Breakfast on the go: spam onigiri and a cafe latte. Something I really appreciated about Japan was the abundance of convenience stores. My hostel was only a few minutes’ walk from 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart, which housed a pleasant variety of healthy and delicious food items — affordable, too, especially when you’re on a budget. Oftentimes I’d pick up some onigiri, croquettes, or sushi when I wanted a quick bite. Admittedly, I was also hooked on their cold cafe lattes and milk coffees.
It was my second day in Fukuoka and I dedicated it to deciphering Japan’s holy grail of subway and train systems, and to visiting shrines and temples. I liked walking along the streets as well; they were quiet and surprisingly clean and spotless. Interestingly, while there weren’t garbage bins around, there was never any garbage on the streets, either. I became a garbage bin myself, and carried my garbage with me everywhere I went until I found a mall or until I got home. Many things about Japan were awe-inspiring, including the strive towards sustaining the environment.
The Shofukuji Zen Temple is the oldest Zen temple in Japan. Taking a stroll here in the quiet away from the crowds was relaxing; no one was around and I was alone, with only temple cats and vocal crows for company.
Here’s the Tochoji Temple. The complex facing the entrance gate (which I didn’t take a photo of) is home to the largest wooden sitting Buddha in Japan.
My pal introduced me to dessert heaven at Hakata station. Frankly, I think she wanted to kill me (it’s no secret given her homicidal tendencies). I felt lightheaded when I saw the abundance of sweet treats; my world was rocked and I began seeing stars, rainbows, and unicorns. I couldn’t decide what to try! Alas, since it was my mission to eat melon-pan in Japan, a popular type of sweet bun, I did just that — only this one came with green tea ice cream! The best of both worlds. Needless to say, the rainbows and unicorns returned after that due to a sugar overdose.
That evening, it was pouring rain by the time my friend and I were about to leave Manu Coffee, a cute-as-a-button local coffee shop. As we were leaving, the barista asked us if I had an umbrella, and then proceeded to give me his with a warm smile. I was grateful for his generosity and couldn’t thank him enough. This was only the first instance where I had been met with kindness from strangers, and as I travelled some more, I found a sense of belonging through people’s generosity, kindness, and hospitality.