Thursday, September 26, 2019

Nagasaki Private Tours

Always a standout attraction on the day is the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum.  You can combine these 2 locations with others to make a fabulous day out on your Nagasaki City adventure.

The 26 Martyrs site and Museum as well as the Fukusaiji Temple are excellent accomplishments to round out your day in Nagasaki City.

Check out the video below:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Futamigaura Park- Itoshima: Fukuoka Prefecture

Although this wasn`t on my intended schedule, it turned out to be as it was the one that left the biggest impression on me and my mother.

We had just finished taking pictures of the main attraction, being Lovers Rock and had lunch at one of the many cafes dotted on the peninsular, when my mum spotted something that i didn`t see, way above all the cars driving along the coastline.  It seemed to be a series of levels jutting out from the overhead rock outcrop, armed with this curiosity of wanting to know what it was, my mother and I proceeded to drive up the steep and winding road until it became obvious that it was a cemetery, located up upon the most magnificent view that one will see for a long time.

My mum was in awe, she thought it was one of the most interesting places that she has even been to and I wasn`t too far behind in my thinking as well!  Now, I know what some of you will be thinking, I don`t want to go to a cemetery!  In all fairness this incredible place is more like a scenic park rather than a cemetery.  At the time, my mother and I didn`t get out of the car, just took some photos from within, but after further research I have found out that the cemetery doesn`t mind visitors and photos being taken as long as people are respectful and are there to appreciate the beauty and hard work that obviously goes into making this place one of the most amazing cemeteries I have been too and probably in all of Japan as well.

Below the cemetery is a dedicated park to peace, tranquility and harmony.  These are absolutely some of the emotions that I felt during the time whilst enjoying the awe inspiring view that were available to behold.  This location isn`t well know by the traveling public so I should imagine there isn`t too much in the way of tourists in the area.  A great place to meditate and or just enjoy the scenic beauty.

The pictures really don`t do the location justice!  You will have to take my word for it that it is indeed breathtaking from every perspective.

Please click here to see the Futamigaura Park on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Plenty of space

Lovers rock below

Picture perfect

Interesting statues

Coastal views

Please click on these videos to see more about the incredible Futamigaura Park.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Couples Rock- Itoshima Beach: Fukuoka Prefecture

Couples Rock in Itoshima is also known as Sakurai Futamigaura of Meotoiwa.  I will continue to called this attraction Couples Rock as the latter saying is certainly a mouth full.  
When people talk about Itoshima, a small and relaxing place where the city folk like to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life for a day or even just a half a day considering its close proximity, ultimately the one place everyone wants to visit and get the obligatory photo is Couples Rock.
Couples Rock is a beautiful sunset scenic spot right on the Genkai Sea. This place has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 most scenic places and during summer when the days are at their longest, the final view of the sunset between the 2 rocks will leave a strong and lasting impression on even the least romantic people in this world.
Couples Rock is connected by a large Shimenawa (rope) which is 30 metres in length and weighs 1 tonne. The male rock is 11.8 metres high and the female rock is 11.2 metres in height. Shimenawa is a thick, twisted, straw rope that in ancient times, was believed to have the power to ward off evil sprits or was used to cordon off sacred area as a talisman and as a result many objects connected with Shinto Shrines are decorated with these types of ropes.
Itoshima is also loaded with cafes, restaurants and places of nature, so you can see why it is becoming the stamping ground for the Fukuoka community as a place to recharge and refresh and in many cases retire from the rat race or live out a more peaceful existence.

I am finding more and more interesting place during each new visit to the area, so please keep a look out of many more posts and places of interest in my upcoming blogs.

Please click here for a map of Couples Rock located in Itoshima:

Please click on the picture below to enlarge the photos:

Please click on these videos to see more of Couples Rock up close and personal:

Monday, September 2, 2019

Umegae Sake Brewery: Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture

Every now and then in my travels around Nagasaki Prefecture you come upon a special place that instantly makes a strong and lasting impression on you. Umegae Sake Brewery is just one of these places and as a result of this positive and uplifting experience we intend to make this location a regular attraction on our full day tours.

To tell you the truth, for quite a few years now, I have been intending to visit this location and highlight its wares but for some reason it never did fit neatly into my schedule on the day.  Luckily a few hours opened up for me and my original plan had to be changed, however the god`s shine on me and my chance to check out my first Sake Brewery in Nagasaki came to fruition.

The rest is history!  Right from the beginning the friendly ladies welcomed me with open arms (not figuratively) allowed me to wander around on my own device, allow me to ask a multitude of questions and to basically give me full access of their facilities in order to make this report.  Even though I was here for only 45 minutes or so, it felt so much longer as there was some much information that i was able to digest and use.  Unfortunately there is not a huge amount of written and spoken English in this environment but the warm hearted smiles and manners of all the staff members really hopes to overcome any language communication difficulties.

I was not able to drink on the day (zero drinking and driving policy in Japan) but the range of Sake (Japanese Rice Wine) Shochu (Japanese Distilled Spirits) and Liqueurs is more than enough to satisfy everyone`s requirements.  So I am absolutely sure that I will be back as a non driver to sample at my hearts content in order to be the best guide and provider of information on the day.  It`s a hard job but I am sure I can handle it!

Please check out the Umegae Sake Brewery here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

English explainations

Recommended place

Special Sake

Storage Vats

Nice welcome for everyone

Factory Floor

Love the entrance

Very reasonably priced

Let`s try them all!

Lots of variety

Here is a video of my experience at the Umegae Sake Brewery that I am sure you will enjoy:

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Mongolian Wall Fortifications: Imazu, Fukuoka Prefecture

Imazu lies on the east coast of the Itoshima Peninsula. Blessed with oceans, mountains and unspoiled landscapes, it is also an important historical area. From ancient times until the Kamakura period, Imazu flourished as a trading port and a hub of multicultural exchange. This prosperous era was followed by the Mongol Invasions (Genko in Japanese) which ravaged the area. The historic sites of Imazu are important cultural properties that cast a light on this period in time.

Starting in the 13th century, the tribes of Mongolia succeeded in creating the largest empire in human history, which stretched from the Sea of Japan to Europe. In 1271, Kublai Khan renamed his empire the Yuan, and he sent an expeditionary force to invade Japan in 1274. Unfortunately for him, the invasion was unsuccessful. After this, the Kamakura Shogunate ordered its retainers in Kyushu to build a stone barricade (Genko Borui in Japanese) in case of another Mongolian invasion.

The Genko Borui stretched 20km along Hakata Bay from Kashii to Imazu, but it was built in an amazingly short six months. Given the different methods of construction used along the wall, it is believed that different provinces worked on different sections concurrently. The Genko Borui in Imazu is a 3km section of the structure. Excavations were made in 1913 and it has since been partially restored. It is now preserved and maintained as a National Historic Site. 

The Genkō Bōrui was typically 2 metres high and wide. It was packed with small stones inside, the seaside steep and the landside less steep. Shields and flags were placed on the Genko Borui and stakes were planted in the sea at irregular intervals. The second attack of 1281 was thwarted by a typhoon ( known as Kamikaze) and the Mongolians were forced to withdraw. Even after this, the stone wall construction continued, and remained intact until 1332. 
Most of the stones that were used in the Mongolian Invasion were transported to be used for the construction of the Fukuoka Castle and these stones can still be seen today at the remains of Fukuoka Castle which is one of the stops on our Walking Tours of the City.
I am not a huge history buff but I found this area not only to be very educational but extremely picturesque.  It was a lovely day albeit a little cloudy but to stroll around the shoreline, in and around the black pine forests of the area was quite satisfying.  Combine this with an amazing part of Japanese history in the fact that were able to keeping the rampaging Mongolians at bay (many say the 1281 Typhoon was a divine hand by the Japanese god`s to protect their lands) has resulted in the Japan we see and love today.  If these efforts had been in vain, Japan would be a much different country today and one that maybe doesn`t speak Japanese?  Really mindblowing stuff.  Just enough English Signage so as to give you some basic facts and historical dates of reference.  This combined with your imagination of picturing wave after wave of ferocious Mongolian soldiers attacking the beach head from boats anchored offshore, should leave you satisfied at the end of the day.
Please click here to see the Mongolian Wall Fortifications on a map:
Please click on the pictures below to enlarge:
It's in the countryside alright.

Sample of the wall

Still standing somewhat today!

Remnants of the wall

Well signed in English

The sea is right here!

See more about the Mongolian Wall Restorations here on these videos: