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09 August 2009 @ 08:21 pm
So cooking every day in your shoebox apartment can be tedious. Without an oven is downright perplexing. So here's a nice list of restaurants I enjoy.

OCM - Kokura

   Located near the Izutsuya in downtown Kokura, they make the best sandwiches in town. Super interesting sandwiches, but delicious! Try their original chicken sandwich hot! With prices around Y430 for a sandwich or large salad, it's pretty hard to beat. Plus lots of pictures of New York help you feel a bit at home (I like to go and stare at the picture of Chipotle and daydream). (English Menu)

http://www.sandwich-ocm.com/ (only viewable in Japanese)

Shirokiya - Kokura

   Located near Kokura station. Start at McDonald's. Head towards the river (away from the station). After you pass the entrance to the arcade (by PSJ Pachinko) Shirokiya will be a large door heading up to the second floor. Be sure to bring someone who speaks Japanese, but the prices are decent and if you can get a nomi- or tabe-hodai, you're set. Enjoy!

Hanada - Kokura

   A small hole in the wall restaurant, I discovered on an unforunate trip, but definitely worth mentioning. Really nice, awesome staff, doesn't speak much English, but good traditional Japanese food. If you know what you want or are willing to let the chef take over, go and enjoy. Sit at the bar for the maximum Japanese feeling. Located near the Colet, has a sign that reads Kustom Japanese Food. :)

Flamingo - Kokura

   About face my friends, and head out of the north exit of Kokura station. Do not go downstairs, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. Follow the elevated walkway all the way to the AIM building (i.e. when you leave the station follow the pathway, down the stairs, past the escalators, turn left to the longer stretch of walkway, keep going until it ends - dance on the moving walkways if you please, turn right and head to the end of the AIM building). Flamingo offers a nice atmosphere, really great Italian food, for a decent price. You can get an entire dinner set for Y1300. My recommendation? The salmon risotto is pretty awesome.

Capricciosa - Kokura

   Another Italian joint. Japanese restaurants make AWESOME Italian style pizza. Try anything here for almost guaranteed deliciousness. Plus desserts that aren't too sweet and aren't too plain, everything is just right. (English Menu)

That's all for now. Will keep you updated with more soon!
06 May 2009 @ 10:41 pm
You can not live in Japan as a foreigner and not travel, it's practically criminal so here are my recommendations for traveling out of the greater Kitakyushu area.

1) Tokyo. If you don't go to Tokyo at least once before you leave Japan, you are committing a grave crime against yourself. Tokyo is AMAZING. The mesh of traditional, sprawling shrines, gardens, and the Imperial Palace in the insane skyscraper central that is the rest of Tokyo is just unreal. I would never call Tokyo beautiful or even remotely sane, but it's fantastic, fun and if you can stand aching feet, worth it.

   HOW to get to Tokyo:
     BY SHINKANSEN; probably the most convenient for those without cars, but also a bit pricey. Around Y22000 one way from Kokura station. The Nozomi goes straight from Hakata to Tokyo station within five hours, while the Hikari takes around seven hours with a transfer in Shin-Osaka. I don't recommend the Kodama, I have no idea how long it takes.
     BY PLANE FROM KITAKYUSHU AIRPORT; probably the quickest way to Tokyo. I tried once and it was about Y30000 for a one way ticket (no discount) from Kitakyushu to Haneda - Kitakyushu ONLY flies to Haneda. But try the Starflyer if you want to fly.
     BY PLANE FROM FUKUOKA; never done this, because getting to Fukuoka airport from Yukuhashi would be a MASSIVE pain, but it's doable.

   WHAT to do in Tokyo;
     UENO; Ueno park is fabulous, lots of random stuff to do and it is a museum buffs paradise, I have been twice and only fully finished ONE museums permanent collections, The National Museum - which is amazing and I wish I lived in Tokyo just for it.
     SHINJUKU; Shopping. Plus the park, I've heard it's stunning in cherry blossom season, I went about a week before the peak of the blossoms and it was pretty awesome.
     MEJI SHRINE; My NUMBER ONE choice. It it just amazing that this calm restful area is in the MIDDLE of Tokyo.
     ASAKUSA; Just cause you can't go to Tokyo without going to Asakusa. I also recommend the AMAZING paper shop right near the temple. When facing the main gates it is on the right hand side, the building on the corner. The amount of money I could spend there is insane.

>>> COMING SOON; Osaka (overnight), Kyoto(overnight), Nara(overnight), Beppu(overnight), Fukuoka City (day), Hiroshima (day)

>>> TO DO LIST: Yakushima, Miyazaki Pref., Hokkaido, Saitama, Tokyo Disney, Nagoya, Kobe, more Nara, more Kyoto, more Tokyo, more, more . . .
18 December 2008 @ 11:33 pm
Several very good reasons to keep a hold of at least one credit card.

J.Crew -
Ships to Japan. Enough said. For those lucky enough to land jobs in Yokohama or Chiba there are two brick and mortar locations - one in each city. For those of us not blessed with feet under the American size of 7 or bodies that seem to lack bums of any proportion, shoes and pants from J.Crew can be shipped to your door - just be aware there may be customs fees to pay upon arrival. For more information check HERE.

Amazon -
Ships to Japan. Anything and everything (well, practically) you could want shipped by Amazon. Hurrah! Shipping policies HERE.

Zappos -
I really won't go into them since they charge an outrageous $60 PER item you get shipped to Japan. Shipping information HERE.
11 December 2008 @ 11:35 pm
Amu Plaza >> Amu Plaza is one of the four major department stores in Kokura. Located in the station it is probably the most convenient. It is often referred to as having two sides the 'inexpensive side' and the 'expensive side.' The expensive side is the east side, with Bayside, Afternoon Tea, and other more expensive shops anchoring this side, although there is the lovely ABC Mart cushioning on the second first level. And don't let the title 'inexpensive' side fool you, the other side has plenty of shops to drop your well earned yen in, although most are less pricey than the other side. The 'inexpensive' side is the west side, featuring a Lush shop, Opaque.Clip, House of Rose, and Hanky Panky. One of the great features of the west side is on the third level, Sony Plaza an import store.
   My Recommendations:
     Sony Plaza (level 3) : Dear Dr. Pepper, I love you so much. Enough said. But Sony Plaza has plenty of munchies and goodies to satisfy your Western food craving. Plus lots of other random imports.
     FrancFranc (level 3) : a nice lifestyle store next door to Sony Palaza. It's a little too overdose girly for my tastes to decorate from there completely, but loads of nicknacks to pick up and indulge in.
     DoubleDay (level 1) : aside from the fact that I bought my sofa from there, I really do like their furniture and other randoms. I think their tables are a bit pricey, but their fabric furniture is pretty decent (delivery costs extra, ~Y3000 for Kitakyushu-shi and ~Y5000 for surrounding areas).
     Opaque.Clip (level 2) : decently priced trendy items. I really like my purse I got from there.
     Lush (level 2) : just like home.
11 December 2008 @ 11:20 pm
So I have now moved to Yukuhashi, so some of the entries will focus on places in Yukuhashi.

RockPlant >> On the main stream leading away from the east entrance of Yukuhashi Station. A lovely nook of fashionable clothes and accessories for men and women. A definite must for those who get nostalgic for the big city life and style. Loads of interesting pieces, but be warned they are a small shop so once something is gone, it's gone.

YouMe Town >> What can't you get at YouMe Town? Having just be renovated in the fall of 2008 the new mall section is ripe with trendy shops and goodies. Plus the attached YouMe store will keep your refrigerator and other some-suchs full and happy.
    My recommendations for YouMe Town Mall:
         Croissant (second floor): loads of cozy, homey things for you to choose from and pretty reasonable prices; I might not recommend the clothing there but the home items are great.
         Mamaiko (first floor) : again, not sure if I'd buy clothing from there, but loads of nifty things for your home and friends (also has a location in Kokura's ChaCha Town)
  --> YouMe Town also has the only first hand book store in town (that I know of)

Library >> The library in Yukuhashi actually has quite a nice selection of English books. Of course I'm a bit partial with the fact that they have a copy of Howl's Moving Castle.
  DIRECTIONS: Take the main road leading away from the east entrance of Yukuhashi Station and follow up until you get to the river. Take a right at the intersection that leads onto the bridge (don't go over the bridge!!). Follow the road past City Hall and the EMS building. The library is on your right, is two stories tall, and kind of a dirty cream color.
18 June 2008 @ 04:35 pm
Most of these websites are national organizations and not local to Kitakyushu - however they are very useful all the same and excitingly most ship within the country.

Anyone can appreciate Ikea's inexpensive style and chic accessories. All of my friend's who graduated and got jobs in America have been talking about shopping at Ikea for furniture and trying to get out of hand-me-down furniture. So to find Ikea in Japan is exciting bordering on relieving. It's website allows you to view in Japan and English. I don't believe you can order online, but with the ability to check stock at the three stores. Locations are unfortunately lacking, but the availability of western living pieces helps make Japan home.
Grade: C
26 May 2008 @ 08:31 pm
Most of these websites are national organizations and not local to Kitakyushu - however they are very useful all the same and excitingly most ship within the country.

The Meat Guy
I am, admittedly, a terribly ferocious carnivore. I love meat - especially steak. So The Meat Guy is my very good friend, if not the one that causes me to spend loads of money. For those who can't live without a Thanksgiving turkey or any other super foreign meat product The Meat Guy is for you. His site offers shipping to all of Japan (at a flat rate!) and a wide variety of it. Even Halal meat! Although expensive (but let's face it everything is), the site is great, easy to use and there are even specials. My own gripe is that most of the meat comes in HUGE portions - definitely more for people with families than just a single eikawa teacher.
Grade: B+

Rev up that shopping cart Sam's and CostCo lovers, Japan has it's own CostCo! For what would be about forty bucks a year you can get a membership to this huge warehouse dealer. Great for families, but also for those foreigners who just can't live without x,y and z - CostCo has it all. The only problem? Not many locations. And the food is still pricey. I mean, olive oil for four thousand yen? Woah! But don't let that set you off. If you don't think the membership is worth it, try and make friends with people who do. Two friends come free with each visit!
Grade: B-

The Flying Pig
All of the above except shipped all across Japan. Um, AWESOME!
Grade: B

Seek Japan: International Supermarkets
A great list of supermarkets - especially for those people in the Tokyo area (unfortunately). Although some of them are nation wide and offer a good English website.
Grade: C+
26 May 2008 @ 08:16 pm
Church List of Kyushu Nippon Sei-ko-kai
Basically the English directory of Episcopalian/Anglican churches located on the island of Kyushu. I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of English information the site in general and each parish lacking websites. I wish they'd at least have posted contact information, addresses, or if communions were held in Japanese or English. :\ But still a relatively good guide if you're up for church when you're in Japan. Another bummer - you have to know wards relatively close to you so have a map of your city/Kitakyushu ready.
Grade: C

Kitakyushu Nightlife
An excellent resource of one guys reviews of nightlife in Kitakyushu - if not heavy on the ex-pat vibe. For those looking for a way to mingle with other English speakers or looking for an extensive list of places to get beer, you've got it. I'm a bit disappointed with the complete focus on just two wards. Plus the directions are a bit sketchy. Also - it's a pretty old site.
Grade: B-

Fukuoka Now
A great resource for the greater Fukuoka prefecture - if not heavily focused on Fukuoka the city. But still has a great number of ideas of things to do, articles, etc. I've heard the classified section is awesome - so maybe I'll find a cheap TV that way. :) Not really great for Kitakyushu, but handy - and in English!
Grade: B
25 May 2018 @ 07:29 pm
Kitakyushu (which literally means North Kyushu) is located on the island of Kyushu which is south-west of the main island of Honshu. It is the second largest city on the island with a population just under one million. Unlike some Japanese cities, Kitakyushu is very spread out due to the fact that it is historically a conglomerate of cities centering around the main feudal city of Kokura.

It is one of the two cities making up the Kanmon Strait - the small body of water separating Honshu and Kyushu. Across the water on Honshu is the city of Shimonoseki. Smaller, but still full of loads of things to do.

About Me>>
My name is Sarah, and I'm a 22 year old moving to Kitakyushu in July 2008. I work for a private eikawa company and will hopefully be living in Japan for at least two years. This site will compile the research I do before I leave as well as the reviews of places I go and things I do as long as I'm there.

I want this to be a resource for foreigners (mainly Americans - as I am one myself) who are moving or traveling in Kitakyushu. I think there is a severe lack of resources for those moving into the city and this is my attempt to rectify this.