I spent a lot of time today in relation to a shopping mall.
I say in relation, because I feel like I oriented my day according to it, but I didn't really spend time inside.
I walked along the canal past the mall to the ferry port. It has a massive aquarium tank in its midst, harbouring a sea-turtle that made me incredibly sad. There was a grand piano that passers-by could play. The only thing I could think of was the finale of Taras Bulba, as even at my most distraught I remember my favourite chord progression in the world.
Fukuoka passenger port is food for the imagination. It services the westernmost towns more easily accessible by water (including Nagasaki), the islands north of Kyūshū as well as Busan in South Korea.
The Fukuoka Riverain has a large covered avenue going through it, most of which was fenced in with cute little green pickets. At the end of it I had sought-out Café Fika, which seemed to serve a nordic style gusto. Starting to feel like a walking bubble, I turned away and thinking I might go back there. If there ever was a day I could use a cup of coffee, it would be today. Otherwise I was perfectly happy with the idea of switching to tea while here.
On the other end of the avenue, inside the picketed, pear-shaped pen was a small electric train, the design resembling the kind of steam locomotive pastiches that you see in amusement parks and city old towns. It was meant for very small children, queuing up in a zig-zag with their guardians. Along with the driver, there were at least four other impeccably dressed train managers encouraging the kids to shout out possibly 'let's gooo' in Japanese as the train left on its rounds. The driver was waving back at the kids and the four other train managers blew bubbles from elongated teddy-bear shaped soap-bubble-sticks.
The train had speakers for the choo-choo sound, playing at a very friendly dynamic.
I stopped and waved at the kids as well. The train driver waved most enthusiastically.
I remembered an old joke about how different soviet union dictators would play out a situation where the train stopped. Khrushchev would command the train managers to shake the train and walk past the windows with branches to make it look like the train was still moving. Brezhnev would command both the train managers and the passengers to do the same.
What the Fukuoka express has in common, is that it also provides, I guess, a similar experience – some of it real, some of it enhanced. The train was indeed moving around the pen. What moved me was how hard everyone believed in it. The parents, the kids, the train-managers, the smiley driver – all were so into the show. I was lured into it too. I'm writing about it hours later.
I did end up getting that coffee at the cafe of the Fukuoka Museum of Asian Art, Cafe Iena. I have been to Iena once, following my little sisters fencing circuit around Europe back in the day. Or maybe it was Lena. Anyway, I like the name Iena. I'm happy it came back to me here.
I coccooned, huddled in a hanging basket by the window overlooking the Kawabata arcades, catching up on some emails and reporting to friends of family of my safe arrival.
That first sip of bu-ren-do ko-hii accelerated my heart rate, and suddenly I remembered my body was naturally only waking up now at around 3pm local time.
arriving in Japan is not the same moment as realising you're in Japan.
incidentally this is possibly also true of Hamburg
My first and only full day in Fukuoka did start unusually fresh. When I had woken up, for a brief moment I felt as though through my previous trip I'd hacked how to match body-time with solar time, and I was happily researching my itinerary for upcoming days in a fully flat position with the sun promising a shades-kinda-day. Really not that bad at all.
I have to save up on these cats for a later date. They merit their own post.