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Making Reparations With the Sea: Okagaki, Fukuoka

福岡県岡垣町:成田山不動寺、博多湾:マリンワールド海の中道

sunny 7 °C

BGM: Deep Blue Sea by Anggun & Deep Forest

It was day 3 of my Kyushu home stay and I was glad to have survived the fugu (poison blowfish) dinner from the night before. Dad was horrible about it. "Don't eat any before me. Just wait for 15 minutes, I'll go first," he said as he aimed his chopsticks into the glistening plate of milky white, translucent fish slices. There was dead silence -everyone with one eye on him and the other on the clock.

Twelve minutes later:

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"Oh, my lips are starting to tingle," he said, deadpan. His daughters started laughing and hitting his arm rather hard as he tipped over off his cushion in classic comedian style.

"It's fine," Shiori reassured me, smiling. "Dad's only kidding."
Are you having any, Shiori?" I asked. She quickly shook her head no. I went ahead, figuring I only live once. Dad nodded in approval at my courage as we shared that entire plate of gorgeous fugu sashimi. He taught me how to dab a small amount of momiji (pureed daikon radish flavored with chili pepper) on a slice of fish, top that with a tiny slice of green chive, dip it into the kabosu (miniature lime)-spiked soy sauce and savor the danger. The fish was so delicate, I couldn't detect even a hint of fishiness. No wonder it is such a prized fish! We toasted each other repeatedly with Shiranami potato liquor. Mom seemed to approve of us becoming drinking buddies.

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Reveling over the fact that I could now successfully tick fugu off my "to eat" list, I was ready for whatever the day had to bring. The weather was cooperating nicely so mom decided we should spend the day by the sea. Western Kyushu is well-known throughout Japan for its beach resorts, excellent surfing and seaside national parks. A whole day of this sounded perfect!

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We drove down twisting, mountain roads studded with brown rice paddies and bamboo forests to Naritasan Fudoji Temple (not to be confused with Naritasan in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo), a lovely structure by the sea near Okagaki Town. The place was alive with the beautiful haunting melodies of Buddhist chanting when we approached the grounds.

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This temple is famous for its gigantic kama (rice cooker). They like big things, over here!

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After a savory, piping hot sweet potato grilled on bamboo coals, we continued on down Hakata Bay to Marine World Uminonaka aquarium, complete with sea lion and dolphin shows. It was fun to poke around in the darkness, moving from tank to tank, marveling at the weirdness of nature. We saw huge spider crabs, green sea turtles, a sunfish, hammerhead sharks and other colorful aquatic creatures.

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When I strayed to the back of the facility, I saw a pilot whale in an outdoor pool and apologized on the spot for what happened in Minamikayabe, swearing that it would never happen again. I have a feeling that maybe he apologized on behalf of the shark population, for all the fear they instilled in my own species. After this confession of my soul, I was able to move on.

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The sun gave us a spectacular show as it graced the beaches of Hakata Bay.

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I guess looking at all that crab in the aquarium made mom hungry, since that was the main for dinner, that evening! Crab stew pot! Yum-ola!

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Posted by GenkiLee 01:35 Archived in Japan Tagged beach fugu hakata_bay marine_world_uminomichi naritasan_fudoji_temple pilot_whale okagaki poison_blowfish

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