Monday, December 20, 2021

Karato Market: Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Honshu

On this day, my wife was busy but my kids weren't so we headed out from our base in Fukuoka to go to the Karato Market for some breakfast.  Karato Market is well known as the mecca for blowfish otherwise as Fugu in Japanese which is the most poisonous fish in the world.  If not prepared properly by a licensed chef, death will come fast and furious. Luckily for you and me the last registered death as the result of eating this delicacy was way back in 1975.  It's a rigorous process to become a fugu chef, so in my mind the risk is minuscule and the reward in terms of taste and flavor are indeed amazing.

From Fukuoka, its about a 1 hour drive and you will be able to drive across the Kanmon Strait Bridge crossing from Kyushu into the main island of Honshu.  It's very special to see how close the the 2 islands are and the fact that there have been many wars over the last 500 years by clans striving to increase their territorial gains in the region.

Upon arriving ,you can see how popular the area really is by checking out the number plates of the cars in the carpark. Some cars have just come from around the corner for a quick bite to eat whilst many are from various reaches from all over Japan. I always like to arrive quite early in the morning for my seafood bowl consisting of rice and various types of sashimi, then a dollop of wasabi and a topping of seaweed is a meal made in heaven that even non seafood lovers could enjoy.  Because of the numbers it took us a while to be seated but it wasn't too long, in fact the 20 minutes of waiting gave us some time to go for a stroll and do some sightseeing in the area.

This 20 minute stroll created a huge appetite and when our meals arrived we finished then in no time flat.  I must say it was not only absolutely delicious but such a reasonably priced meal.  Once finished, we did some more sightseeing on the upper deck of the market and on the floor getting a real close up of the fish available for purchase.

This location has become a popular stop on our day tours out of Fukuoka.

I am sure you and your private party will not be disappointed.

Please click on this link to see the Karato Markets on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Maritime symbols

Maguro on the rice

The main market below

Nice place to take in the views

This is Fugu

Sashimi and tempura meal

Blowfish up close

Looking very cute

Lots of information to digest

Well marketed product

The fish market in action

Checking out the Kanmon Strait Bridge

Uni (sea urchin) meal

The entrance

A real anchor to touch

A throwback photo of a previous visit

Please click on the video below to see more about the Karato Market in Shimonoseki City:

Please click on the videos below to see the sights around the Kanmon Strait Bridge:

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Sushi Experience: Nagasaki and Fukuoka Prefecture

In my adopted Prefectures of Nagasaki and Fukuoka, we without doubt have some of the best and freshest tasting fish in all of Japan.  Now, for those who aren`t in the know, which is most of us non Japanese people, not all sushi tastes the same!  Of course going to a fast food type sushi restaurant (kaizen sushi/ sushi train) is a good experience but going to a real sushi restaurant where the Master makes the sushi right in front of you and prepares the meal one piece at a time, this is what eating sushi is all about!

I am so lucky to have one of the best sushi restaurants in my backyard and the ingredients and choices change according to the season and what the Master believes will satisfy his patrons the most.
The interaction with the Master (known as Taisho in Japanese) adds to the experience of the meal as does the Japanese sake (rice wine) which compliments the sushi to a T!

If you wish to request this type of Gourmet eating experience on your Private Nagasaki or Fukuoka Tour it can be catered for depending on whether the Master is available that day.

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Sea Bream

Sea Urchin


2 Types of Tuna

Delicious Eel
Special herb and sauce
The Master hard at work
Looks amazing

Unlimited varieties

And if you thought the Sushi in Nagasaki is great you should check out the Sashimi:

Fresh and delicious

Seafood Galore

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Peace Park Statues: Nagasaki City

Of course when one thinks about the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues, the main one that comes to mind is the sculpture by Seibo Kitamura of the human being with one hand pointing to the sky whilst sitting cross legged and eyes closed shut.  Nagasaki Peace Park is synonymous with this awe inspiring statue.

Indeed this is a powerful and internationally known symbol associated with the Nagasaki Atomic Explosion but one of my favourite things to do is to walk peacefully through the Peace Park and look at the tens of sculptors and statues that have been donated by Organizations and Countries from around the world as a symbol of hope and peace for the future.

They are all special in their own way and of course one's imagination and feelings of sorrow come through with each viewing yet at the same time they give hope for the future.  In this way they cause the statues to come alive and speak to us in a private way because everyone needs hope and want to leave the earth in a better way for the future generations.

If you ever have a chance to visit Nagasaki for yourself I implore you to do the same and come to the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues.  It will be a surreal if not highly moving experience and one that you will never forget, especially the viewing of the Mother and Child Statue which really hits you at your core of compassion and empathy.  It is this symbol of sorry and regret that must be remembered so that the weak and innocent are protected no matter what and in all situations of conflict around the world.

Come and check out the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues on a map:

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Strength in Numbers

Whisked away by angels

A popular but haunting photo

Mother and child

Water is a big part of the exhibition

The date and time of that horrific day

Monday, June 21, 2021

Oura Catholic Church: Nagasaki City

The Oura Catholic Church in Nagasaki was established in 1865 and this church is officially known as "Oura Catholic Church, The Church of 26 Martyrs."  It was built by French priests as a dedication to the 26 saints martyred on Nishizaka Hill.

For this reason, the church faces Nishizaka Hill as a sign of respect to those that dies on this day.  The church was constructed in the Gothic style and is Japan's oldest existing wooden church.  It was designated a National Treasure in 1933.

French stained glass was installed in the interior some 100 years ago, but most of this was seriously damaged in the atomic bomb blast.  It has since been restored with some pieces of other stained glass from that period.  Oura Catholic Cathedral will always be famous worldwide as the church that discovered the "hidden followers" who had survived the religious persecution in the 16th Century.  It was the Oura Catholic Church that lured these hidden Christians back into society and to continue their faith without fear and reprisal.

I recommend viewing this church from the outside and from within as it will provide you with a feeling and of the dedication of those that apposed the Christianity ban all those years ago.  A well received site from all visitors.

Oura Catholic Church is situated very close to the Nagasaki Port Terminal, it is only about a 300 to 400 meter walk although there is a rather steep incline on the the hill area on which it is perched.  The other advantage is that is is very close to the famous Glover Gardens and as such 2 major attractions in Nagasaki can be achieved without too much walking and time wasting.  A double whammy that won't leave you disappointed!

Check out the  Oura Catholic Church on a map!

PS:  The latest news is that on the 29th of June 2018, the Oura Catholic Church has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The Church

On the cross

Imposing figures

Maria Statue

Powerful view
In Memorandum
Lots of images inside

The inside view of the Church

Please click on the video`s below to see more about the Oura Catholic Church Nagasaki:

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Yutoku Inari Shrine: Kashima, Saga Prefecture

In 1687, the Yutoku Inari Shrine was built upon the request of Lord Nabeshima, who ruled the domain of the region. At the shrine, the deity Inari Okami, worshiped by the Emperor, is enshrined. This deity is the guardian of food, clothing, and shelter, 3 major areas of concern and a necessity among Japanese people.

The Yutoku Inari Shrine is one of the three most famous shrines dedicated to Inari. People visit the shrine every year to pray for good business, good fortune for their families, a large catch and or harvest, traffic safety and other matters. The shrine is a major tourist attraction, approximately 3 million people visit the shrine annually, and in Kyushu it is the second largest number after Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, located in Fukuoka Prefecture.

The red Torii gates near the main shrine lead all the way up to the top of the mountain situated directly behind the main building.  You can see a spectacular view from the top and of course the flowers of the four seasons are highly visible. Cherry blossoms bloom in spring, and Momiji (Japanese maple) turn red in autumn. The other most famous flowers such as azalea and cosmos also bloom at various times of the year. It is highly probable that visits throughout the year will probably have a flower in bloom at the time.

On this fine spring day, I was able to see the magical and exquisite Cherry Blossoms. Of course this made it a special experience indeed, but the view from the scenic point as well as the general atmosphere around the main buildings and its surrounds is quite spectacular and well received.  It really is a special place to explore and as a result id one of the most instagrammable places in Kyushu. A visit will create a lasting impression.

Please click here to see the Yutoku Inari Shrine on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Maps always help

The main entrance

Cleansing station

A carp pond is another feature

Prayer station

Stairs are always present

Cherry Blossoms in bloom

One of the entrance protectors

Spectacular backdrop

Please click on the videos below to learn more about the Yutoku Inari Shrine.