From my journal:
On the other side of the hostel is an absolutely incredible fish market, with pretty much everything you can imagine in it. It’s alternately disgusting, fascinating and totally engrossing. The worst thing I saw was a lady with a nail on a stick exploding fish eyeballs, that was about the only thing that really made me gag. I feel bad for the live octopus in the buckets, you know those guys are super smart and they are probably just running math equations in their heads to pass the time. Most of the stalls are run by really old ladies in kerchiefs, bundled up in many layers. They’re cute but look like they’ve had a hard life. I couldn’t imagine being up to my elbows in fish juice every day.
The other day I was determined to eat at one of the little stalls in the market. I marched up to the first lady that gave me a warm smile and talked $10 off an already expensive meal. I sat down and watched as she grabbed wriggling snake-like fish that looked like eels but seemed closer to lampreys and skinned and filleted them right then and there. Then she tossed them in a skillet, added onions and scallions, and fried it up with a fiery red sauce. She placed this on a heater on the table in front of me and added a few plates of raw vegetables and lettuce leaves. It was tasty but boiling hot and quite spicy, so I could hardly get a feel for the flavour of the fish. An interesting experience to be sure, but my last, I think.
This kitten is living with me now. Her name is Finch. She is a ferocious cuddler and never stops purring. She also seems to be into posing, at least for now. I’m hoping to start balancing cute objects on her head soon.
If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Kevin and Ian at their delightful home, known as “The Cottage”, then chances are you will get a tour of Kevin’s incredible garden. Having witnessed Kevin’s green thumb over the years– I remember when he lived in a small one bedroom apartment and grew a jungle’s worth of tomatoes in his sunny living room– I was excited to see what he could do with an actual plot of land.
With summer’s end drawing nearer, much of the garden has been harvested, but an abundance of cherry tomatoes are still choking the greenhouse. (Did I mention the greenhouse that they built out of old window frames? Seriously.) Kevin filled a bag with tomatoes for me, but I finished it before I even left.
I feel so lucky I had so much time to see Japan. I explored all four major islands. I went to 20 out of the 47 prefectures. Of course, there are still many places I missed out on, like the rainforests of Yakushima and the sand dunes of Tottori and the tropics of Okinawa and countless beautiful but utterly unaffordable onsens and ryokans, but I recognize I saw more of Japan in a few months than many of her residents see in their lifetimes.
I traveled throughout Kansai, to Kobe and Kyoto and Osaka, feeling the excitement of being somewhere different and exotic with friends old and new, then wandered the endless streets of Tokyo feeling alone and sort of sad and totally overwhelmed. I stayed in a crumbling old onsen set in the autumn foliage of the Tochigi mountains, toured the quaint thatched homes of Shirakawago and crept up to furry Macaques relaxing in hot springs near Nagano. I traversed bridges and islands on a bicycle to Shikoku and later returned to take in the art of Naoshima. I traveled north all the way to Hokkaido, where I staved off the chill of the impending winter at ramen joints with names like “Snow Wind”, and south, down to Kagoshima, where I watched thousands of revellers dance in the shadow of an active volcano, and to Beppu, where steam venting from the earth whirls in the streets.
After the cut is my humble attempt to sum up Japan, including the places I stayed, the karaoke I sang, the onsens in which I reclined, and unedited (possibly) never before published excerpts from my journal. Also, perhaps best of all, the collection of purikura (Japanese photo booths) I did with my new friends all over Japan! Continue Reading →
One of the last things I did in Fukuoka was visit the Nagawa fish market. This is a once a month market that the Tabicolle hostel suggested I check out. I thought it might be super touristy but everyone else seemed to be there for the fish. There’s a similar market in Tokyo called Tsukiji, which comes highly recommended, but everything I read about it lamented the presence of gawking tourists getting in the way of the actual buying and selling, so when I was in the city I took a pass.
I was told to go early, so I arrived around 7:30am, and there was already a decent sized line waiting to enter the still-closed market. I finished reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover until the place opened a few hours later (seriously, my e-reader was the best thing I brought traveling) and everyone rushed inside, presumably to get the best deals. Nagawa Market was pretty great, with lots of weird sea creatures and some gigantic fish: I saw a guy smash an enormous (like, German Shepard-sized) fish in the head with a spiked club, then kick it, heft it onto a board and just start sawing into it. It was PRIMAL. I saw silvery eels, giant tunas, clams and cockles and oysters, red rubbery octopus and slender slimy squid, jostling elbow to elbow with obaachans and ojisans alike.
Everyone was really friendly, even as I crashed through the crowd with my giant backpack. I had planned on going in and just staying out of the way, but the fishermen were posing with their fish for me and the girls were making peace signs and everyone but one shy guy said yes to having their photo taken.
Despite an ominous thunder and lightning storm that swept through Vancouver in the morning, drenching everything in a intense downpour, the skies cleared in time for me to squeeze in one final beach, thus completing at least a work week’s worth of beach days. After caesars at Wallflower with a nice big group of pals, me, Jordy, Laura and Melissa headed to Spanish Banks, where we frolicked in the warm waters of the low tide and sang our favourite love song over and over.
Thanks to everyone who joined me for #beachweek! Vancouver is a sultry minx when the weather is this good and I am so stoked I got to take full advantage of the sunshine. Don’t forget to visit your local beaches!
i ♡ rachabees
Constantly thinking about travel, photography and what to eat next. Right now this blog is chronicling six months of backpacking across Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. Life in the Pacific Northwest shows up sometimes too.