After a 3 hour train ride from Seoul to the Busan port followed by a 3 hour ferry back to the land of the rising sun, I cannot express how elated I was to land back in Japan. So much, in fact, that if getting arrested for strange behavior wasn’t an option, I would have kissed the ground a million times and then some. When I first got sight of the coastline out the window, I could barely contain myself on board the boat.
In a sea of chaos, it was like a weight had been lifted, a sigh of relief came washing over me. It felt like I was coming home. Despite tighter security at the border (North Korea, I’m looking at you!), the customs staff were as friendly as ever, and I ended up talking to them longer than I should have because they were genuinely curious about my travels. It was like catching up with friends. When I realized I was holding up the line, I could only bare a smile, mumble my apologies, and move along.
After I said farewell to customs, I hopped in a cab which served as my 20 minute tour of the city. Once I dropped my bags off at the hostel, I sprinted back out to immerse myself in the hustle of businessmen and bicyclists. I smiled at every last one of them and they stared back like I was a complete lunatic. Clearly they weren’t relishing in the same happiness I was feeling to be back.
My new friend, Akira, from Tabicolle Backpackers was as happy as ever though to greet me and prepared to tell me everything about Fukuoka/Hakata, even though I was only there for one night. Despite claiming that his English was not very good, I begged to differ. If I hadn’t been so exhausted from traveling all day, I could have sat and talked with him all night. He was bursting at the seams with stories to tell.
The Tabicolle hostel looked like my dream apartment, if I were to live in Japan. I slept on a futon spread out on the tatami mat floors which is an authentic Japanese experience. The space is equipped with Japanese toilets (heated seats are the greatest ever), a hot shower, bedrooms with sliding doors, a common area with more couches and chairs than it could handle, and a quaint kitchen leading up to “heaven” aka a rooftop space for hanging out. It was quite spacious, as far as Japanese apartment standards go.
It was comforting to say the least to return to a land where I could rely on 7/11 to give me my “worst case scenario” take home dinners and warm & inviting Japanese restaurants around every corner. Before searching out my only meal in the city, I took a swift stroll to Hakata Station where I was greeted with the city’s version of Illumination 2012, and it was spectacular. They could not have decorated with anymore lights if they tried, and it was so stunning I wanted to cry.
I fell asleep feeling so happy and high-spirited, and I slept so cozily bundled on the floor that if you had seen me, I probably had a dreamy smile on my face through the night. It was heaven.
It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to spend more time in Fukuoka, but it’s all the more reason to go back in April when it will be adorned in cherry blossoms.