Now May had a lot of goings on but I'll try and put it all into this one post so that I get it out of the way.
May 3 - Hakata Dontaku Festival
This was one of the major festivals that Fukuoka is famous for (the other was in July that I missed). I'm not entirely sure what it originated for but the festival itself consisted of local companies, NGOs, groups and organisations getting together to show off a performance or a parade. There were dance groups of children and teenagers showing off hip-hop, or middle aged women doing traditional dance. There were bands and musicians playing on small stages dotted around the centre of town. And food and games stalls in parks and along the streets. The main parade was massive and when on for hours over the course of the weekend. More details here: http://fukuoka-now.com/2013/04/hakata-dontaku-2013-guide/
So Wes and I met up with Kate and Lizzie (our amazing American and Australian friends) and wandered around the festival taking in the sights and sounds and standing around for the parade until we got too hungry to wait any longer. Street food in Japan is what it always is, expensive, not entirely tasty, but just what you need. Out of the millions of people that attended the festival we ran into a few people we knew!
May 11 - Nakamura Strawberry Farm
My first trip to Japan 5 years ago was to Fukuoka and while there I did WWOOF staying at 2 farms. One of them was a farm that did a variety of fruit but mostly strawberries which people could do 'all you can eat' for a set price. They also have a small shop that sells their own and local produce. So being in the area I decided to see them again this time with Wes.
It was a baking hot day, which wasn't helped by the fact that Nakamura got the wrong train station and was a bit late. But that was ok. He treated us to lunch at their shop (using the tables Mog and I had made 5 years before!) and I got to see his wife and son again! And his son even has a wife and 2 children which was new. Wes and I ate a load of strawberries and went to see some flowers and some really old tombs (about 1000 years old!) We had dinner with them and got the train back.
May 12 - Birthday trip to Aquarium
Wes and I had made a number of friends in Japan, and for once Japanese friends, so I really wanted to do something with them all. We hadn't been to the aquarium in Fukuoka so I thought that would be a good place to go. Lizzie, Mami, Saeko, Eri, Mayuko came along (Kate was in Tokyo) and we had a great day. The aquarium in Fukuoka was pretty amazing, much better than the one at Osaka. AND because it was my brithday I got to touch a dolphin! We also fed seals! And saw a dolphin show which was pretty amazing.
May 17 - Nomihoudai Lizzie's Goodbye Party
Lizzie had to leave us to go back to Australis *sadface* so we and her house mates went out to nomihoudai (all you can drink). It was at an 80s music style club that had record covers and posters all over the wall along with 80s Japanese music in the background. We had an hour and a half to drink as much as we wanted which was great but I hadn't realised that Lizzie's Japanese friends were all under age (they don't really check in Japan), so they all got rather drunk and one was very sick. But it was great fun! Was sad to see Lizzie go, but I'll see her again in Japan I'm sure :)
May 23 - Uminonakamichi Park
This was a theme park and gardens next to the Aquarium which we went to with the school. Kate, Wes and I went around together, and for once we were with the larger campus' students. We didn't talk to any of them in the end, but it did mean there were a LOT of foreigners walking around. There was a rose garden, a really awesome zoo (with tons of bunnies and guinea pigs!!), and a park with games, slides and a ferris wheel. The ferries wheel was awesome, a tad scary cos I hate heights, but awesome none the less.