Day 2 was a Sunday, school has not started, which meant I was free to explore Fukuoka at my own leisure.
Like a person who has all the time in the world, I strolled to the neighbourhood bakery called Collin's Bakery on the right of Ijiri Station, in the crisp morning air. Brr, it was 7℃. The bakery was in full gear, churning out all sorts of breads. I could practically taste the bread in the air the moment I stepped into the warm bakery. The cashier had a polite smile on her face, and a slightly harassed look as she was the only one manning the front. The drinks selection was either instant or packaged. I took a sausage bread and a chocolate croissant and a carton of fresh milk, and went up one floor to the sitting area. Ah! So this is the look of a modest bakery in a small suburb.
When I was working, back in Singapore, eating breakfast was a technique, refined over time. It was how fast you can eat without spilling too much in the car while driving to work. Day 2 in Fukuoka, I sat down and chewed on my bread like a connoisseur. And thought to myself, Hmm! This unassuming little bakery actually makes quite a mean chocolate croissant! It makes so much difference when you can savour a bread slowly, while looking out the window and just enjoying the good things in life. I wondered if everyone led a life like this, yes productivity would go down, economy might not be as competitive, but hell, I think we would be a great deal happier.
I spent the rest of the morning exploring the neighbourhood, and, to my delight, discovered a market street where groceries and household materials were sold. There were also a sushi bar, a gyoza shop and a bento stall which were all closed on a Sunday.
Guess what? Sunday was also Hinamatsuri ひな祭り Day! Happy Girls' Day!
You know, I haven't had a bath since I reached Fukuoka... It was just too cold! So I thought I might as well take my bath at the onsen house. And coincidentally, the nearest onsen happened to be at Futsukaichi 二日市 (about 5 train stops from Ijiri 井尻), the very same one I visited when I first came to Fukuoka. The entry fee have been increased from ¥200 to ¥300 though. A traditionalist would love this place!
I didn't notice this the last time I was here, but Futsukaichi Onsen 二日市温泉 has a vending machine that sells this particular milk from Daisen Milk Farm 大山まきば, which comes in a glass bottle and a paper cap, and when you drink it, you will finish it all because you know this is the kind of milk that you have been looking for your whole life. Especially after an onsen bath. (For those who have never experienced onsen, just so you know, onsen makes one hungry)
The fastest way to Futsukaichi Onsen would be by the local Nishitetsu bus. But you would see alot more things if you walked, which I did, and got lost in the winding alleys for more than half an hour (not that I don't have time to spare) thanks to my superb sense of misdirection..
Opposite the Onsen, there is a quaint little cafe that serves home-style Japanese food.
I promised you a cake a day, didn't I?
Tiramisu, the only cake offered here, plucked right out of a Japanese recipe book by the look and taste of it. It would have been alright if it were called Rarecheese instead, because that is what it exactly is, a smooth, bland rarecheese with a coffee soaked sponge base. It lacked the soul of a Tiramisu, an unabashedly sweet, liquor-soaked, creamy Italian tiramisu. But don't you think the owner put a lot of heart and thought in the plating of this simple cake? Thumbs up to that.
See? Walking and getting lost helps because I stumbled upon this humble shrine...
and saw my first Sakura blossom.
Somei Yoshinozakura 染井吉野桜