Sam's Japan Picture Book





Kyushu University has an old and quite run-down campus in eastern Fukuoka. It is not very picturesque.

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The building in which the Mathematical Biology Laboratory is based


However, my room was in western Fukuoka, and its windows afforded a lovely view of the Yahoo! Dome, home of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks baseball team, and beyond: the sea.

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The view from my room windows


I was lucky enough to be in Japan during Cherry Blossom season. The Laboratory celebrated in traditional style, with a barbeque under the trees, known as a “hanami”.

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The hanami



At weekends I would go and explore areas of Japan. One of the first places I went to was Nagasaki, which was the victim of a famous bombing.

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A sign in Nagasaki



I also visited Kagoshima in southern Japan, which is loomed over by Sakurajima, an active (and often smoking) volcano.


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Sakurajima looming over Kagoshima (smoke not pictured)



I also visited an island in Hakata bay, which is next to Fukuoka. The island is called Nokonoshima and is very beautiful. Here one could play a strange golf-croquet hybrid called “Noko-noko ball”.

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Noko-noko ball, Nokonoshima Island Park


While in Japan, I also took the opportunity to visit Tokyo. There are a lot of people there.

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Shibuya crossing, Tokyo


In Tokyo one can stay in a capsule hotel, which features communal hot baths, saunas, cold plunge pools, and capsules in which one sleeps.

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A corridor full of capsules, Green Plaza Capsule Hotel, Shinjuku, Tokyo



I also visited Kyoto. It was raining when I saw the Golden Temple. I got asked a lot of questions by young Japanese students learning to speak English. It was homework for them.

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The Golden Temple in the rain, Kyoto


I was luckier with the weather when visiting Himeji, which has a very pleasant castle, known colloquially as “The White Heron”. It is especially picturesque in cherry blossom season.


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Himeji-jo, aka “The White Heron”, Himeji



I also visited Nara, and saw the largest wooden building in the world, the Buddha hall of the Todai-ji temple.

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Todai-ji, Nara



On the way back from Kyoto to Fukuoka I stopped off in Hiroshima, also the victim of a famous bombing. Near Hiroshima is an island called Miyajima, which has a famous “floating torii”. Torii means shrine gate. It’s not really floating, but when the tide is high it looks as though it is. I was lucky: the tide was high.

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The floating torii, Miyajima


In addition to the cherry blossom season, I was also very lucky that my visit to Japan coincided with Golden Week. In Fukuoka, this includes the famous Hakata Dontaku festival, which attracts over 2 million Japanese tourists every year. I found the parade mainly baffling, as it featured lots of people dressed very strangely.

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Hakata Dontaku Festival Parade, Fukuoka



Fukuoka is very close to South Korea, so I was also able to go there. While in South Korea I was amazed by the number of middle-aged (or older) women with short permed hair and an aggressive attitude. I later found out that South Korea is well known for such things, and even has a word for this type of women: ajumma. While staying in Seoul I visited the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. This had a chilling atmosphere.

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Panmunjeom, DMZ, Korean peninsula


For my leaving party before returning to England my colleagues and I went for karaoke. Much fun was had.

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Karaoke fun, Hakozaki, Fukuoka



The plane home flew over Siberia, which was desolate.


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Siberia (photo taken from the aeroplane)

Japan is a wonderful place to visit and to study in.





Page last modified on 20 jan 10 19:45