Christmas 2015 : sushis, cranes & illuminations

4:13 AM Béné (ベネ) 0 Comments

This year I haven't been in a Christmas mood before the last minute : I didn't even decorated my home !
If Christmas in Japan is day spent with lovers or family, I usually spend it alone. Indeed, Daisuke  is working late so I set myself small traditions and it reassures me to follow them each year. Far from KFC, cosplay parties and other Christmas cakes filled with cream, here is how was my Christmas 2015 .

Illuminations de Noël, Hakata station, Fukuoka
Welcome to Hakata !

Fukuoka : my advices and secrets

5:19 AM Béné (ベネ) 0 Comments

In addition to guide books,  I always liked to have reviews from people living or people who have visited a place I want to visit. They often have good advices to share that can dramatically change a journey. That's why I decided to deliver you all my secrets and advices on Fukuoka.

Béné no Fukuoka !

Strolling in Dazaifu

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On Saturday morning, I got up early and I decided to go to the nearby town of Dazaifu (太宰府). My last time there was few monthes ago and as my coworkers told me that the mapple tree leaves were at their best, it was a great occasion to go. I think I was right because in fact autumn is finally here ! It's just very late compared to other years.

Béné no Fukuoka ! - Dazaifu
I do have legs, I was just seating in seiza :)

Learning Japanese : my background and tips

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A reader asked me to write an article to tell how I learned Japanese. Having been a little sick and busy last weekend, I couldn't do what I had planned for the blog, I was thinking about republish old articles. This request was made at the perfect time.
So here you are : my background and my tips to  how learn and improve in Japanese !

Béné no Fukuoka ! - Studying Japanese

My Japanese daily life #5

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Only one month before Christmas and New year ! It is cold, cloudy and it is time for my Japanese daily life monhtly report, written inside the kotatsu.

Chat au Shôfuku-ji, Fukuoka

Momiji 2015, autumn colors in Fukuoka

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For me, autumn colors are something that ends with November. Or we will soon enter in December, which evokes the Christmas lights, and the autumn colors are still here. I feel a little lost, halfway between the desire to enjoy them again and the boredom of seeing the same scenery week after week. I want to move on but the atmosphere is Christmas-like yet with all these trees full of leaves.

As I said in my previous article, 2015 autumn colors are pretty disappointing because of the temperature which remained quite high until last monday when we had a big chill that still persists now.
Right now, the cherry trees have lost their leaves, ginckos are beginning to pluck but the advancement of maple trees is very different from one tree to another: some are still completely green, some are half and half, some are fully red and began to lose its leaves and some are still green on their upper branches while low one ar full with dead leaves.

So the scenery is not  as "wow" as past years and the walks are a bit disappointing : I don't know if it is too early or too late and how will it turns out next week ?
It is difficult to choose the best timing to go to take pictures so I decided to enjoy the present, to take walks over several weekends. It doesn't care if isn't perfect ! Here is the 2015 autumn in Fukuoka city.

Momiji - Yusentei, Fukuoka

Kitsuki, samurai districts and kimono

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Saturday, I left Fukuoka to go to the nearby Oitaprefecture and specifically Kitsuki city (杵築).
I was looking for months about a daytrip in this part of Kyushu and  I found this place completely randomly while browsing the web on a different subject.

Kitsuki city
Welcome to Kitsuki !

Sunny sunday at the farm

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As you surely know, they were terrorist attacs in Paris. I was lucky enough to not have any member of my family, friends or acquaintancethat was concerned but as a French citiznen I was chocked and sad. For 3 days, I couldn't stop watching a French news channel and I feel strange emotions : I am far but at the same time close, I feel surrounded by friends and boyfriends but only because few people understand this spirit of national solidarity.
Because it is important to move forward and it 's good to see other things, I wanted to show you the beautiful landscapes I saw this weekend . The story is not very long, nor provided, I hope you understand .

Sunday we rented a car, and drove towards Fukuoka's southern mountains and the Mo Mo Land farm which litterely means moo moo land. I wanted to share the translation because it makes me laugh so hard.

Mo Mo Land is a huge park that overlooks the Fukuoka city, with large enclosures with walking trails, playgrounds and farm buildings. It's really a space designed for families and children, making them discover and inderstand  world of the farm and its products : milking cows, making butter and ice, planting flowers or herbs discovery.  The park is really big but there are only few animals. A dozen cows and a half-dozen sheep and a few goats, rabbits and chickens. At least they do not lack space!
It was a simple day. We started by going to see the cows and we try milking before having a walk to  enjoy the fall colors. We went to say hello to the sheep and carps splashing in a pond before having lunch : a omelette with a farmer creamy sauce terribly delicious. We made giant bubbles and enjoyed the slide as children and we had the best soft cream.  We were one of the few visitors without children but from the moment we got out the bubbles, we found ourselves surrounded by a dozen toddlers. Daisuke, being a kindergarten teacher, knew exactly what to do to amuse them and it was very funny to see the parents thank us when we went away .

Good fresh air, beads of dew on the grass, animals, calm and beautiful colors. Playing, eating soft cream, being surrounded by a swirl of dead leaves, petting the sheeps, getting rosy cheeks with the cool wind at the end of the day : this is what I needed. Damn, it feeled good !

Mo Mo Land, Fukuoka

Where to eat in Fukuoka #1 - Lunch in Tenjin

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New series on the blog ! Occasionally, I would suggest you my best culinary addresses, classified by theme and regularly update. For the first one, discover my favorite places for a great lunch in the commercial district of Tenjin.



How I chose to settle in Fukuoka

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Last week, I read an excellent article which explains how the French girl Nemuyoake chose to settle in Iwate Prefecture. At the end of the blog, she asked these questions:

How did you decide where you live?
What criteria do you think about to make important choices ?

I was about to write a comment when it made me thinking about my own situation. After all if Iwate is a rare choice, Fukuoka is far to be the first idea of everyone either. Those who follow me since the very beginning of the blog (well, I talk for the French one) must remember the journey I did to chose Fukuoka but, as I removed most of the blogs on this subject and my English speaking readers don't know the reason of my choice, I will try to explain what make me come to Fukuoka, Kyushu.

Béné no Fukuoka, Mojiko, Fukuoka

Retro Mojiko

3:20 AM Béné (ベネ) 1 Comments

Since few weeks ago, I have been more and more interested in Kita-Kyushu city, which is located in nothern Fukuoka. Daisuke, who was born there, start talking to going back and if he does that, I will have to go too, for sure so I search a lot of information about that place.
Well, frankly , I would rather stay in Fukuoka city...
All this to say that yesterday, taking advantage of a day off (it was bunka no hi (文化の日), culture day), I went to Kita-Kyushu, in the district of Mojiko .

Mojiko, Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka
"Mojiko" or "Mojico" ? You can choose.

My Japanese daily life #4

5:57 AM Béné (ベネ) 0 Comments

Version française  |  日本語バージョンはこちら

It is time for my monthly review ! 
To start October in the best way, my mom came to visit me from 3rd to 15th for my birthday. It's been a year and a half we hadn't meet and it made ​​me very happy and feel good to speak French  even if I immediately saw the consequences on my Japanese. 
On the d-day, October 9th, I took her for a lunch in one of my favorite places where we go sometimes with my colleagues : Miyachiku  a teppanyaki restaurant serving delicious Miyazaki beef. While writing this article, I realized that I had lost all my photos of this special meal... I only have that raw meat and photos that my mom took but only the picture of me was good enough to post here (the reste was too small). Anyway I'll talk about this place again so...
Unlike the last time with my colleagues, the chef was really super nice and we talked a lot . If I didn't mention it was my birthday (I was embarrassed) at the time I booked, it came naturally in the conversation and he prepared me the surprises that birthday customers usually got : a special dessert special and photo. I thought it was very nice of him .

Miyachiku, Fukuoka

Hakata Akihaku's lanterns illuminations

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Autumn is one of the best season to visit Japan, I won't teach you something. But did you know that this is definitely THE best time to visit Fukuoka ? While the cherry blossoms are also beautiful to see, fall has a special flavor : sunny, comfortable temperature and especially tthe entertainment as Fukuoka 's fall is synonymous with festivals.

Hakata Okunchi Festival, Kushida shrine, Fukuoka

My kimono photoshoot

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One of my biggest regrets of my Japanese life is to never have been able to wear furisode (振袖, long sleeves kimono). When you are a young unmarried  woman aged 18-25 in Japan, there are two occasions to wear a furisode : the coming of age day, at 20 (成人式, seijin shiki) and the graduation ceremony at the university (卒業式, sotsugyo shiki). After, if you are lucky, there are also wedding ceremonies but this is rather uncommon or at least not every month.

At 20, I was in France and at my Japanese graduation ceremony , I was... in suit. Indeed, I was convinced that I would have to buy a kimono and considering the price it was clearly impossible. A few days before the ceremony, my friends of ASO48 told me a furisode and hakama set could rent but of course it was too late, as most students reserve their one  more than six months in prior. So I attended the ceremony in a black suit, suronded by dozen of Japanese wearing colorful furisode / hakama. To make up for this, I decided to offer me a photo shoot in this traditionnal clothing with my degree. But, busy with my new job, this idea got completely out of the head, until my passion for Japanese traditional clothing came back abruptly this summer. I thought back about that shooting and told my mom about it : she decided to offer it to me for my birthday.

Béné no Fukuoka - furisode photoshoot
All the pictures are raw

My Japanese daily life #3

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September ended as fast, if not faster, than August. It is hard to believe that we are already in October, just the day before my birthday (this is subtly placed isn't it?).Well what to say about September...
It was a month full of preparation for everything I undertake and complete from this month  On my days off  I 've been thinking, designing, doing research on the web and so on... for some projects that will get online progressively throughout the fall and next winter. So I didn't do much but still have a few things to tell.

Kurogi-machi, Yame, Fukuoka

Rakusui-en, a tiny garden for a short stroll

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For Japanese garden lovers coming to Fukuoka the Ōhori Park's Japanese garden is a must to go but there are also other small hidden gardens in the city such as the one I will present you today: Rakusui-en (楽水園) .

Rakusui-en, Fukuoka

Fukuoka Walks

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I continue to help you discover the cultural tours and activities in Fukuoka with an agency that I tried last week : Fukuoka Walks .

Fukuoka Walks is a company walking offering tours in the city and the prefecture of Fukuoka, as well as cultural activities such as wearing kimono or cooking classes. Everything is orchestrated by English-speaking guides.

It's been a while since I follow this agency on Facebook. They are always posting pictures of their clients with their nationality and I found that very friendly. Obviously there is almost no French national, I saw a picture maybe one or two times only. I thought it was a good opportunity to try a tour and  why not introduce it here!

Pure Smile face masks - O Edo Art edition

6:31 AM Béné (ベネ) 1 Comments

I'm not a beauty blogger.
I 'm not interested ito makeup products, skin care etc ... It must even be a topic that interests me the  less with politics, cars and cinema.
I always apply a very basic make up : fluid foundation, eye shadow in beige and brown tones, mascara and some blush. And still, I started the blush and eye shadow just 2 years ago!
I am always told that make up or not, I have the same face so...
I will surely make scream some beauty experts but I don't put anything more on my skin than a a moisturizer cream ( I'm lucky to have a beautiful skin).

To believe many of my friends , I live on a continent which make wonderful cosmetics and I 'm crazy to not enjoy it more than I do actually. I didn't think about changing my habits, but browsing the net , I found the O-Edo Art face masks of Pure Smile. These paper (or fabric ?) face masks are made to put directly on the skin to deeply moister it.
Their specificity ? It has a kabuki (a traditional Japanese theater) design on them ! I found them to be cool and told myself it would be funny to try and take the opportunity to present them on the blog.

I ordered on Amazon the pack of 3 masks available and I got it for free thanks to the 1000 yens coupon offered by the local magazine Fukuoka Now magazine ( thank you !).

Pure Smile face masks - O Edo Art edition

Kawabata shotengai

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One of the places I like to go the most in Japanese cities are shotengai (商店街) . A shotengai is a shopping street, most of the time covered, lined with all kinds of shops : clothing, traditional souvenirs, street food , hairdressers, vegetables shops, 100 yen shops, and so on.

What I like th most in these streets is it reigns a complete mess in a somewhat retro atmosphere , as if it was a leap in the past, to the Showa period.
The shops have a selection of their products outside and sellers don't hesitate to go to others ones to chat and exchange some goods. It is not uncommon to find no one inside a shop and see the owner suddendly coming back with arms full of goods, apologizing for being absent.
While in the modern shops everything is well and visibly displayed, in shotengai stores, you have to rummage and seek to find your gem. If there are some expensive shops, most of the shops are quite cheap. It is a very good place to find traditional Japanese souvenirs : fans, fabrics, Japanese paper or trinkets.

Maybe it is a bit difficult to imagine so here are some pictures of one of the biggest shotengai in Fukuoka : the Kawabata shotengai  (川端商店街)

Kawabata shôtengai, Fukuoka

My Japanese daily life #2

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Earlier this month, for the film's release, some giant Minions settled in the front of Hakata station. There is always a lot of events and exhibitions on this square on weekends, it is nice to go.

The perfect matsuri outfit

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August is the period for Japanese festivals and this is an opportunity to get out wearing some traditional outfits like yukata, the summer cotton kimono. If I love to wear it during fireworks or at festivals that take place in the evenings, during a matsuri that start from the morning, I like to put a little more comfortable and more fun outfit : jinbei.

Jinbei, vêtement d'été japonais - Béné

Okawachiyama, the ceramiq village

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Last Saturday, I went back to Saga Prefecture to visit the small village of Okawachiyama (大川内山). Discovered on a French blog, I had a crush on this village and waited for the right time to go. So it is done and I was not disappointed by the promenade.

Pont en céramique, Okawachiyama, Saga, Kyushu

Why Japan ?

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"What do you like this much in Japan ?" 
"How did you come to like Japan ?" 
"But... why Japan ?" 
All this so frequently asked questions but which are so difficult to find an answer. Eeach time I have to think and end up telling that it is a long story. In general people don't insist. Sure, I could say that I like the food, landscapes, always on time trains, Japanese service or kawaii everywhere (which is true), but I feel that this isn't the real answer, it actually goes much further.
Arriving in my new job, I was of course under fire of questions for a while and it led me to think: Why Japan?

pourquoi le Japon

Lanterns, jinbei & melon pan

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The Mitama lanterns festival is a festival held each year at Gokoku sanctuary (護国神社) which is close to Ohori Park. This festival is celebrated during Obon (お盆, the festival to celebrate dead people) in many sanctuaries of the country including the controversial Yasukuni Shrine .

You may know I am happy as hellwhen there is a lantern festival  and / or when I can wear traditional Japanese clothes. So I wanted to go to the festival so bad ! Fortunately Daisuke finished his job earlier than usual and was able to meet me at the very end of the afternoon at Hakata station. We decided to wear our jinbei (甚平), this super comfortable clothes that consists of a kimono top and shorts (or skirt for girls).
As I went to Hakata by foot (which takes about 30 minutes), needless to say I was quite uncomfortable to be looked at. It must be said that the festival is not well known and that there was no other one in the area that day so in people's heads there was no reason to wear a jinbei = I was stared.

Jinbei femme au Mitama Matsuri, Fukuoka

Ainoshima, the cat island

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That's a long time since I hadn't talked about Fukuoka, almost 2 months actually! That's not good !  I'm going to be scold (just kidding). In fact I didn't really have time to go through the prefecture recently but Bene is back, more determined than ever !
Today I will introduce you to a magical place that makes dream worldwide feline lovers  : Ainoshima or the cat island.

Holidays at Miyakojima ! (part.3)

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Banner Miyakojima

Already half of the trip... it goes fast !
The day before I asked to rent a bike at the guesthouse. They have 2 and lend them for free. After I got up around 7am, I went to pick up it around 8am. The first meters will make me understand that my day excursion all cycling, will not be the easiest thing : the saddle is too low and too rusty to turn the handle. Rust also prevented from turning the pedals correctly, to be short I knew I would have a hard time but I decided to follow the program I setted.
First, a place that I loved in 2011 and where I dreamed to come again :  Utopia Farm.
This is a fruits and tropical flowers plantation fully open to visitors.

My Japanese daily life #1

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I noticed there isn't enough of lifestyle blog posts here. After all, my title is also "daily life" and recently, I became addicted to this nice blog : Saraboy. it is a Swedish girl who talk about her daily life. it is very simple but very poetic. I love her blog so much !
So I want to post more lifestyle blog post, for example in between two posts about Fukuoka or travels.  It also allows me to squeeze places I like and other tips and talk about things that would not have merited a whole blog.

July is already ending. I didn't see the time passed at all. After an endless rainy season, summer has finally arrived in Fukuoka : two months of high temperatures, wet heat and sun that burns your skin. I sleep listening to the sweet sound of the fan and my laundry dries inside because I don't want my friends cicadas to sleep in them (you can feel the girl which was traumatized) .

Calendrier Yotsuba&!

Holidays at Miyakojima ! (part.2)

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holidays in Miyakojima

First day on Miyakojima. I had a very defined program but a girl of the guesthouse wanted to join me so I had to adapt it a little...
At 8am, we took the bus to the small  Shimajiri (島尻) wharf with the aim to go to the tiny island of Ôgamijima (大神島) . From the nearest bus stop, we had only 14 minutes to reach the boat and was very fair. The driver advised us to call the pier saying that we arrived and through our call, they kindly waited for us 2 minutes.

Aso College Groupe - Japanese course

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When I first came to Fukuoka, I studied Japanese for 18 month at Aso College Group, a famous school, known all around western Japan. here is my experience.

Aso College Group - Fukuoka

I graduated in spring 2014 so some things may have changed since. 
Please confirm everything with school

Mikaeri falls hydrangea festival

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The second day ofmy holidays, I went to the next door prefecture Saga, just for a nice flower festival.

Entrance of the festival // 祭りの入り口
Hydrangea festival !
Saga is a small rural prefecture between Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Cataloged as the depths of Japan, TV shows make often fun of it and there are very few tourists. I myself never set footon Saga (except for a few changes of trains but it does not count). By searching on the internet, I discovered that there was a hydrangea festival every June. Not content to want to go because I am an absolute fan of these flowers, I discovered that it takes place at the Mikaeri Falls (見帰りの滝),which is part of the top 100 most beautifulJapanese waterfalls ranking.

I rediscovered Nagasaki

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Last Thursday, I finally quit my job. On Friday, I started what I call my "holidays marathon.
First step : Nagasaki city.

Nagasaki is a place I had visited in 2011. Despite a few things that left me some bitter memories (and which now seem futile), I really liked the atmosphere and architecture of this city. Of all the major cities in Kyushu, I think it is the one that has the most charm and I could not wait to go again.
This time, I wanted to focus on the southern part of the city where gather the Dutch-inspired neighborhoods, dozens of temples and shrines and streets full of small neighborhoods.

Bouée sur Dejima, Nagasaki

Interpreter, a first experience

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In early May, I was contacted by Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau (FCVB), asking me if I would be interested to work as an interpreter (French - Japanese) for a French guidebook (Petit Futé) that will come to the city.

Maps of Fukuoka / 福岡の地図

My Miyakojima trip (fall 2010)

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Miyakojima is surely one of my favorite places in Japan. This is an island of  in the middle of the archipelago of Okinawa. I went there two times : fall 2010 and summer 2011. In summer 2011, I had not been able to post pictures of the island because I formated my memory card but I took a lot of pictures in 2010. I hope to make you travel and you discover this beautiful island.

Miyakojima blue and Ogami island. / 噂の宮古島ブルーと大神島。
Sea color around Miyakojima is called Miyakojima blue. Far away is the tiny Ogami island.

The little things that make me happy

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My little moments of happiness in Japan.
point information de la gare d'Hakata
Find new interesting pamphlets at Hakata station's information center;

Hakata Port Tower

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In 2012, the smallest and least known of the two towers of Fukuoka was a 10 minute walk from my home. I thought it was a good starting point to visit the city and went many times. Here is my report of my visits。

Hakata Port Tower

An afternoon in Space World

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After our ride to Kawachi Fuji-en we quietly back down to the rental car ship and decided to spend the rest of the day at the local amusement park : Space World.
Space World, Fukuoka
Entrance doors

Under the wisteria tunnel, at Kawachi Fuji-en

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EDIT : since 2016, if you want to go on wisteria season you'll have to buy a ticket in advance in a combini, choosing your day and hour of visit. If not you won't be allowed to enter. It seems a bus is also running to the garden too.

Japan is very famous for cherry blossoms but before and after, there are also beautiful floral seasons. Camellias , plums , azaleas, wisteria, hydrangea and so on, they all adorn the landscape with their pretty colors.
Wisteria tunnel, Kawachi Fuji-en, Fukuoka, Japan
It is this way !

Fukuoka by night

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Recently, as I wanted to professionalize me, to increase the picture quality of the blog and to start my vlog (there is a new video online ! Check it out ! ), I decided to get a new camera. After many requests for advice, I set my heart for the Sony alpha a5000 .

Fukuoka Tower by night
Fukuoka Tower light up (from 7:30pm on this season)

Pinkberry's frozen yogurts

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Do you know frozen yogurts ? I tried this dessert for the first time last year, when I went to Huis Ten Bosch (a famous theme park in Nagasaki) and I loved it so much that I almost can't eat ice cream anymore. I was desperate to not be able to eat frozen yogurts in Fukuoka.
But, the famous californian brand Pinkberry open its second japanese shop in Fukuoka, inside the Ohori park.
What is better to eat a delicious frozen yogurt inside this lovely park ? I could go few weeks after its opening so let me introduce it !

Fukuoka's Pinkberry

My brand new Youtube channel

6:47 AM Béné (ベネ) 1 Comments

Here we are ! I laucnh today my Youtube channel and my first video !

Since I have been denied to the Fukuoka Goodwill Ambassadors , I do not have to think to block my weekends for the followinf two years and as I bought a new camera, it was the perfect timing to launch this new activity. I present you ...
Click on the picture to go to the channel

Quiet time in a Japanese garden

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Enjoying an impromptu afternoon off, I went once again to Ohori Park, which is definitely one of my favorite places : I am going every week. From home, it takes about 40 minutes by foot or 15 minutes by bike. After my now customary walk around the lake, I went for the first time to the Japanese garden (Nihon teien 日本庭園). The cherry blossom season is almost over so the flow of tourists has endend and I almost had the garden for myself .

Jardin japonais du parc Ôhori, Fukuoka

A week under cherry blossoms

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The sakura (cherry blossom) season just ended in Fukuoka and many other places in Japan . This year, the weather was not kind with us at all and the blossom lasted just about a week which is very short. Here's a review of a week under the cherry trees in Fukuoka, from hatching until the end of the season.

Cherry flower "sakura"

Yanagawa canals

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Last Sunday, I finally got my revenge on Yanagawa ! I decided that we would go before the end of the Sagemon festival and this Sunday was the last chance. After a scare as we were expecting rain, we could enjoy a beautiful, warm day .

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

What I like to eat in Japan

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Almost 3 years ago, I posted an article (not yet translated) talking about what I liked to buy at combini when I was traveling to Japan. Since then, my tastes have changed a little, I discovered new flavors, new products and I thought it was the right time to update this post.
Unlike the previous post, i won't present products available only at combini  I also included things that are not selled there, and I removed the drinks which I will talk in a separate post. Of course, I'm always talking about snacks or cookies and not about "real food".

Japanese snacks

Ode to my daruma

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Illustration daruma

Daruma are whishing dolls or figurines rounded shaped. Daruma have no eyes. When one receives or buys one, it is a tradition to draw, in black ink, one of its 2 eyes while mentally whishing for something. If the wish comes true, the other eye is drawn. Otherwise people have to bring it to the temple to be burned.

Few hours in Kokura

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From February until mid-March, the weather is not the greatest in Fukuoka : there are clouds almost everyday, days of rain and a cold wind is blowing. I don't like this time of a year, despite the pretty flowering plum trees.

On the first sunny day in weeks, I decided to enjoy it and treat myself a ride out of the town. I picked up my favorite guide book but I couldn't decide for ages so at that time it was already too late for one of the two options I was considering. I took the train early in the afternoon to the north of the prefecture, towards the town of Kita-Kyushu and its downtown : Kokura.

Ume ! Ume ! Ume !

8:25 AM Béné (ベネ) 1 Comments

it became a habbit to post plum blossom flowerson this blog ! In my defense  I would say I love these flowers and their delicate scent : I don't get tired to walk amongst them and breathe their fragrance.

Because of last days lack of time and good weather, this year, I choose proximity and went to see the latest plum flowers at Maizuru park . Remember, this is the third year that I talk about this great place. It was the end of blossom season, many trees were already bare and / or with wilted flowers well . It remained still enough to have a beautiful view from the castle ruins.

To avoid overdose,  I also went in Daien -ji Temple (大圓寺) in Tojinmachi. I found this place in a Fukuoka guidebook and its 5 story pagoda intrigued me. Unfortunately, it is located on top of a not very pretty building. Normal, it was built in 1995, so it is very recent. The temple itself dates from 1060 but was destroyed twice by fire, the present building only dates "only" of 1607 .

The visit was a bit disappointing because, apart from the main temple, all the buildings are new and the atmosphere is not what I had imagined. There was also nobody to quench my curiosity about the history of the temple and which gods people pray here . Nevertheless, there is a nice little garden full of splashing carps and another temple just next door where you can admire a dry garden, all was not lost .

Maizuru Park

In Japan for another 5 years

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Early spring arrives and this season is for me a sign that I have to think about my residence permit renewal. After a few days filling all the papers and a short week and a half of waiting, I finally got to go get my new resident card.
Surprisingly, I got ... five years !

A five-year stay is difficult to get and usually can not be own before some renewals. In Japan, in the case of a working visa,  people can obtain a residence permit for one, three or five years. Last year, I had one year which is quite normal for the first time. For this renewal I asked for three years without really believing it, saying that at worst I would have one and if I 'm lucky three . I did not even think about five years.  When the person in immigration handed me my new card , saying " we made ​​you a card for five years," I could not believe it and had to take few seconds to react .

Following the water

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I write a lot of posts speaking about specific areas of Fukuoka Prefecture but recently I realized that I have never really showed the atmosphere of the city, places that have no real interest in eyes of ordinary tourist but which are for me all the charm of this city .

Fukuoka is a city crossed by several rivers and streams. This is one of those rivers, the Naka River (那珂川) that, in the past, defined the cities of Hakata and Fukuoka. 
They are part of my daily life : I cross the Naka River every morning and evening to go and come back from work, my company faces another river and I live next to a small stream. From my house , I like to loop along these rivers. For the first article of the serie, I take you with me over the water.

Note : Photos are taken on different days and at different hours of a difference between shot. There is a map at the end of the post.
Nakagawa, Fukuoka
Mark 1 on the map

Hakata doll painting experience

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As you may know, since this Friday, I became a special correspondent for Fukuoka Prefecture Tourist Information Association. It is the first of all the projects I have in mind. This collaboration makes me really happy and I am really honoured to have been chosen by them. I really hope that it will make people of all over the world the opportunity to discover Fukuoka.

To celebrate that, I decided to give me a gift, an activity I wanted to do for months: painting a Hakata doll. Before anything else, here are a few words about this doll.
Their history started in the 17th century, but it was in the 19th century that they were known to general people, thanks to a craftsman who seems to make them easier and less expensive to create. Different from other Japanese dolls, Hakata ningyo (博多人形) are only made ​​of clay (took near Mount Aburayama in the southern Fukuoka city). The dolls are made ​​very carefully and before it could go on sale, it takes between 20 to 60 days.

Let's back to painting !
The course of the experience is very simple: we first choose a doll to paint from a dozen models available (dolls, traditional figures, animals...). Then we sit to the big table where the owner has prepared brushes, toothpicks (for details), a cup of water to rinse brushes, a paper plate for painting, tissues, tons of colors colors and you can start painting! Feel free to ask for a model if you have no idea about how painting yours.

Hakata doll painting experience

A nice owl cafe : Fukurô no Mise

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Café à hiboux, Fukuoka

About one year after its opening, I could finally visit the owl cafe of Fukuoka (フクロウのみせ).Very popular because it is the only place of this kind in whole Kyushu, it was very crowded, especially on weekends, where people have to be in front of the cafe at 10AM to make sure having a reservation for the day (they do not accept reservation in advance).We totally forgot about this cafe until this Sunday. We were near the shop and decided to go. Fortunately, we could enter quickly.

A bit of love

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Last week was very hard for French people. Because we all need some love, travel with me to Fukuoka, to the Koinoki shrine (恋木神社).

Its name means "tree of love" and everything is done to make you remember that. This place is especially made for couples and girl looking for charming prince: ground patterns, ema (絵馬), posters, everything is red and full of hearts. There is even a special way to bend the prediction "omikuji" to have a shape of a heart and special marriage ceremonies for couples only (in Japan, we celebrated marriage with friends, coworkers and family).

This shrine is very cute and feminine. It is also very popular and noisy. Girls who visit the place are not quiet : camera sounds, "so cute" screams and so on. Surprisingly, the bigger shrine next to Koinoki, Mizuta Tenmangû, is a lot more quiet.

I went there by curiosity because I thought it was a very cute place and especially because everything but the shrine is closed for new year holidays. I wasn't expecting too much and I was right. The way from Fukuoka city was long and there is nothing around if you don't have a car. it must worth a visit for people who own a car or really looking for love but if not, I don't think it's worth it.

Here are some of the pictures I took. There are information on the shrine at the end of the article.

Mizuta tenmangu Fukuoka