Fukuoka, Japan – January 5, 2013, Part Two

To continue, my walking tour of Fukuoka. It was one of the easiest places to take pictures because Japanese design was everywhere, very well done and slightly off-kilter to my western sensibilities, even – particularly – when it used western motifs.

This was a jazz bar I came across in my search for coffee. In fact, I was drawn to the coffee advertised; but when I came in I discovered a dark, leather-and-wood decorated cubbyhole lined with records. I ordered coffee and the proprietor set about making it on a small burner: it was just drip coffee but seemed to take an awful lot of work. In the meantime, cool jazz from the 50s and 60s played via a turntable, an expensive vacuum tube amp, and two giant, five-foot-high black speakers next to the door, which looked like they were suited to stadiums but provided remarkably clear, mellow tunes. It was one of the coolest bars I’ve been in, in a long time – sadly, it seemed the preserve of older men, a few of whom filtered in after 5pm and who seemed to be on good terms with the barman.

Suitably refreshed, and one bowl of udon noodles later, I found another multilevel mall, the bottom of which was an interesting retail concept:

Different artists, some famous (I recognized Tofu Man on the right) and some not, had display sections. Their merchandise – iphone covers, badges, notepads, etc. – were standard, all made by the same company. At first glance everything looked riotously different, but on closer inspection there were only a few things to choose from.

Contrary to the label, these were not union-made. At least, I don’t think so: I checked the label and they came from all over the world. Unless the manufacturer sourced union shops in China, Korea and elsewhere, it was just a marketing gimmick: they sold ‘tough’-looking goods. That was a first for me: unionization as marketable nostalgia.

This was an interesting idea: retailers put a number of items in a bag, sealed it, told you in general terms how much each item would cost if bought separately, and then gave you 60% off if you bought the entire bag. But you couldn’t choose the items yourself. Apparently it’s met with mixed success.

Judging by the decor, this is a love hotel. A very fancy, neon-y one.

A Japanese cross between a Lada, Skoda and Mini.

This was a bar; but the sign’s placement, font and neon reminded me of the 1930s. Or, more accurately, a contemporary statement on modernity, using 1930s themes.

This gives an idea of the urban layout: multiple levels, up to about 10 storeys; narrow, evenly-paved streets; and as quiet as it looks. This is in central Fukuoka, too.

Bottle-cap bear.

Some sort of frog.

Public space is non-smoking. Or at least, non-making smoke come out of your finger.

The train station.

Choose your poison: imperialist or anti-imperialist? Despite my desire for British beer on tap, I restrained my colonial impulses and chose neither.

A temple close to the hostel. Again, it really was as peaceful as it looks.


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