Reheating Cold Rice - A Fukuoka Map.
炒冷饭 (chao leng fan)
Translation: Reheating cold rice
A term used to describe the act of reusing or rehashing old works or things, usually with little or no new ideas or innovation. It’s used by Chinese netizens to imply a negative attitude towards the lack of originality - a metaphor for repeating something that has been said or done before without adding anything new.
Well, screw you ChatGPT, real gourmets like my readers know that the best-fried rice is made from using cold overnight rice. My counter-argument is that frying is adding something. It transforms something you’d almost throw away to something useful. What a sterile name to describe the noble fried rice, ‘reheated cold rice’. Your mother is a plate of reheated cold rice.
(Please don’t feel bad for ChatGPT, it has no feelings, remember?)
I received a DM the other day asking if I have any recommendations for Fukuoka other than ‘yatai’s since I put it on the NYT 52 places to visit map.
As I was writing a long reply, a wave of lethargy hit me.
Wait a minute, I’ve done this before.
Four years ago.
And sure enough, I have a google map with all the pins and places to go in the city.
So I’m going to stir-fry the shit out of this cold rice.
But here’s the thing.
I don’t want too many people to go and ruin it.
So, I’m saving this for my *Oprah voice* VIP subscribers!
For the rest of you, I’ll leave you with a lengthy introduction - always neglected by my friends.
Harvard’s (2019) Fukuoka Map
DISCLAIMER - I say 'Fukuoka' but it's biased towards Itoshima because my wife's family lives there and it's usually the center of my activity.
Having said that, Itoshima is probably one of the few places to be experiencing growth in Japan due to the expansion of Kyushu University and the boom of a 'back to nature' lifestyle.
Not to mention it's actually surrounded by clean water, farms, and mountains so it's a paradise escape for city dwellers. Think Tasmania to Melburnians, but 40 minutes drive away.
There's like over a hundred bakeries (maybe not, but certainly feels like it) in Itoshima and no shortage of artisan coffee places and not to mention my favourite soba place in the whole world.
Tenjin is just like any city in Japan, but manageable. All the big brands are here if you're into those, but you can also walk around the city fringe easily if you want.
That's the thing, I feel much more relaxed to be walking in Tenjin compared to Tokyo. You can explore the towns by subway if you want. One thing's for sure, try out the yatai (屋台). You see them all over the city after dark and it's slowly dying out like the old hawker stalls next to the streets in Malaysia. You can kill two birds with one stone by seeking out the Nagahama ramen stalls. There's a long stretch of little stalls just selling ramen and you don't have to worry much about ordering. More about yatai here.
I have included all the places I've visited in Kyushu throughout the years. It should keep you busy for a while.
Also, sorry it's 90% food-related. So do your own research and use this as a loose guide. I'm not responsible for any unhappy memories although I find that hard to imagine in Kyushu.
My sugar daddies can read the full map at the end. I’ve written little blurbs at each spot,but again, since it’s written in 2019, travel at your own risk.
Yellow heart - a good spot, but don't stress yourself if you miss it.
Orange heart - if in doubt, pick this over the other.
Red star - excellent / my favourite / local specialty.
Black star - worth a special journey.
Will you be renting a car? This is written with the assumption that you'll be renting a car. It's really difficult to explore Itoshima / the rest of Kyushu with public transport. So, have your international license ready.
Parking in the city is relatively easy, there are always little alleys with 30min/60min park spots for 4-600 yen an hour. They clamp the car and you pay at the vending machine to release the clamp. DON'T forget to pay before you drive off.
A tip when you're on the highway, stop by the rest stops (道の駅), they usually sell local souvenirs, tax-free even at certain places. So have your passports ready too.
The Japanese drive really weird in Kyushu - the speed limit will say 80 and if you stay 80 you'll see everyone zipping past like you're an idiot. They do have cameras from time to time, so since you're not a local, I say do 90?
I usually stay with the in-laws, so I can't offer much advice regarding accommodation in Tenjin. Usually, as a rule of thumb, if you're in the city, get a business hotel / somewhere close to the station if all you're going to be out and about most days and just need a place to crash. The further you go, the more you need a place that has English language support. Again, I usually have my wife as a support, so make sure you have a translation app handy.
If you're coming in from Narita, there's a SIM card vending machine at T2 arrival hall (ask the information counter if you can't find it). I think it's worth spending 3000 yen on a data SIM so you don't get lost, even if they're cheaper when you get into the city. If you're really organised you can even purchase them on the internet before you leave your country. 2022 EDIT: my phone provider lets me buy a $40 'travel pack' with 5GB of data over 14 days. It's not bad, since you get to keep your number for two-step verifications etc.
If you're landing at Fukuoka airport though, don't fret because the city is like 10 minutes away and there's free city WIFI available. Once you reached Tenjin go straight to BIC Camera or Yodobashi to purchase the SIM packs. They come in 7-day, 14-day, up to 30-day pack. Trust me, you will need them for GPS when you drive to the outskirts.
Kyushu is not as 'international' as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka etc, but they have A LOT Of Chinese / Korean tourists (I think there's even Chinese / Korean language at the train station). The Japanese here certainly are not as fluent in English and the inertia is much bigger when they swing from 'warm friendly locals' to 'GET OUT foreigners'. It's like dealing with some delicate species here, if you don't create trouble, you're usually ok. My point is, we all know how rude tourists behave - don't be like them. Don't expect to be assisted all the time, don’t yell ‘I’m sorry?’ or ‘What?’ when staff speaks Japanese to you, and be surprised to be escorted out of a shop.
There's always information pamphlets at the station, highway rest stops, and information counter with different languages, and what the local think you should do is usually different from what overseas travel books think you should do.
Looking back at all my travel journeys, the most memorable are usually the ones when we get lost and venture off-plan.
I've left out quite a number of things, like giant waterfalls, tracking paths, or scenic lookouts because I'm not sure if you're into those. You'll see so many different signs of different things so if anything tickles your fancy just go with it.
So the best advice here is to get lost. Have all your backup plans - mobile data, travel insurance, emergency contact, translation app etc but chuck the other stuff, the expectations, the perfect plan out of the window.
That's why you're in Kyushu, to NOT feel like Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto.
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