Saturday, November 30, 2019

Unzen Ropeway: Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture

The Unzen Ropeway in Nagasaki climbs the Myoken Peak of Mount Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsular. The Unzen Ropeway was opened in 1957, the area was transformed immediately and has developed into a major Attraction that many people visit over and over again throughout the seasons. It attracts visitors with its 360 degree views of the surrounding areas.  It's nature is also a big calling card for many visitors, especially the blooming azaleas in spring and the many autumn changing colors.

It  is open 365 days of the year and at certain times of the year during the peaks seasons of Spring and Autumn extensive waiting periods can be observed, sometimes up to 2 or 3 hours as people are desperate to see the spring cherry blossoms and Autumn foliage change.  However summer and winter are quite reasonable and it's more a matter of minutes and not hours needed at these times of the year.  This is the way I like it and on this particular day which was a weekday (weekends can be horrendous) in no time at all we were allowed a great standing position on the ropeway to get the sight and pictures that we desired.

This visit was my first to use the actual Ropeway as I usually prefer to climb the mountain but in order to get the photos I desired i took advantage of the fabulous service available to the public.  All I can say is that i wasn't disappointed with my decision, the views and its proximity to nature are second to none resulting in some of the best pictures I have taken.  Please check them out!

Check out The Unzen Ropeway in Nagasaki  on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The colours are intense!

Spectacular views

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ichiran Ramen Factory: Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture

Everyone loves Ramen!  It is the lifeblood of the populace of Fukuoka and most of Japan to tell you the truth.  Ichiran Ramen is originally from Fukuoka and has been exported all over the world so when I found out that they have a Factory and Restaurant just outside Fukuoka City in the coastal area of Itoshima, I made it my mission to go and check out this establishment at my earliest possible convenience.

The drive out to Itoshima is always a pleasant one.  Lots of open spaces, fields of various fruits and vegetables and a countryside feel about it when compared to the busy Fukuoka City streets.  To reinforce this non urban scene, the entrance towards the main building is also rather amazing as it is a full on Bamboo Grove that even though not fully grown is quite impressive never the less.

The building was larger than I expected.  At first they have a viewing window where you can see the manufacturing process of the noodle component of the product.  Ichiran`s soup recipe and process is a very heavily guarded secret so this portion of the process is not on the agenda unfortunately.  Next, you can walk at your own speed through the Museum part of the Building which shows the history of the company, various aspects about the product and quite a few instructional and interactive exhibits which is very popular with the younger customers.  There isn`t a huge amount of English subtitles but the design and the displays are all very explanatory and easy to follow.

Finally, the main part of the tour is the tasting and ordering of you favorite Ramen.  I am sure that even an average ramen fan won`t be disappointed with the taste as there are many choices of Ramen open to the public thru a vending machine which starts the ordering process. The staff members are all friendly and are extremely polite to their international customers. and more than willing to flash you a smile and a wave at the end of the stay on their premises.

Of course on the way out there is also a Gift Shop of sorts that you can fill up on Instant Ramen which always is a popular gift for family and friends back home who haven`t had the pleasure of trying the genuine product.

Overall I had a great hour at the factory.  I learnt a lot, will return to try another Ramen type and throughly recommend any Ramen Lover to come and see the entire process for themselves.

Please check out the Ichiran Ramen Factory here in a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

The noodle production line

This Ramen is Fukuoka based.

Museum exhibits

Always busy!

Walk through a Bamboo Grove

Famous visitors

Ichiran Signage

You will order from the vending machine

You can purchased ramen to take home too!

Click on the videos below to see more about the Ichiran Ramen Factory in Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Ohori Park Japanese Gardens: Fukuoka City

I have been wanting to go to the Japanese Gardens at Ohori Park in the middle of Fukuoka City for sometime now and with Autumn in full swing the thought of seeing some red crimson Japanese Maple Leaf gave me even more motivation to go and check it out.

The location of this attraction can be seen from the outside but only the tops of the trees so I really wasn`t expecting too much but once inside I was in fact blown away by the size, features and overall ambience of the place.  Not only are the gardens impeccably maintained but the central pond really sets the centerpiece of the whole place.  I was a little rush for time on this day and only spent around 25 minutes here but in all honesty I could have easily spent an hour or more here, just lapping up the breathtaking scene and ambience.

On this day, the Teahouses and outer buildings were closed but I lucked out with 2 sets of Japanese couples getting professional pictures taken around the grounds.  I wished them luck, sent a message of congratulations and was able to snap a couple of photos of the ladies and gents in their magnificent Kimonos.  I am sure the gardens are pristine all year long but i will absolutely want to come back during spring to see the Cherry Blossoms and Azalea foliage during this period.

Once I get the times and the booking process under control I will also document and blog about the Green Tea Ceremonies that are held twice a month.  I am looking forward to see what kind of facilities are available for the International Travelers as I may include this traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony on my Fukuoka Walking Tour Itinerary.

Check out the location of the Ohori Park`s Japanese Gardens here on a map:

Please click the photos below to enlarge:

The best view

Japanese beauty

Please click on the videos below to see more details about this amazing attraction.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Fukuoka Tower: Fukuoka City

The Fukuoka Tower is Fukuoka`s No 1 Landmark as it should be! Standing 234 meters above sea level it is visible at all times and a constant reminder to the community at large and of course tourists who may be in town at any point in time.

The Fukuoka Tower is not a one dimensional destination in any sense of the word.  Literally, there is something here for everyone.  Of course the main reason that people come is for the view and the experience of seeing nearly every part of Fukuoka City and its outlying areas.  Not only can you see the Fukuoka Dome and Hilton Seahawk Hotel up come and personal but other areas are also easy to be spotted including the Airport, Hakata Station, the nearby Marinoa City Outlet Mall and its massive Ferris Wheel.  In total, more than a dozen easily recognized landmarks can be spotted in an extremely short period of time.

The Tower is not everyones cup of tea.  Like myself who does have a fear of heights, the elevator which is completely open and glass surrounded, really is a test of one`s character.  It did test me!  I am not saying it was the scariest experience that I have ever had but i will tell you this, you definitely will have to grab the handles provided and look away every now and then during your trip up to the 123rd floor.  Our companions who have no fears whatsoever may laugh at us but seriously it will take some courage to get past this phobia that affects many of us in life.

If you are one who refuses to take the elevator, then don`t despair there are a few options on the ground floor including a restaurant that serves a mean cup of coffee and even a place to get dressed up in a kimono, if that`s your thing?  On the other end, at the top of the tower there are many special inclusions such as a VR Reality Sky Walk, a Lovers Sanctuary, various games and prizes to be won as well as another restaurant as well as a constant 360 degree view that never quits.

All in all, I rather enjoyed this experience.  Coming down was absolutely easier than going up as I have a video of the decending portion of the trip only as evidence.  This attraction is a staple on my Fukuoka Walking Tours and 1 Day Driving Tours but only on sunny days where the weather warrants a climb to the highest point in Fukuoka City.  Cloudy and Rainy days will rely more on Cultural attractions rather than visual ones!!

Please check out Fukuoka Tower here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

A long way up

Amazing views

Great 360 degree views

Please check out these videos below to see more about the Fukuoka Tower and its attractions: