Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My last Super Terrific Happy Japan Trip! Part I

I took my fifth and final trip to Japan last week and spent five days in Fukuoka.  My original plan was to spend this past year in Japan, but things didn't end up working out.  This vacation was extra special as it was the last time I will be in Japan for a long while.

The day of my arrival was the final day of the annual Fall Hojoya festival in Fukuoka held at the
Hakozaki shrine.  Hundreds of vendors (mostly selling food) line the street leading up to the shrine, and the festival has a fair like atmosphere.

The festival is held so that people can visit the shrine and give thanks for the autumn harvest and pray for personal and business success.  People can also pay a little bit of money at the shrine to receive a piece of paper with their fortunes on it.

                                   People getting their fortunes read and winning a prize

 Praying at the Hokazaki shrine

    Hokazaki shrine

My wife stopped at a palm reader's stall and had her fortune read.  For the rest of the night, she was endlessly bombarded by me with questions concerning here "secret admirer":  
Love and Marriage
At present you are secretly being adored from afar by a wonderful person.  If you are slow in realizing this, you will be deprived of their affection by another.  You should observe your surroundings more closely.  You won't be given this kind of chance again. 

Also, according to her fortune she is in danger of developing a nose disorder.

                                            Take my money, please

The next day, we took a tour of the Asahi brewery.

It was pretty cool to see how the factory works and how all those cans and bottles of beer get packaged.  I immediately though of Willy Wonka as I walked through the corridors and saw all the machines.  I actually only saw a very, very tiny portion of the factory.  It's actually bigger than the size of two football fields. 


The coup de grace came at the end of the tour and was an alcoholic's wet dream:  20 minutes to consume all the Asahi beer you could drink from this cup....

I have to admit,  I was feeling quite happy by the time I left.  I rarely ever drink, but being American, the very thought of passing up free beer is offensive to me and would have surely been an affront  in the eyes of my freedom loving forefathers.

On Friday, I visited Axis Fukuoka run by Takeshi Kanda.  I arrived at 7:30 p.m., and there was a pilates class in progress.  Mr. Kanda wasn't there, and I didn't see anyone that looked like they were getting ready or waiting for the next class.  I couldn't ask anyone any questions, because I'm stupid and don't speak any Japanese.  I thought that maybe class wasn't going to happen, but everyone ended up showing up at 8:00 p.m. 

I had a great time and did a lot of gi and no gi sparring.  Mr. Kanda isn't a big guy, so his style of BJJ really fits with my game.  He took some time out and let me film a technique video of a sneaky armbar he always catches me with when I visit, and he even gave me an Axis t-shirt!  As usual, everyone was really nice.

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