Annual family holidays were never quite a tradition in mine. Not until two years ago, when we started to make it a point to travel together, to take our parents to countries they’ve never visited and to live under the same roof again, even if it was just for a week.
In May 2014, we went to Fukuoka, Japan, where we slept on ridiculously comfortable futons in onsen resorts, feasted like royalty for breakfast and dinner, thereafter soaking in 40 degrees celsius hot springs that made our hair astonishingly soft and silky.
When exploring a village where our lunch venue was, we walked into a shop selling pottery, art and all kinds of knick-knacks. There must have been over 50 shelves crammed within that small space, yet everything had its place.
A man sat in the back and greeted us as we entered, with a cigarette in one hand and a paint brush in another. What followed after a short exchange of words, I never saw coming. He started to paint each of us a drawing on the spot – as a gift for us to take home. And we hadn’t even purchased anything from him yet.
After getting our soba fill, we made two stops before checking into the onsen resort. Iichiko Hita Distillery, where we picked up some bottles of shochu for the rest of the trip, and Kokonoe “Yume” Grand Suspension Bridge – Japan’s longest and highest suspension bridge.
The onsen resort we stayed in for one night was small and intimate. Free beer, tea, and coffee were available in the lobby and we wore yukatas and socks to dinner. With two hours to spare before that indulgent 12-course affair, we had to take a mandatory dip in the hot springs, which was perfect for the chilly weather.
Thank you brother, for planning this trip two years ago and being the driver, translator and guide for one week.
More on Fukuoka, Kyushu to come.