Japan – 5 Good, 2 Bad and 2 Ugly points about Fukuoka

Fukuoka, Japan April 2018: As this visit to Fukuoka Japan comes to an end here’s my summary of the good, the bad and the ugly of the place.

Good point 1: Prices are reasonable. I had expected Japan to be pricey. Growing up in the eighties when Japan was buying up all of New York, we’d here about how Japan is the worlds most expensive country to live in. Today, 2018 I can tell you its not. While still expensive on some items, generally prices for groceries here are not unreasonable compared to other destinations like Seoul for example.

Good point 2: Super easy public subway transport. Yes, getting around is made simple in Fukuoka –  there’s only 4 subway lines and the price of travelling them is cheap. Between 90p and £1.20 for journeys on the subway trains across the city with stations convenient to points of interest.

Good point 3: Food is tasty and good value for money when eating out. Even plain and simple noodles in broth is a cheap tasty favourite and with the local Coco curry house serving up delicious pork cutlet curry for about £3.80, well, I dare any budget traveller to complain!

Good point 4Polite and helpful. We often read or hear about how super polite the Japanese are and how helpful they can be. Well, let me tell you its absolutely true, most of the time. If one looks confused, soon there will be a gathering of locals offering help and advice.

Good point 5: Clean living culture. There’s an obsession with clean living and that’s no bad thing. There is minimal traffic pollution and just the occasional piece of garbage blowing around in the wind. While at traffic lights, a good number of cars have their engines switched off and buses are using the cleanest fuels with low emissions apparently, either way, one won’t be suffering with lungs full of diesel fumes in Fukuoka. While Westerners struggle with their addictive personalities, not so here. Smoking is a dirty word as are any kind of drugs. Rolling around the streets at 10 AM clutching a can of lager just doesn’t happen around here.

Bad point 1: Bad weather. Fukuoka’s weather is subject to maritime influences and coupled with the Northern hemispheric airflow and weather front circulation, its no surprise to find it frequently rains here, very cold too during the winter and spring months.

Bad point 2: Premium coffee is expensive. Yes, premium coffee lovers will find that cup of Starbucks is going to cost more than a bowl of noodles, so budget travelers you have been warned!

Ugly point 1: No architectural charm. Most cities around the Asia Pacific have a degree of architectural charm whether modern or historical. Fukuoka has neither sadly.

Ugly point 2: Well, i\’m really struggling to come up with anything else, so that’s it.

So there you have it – my subjective list of the good, the bad and the ugly of Fukuoka city.  My objective from the outset was to grab a taster of Japanese living away from full-on mass tourism that comes with Tokyo. That objective has been met with success here in Fukuoka where apart from Koreans, there really ain’t many international tourists here at all. Perhaps the place is more of a domestic destination in the summer and perhaps that’s why prices are reasonable. So, if you want an introduction to Japan that’s gentle, un-rushed then Id say Fukuoka fits the bill – just try to make it for the spring blossoms and bring warm cloths!

So What did 9 days in Fukuoka cost? here’s a rundown of the expense account:

Air BnB private room in a shared apartment – £24 x 9 = £216                                                  Daily food costs averaging £13 x 9 = £117                                                                                          Getting Around by subway return journeys £1.80 x 5 = £9                                                            Return train ticket to Nagasaki £30                                                                                                    Return air fare from Hong Kong £130

Grand total £502 give or take a few pounds.  That’s probably about as cheap as one can get for a visit to Japan staying in a private room. There is of course the option of sleeping in dorm beds, on floors or on couches where a few more quid can be saved, but personally, that’s all in the past.

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