Sunday, July 23, 2006

When in Fukuoka... Go Downtown!

At noon on Saturday, my host father picked us up (Erika, Honami, and me) from camp. After recapping the great experience for him, He asked me a question that I assume must have been extremely rhetorical... "what do you want to do today" *smile*. Well, being only minutes away from downtown Fukuoka by highway... of course you know where I wanted to go! And that is exactly what we did! I was so excited! The city is amazing. For many hours of the afternoon we got to explore even more of the vastness of this huge city. We went to a big mainstreet that had three very tall buildings. On one cross section, each corner had a huge skyscraper mall! Now, one week ago, Canal City was massive with 5 floors. These malls didn't quite spread out like Canal City, they went UP! The first mall we went to was the InterMedia Station. This mall was massive! (I am sorry I use that expression so much! It is so hard to explain the incredibleness of what I am witnessing). This mall went up 14 floors! All the floors weren't used for stores mind you, (some for restaurant centers, or spa/beauty parlors) but it went up high! I thought it was neat that the decor "theme" of the center mall area was "Jack and the Beanstalk". The beanstalk was displayed as growing up through the center of the mall. The higher you went, you began to see connected clouds, like you were up in the sky. That is the first picture, I thought it was creative. Afterwords we went outside to cross the mainstreet to visit another mall. This mall was unique in that it only contained womens stores! The "Tenjin Core" had 8 floors of clothes, shoes, makeup, and girly trinkets that just made my host sister and her friend go crazy. I guess it truely was a woman's paradise. Surprisingly, that trip was not boring or uninteresting at all for me. I got to see so much crazy fashion that Japan is known for. The second picture shows the mannequins from one of the stores. I personally think the style sometimes becomes very cluttered with lots of bright colors, patterns, and garish accessories, but it is fascinating to look at. It is said that Japan is right behind Europe in terms of fashion... so this could be the new thing to catch on in America within the next few years! As we continued on, we did not cross the mainstreet, instead we went to the basement of the mall that connected to the subway stations. This is also where I witnessed one of the coolest things of the day. All the malls on this intersection of the mainstreet are interconnected underground in a huge checkerboard setup of more stores, fancy salons and coffee shops. It was so neat because the underground "streets" were set up like they were outside on the mainstreet itself... just underground! We finally zig-zagged our way through this mecca (which was just packed with people - it was extremely crowded in every mall.) and made it to the last mall on our tour. This mall was so intimidating. It was possibly the ritziest mall I have ever been to in my life. In the "Mitsukoshi" I really felt so out of place that I fit in with the expression "It took my breath away". This mall was 9 floors of the highest names in fashion and cuisine. We walked through stores of European, American, and Japanese brands where everything seemed to be priced from hundreds of dollars to the tens of thousands. In this mall, I looked at suits and dresses priced at thousands of dollars, and even went to a kimono store where everything was silk stiched and ranged upwards of ten thousand dollars! This mall even had art exibits with lavish pieces of artwork up for sale! I can tell you that I felt so out of place, but the mall was PACKED! I have heard that Japan is a nation obsessed with name brand goods, and it seems it must be true. The basement floor of this mall was also a very famous area. It was just counter after counter of department store pastry companies in one area. Everything was expensive and way too beautiful looking to eat. The best thing about Japan is that their products may be expensive, but they always lure you in with free samples . I was in heaven. The third picture shows one of these stations among a seemingly endless sets of several dozen cake, bread, wagashi, and chocolate shops. The last picture is of a view of Fukuoka city taken from one of the high floors of a mall. My tours of these malls were not only overwhelming, but filled with some of the coolest things I have seen related to modern Japan.

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