Japanese cities are pretty cool but sometimes you just have to get out into the country! Our second day trip from Fukuoka was a tour around Itoshima, a town on the western edge of Fukuoka Prefecture. This was one of my first times taking a planned tour in Japan and, while I generally like planning it all myself and inevitably getting lost in the process, it was nice to have someone else take charge for the day.
My sister Grace booked us onto a sightseeing and fruit picking tour with Japanican. Having checked the website, it doesn’t seem to be running at the moment (it’s not fruit-picking season) but there are a lot of other tours they do all over Japan, so it’s well-worth checking out.
Our first stop was Sakurai Futamigaura, one of Japan’s best sunset beaches which is very popular with locals. We were here in the morning but it’s a beautiful place to stop and stare at the sea at any time of day. Note the white torii gate rising out of the sea and ‘husband and wife’ rocks. There’s also a shrine and cafe on the beach,so if you’re driving yourself and have a bit more time you can check these out too.
Strawberries are one of Fukuoka’s speciality products and we were lucky enough to pick some ourselves in Itoshima. Needless to say, these strawberries are nothing like the ones you get in the supermarket. Not only are they either huge or tiny in size but they’re incredibly sweet! I don’t think I’d mastered the delicate art of strawberry-picking by the end of it but I ate my fair share of strawberries and took several dozens photos of them, but will just share some of my favourite ones.
Up next was lunch at the fishing ports of Kishi to slurp some freshly caught oysters (needless to say we were very full after this part). There are a number of oyster huts in the area all serving… well, oysters, but also other seafood. The way to eat oysters is to slap them on a grill until they burst (which is why you need the big yellow jackets as they spit pretty hot stuff at you) then break the shell in a certain way to get them out. Just like the strawberries, I didn’t master this delicate art because dexterity isn’t my strong suit at all. It was a very different eating experience to everything else we’d tried in Japan so far, and very fun if not messy. Sometimes you have to work for your food! You can also stroll around the fishing port, where the fishermen will be bringing in their haul, and stroke the cats who are hoping for a snack.
It probably made sense to have had lunch before our next stop – Suginoya, one of the most renowned sake breweries in the region. You can take a tour of the brewery and stock up on some very high quality sake. I still have a bottle of chocolate sake (yes, really) that I’m saving for a non-specific special occasion. There’s also a lovely little bakery next door where we bought several things for breakfast the next day, because we were really really full by this point.
Finally, we were reaching the end of our day trip but, of course, there was more food on the list. We stopped by Itoaguri, a lovely and fairly big farm shop catering to all your Japanese food needs. I didn’t want to buy too much in case it leaked in my suitcase on the trip home but treated myself to some delicious miso paste and a ginger spread (both of which are sadly now running low in my flat). Next door to Itoaguri was Ito King, a cafe serving sweets made from… yep, strawberries. A perfect way to round off our day before heading back into Fukuoka (needless to say, we didn’t have dinner that night).
If you’re thinking of visiting Fukuoka, Itoshima is definitely worth checking out. Hopefully Japanican will be running the tour again when strawberry season returns, so keep an eye on their website for updates!
Up next on the holiday blog series is… Beppu! I have a few other blog posts to get up before then but I hope you’ve been enjoying these blogs so far.
Have some more photos because I’m feeling generous…