We ended up with an itinerary of 30 pages long - I wanted to map out the routes that we would be taking and how much time we would have to spend on the road especially when we were traveling to the various locations.
We touched down at Fukuoka Airport at about 8.30 in the morning. The clear blue skies, and the chilly winds greeted us that morning and we were in high spirits.
Activity 1: Pick up our ride from Toyota Rentals.
We did our homework when it came to deciding which car to rent. Our two families went to the Toyota showroom to check out the size, and height for the various MPVs. We finally decided on the Alphard as it was spacious - there was more than enough room for the luggage and more importantly, since the children would be sitting in the rear seats that they have enough leg space.
Collection of the car was swift. My colleague provided me with some useful tips regarding driving in Japan too. The rental of the Alphard and 7 days of toll charges (there are packages to choose from depending on how many days you will be driving.) We listed the destinations and she worked out the rest. So the cost of approximately $1800 SGD, we covered the rental of the car, insurance, and the 7-days of toll charges. There were additional charges as the different highways and tolls were managed by different companies - for that we had to pay up when we returned the car. Another plus: we only needed to key in the telephone numbers of the locations we wanted to go and let the GPS work its magic.
Activity 2: The road trip begins
Driving in the city - Lots of traffic lights. Traffic was also relatively heavy but it was nothing compared to what we have here in Singapore.
Activity 3: Yoshinogari Historical Park
Arrival at the park.
Daddy had to work. In fact, both daddies were busy with work during the vacation. There were pockets of time when they were on their phones or laptop and they would quietly do their work. We were grateful that despite their busy schedules, they still made our vacation a time well spent.
Yoshinogari Historical Park - one of Japan's largest moat-circled village and ancient ruins. Yayoi life and culture come alive through the carefully reconstructed village and unique exhibitions.
Activity 3: Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
Driving to the shrine took another hour on the road. The shrine was rather easy to locate and parking too. There were huge signs around and most car parks were within walking distance to the attractions.
(太宰府天満宮) is a Shinto shrine in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture. It is built over the grave of Sugawara no Michizane (845–903) and is one of the main shrines dedicated to Tenjin, the deified form of Michizane.
Car park charges can be quite costly.
Activity 4: Exploring Canal City Hakata.
It was evening time when we returned. After checking in and depositing our luggage in our rooms, we ventured out for a like exploration.
And a hunt for the famous Ichiran for their ramen.
It was a tiny place. Customers sit side by side separated only by that small pane. The noodles were to die-for, really. Thick savory broth, with just the right amount of spice. Well seasoned meat and half-cooked eggs. Ahhhh... heaven!
After dinner, we went looking for the yatai. Most were crowded so we didn't stop by to go in.
Driving out to Yanagawa.
Activity 5: Yanagawa Canal Boat Ride
Yanagawa City flourished as a castle town under the Tachibana clan and is also famous as the home town of renowned tanka poet Kitahara Hakushu. Take the famous river boat ride that runs various places in the city by a gondola-like Donko boat, and enjoy the scenic view of riverside town. Leisurely glide along the surface of the canal while watching the beautiful scenery pass-by. Taking in this breathtaking sight as a boatman uses a pole to guide the gondola down the Yanagawa River.
This is such a beautiful place.
stopped for lunch here.
Then it was a long drive to Nagasaki - the journey had us spending 2 hours on the road.
Activity 6: Chinatown in Nagasaki
Unlike the Chinatowns in other countries, it was very quiet here. There were hardly any tourists and we literally had the entire street to ourselves.