First full day in Fukuoka and we’re off on an adventure to the nearby Nokonoshima Island! But first, we must grab some quick bites at a nearby 7-Eleven. I’ve been hearing all about the Japanese egg sandwiches, so I needed to get that. Aaron went with the more traditional, onigiri. Eating the sandwich made me feel like I was on a cloud. The bread was super light and fluffy. The egg salad was very smooth and tasty. I was content.
Next, we hopped on a bus to the ferry for Nokonoshima Island, which was about one hour away. The buses here accepted Suica, which made our lives easier. Just like with the subway, we just had to remember to tap while boarding the bus as when as when getting off. We made it to the ferry terminal and the guard there was very helpful as he helped us use the machine to get our round trip tickets, which cost 900 yen per person. The ferry leaves around every hour or so and luckily, when we arrived we saw the ferry docking, so we didn’t have to wait too long. The ferry itself was not very large with some seating in an indoor area with lots of standing space both indoors and outdoors. There was also a central platform for vehicles to park. The ferry ride was only around 10 minutes.
Once on the island, there is a central ferry terminal area where you can get snacks or rent bikes. They had electric bikes and the cost was 1700 yen per bike for the whole day. It wasn’t cheap but it was nice for exploring. The electric-assist made life a lot easier as there were some hilly portions of the island. We took the “Cherry Blossom Route” to the Nokonoshima Island Park. Unfortunately, there were no cherry blossoms at this time of the year, but it was still a nice bike ride. There were many Japanese visitors who were walking along this path as well. They were trying to be friendly and some said “konichiwa”, others “hello”, and still others “sawadee-ka”. I guess they thought we looked Thai.
Nokonoshima Island Park
After a quick 20-minute bike ride, we arrived at the main attraction of the island – Nokonoshima Island Park. The admission fee is more expensive than other gardens in Japan that we’ve been to at 1200 yen per person. To be fair, it is more than a garden. There is a playground, mini-farm with goats, rabbits and chickens, a mini-golf course as well as a rope skiing course. The flowers change depending on the season and in May, the flower of the season is the azalea. This can be found in various locations around the park. My favourite sight would have to be the large field in front of their BBQ restaurant. For lunch, we stopped by the udon restaurant inside the park. It was nice to have a break from the sun and to have some cold udon. I felt the dipping sauce was a little too gingery for my taste but I enjoyed the noodles. It is nothing like what we can get in Canada. I preferred the taste of the beef udon Aaron ordered. The beef was super flavourful. On our way out of the park, I realized why everyone seemed to be holding on to the same large rainbow-coloured umbrellas. It was provided for complimentary use in the park. Regrets flooded my mind as I was drenched in sweat from the scorching sun.
Meditative Bike Ride
We hopped on our bikes again to check out the meditation forest as well as the observatory. We were pretty much the only bikes on the road. Our leisurely journey was punctuated with a few vehicles passing by along the way. At one point of our trip, we noticed many citrus fruit plants. Originally thinking they were yuzu, we realized later that they were probably more like oranges. Soon, we reached the meditation forest, which was a quiet forest with a meditation hut. There were many mosquitos and flies so we quickly walked back out and did not get the sense of tranquility that we had intended. Next, we stopped by the observatory. It was very simple and only a few storeys high. We parked our bikes and took the flights of stairs to the top. It was so peaceful as we were the only ones there. Our impression of Fukuoka so far is that compared to the busy touristy cities of Kyoto and Tokyo, this definitely feels more relaxing. There were other tourists on the ferry and at the park but we still felt there was plenty of space to breath and leisurely explore. With that thought, we hopped back on our bikes to return to the ferry terminal.
It was another 30 minutes until the the next ferry so we had some vanilla and matcha soft serve while waiting. We noted that they were selling the same oranges that we saw on our bike route. Perhaps this is the seasonal fruit of this island right now.
Shopping Time @ Marinoa Outlet
Back onto the Meinohama (Fukuoka) port, we took a 15-minute walk to the nearby Marinoa Outlet. I noticed many other tourists heading that way and most of them are Cantonese-speaking. This is definitely a mall catering to tourists because the announcements were made in Japanese, English, Korean and Mandarin Chinese. There were many shops in this large complex but most of them are local brands that I do not recognize. After picking up a couple of items, we grabbed some Japanese curry before we headed back downtown. We had the beef tendon curry which was thick and dark like the Kanazawa-like curry that we were expecting. The only downside is that we both felt there wasn’t enough beef tendon.
Coffee Break @ Manu Coffee
After that snack/meal, we head back towards Tenjin station. It was another smooth bus ride. Aaron wanted to stop by Manu Coffee before dinner. We relaxed there with some coffee and lemonade.
The Most Amazing Pork Soup!
For dinner, we went to the nearby Tenjin Wappe Teishokudo for some set meals. I had the grilled fish, while Aaron had the pork cutlet. I really enjoy Japanese set meals. I like how everything is so beautifully presented and the portions for all the dishes are not too large. I particularly liked the pork soup! It reminded me of the miso soup we had at Sukemasa. At first glance, it did not appear to be a lot of food but it was definitely filling. So with a full belly, we head again back to the hotel for some rest.