we were eating lol.
After eating, we headed to Heiwa Koen vie
the street car trolly things. It was really cool and was only 120 yen
for a ride. When we got there, the place was PACKED with people and
tons of reporters and journalists both Japanese and foreign. It was
raining but we had an umbrella with us (and so did just about everyone
else there). It was hard to even walk around. They had a bunch of
pictures with wreckage from the bomb and victims and also lots of
statistics and historical facts. I was actually feeling pretty
emotional seeing all that stuff. It looked so devastating and being
there really made it hit harder. Things like this just make me hate the
current wars going on right now even more. When all those civilians
died it really was a tragedy. There was another area with TONS of paper
crane origami chains made by people in memory of the tragedy. Then
there was this huge tent with tons of chairs and people. They probably
had some more official speeches and stuff going on there earlier that we
missed. Beyond that was a huge statue. I took a lot of pictures. As
we walked back, there was this huge bell and this old man was talking in
front of a large group about how things went down back then. Then the
old man gave the rope to pull the bell out to the crowd and a bunch of
people all rang the bell together. The ringing of this bell was at the
EXACT moment that the bomb fell on that day. The fact that we came here
on accident this day and walked by the bell the exact time the bomb
dropped is pretty nuts. I taped this on Ryoko’s iphone and will upload
the video later. After this, we headed out.
Our other plan today
was to go to a small village WAY out there by the ocean to board a boat
to see wild Dolphins. The journey there would take a while though.
First, to get back to Nagasaki station, this time we took the street car
trolly things. We got to the station easily and then we had to take a
train for about 6 stops to another town. From there, we had to take
like a 2 hour bus ride to get out to this sea side village. However,
our timing kinda sucked cuz the bus wasn’t gonna come for another 40
minutes when we got to the bus station, so we walked around a bit to
kill time. We tried to find a combini forever cuz I wanted a redbull
and the grocery store by the station didn’t sell it. We eventually
found this weird combini I had never seen before called Every One. It
had a blue and yellow sign with this pac-man looking dude on it. I got
my redbull and then it started pooring outside so we got an umbrella
too. We only had 10 minutes to get back to the bus station at this
point so we hurried a bit. We ended up making it in time and then the
bus was like 15 minutes late on top of that.
The bus ride seemed
like it took forever. The scenery was fucking amazing though cuz we
were driving by the ocean and stuff. We drove through this one village
called Obama. It’s the same village that perhaps you have read about in
the news before when Obama was first elected president that likes him
so much cuz they have the same name. There were all these banners along
the road that said “I heart Obama” with this goofy cartoon looking
Barak Obama pic on it. I managed to snap a photo of one from the bus.
a while, I started to feel a bit sick for whatever reason. I really
wanted to get off the bus. Also, we had a 4 pm appointment to ride on
this boat. Basically it’s like a tour guide kinda thing. You pay
something like 2500 yen a person and the boat takes you out to a spot in
the ocean where tons of wild Dolphins can be seen. We had a
reservation but it seemed like we weren’t gonna be on time. We called
the place and they said we were pretty close so they would wait for us.
eventually got off the bus and we were about 10 minutes late, but we
rushed to the place and thanked the other people for waiting and then we
all got on the boat. I felt better once I got off that bus.
the other passengers on the boat were all together in one group (there
were about 7 of them) so they all sat together in the front and Ryoko
and I got the whole back of the boat to ourselves which was cool. The
view from the boat was great. I took lots of pictures. We went about
10 minutes out from the shore. There were tons of other boats out there
with people doing the same Dolphin watching thing too. It didn’t take
long for a bunch of Dolphins to show up. You could see them in large
groups swimming around, many of them diving up from the water and then
back into it. It was a pretty cool experience and we took some pics and
I video taped a good 10 minutes of it on Ryoko’s i-phone. I will
upload it to youtube and post it later. Overall it was just a really
nice relaxing time and we both enjoyed it.
After we headed back,
Ryoko was feeling sea sick. The other group asked us to take a bunch of
pictures of them so we did. We looked around in the dolphin place gift
shop for a bit and the checked the bus time for the next bus back. It
was coming in one minute so we rushed back to the bus stop and made it
in time. Ryoko slept most of the ride back. I just checked out more
scenery from the window.
After we FINALLY got back to Nagasaki
city, it was already late so we looked for a place to get dinner near
the station. We ended up going to a fish restaurant and I got some good
fish with rice and soup.
After that, we decided to look for a
new place to drink. Ryoko wasn’t gonna drink at first but was feeling
better after she ate. We walked for a while from the station but there
wasn’t much around there so we ended up taking the street car trolly
thing back to the area near our hotel. We walked around a new area we
hadn’t discovered yet. There were tons of bars but most of them were
snack bars once again. I was almost ready to just give up and go to
this one so-so lookin blues bar but then we decided to go down another
street just down from where our hotel was cuz we saw some lights. It
turned out that this street had a bunch more bars and we ended up
finding this one really awesome bar called ExcaliBar.
was pretty small, maybe a little bigger than PSY. There were about 4
people sitting at the bar and 2 guys working there. They were playing
all kinds of rock and metal and the place was decorated pretty cool.
This foreign couple was sitting next to us so I asked them where they
were from and stuff. They were from Italy and were traveling on
vacation. They told me that after this, their next destinations were
going to be Kyoto and Nara and then Tokyo. The dude likes rock bars so I
recommended him all my usual spots back in Tokyo like Current, PSY, and
Godz. I also recommended some good places to see in Kyoto. They
seemed like pretty nice people. The staff was cool too. The owner told
me that he once owned 3 rock bars here but his employees were being
sloppy with drug use and the cops busted them so he shut the other bars
down. ExcaliBar was still going strong after 10 years and he said the
place was really profitable. He said opening a rock bar is easy, you
just have to find a good location. He said opening one in Tokyo is
rough, but in a place like Nagasaki its easy to do, Another thing for
me to think about in the future.
The bartender saw that I liked
Alice Cooper so he put on this one CD called Butchering the Beatles. I
never heard it before, but basically it’s a cover CD of all metal
versions of Beatles songs. Lots of awesome people were on there like
Alice Cooper, Geoff Tate from Queensryche, Yngvie Malmsteen, Steve Vai,
Lemmy, and more. We ended up listening to the whole thing, and I just
kept slammin beers and Ryoko was drinking some pretty big high balls so
we both got good and drunk. We talked to the staff a bunch and he said
how like hes not used to foreigners going there that can speak any
Japanese and its always just tourists so he was really surprised and
happy to have a foreigner come in there that he could have a
conversation with. It was my best drinking experience of the whole trip
and I would go there again for sure if I ever went back to Nagasaki.
After finishing up there, we took a short walk back to our hotel and…
was the last real day of our trip. We woke up and decided to check out
Confucius Shrine and Museum of Chinese History. I took a lot of
pictures so theres not really a need to go into too much detail but it
was really beautiful. Lots of awesome statues and architecture. We
went inside too and there were lots of historical artifacts on display.
Ryoko bought some souvenirs at the gift shop there as well.
that, we walked back through China town again and got the best pork bun
I have ever had in my life, and also a mango shaved ice thing. We also
went into this Chinese fireworks store. They had tons of awesome
stuff. Im not talking about like sparklers and bottle rockets (well
they had those too but…), they had the heavy duty serious shit. As a
Ryoko and I stocked up and bought a ton of those to use later when we
got home. This one old lady came up to me when I was looking around at
stuff and starts making these ridiculous fireworks gestures and sounds,
and then I just bust out some Japanese and she felt dumb for trying to
communicate with me like that lol. The staff was all a bunch of old
Japanese ladies and they were really surprised that I was speaking
fluent Japanese to them cuz they said they NEVER see foreigners speak
Japanese around here. I guess Nagasaki doesn’t have many foreign
residents or something.
The hotel was holding our bags for us cuz
we had already checked out at this point, so we went back there and got
ready to leave and then headed to the station. We bought some
souvenirs at a shop at the station but had to hurry cuz our train was
leaving in like 10 minutes.
We had to take the bus back tonight
from Fukuoka so we went all the way back there again on the limited
express train for another 2 hour trip. Ryoko started to not feel so
good again and slept most of the way. I played some DS mostly.
we got back to Fukuoka, we didn’t really have much time to do a whole
lot. We went to a place to buy some souvenirs near the station there.
Then we went to go find a place to eat. I wanted some pizza and found
this one restaurant in like this basement part of the station. It
looked so-so from the picture but the pizza ended up being fuckin great!
AND I got this GIANT frosty mug of dark kirin half and half with it
which went down nicely. Ryoko still wasn’t feeling well so she just got
a cheese omelet and some tea.
We now had about 20 minutes before
we had to get on the bus. I wanted to buy some quick beer before we
got on. We searched and searched but we couldn’t find a combini
ANYWHERE! It didn’t make sense cuz there were tons of shops and we were
near Tenjin station, one of the biggest stations in Fukuoka. Ryoko was
getting really tired so I told her to wait cuz we found the area where
we had to go for the busses. I told her to watch the big luggage and I
would be right back to buy beer for me and water for her. I eventually
found a Family Mart WAAYYY down the street. At this point we only had
10 minutes before we had to get on the bus, but I figured if I hurried
we would be ok. I sorta ran to the Family Mart, got the beer, and then
headed back to where the bus station area was. Problem was, I couldn’t
remember exactly how to get back there. It was a big sea of buildings
and everything was sorta blending together. Then I started to panic.
There was only like 3 minutes before our bus would leave. If we missed
it we would be stuck here. I tried to call Ryoko but she didn’t pick up
her phone. I was frantically sorta running around trying to find the
station. I saw the sign for the station and the all of a sudden Ryoko
bursts out of this department store attached to the station and yells
“Mike!” and then sorta starts frantically running around and then she
leads me through the department store, we run up like 4 escelators, im
lugging her huge heavy luggage, and we run down this hallway and somehow
the bus station is on the 3rd floor of the building we were in. As we
are running through there, we can hear them calling our names on the
loud speaker cuz the bus was about to leave. We dashed up to where the
bus was (Ryoko had gone to find it earlier when I was looking for the
combini), gave them our tickets and got on the bus, and it left like 30
seconds after we got on. I was so out of breath and sweaty and tired,
but I was so fucking relieved we didn’t miss the bus. After I caught my
breath, I cracked open the frosty beer and thought about how glad I
wasn’t stranded there. In retrospect, buying that beer wasn’t really a
smart idea, but when we first planned to go buy it, it seemed like we
had tons of time. It just turned out that there were not combinis
anywhere around. I felt bad cuz Ryoko had to run and wasn’t feeling
well but in the end we made it and she wasn’t mad at me, but it didn’t
take long for her to fall asleep after we got on the bus even though it
was only 7 pm.
On the way back on the bus, I stayed up for the
next 5 hours playing Phoenix Wright on my DS. I eventually slept at
midnight and then didn’t wake up again until we arrived in Shinjuku.
got back to Shinjuku at about 11 am. We were both exhausted and just
wanted to get back home. Ryoko was still feeling sick. I got some quick
Burger King to bring with on the train and then we got on the usual
train I take home and made it back to our town after a 3 hour ride.
Ryoko’s older sister picked us up from the station and then we went
Overall it was a really fun trip and I got to spend a lot
of quality time with Ryoko and we had a lot of good memories. Aside
from her getting sick at the very end and us almost missing the bus,
everything went pretty well.