Sometimes, getting all your paperwork together to teach English in South Korea can take just a little too long. Or, you may already be in the country when you secure a job and need to head overseas to swap your visa over to an E2. Whatever the reason, visa runs are an inconvenience, but luckily Fukuoka is a mere hour flight away from many cities in Korea and makes for a pleasant enough getaway. Here are some tips to make your visa run from South Korea to Fukuoka as easy and stress-free as possible.
The rain started as we walked along the final stretch of the Nakasendo–the ancient Japanese postal road–between the restored Edo-era towns of Magome and Tsumago. Clouds gathered overhead and the air grew thick with the smell of petrichor (thanks for the word, Bijoy!) as the earth prepared to be inundated by the sky.
Kyoto is the city most people familiar with Japan will recommend to the first time visitor. Having been the former capital of Japan for a span of over 1000 years and being spared the devastation of bombing raids in WWII, Kyoto is one of the cities in Japan where a wealth of historical architecture is still intact.
This is a city you should spend at least a few days in to even begin to appreciate the wealth of culture it contains. Here are five must-do activities for when you’re exploring Kyoto.
One of the most iconic structures in the city, Kinkaku-ji is a stunning, shimmering, garish affair–bound to be swarmed by tourists, but absolutely worth visiting for a quick look.
Let’s go back to 8th century Japan. The imperial infrastructure of the country had been growing for quite some time, causing the empress to choose a permanent location for the capital. She picked a spot on the Yamato plain and the construction of Nara began.
At the time, Buddhism was becoming more and more deeply rooted in the cultural identity of Japan. Laws were even passed requiring each family to have a household shrine. As a result, there were an abundance of shrines dotting the city–many of which remain to this day.
“If one walks, a road is made.”
So reads the cover of the walking map for the Nakasendo I brought back with me from Japan–a sentiment which perfectly encapsulates the origins and spirit of the Nakasendo. An ancient postal road connecting Kyoto (Kyo) and Tokyo (Edo), the Nakasendo was built over 400 years ago in the Edo period. Much of this route has remained frozen in time, transporting travelers back to a time long past.
We don’t have many castles in America. European settlers arrived on the continent after gunpowder had rendered the structures practically obsolete and the tribes of the First Nations weren’t really into the whole castle notion. Aside from a few drab affairs I visited in Europe, I didn’t have many first-hand experiences exploring castles. That changed when I arrived in Osaka.
One of the premier attractions in the city is Osaka Castle. Towering over the grounds of an extensive city park and protected by two massive moats, it sticks out in an otherwise modern and buzzing city.
I love to hike. Hiking is one of the most relaxing, exciting, and rewarding activities I can think of. Part of the allure, part of the charm, is that it’s usually free. So, when I walked through Nara Park and came to the base of Wakakusayama Hill, I was disappointed to encounter an admission booth charging a pittance to walk up the hill. It wasn’t much (150 yen), but the principal of the thing bugged me. So, I pulled out my handy map and did a little exploring.
There’s a small access road which goes around the south edge of the hill between it and the Kasuga Taisha Shrine. From that road, there is a well maintained hiking path through the Kasugayama Primeval Forest to–you guessed it–the top of Wakakusayama Hill. Disappointed squashed by the heady buzz of victory, I set off along the path.
When I first came to Korea, I tried the ubiquitous ramyeon (라면) by the end of my first week. Whether the noodles come out of a package or are purchased at a restaurant, ramyeon is one of the staple Korean ‘quick meals’. When I say that Ramen Beravo serves the best ramen in Pohang, however, Korean-style ramyeon shouldn’t even come to mind. This is real, Japanese-style ramen; handcrafted from scratch by tasty food maestro Sonny and his family (two brothers AND his wife, I believe!).
They opened Ramen Beravo in the spring of 2013. When I asked Sonny about his inspiration for starting the restaurant, he answered,
I dreamed (of doing this) for a lot of years, when I was in Japan. Just working here is a great pleasure for me.
As customers walk in, the carefree sound of quality jazz greets them–Sonny is an alum of Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts–as well as the saliva inducing aroma of soul-warming food. A small table and chairs occupy the corner, while an aesthetically pleasing wood bar on a brick support stretches the length of the cooking area. Sonny and Fam. are usually found behind the bar serving up their creations with practiced speed and efficiency. The cooking and prep area is stainless steel and looking towards the back wall reveals a pot and spoon big enough to cook a small human.