Friday, August 31, 2007

Canal City at Night

The dancing fountain in blue:

Nightly artist at the Canal City Stage:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


From Kanenokuma I took a taxi to the Itazuke Ruins. Itazuke is the oldest known Yayoi settlement. As you can see this outsiders (coming from China and Korea) were not very welcome on the Japanese islands. All Yayoi settlements were fortified with banks and ditches/moats:

This is the reconstructed site which looks a little bit odd between the skyscrapers of Fukuoka:

Here you have closer look at one of their houses:

And here are the inhabitants of the village. Isn't that one happy Yayoi family? By the way, the woman in the back looks very suspiciously like one of my Japanese teachers here at Genki School:

And here is negativ of a footprint. Don't ask me whether Japanese people have this kind of feet, I haven't had the oppurtunity to check it.

And a little bit of archaeology; this is a reaping knife for rice used by the Yayoi culture:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kanenokuma 'Ruins'

Sunday morning I spent more or less underground. I knew that there was a Nishitetsu Bus going to Kanenokuma, so I went to the Tenjjin main station and asked which bus I had to take in order to get to the site of Kanenokuma. After studying various maps the lady decided that the bus would leave from Hakata station, so I took the underground and went to Hakata station. At the informatin desk the same thing happened. Maps were drawn out from beneath and the equally friendly lady told me to go to Fukuoka airport station. That would be where the bus would leave. So again I vanished into the underground and took the metro to the airport. Meanwhile I was reallly hungry and took a break at one of the many coffee bars that exist beneath Fukuoka.

This time I was at the right place, so all I had to do was to ask someone which bus line I had to take, because -as usual- Kanji only! The bus driver put me off in the middle of an industrial park area and after asking the people at a petrol station I really mananged to find the sign (meanwhile I knew how Kanenokuma was written in Kanj) leading to the site.

And here it is. I am proudly presenting the middle to late Yayoi burial site of Kanenokuma:

The central point of the exhibition is a piece of a 'fossilzed' excavation trench:

In contrast to other periods a lot of child burials existed in the Yayoi time. At this huge burial ground more than 50 % of the burials are children's. Here an example of a jar burial tyical for the middle Yayoi period:

You may remember that last week I battled the dangerous water snakes. This week I had to cope with the even more dangerous water frogs:

But this might explain the high death toll among the Yayoi children :)

Monday, August 27, 2007


I love crooked escalators :)
Buying cars in a department store is nothing unusual in Japan:

Koumyouzenji Temple

Still in the Daizaifu area, a small temple with a beautiful stone garden:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kyushu National Museum

The newly built Kyushu National Museum is situated in Daizaifu. The very modern museum

stresses the connection of Japan with the Asian continent but also with the Western world. No photography was allowed here but the 'devil tile' (oni-gawara) that once decorated the end of the roof ridge of the Dazaifu Government Headquarters (c. 8th century) was in the outer hall so I have got a photo of this one. The design of the tile shows the influence of Silla, the ancient kingdom of the Korean peninsula.

For comparison, the latter tile is from Korea (unified Silla Period, now BM).

It's a real pity I couldn't take photos because there were really beautiful artefacts here from the Palaeolithic up to modern times. But it seems to be a rule here that museums with expensiv entrance fees do not allow photo shooting whereas the smaller ones, which are free, are also very generous.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Weekend! Time for field trips. Today I went to Daizaifu. Today it's a small town outside of Fukuoka, but during the 8th to 12th century it was the most important administrative and military centre in all Kyushu. After the Mongolian invasian Hakata (=Fukuoka) became the most important town in Kyushu.

Today it's a huge park-like recreation area which also hosts a number of museums and temples.

This is one of the bridges leading to the Shinto shrineTenmango. This shrine worships Sugawara Michizane (a 9th century sholar) as "God of Scholarship" who was exciled and spent the last two years of his life in Daizaifu. After his death they built a temple to calm down the ghost of Sugawara Michizane who was obviously responsible for a series of catasthrophies.

Although in folclore the God bird "Kiuso" was worshipped (looks like an owl) there are definitly more turtles here than owls. They are everywhere in the ponds and lakes of this site, there are numerous statues and even the big water basin in front of the temple is featuring the 'kame-sama'.

You have to look closely at the bottom of the basin:

A little shrine in the Daizaifu park area:

A wealth of little shops is plastering the street from the station to Daizaifu proper and one thing you definitly have to try is a toasted mochi, a specialty of the area. It's a rice cake filled with sweet azuki bean paste. Try it hot! Oishii!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Famous Food in Fukuoka

Tonight I went to the cinemas. As everywhere American movies dominate the scene. Since I didn't want to watch an American movie in Japan (and apart from that I already watched all the blockbusters) I didn't have a big choice. So 'Naruto' it was. It's an anime and based on a very popular manga. Unfortunately there were no subtitles, but since it was the same old story about the good and the evil it was ok. I guess it was good for learning Japanese and it was actually nicely done.

On my way back I watched a film team at one of the side street restaurants 'Mutchan':

To be honest, I don't even know what kind of food they are offering, but it must be pretty famous, since a TV show camera team showed up. The only thing I know is that they cook something on a hot plate. Hm....maybe I will go there one day and have a closer look.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Canal City

Canal City is a huge shopping and entertainment complex situated along an artificial canal. The modern architecture alone is worth a trip to Canal City:

Kids have their fun here, too:

and there are regular performances on the Canal City Stage:

The best thing, however is the dancing fountain:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fukuoka City Museum

The City Museum of Fukuoka opened only in 1990. It was used as the official exhibition hall when the Asian Pacific Expo Fukuoka 1989 (Yokatopia) was held in Fukuoka.

Fukuoka City Museum Entrance Hall

Fukuoka City Museum View from Entrance into adjacent Park

It gives a good overview over North-Kyushu's prehistory and history and houses for example the famous gold seal of the kind of Na:

Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed in the exhibition halls, which means I spare you the archaeological details.

Yoshinogari (3)

If you have thought that I finally came to an end with the archaeology part, you are wrong. But this is the last thing you will hear about Yoshinogari. On both sides of a road leading to the main tomb there were more than 2,000 burial jars:

In the tiny but excellent museum on the site you could see the real thing. Alltogether there were 15,000 burials in Yoshinogari. Not bad for a village that was alive for a mere 200 years.

Lets have a quick look inside and than you are done with all the boring archaeology (that is for today :) )

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yoshinogari (2)

Unfortunately a large part of the area was under construction and although they told me it's an excavation I have my doubts, unless you use really really big machines to excavate in Japan:

Like everywhere else, archaeological work is dangerous! Abunai!

They are also growing rice in paddy fields as part of their experimental archaeology:

But beware of the dangerous Japanese water snakes:


It's saturday and I was in an adventurous mood this morning. So I took the train and went to Yoshinogari, a Yayoi site, roughly an hour from Fukuoka. Fukuoka train station looks like any other train station in the world and luckily it also works like any other. So I found my way around quite easily without having to know too much Japanese.

Yoshinogari is an archaeological park with a rebuilt Yayoi settlement. Sometimes the reconstructions lacked professionality (the moat being the most horrible concrete reconstruction I have ever seen) but the atmosphere of this beautiful facility redeemed everything. Here an overview:

And some details:


It might not look too good - but it was delicious; lotus root salad and my all-time favourite, an o-nigiri with umeboshi plum.

Tonight a Kumazemi ('bear cicada') choose to die on my balcony. Its last song was so loud and pityful - not only did I wake up, I jumped upright out of my bed because I thought an ambulance is rushing through my room.
I know they are loud when they are sitting in a tree and chirping their souls out but this was different. That's what she looked like (roughly 6-7cm long) and here is a sound file (just look for Kumazemi)