Fukuoka, December 23nd
Asia trip 2018-2019

I have my flight with Air Busan at 10:00. At the Gimhae Airpot, there is something curious going on. There are a dozen tax-free delivery booths line up in the terminal. There is a couple with three big plastic bags full of items.  They are unpacking their purchases – I guess to save space – and put the unpackaged items them inside their hand baggage. They are not the only ones. There is a queue at the delivery booths.

The flight between Busan (PUS) and Fukuoka (FUK) only takes 50 minutes. The immigration process is fast. This is the first time I arrive in Japan at Fukuoka Airport. I look for the pocket Wifi by Global Advanced Communications, Japanese company names can be very specific and pretentious. I get an envelope at Yamato Transport. Inside the envelope, there is my pocket Wifi and another envelope that I can use to return it at any post box. It would be cheaper to just get a SIMM but this is a very convenient way of getting internet.

I need to do a last stop before leaving the airport. I purchase a Japan Rail Pass. Usually, I would have pre-purchased it at home, as it is not possible to buy it directly in Japan. But there is an ongoing trial that allows to purchase it at arrival. I take the opportunity to do so.

Before leaving the airport, I pass by an ATM and select 10×1,000 JPY. Now I am ready to go. I use the first one thousand yens note at the change machine in the bus. I put the one thousand note and get back a bunch of 100 and smaller denomination coins. The bus costs 260 YEN that I pay as I get down at Hakata station.

Last year, I stayed three days at Hakata in Fukuoka. I had my hotel close to Hakata Station. I am repeating location, even that the hotel is a different one.

It is raining. It was also raining a year ago. I remember it, because December is usually a dry month, and I do not get to see too many rainy days in Japan.

Everything feels familiar. The memories of the station and the places around it come back to me. At one of the main avenues, there is a sign with a list of Fukuoka’s sister cities. One of them has a new meaning for me.

As I start my day, there is a sign that catches my attention. I would have not payed attention to it a year ago. There is Oakland, Bordeaux, Auckland and a city name written in Chinese. I know the city. It is Guangzhou. I vaguely recognize the two characters that form the name. But, I definitively recognize the Goat statue that I visited two weeks ago.

I go to Canal City and pass by the Moomin and Bakery Cafe. Last year, I met a Korean woman at the bakery that told me that I should visit her country. That is the reason I ended up going to Korea. I tough that it was a great idea.

To do something different, I visit the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum. For me, Art Museums are a hit and miss visit experience. I like this one. The wood carving special exhibit is striking. The display catches my attention with its visuals, but also for its political significance. The rest of the place is equally interesting.

I go to the hotel passing by one of the commercial streets. It is raining but the street has a ceiling. With more than five million people living in its metropolitan area, Fukuoka is a busy city.

This is my third time in Japan and I am getting used to its streets, shops and culture. It was a very good idea to visit India, China and Korea for a change. But, there is a lot of places in Japan that I have not been yet. I’m excited to see what comes next. For now, I go to my hotel room that feels familiar even that it is the first time that I stay here.