Friday, September 3, 2010

Downtown: Random Temple and Canal City

We set off two weekends ago for an afternoon downtown, the same trip resulting in Justin's Daiso 100 Yen Store post, which flagrantly neglected to mention the fact that I already wrote a Daiso 100 Yen Store post. Punk!

While en route to Rainbow Plaza, the official foreigner support center of Fukuoka, we stopped by a random temple/shrine and the much less random shrine to shopping, Canal City. Here are some shots.

We seem to have come it via some weird back or side gate, as the front (shown at the top of this post) was very far from where we came in. Anyway, this was the entrance we used, and a shot of its ferocious guardian animal:

Our best shot at correct Shinto temple entry hand-mouth washing purification procedure. We probably got it wrong, though, not only because of being clueless but because of the part where we came in the wrong gate and tromped impurely all over the shrine before belatedly discovering this crane fountain.

Parade float (perhaps a winning entry?) stored at temple:

There are no words to describe how hot it was standing in the full sun for that picture to be taken, so you'd better appreciate it.

Long row of torii gates:

Who can resist "A Written Oracle" in English for a mere 30 Yen? Not me!

And yet I wish I had. For my fortune, which proclaimed me "lucky," nonetheless contained dire predictions like "Expected Person: will not arrive," (She did) "Relocation: should be cancelled" (too late!), "Employment: A career change will bring misfortunes" (whoops), and "Illness: Not good. Choose a doctor, and never cease to have faith." Man, what do the "Unlucky" fortunes say? "Death: imminent?" (I am, however, a fan of the fortune line which reads "Childbirth: Be cautious of your baby." Words I believe we could all learn from.)

I divested myself of this fortune as rapidly as possible. Not sure if tying it to these strings make it more or less likely to come true, but that's what everybody else did with their fortunes:

How dumb are koi, you ask?

*bonk* That dumb.

And then Canal City, Fukuoka shopping mecca, so-called because there is in fact a canal running through the mall:

We didn't make any purchases but were amused to see Sam Adams on sale for less than the price of a domestic can of beer:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


It's been a heck of a week. In only two days, my inimitable IT karma has laid low 1 industrial-strength photocopier, 1 brand-new Mac desktop, 1 mere mortal photocopier, 1 new e-mail account, 1 cable modem, and 1 wireless router. It's to the point that Nana wouldn't let me clean the blender this morning for fear of some kind of explosion. I mean, I'm seriously beginning to wonder whether I throw off some sort of bizarre electromagnetic field that causes electronic devices to sink into suicidal despair.

Anyway, the point is that we have no internet at home for now, so don't be worried if we're out of touch for a bit. We'll still answer e-mails at school, but the blog's probably off until further notice.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Japan Post Makes Amends

The Japanese Post Office is the cheapest and simplest way for expats to send money overseas: you fill out a form, flash your passport and your alien registration card, and plunk down some cash for a wire transfer money order--then the money shows up in your US account in about 10 days.

But sometimes something goes wrong, as was the case when the post office here lost their photocopy of my passport. I got a call a few days after my visit from a very contrite employee (who spoke excellent English) asking me if I could come back with my passport that afternoon. No problem: the office is only a block from the school, and I had given myself plenty of time for the payment to go through before my bills were due, so I wasn't concerned. The whole ordeal, from my desk to the post office and back, took maybe 15 minutes.

Right before I left, though, Japan Post surprised me: the employees of this particular branch had prepared a little gift bag to apologize for the delay.

I opened the bag at home later that day. The first two items made at least a little sense: a piggy bank in the shape of a Japan Post mailbox . . .

. . . and a thermal mug in JP colors (though with no overt JP branding).

Then things got weird. Item number three was an entirely nondescript white towel, of the sort people here drape around their necks on a hot day (read: every day).

Nana suggests that the office workers were sick of seeing me stagger in drenched in sweat, but tragically towel-less.

The fourth and final item was . . . a perfectly normal Ziploc container.

We're pretty sure, by this point, someone looked at the "I'm sorry" bag, decided there wasn't enough crap in it, and started stuffing it with whatever they had lying around. White towel? Off-brand Tupperware? Sure! Toss it in!

Anyway, if you read this, Japan Post: consider yourself forgiven. After a year of wrestling with the Royal Mail, you could have smacked me across the face for my troubles and it would have been a welcome change.