On Monday March 24th I had to “run” to Japan to be a legal teacher in Korea. I’m guessing they call it a “visa run” because it is a very quick two day, one night trip to Japan. It could also be called that because sometimes you actually have to do a little bit of running during your visa run.
So long story short, I was required to go to Japan to receive my Visa in my passport because I did not get it prior to departure from Canada. For some odd reason, my original Ottawa nation wide criminal background check was denied at Korean immigration. No, it was not denied because I am a criminal. In fact, my criminal record check was clean and was the exact same as Cali’s and many of my friends’, which were accepted by Korean immigration.
Anyways, after a lot of frustration, bitterness, and time and money wasted I moved on to the next step in this long process: Getting my RCMP criminal record check with fingerprints and photo. Once I received this I was good to go! Since our contract was starting shortly, there was no sense in sending my new check to Korea so I brought it along with me on the long, uncomfortable, thirteen hour flight to Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
After three weeks of being in Korea visa-less it was finally time for me to go get one! With my Visa Issuance Number in hand, my back-pack packed and of course, our camera, it was time to go! My flight left Incheon Monday morning and I arrived in Japan at 9am.
The moment I arrived in Fukuoka, Japan I realized a few main things: The people were very friendly, it was very clean, and it was quite warmer than Seoul. It was a lot better to be there than to be at school teaching ;). First thing was first, I had to get to the Korean consulate before 11:30am. This being my first time in Japan, I was a little worried I would get lost or not make it on time. I thought, if I get lost I will be forced to pay for another night at the hotel, buy a new ticket home and probably not be reimbursed by my school for the extra day and flight. Luckily with a little bit of running (hence the “visa run”) and speed walking, I was able to get onto a shuttle bus to the nearest subway station, catch my subway, and make it to the Korean Consulate by 11:10am with only 20 minutes to spare!
Once that was all done, it was time to explore and take in my short time in Japan. I wanted to get to the shoreline and see the ocean first. So, I walked to my hotel from the Korean Consulate, which was a short 15 minute walk. I couldn’t check into my room yet so I just checked my bags with the front desk and began walking with my map and camera. It only took me about 5 minutes to make it to the local Fukuoka Marina. The marina was filled with big and small fishing boats, sail boats, and other vessels. I enjoyed touring around the marina for about an hour checking out all the different boats and just gazing out into the sea at incoming fishing boats and airplanes flying overhead.
I continued to walk along the shoreline for about another hour until I hit a little shopping mall with restaurants and all sorts of arcades. By this time I was getting hungry and thirsty so I popped into one of the shops and got a quick fresh red tuna sushi roll. I chowed that down fairly quickly and then became even more thirsty so I asked a local who spoke some broken English where to get a quick pint of some frothy cold beer. She directed me to the Hard Rock Café. I had a couple pints of Kirin (Japanese Beer) while trying to get some info from the bartender. The bartender was very nice (like most Japanese people I encountered), He spoke some English and it was enough to get some good info! He was able to hook me up with a free map of the area and told me a few places I should check out that night and the next day.
I headed back to the hotel, checked in and got comfortable in my room for a little bit. The hotel was very nice, but the room was fairly small. I didn’t really care because the only time I spent in my room was for sleeping, using some wifi to message my loved ones, and to shower and change. Another thing about the bathrooms in Japan: most bathrooms i came across had bidets! I may or may not have tried one out…..
After I got all my stuff in my room and sent off the emails I needed, I headed back onto the streets of Fukuoka. By this time it was night time so I hit up some night markets and then asked some people what there is to do around the city. Lots of people I asked told me to go to a pub called Morris’s. That was exactly what I did. The pub was very quiet since it was a Monday night, but I ran into some friendly Japanese business men who joined me for quite a few beverages.
The next day I got up early and checked out by 10am. Right up the street from my hotel there was a very nice park called Ohori Park. If anyone can picture Victoria Park in Kitchener, it was similar, but the lake and surrounding areas were much cleaner, making it a very beautiful and pristine park to visit. The lake was very clean and was home to many turtles and large fish you could see everywhere along the shore, there were flowers blooming and there were many different species of birds. It truly was a wonderful park inside the city. I spent a couple hours at Ohori Park and then I hit up ICHIRAN!
You’re probably wondering… What the heck is Ichiran??! Well let me tell you.. Ichiran is a famous ramen noodle joint in Fukuoka Japan. This place is awesome! It’s not good for a group of people to go get some ramen, but if you want the best bowl of ramen noodles you have ever had, this is the place to go! The soup broth was just the perfect amount of oily along with the perfect spiciness and flavour. The noodles were cooked to your desired texture and topped with slices of delicious pork and green onions. The pork had just the right amount of fat and it melted in your mouth.
From the picture above you can probably see why this is not a place for a group of people. My co-worker had told me to go to this place before I left Seoul. While walking around the streets and asking other locals, I came to the conclusion that I had to go and i’m very glad I did! After I finished devouring the ramen I had to head back to the Korean Consulate to pick up my NEW VISA and passport. I jumped on the Subway and headed back. Once I got to the consulate it didn’t take long before I had my Visa in hand. Now I was ready to head back to Korea as a legal worker.
For the three or four hours I had before my flight I headed to another downtown area of Fukuoka known as Hakata. I ended up in some underground mall with tons of restaurants and massive shops. I saw a cool looking teppanyaki bar that was packed with people so I wandered on in. I was the only foreigner in there and I knew no Japanese, but “arigato”, which is “thank you”. I ended up just pointing at some things on the menu and got some pork and other skewer type appetizers.
This place was a standing only type restaurant/bar. There were no seats and you just stood at a table with whoever else was at that table. Luckily for me a very friendly older Japanese gentleman came and stood beside me and started eating and drinking. We began talking a little bit and before I knew it he was pouring me full glasses of Soju and serving me plenty of beer! I looked at my watch and realized three hours had flown by! UH OH! I only had an hour and a half ’till my flight left! I was in NO way sober at this point and neither was my new friend. He insisted I stay for another drink, but as much as I wanted to, I knew I couldn’t. He and I quickly exchanged some friendly goodbyes and I made my way back to the airport!
I arrived at the airport with 45 minutes till take off! All was golden! I boarded my flight and off I went back to Korea as a legal worker! The entire visa run was a huge success!
Until next time Japan!