Hillary and Aron's Honeymoon in Nippon 2006 travel blog

Sashimi dinner

Fukuoka night architecture

Saibu gas museum, RIP

Visting with Hagihara sensei

Dazaifu Shrine

The remarkable Chapel Coconuts attire

The CC elevator to your room

So, I used to study in Fukuoka, about 6 years ago. As you recall about Hiroshima, we haven`t had much luck with things looking familiar, but thankfully most of Fukuoka is unchanged. Our little business hotel is on the Oyafuku dori, home of the Crazy Cock and Dark Room, two bars that were always filled with gaijin students on weekends. As we are right in the heart of downtown Fukuoka, our location is pretty great.

Of course I wanted to get up and go straight away to the Saibu Gas Musuem, one of the best energy company propoganda vehicles I have ever witnessed. There is so much gas can do! It is so exciting and cool! Also, the gas company has a clever movie experience that demonstrates how Saibu Gas has really saved the world through light and heat. So, I was quite looking forward to introducing this to Aron.

[aron writing] so we tramped off to the neighborhood that holds this propaganda mecca, and the first bad omens were the closed art museum and the closed library. But we knew Saibu gas must be close. So we walked by a busy construction site to the end of the street. And then looked back at the construction site, as the truth slowly dawned on us. That construction site WAS the Saibu gas museum! It was totally demolished and gone! Hillary and I both shed a tear. Hillary for all the fond memories, me because it was one of the main things I was looking forward to in this tour of Japan (Hillary first mentioned the SGM to me about 14 seconds after we started dating nearly four years ago).

Fortunately, the rest of Fukuoka has lived up to the hype. Last night we spent the evening with Hagihara sensei, Hillary:s old research advisor from her studies. He took us to this great sukiyaki restaurant that we would never have found, where we were served an amazing feast of sukiyaki (foods pan-fried at the table), and had a wide ranging conversation from Japanese educational goals to physics to health services research. Afterwards we retired to a hip little whiskey bar on the river. By the time we had each finished two whiskeys, I`m pretty sure Hillary had agreed to coauthor several papers on Japan-American comparisons of health care. Whew!

As has always been my experience in traveling, the best moments are those shared with local families and people - they show you the best gems of scenery, experience and food. This was true when I was in Japan with Beth 5 years ago (she had lived here for several months at that point) and even more so when Nobuko brought me to stay with her family in Tokyo for several days 4 years ago. The last few days have only reinforced the idea, as the whirlwind Yamaguchi tour and the amazing night out last night with hagihara sensei confirmed how big a difference a local touch can make.

[Hill again] Getting time with the locals is certainly good, but getting recommendations from the locals, specifically on love hotels, can be equally rewarding. We visited the Chapel Coconuts the night before our final night, and were pleasantly surprised to find a love hotel-theme park. The first floor outdoor jungle park complete with tropical nature sounds and the indoor jungle theme bar were hysterical. We selected our room on a computer screen (not much was left on a Tuesday night- this place is popular!!) and headed up to the Santa Fe floor in the "Treasure Ship" elevator. The photo of room was pretty standard- bed, neutral colored walls. The room we found when we arrived was quite different- full array of beauty and skincare products in the bathroom, rain shower, regular shower, giant bathtub/jacuzzi with TV, giant flat screen tv facing with bed, karaoke, playstation, pachinko, room service, exceptional vending, many channels of porn plus full access to a DVD library of Japanese porn and US movies, AND, weird black nylon costumes. It was...amazing. The bed was super comfortable as well. As Aron keeps pointing out, for the same price as a business hotel, we get 3 times the space and a normal queen sized bed. Love hotels really do make a great deal of sense for the couple traveling in Nihon.

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