The bike bag saga continues! We intend to travel by train from Fukuoka to Hiroshima, where we will begin cycling to Kyoto. In order to take a bicycle on a train in Japan, it must be in a bag to protect the train and other passengers from any grit or grease. According to the blogs, every bike store in Japan sells Rinko bags. That is not strictly true, but we did find a choice at Y’s Cycles. The problem was that we could not read the labels and the staff were unable to communicate with us in English. We managed to find some information on the web and chose what seemed appropriate.
The rest of the day we spent with Rory and Sofia -lunch at the vegetarian cafe, Rota; a stop at the Fukuoka Contemporary Art Gallery, where we met the sculptor Hiromitsu Aramini and saw an exhibition of pieces he had done 20 years ago, modeled on his three children; and visits to the Suikyo Tenmangu and Kushida-jinja Shinto shrines (there was what appeared to be a baptism ceremony going on in the latter) and the Tōchō-ji Buddhist Temple, with its 10.8 metre high 30 tonne wooden Buddha. Although the temple dates back to 806 AD, the Buddha was carved in 1992. We also wandered through the peaceful grounds of the Shōfuku-ji Zen temple.
Dinner was an amazing affair. We had intended to go to the Fish Man, but finding it booked up, we decided to try another izakaya restaurant nearby, Hakata Suzuro. While the term “izakaya” is used to describe a casual tapas bar-type establishment, the dinner we ended up having was much more than tapas. It was a lavish set meal with multiple courses, including tiny shellfish, a meat stew with potatoes, carrots and onions; red snapper sashimi and raw octopus; cooked sea bream in a broth with tender Asian eggplant; various other vegetables; rice; seafood and vegetable tempura (including delicious lotus root), miso soup; smoked eggplant; finishing off with yuzu ice-cream and green tea. Sofia and Lois had a glass of chilled dry Sake, which came overflowing into small wooden boxes. The fact that Rory has some facility in Japanese helped us understand what we were eating (and to avoid the dish containing some sort of animal organs!). As we were leaving, the mother of the family business brought out her husband, the chef, and the son, one of the servers, to say goodbye and pose for photos.