Majestic Japan - Fukuoka

by Teri E. Popp, Tastemaker in Residence

When considering an exotic vacation, one of the most beautiful, yet safe, clean and user-friendly countries to visit is definitely Japan.  Tranquil, welcoming, and extraordinary in every way, Japan offers visitors the vacation of a lifetime. Our first stop is Fukuoka!

Having lived in Japan as a child, I've immensely enjoyed the five pilgrimages I have made there as an adult.  I try to get to Japan at least once a decade in order to appreciate the grandeur and the gradual changes that occur in this lush landscape.

For my most recent trip, I decided to take my dad back to Japan to visit the places we had lived when I was a child.  My youngest daughter tagged along for the ride.  My father had been stationed at Itazuka Air Base in Fukuoka, Japan on the island of Kyushu-located south of the main island of Honshu, which is home to Tokyo.  While the air base no longer exists and an international airport now sits on the site, we spent hours exploring the sights and sounds of a vibrant city that is at once both familiar, and yet, exotically different and new.

While in Fukuoka, we visited Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine built on the grave of Sugawara no Michizane, a memorial dedicated to Tenjin who is the deified form of Michizane.  Michizane, a high ranking government official during the 9th Century, suffered extreme hardship and misery in exile in Fukuoka due to slander by his political rivals.  A highly educated man, upon his death, the Japanese honored him with deification as the God of literature and calligraphy known as Tenjin.

We also found time for fun at a local Fukuoka Cat Cafe and an Owl Cafe.  Founded on different principles, a cat cafe offers the Japanese population a chance to spend time with one of their favorite household animals, the feline.  Many Japanese live in apartments with tatami matting used for flooring.  Landlords do not like to lease to tenants with cats as the matting is easily destroyed by cat claws.  The particular cat cafe we visited in Fukuoka housed local strays that the owner had adopted over the years, and all cats were available for adoption to those lucky tenants whose landlords allow cats!

Owl Cafes have a different genesis.  Usually only found out in nature, an owl cafe offers the highly urbanized Japanese an opportunity to view, hold and learn about several different species of owls.  

Join us soon for our next stop...Kyoto!