Fukuoka and Korea

Dear Friends and Family,

We had to backtrack to Hiroshima (about half an hour), and then caught another Shinkansen to Fukuoka, which I think took about an hour and a half to cover vastly more distance. Our hotel room in Fukuoka was more like a roomy apartment with a couple rooms and a full kitchen. You never really know what you're going to get when you're traveling.

Both Don and I felt like we had already left Japan and maybe entered Korea when we landed in Fukuoka. It has a very different vibe. It is one of the closest Japanese cities to Korea.

Fukuoka has rivers or canals running through it. There is an island we are heading towards which is famous for its food stalls.

Her oden ingredients are nearest to us. 

If that is meat, that is the first time I’ve seen red meat in a Japanese oden.

Chicken rolls, also unusually prepared for Japan

And the most unusual of all, eggplant with fish roe and cheese. It was delicious. Also, not a very Japanese presentation.

The next morning, we took a taxi to the ferry terminal.

The high-speed ferry from Fukuoka to Busan is called The Beetle; it makes the journey in about 3 hours. Very smooth and comfortable, that day, anyway. They told us whales had been spotted recently in the waters, so if that happened they would have to slow the boat or make a detour. They must have slowed the boat as we arrived about 10 minutes late, Brad said. Unfortunately, we didn't see any passing whales.

Entering Busan harbor

Brad Kullman lived with us for about eight months back in the ‘eighties. He was a Canadian firefighter at the time with an interest and aptitude for art and papermaking. He worked (volunteered) at a very young Magnolia Editions and helped us in many ways. Very supportive fellow, he became like a family member to us and young Marisha. We missed him tremendously when he left on his various adventures: volunteering in Africa, then working at Landfall Press, then somewhere in Latin America, finally ending up teaching English in Korea, where he met and married the high energy and very kind Youn Hee. We hadn’t seen him in 30 years and had never met Youn Hee, who is delightful.

Brad and Youn Hee have a very roomy apartment, about 2000 sq ft, very large by Asian standards. Their apartment is in a high rise on the 21st floor, or something like that. The Koreans tend to build these very high rise apartment complexes and cluster them together in cities; we saw some in the countryside also.

And a kitchen with appliances that we had never seen, including a special kimchee refrigerator, the smaller one (below).

When Youn Hee returned from work, we all went out to a Korean dinner. Youn Hee, Era, Brad, Don

Different kinds of kimchee, salads, pickles, some barbecued beef, sliced thin; jelly fish, also sliced thin. 

The next morning I mentioned to Youn Hee that Don and I were both looking pretty shaggy, and she offered to take us to her hairdresser right then and there. She took such good care of us, cleaned us up and pampered us.

Then it was time for the market; different kinds of kimchee and pickled vegetables for sale below.

Outdoor eating

Color and controlled chaos everywhere

Don in hog heaven at a local wholesale brush store

Taking a break at the sunglasses store

Time for another meal

Korean shiso leaf (different from Japanese shiso and also delicious). We hope we can grow them both locally this year. 

That evening Youn Hee took me to an amazing public (members only) bath. I wish I could have taken photos, but obviously I could not. There were probably 400 to 500 naked women there of all ages. And Youn Hee said it was an off night. There were about 6 or more large hot tubs of different variations of hot, a swimming pool, a room where very strong jets of hot water splurted out from the ceiling, so strongly that it felt like a massage. I had an actual massage in a small room with other women, all of us bare-ass naked. The masseuses put on scrubbing mittens and proceeded to peel off layers of dead skin from our bodies (we had already soaked in the hot tub). It was astounding. In between layers they would throw hot water on us, rub us with different unguents, smelling of all sorts of wonderful scents, including one which smelled and was the consistency of custard. It was kind of embarrassing to see piles of dead skin coming off me. I felt some comfort to see it coming off the other women also, although maybe not quite as much - maybe they've had the treatment recently. Afterwards my skin felt so soft.

WARNING: Small children and those susceptible to nightmares may not wish to look at these next, especially right before retiring.

Finally, Youn Hee gave us a facial treatment.

Photo credit: Brad Kullman

And I'm not even including the really scary one. When you next see us, you may not recognize us.

Love from Korea,

Era and Don