I’m still amazed by the Shinkansen and the ruthless efficiency (“Where’s Ruth?“) of the trains. It is an engineering and organizational marvel.

Arriving at Hakata Station (the main Fukuoka rail hub near the airport in the center of town), I had a few missteps getting to the bus to the hotel. The rain was still coming down and the signage was a bit lax.

The bus was late, and Apple Maps has ever since been wrong with every bus time. When wrong, I either found an alternate bus that would take me near where I wanted to go, walked, or took a short taxi ride. If this is the worst thing that happens on this trip, I will be happy. But it also speaks to the Silicon Valley-centric nature of tech.

I got to the hotel in a crowd of wedding attendees. When I arrived at the hotel lobby, I was processed quickly and pleasantly. Oh, what’s that? An upgrade? Yes, please and thank you!

After dropping my one bag in the room (more on the one bag later) I headed out to explore. First stop was a Tonkatsu ramen shop with one option on the menu at a crazy low price (400¥). They use the locally-common thin noodles, unsurprisingly. It was great, also unsurprisingly.

Insert lost ramen picture here

A short walk from there and I was at the Fukuoka Castle ruins. My path took me though the park that leads to the ruins, so it was quiet and peaceful. Then I discovered the cruise ship tourists from China and Thailand (maybe two cruise ships?) who massed on some key spots. I wandered through and then away to find some things I enjoyed. Sadly, the ancient secret underground tunnel to the castle eluded me. I went to where the signs said access was open but I could not get in.

From there I went to the shrine. To my surprise and delight there was an antiques and crafts and food fair going on there. I spent some ¥ on books and jewelry. I’m tempted to return tomorrow with more cash in hand. The whole fair was in my home design wheelhouse.

By the way, the sun appeared.

I left to head to a local brewery. I wanted to take the bus but the bus never showed. I walked it instead. (Note to self: when waiting for a bus, walk to the next stop and wait there instead of waiting at the start). I arrived and the beer was good. The place fancies itself as a Mexican restaurant.

My trip to the hotel was another example of the unreliability of buses and Apple Maps. The temperature dropped and the wind kicked up, together making for a much colder transit. After about 15 minutes I gave up on the bus and taxied it to the hotel.

My hotel upgrade came with lounge access for cocktail hour. I’m taking advantage as I write this. The wifi is poor – again, if this is the worst thing I have to deal with today I am a happy man.

Tonight I plan to hit the yatai (food stalls) on Nakasu Island. Stay tuned!