Tuesday, 14 May 2013

April Activities - Yanagawa - Dazaifu - Zoo

Once again there's a bit of a delay in updates of things going on so I'm cramming all of April's activities into one. Luckily there weren't that many because Wes and I went to Korea.

Yanagawa - Tuesday 2nd April

Yanagawa is a town close to Fukuoka city which I've been to 5 years ago. It's famous for it's canals, eel (which is delicious), and it's girl's festival decorations. Unfortunately it was horrible weather and we all got pretty soaked despite us all carrying umbrellas. First things first we visited a shop that sold the girls festival decorations. There's a tradition in Japan that when a girl is born in the family you buy these decorations (I think when she's 5) and put them up for show in February (or all year round). It's supposed to make the girl live a long healthy life. There's one decoration that's a hanging mobile consists of 52 balls and toys (one for each year of your life. This was an old tradition, I don't know if people were expected to live longer than 52). Another common decoration is one of an emperor and princess sitting on the top with their court below them, but I don't know the cultural significance of these. I just know that they're incredibly expensive. We visited a number of houses that had huge rooms of these decorations. Including one which was an open house and for 6 generations the grandmother would hand make all the decorations whenever a girl in the family was born. Resulting in the largest and oldest display of Hinamatsuri decorations in Yanagawa (it even appeared on TV).

We also visited an incredibly old European/Japanese house in the town. Half of it was Japanese style and the other was like an upper-class British house. It was really surreal. And even this house had a huge display of Hinamatsuri decorations! 

Daizaifu - Tuesday 16th April

So it was back to Dazaifu again, but this time with the school! We pretty much did everything we did before, go to the temple over the bridges and get fortunes (this time I got supper luck!). We went and got Umegaimochi, the anko filled cooked mochi (was so good), and went to the national museum (which we didn't do before). We actually didn't see much of the museum because we had to pay to see the exhibitions  so we just played around the area next to the gift shop that allows you to play with objects from other cultures. We did learn how to make pretty korean knots though!

(Wesley was best at making the Korean knots...even better than the girls...)

Zoo - Tuesday 23rd April

Fukuoka has it's own gardens and zoo with an assortment of pretty flowers and animals. It's actually divided into two sections so we went to the gardens first which was great because it was the perfect time for flowers! They had garden flowers, a rose garden (a bit early for that) and a huuuuge green house full of tropical plants.

The zoo was pretty impressive but not at the same time. There was a large variety of animals including tigers, lions, dear, snakes, lizards, red pandas, penguins, bears, a rhino, a giraffe, monkeys,  a petting area with rabbits and guinea pigs and ducks, and all kinds of birds. But most of the cages were small and concrete and there were often only 1 or 2 animals making it seem quite lonely. I always forget the difference in animal rights and welfare between Japan and the UK until I see things like this. They weren't living in horrible conditions (like Chinese zoos) but I felt they weren't as good as the UK.

(Red Panda's are so cute! In Japanese they're called "Lesser Pandas"

The place was also full of middle school children so as we walked along we'd often get people shouting "hello!" and even got our photos taken with a group of them! (They asked us, not the other way around). 

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