Woke up late, almost lunch time. Juliet & I had our Mentaiko (明太子) meal at a pasta restaurant. J had the set lunch of Mentaiko with a pickled vegetable known as "Takana" or "高菜" & I went for the Ala Carte Mentaiko pasta with Ika (Cuttlefish).
The Takana tasted a little similar to our salted veg & I was surprised it went well with the pasta. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a packet of Takana home to try. I found it at a souvenir shop at Canal City Hakata & it cost about ¥250.
To reach the Fukuoka Castle Ruins, we took the subway from the Nakasu-Kuwabata station & alighted at the Akasaka station. The castle ruins is now a public park & a well-known destination for cherry & plum blossom viewing.
Cherry blossoms are especially beautiful in combination with a castle, temple or shrine. In some places, the blossoms are lit up in the evening, which makes an amazing sight. The Japanese celebrate that time of the year with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties under the blooming trees. Hanami literally means "flower viewing", however, it commonly refers only to cherry blossom viewing.
Unfortunately, we were told that we've missed the full bloom of the cherry blossom (Sakura) season. It started earlier than expected due to the weather change. Nevertheless, we still hoped to catch a glimpse of the remnants of the flowers....... and we were in luck. Look at these lovely sakura.
From a distance, the trees appear as beautiful clouds, while the beauty of single blossoms can be enjoyed from a close distance. The cherry blossoms usually bloom for only about a week after full-bloom. The small, round shape flowers flutter to the ground gracefully & the blossoms are said to be the most beautiful at their final stage. For many Japanese people, the blooming of the cherry trees symbolizes human life, transience & nobleness. They celebrate & cherish their beauty while it lasts.
The castle ruins are located inside the Maizuru Park. We spotted many colourful blooms during our walk there. It's interesting that though we've got only 48hrs in Fukuoka, we managed to stop by & spend time enjoying the fresh air & admiring the nature around us.
The castle, built by the feudal lord in old days, composed of 47 turrets of various sizes. Today the Otemon gate, Tamon turret & a few walls remain.
After some quiet moments in the park, we went in search of the Yatai. These food stalls are one of Fukuoka's most famous attractions. As the sun begins to fall, yatai workers bring wheeled stalls to their designated locations & a long row of yatai slowly forms. The Yatai offers grilled chicken skewers (yakitori), hot pot (oden) & the famous Hakata Ramen, a local noodle dish featuring relatively thin ramen noodles in a pork bone based soup (tonkotsu). Yatai are most concentrated in the Tenjin, Nagahama & Nakasu areas.
Contrasted with the modern nightscape of the city buildings, you can feel a lingering stmosphere of old days of Showa era once you duck under the stall curtains. You can visit any of those stalls & meet classic tastes & warm hearts of people. I'd a great time eating ramen & yakitori while chatting with the friendly Oba-san. One comment though..... the ramen was too salty for our liking but the atmosphere was great. And mind you, do not expect prices to be cheap here. A bowl of ramen cost ¥600, which is comparable to the restaurants in the shopping centres & a slice of my favourite 大根 (Radish) at the Oden stall cost ¥200! Next, head over to Burberry Blue Label In Ginza to check out some good buys in Japan!