November 9-13, 2018
These towns should be one of the highlights of Kyushu, at least if you read Lonely Planet and other guides. We probably did not find ourselves being big fans of pottery, at least not so much to make this highlight of our trip. Anyway, it was not really boring. We visited museums in two old houses in Imari and went to Okawachiyama, a lovely village hidden in a colourful forest full of small pottery workshops. But it was pretty much enough for us, therefore we did not visit Arita town.
Our next stop turned out to be really exciting. Early morning when we woke up we walked to Nanatsugama. A free campground was just next to the entrance. The park looks like less impressive Giant Causeway in Ireland. Later we arrived in Yobuko, known for its Marketers fish market. We were probably late since there were fewer stalls and a variety of products. Nagoya Castle Ruins was our next stop. Yes, the name is correct, even though you may know Nagoya city that is located totally somewhere else. It is pretty big in size with superb views. Ideal place for having our bento lunch. A short ride from there is Hado cape. Lovely little peninsula with yellow beach, underwater observatory and proud plate “The Northwest end”, whatever it means. Rest of the day we spent in Genkai Energy park. Monstrous nuclear power plant PR visitors centre. There is an almost spectacular three storeys education centre with a roof terrace overlooking the power plant. It is surrounded by a huge greenhouse and family outdoor park with kids playgrounds.
After almost three weeks, the time was up for us and we had to return to Fukuoka. Car return was quick and a public bus took us not far from our Spica Hostel. Next day we did not have a mood for a big city break, we just wandered the city and wanted to visit a few spots mentioned in our guide book. But everything changed when, by coincidence, we realized there was a sumo tournament in Kousaka centre. Few last cheap tickets were still available. Unbelievable. The day in Fukuoka got an entirely different vibe.
Visit of Japan would not be complete without seeing sumo. But you have to be either lucky like us, being at the right time in the right place, or you need to plan well. We learned that sumo could be seen during a tournament event. It takes place every two months in different cities in Japan. And Fukuoka is one of them. Each tournament last for one week. Tickets are supposed to be sold out quickly. But as you can see in our case, just don’t give up. Go there in the morning and you may still get one even websites are telling the opposite. It is not even really expensive. At least the cheapest regular seats at the top of the arena. Price per person was 3,200 JPY. The ticket is valid for the whole day and it is possible to leave and re-enter once during the day. The most interesting part is between 4 pm and 6 pm with sumo fighters from the highest class. If you plan to spend there more time, consider buying more expensive tickets if they are available. Such “seats” are not really seats but it is roughly 1,5 x 1,5-meter mat where you can comfortably sit down with your company, have a drink, eat your bento lunch and watch the match series. As you can guess, we spent practically the whole afternoon there and nothing really left for exploring the city. Not even the other day since we flow to Okinawa for deserved island relax.