Just over an hour on the Shikansen and we arrived in Kokura. We met Colette at the train station after she had finished work, and then walked to her apartment. Kokura wasn't really what I was expecting at all as it was really modern, it had a huge shopping centre and even its own castle which was surrounded by Sakura trees.
The next day Colette was up early for work and me and Jane decided that after so much travelling and sightseeing over the past few days we needed a well deserved rest day. So we had a lazy morning then went to the shopping centre in the afternoon and visited a 100 yen shop. Colette had been telling us about the 100 Yen shops since she first went to Japan, they are basically like our pound shops but a million times better, it even sold Hello Kitty things. We didn't go over board though as there are lots of the shops in Japan so we will have plenty to visit. After meeting Colette again at the station once she had finshed work, we went for some sushi. I had never actually been to a sushi restaurant before and I was a little nervous at the thought of trying it, but I played it safe and just got some vegatable sushi - I wasn't brave enough for the fish yet! It was quite nice, and we could drink unlimited green tea which was a bonus but i'm going to try and make myself like fish so I can have proper sushi next time.
No rest day the next day, so we were up and out early and back on the Shinkansen for a trip to Miyajima. Miyajima is a small island just off the coast of Hiroshima so we had to get on a ferry to travel there. The Island is really pretty - very Japanese. There were even wild deer just walking around the island, we were told that they are very friendly but they love to eat maps strangely. We visited a famous gate that was in the sea and had a walk around the shops, there was even a small beach but we didn't go on it due to the fact it was freezing again! After a few hours we decided we would head back to Korura so bought a small pastry maple leaf which is a famous food of the area, it was really nice as it was filled with chocolate, then we got back on the ferry. After getting to Korkura we met Colette again, she had the next few days off so we had lots planned, we then all got ready for a night out with some of Colettes friends. We had been looking forward to this night for ages as we were going for izakaya (all you can eat and drink). After meeting Colettes friends, we made our way to the restaurant, it was really lovely inside and we got our own private booth. I expected it to be a buffet all you can eat, but I suppose this is Japan so we had this electronical device and we just chose whatever drinks and food we wanted to order and it got brought to our table, it was brilliant! We ate some nice Japanese food and drank as much as we could within two hours (thats all the time we were allowed the table for) then headed to a small bar for a few hours. We loved our first proper night out in Japan :)
Suprisingly not too much of a hangover the next day and it was a good job too as we were heading to a fish market. Colette had told us about the fish market for a while and was excited for us to try blow fish, but I must admit I was slightly nervous about trying it as I can't even eat fish from the chippy! It took quite a while to get to the market but when we did it was really exciting and thankfully for some reason it didn't smell of fish at all, I just wish that I loved fish as all the different types of sushi looked lovely. I wasn't going to try the blow fish when I actually saw it, but thought I am in Japan so might as well be brave. We bought our fish and headed outside to eat it in the sun. I used my chop sticks to cut off the tiniest amount of the fish possible, and as soon as I put it in my mouth I spat it out! I couldn't stand the texture and I felt really bad for spitting it out, I just hope no one saw me - at least I tried though. Jane was brave as she's not that keen on fish either but she managed to eat it all. Rather than walking back to the train station, we walked to a tunnel which would take us back to the main island and it was actually the longest under sea pedestrian walkway in the world which I was suprised about as it didn't actually feel like it was that long. We walked through a little town on the way to get the train to Korkura and we passed a cat cafe, which is the strangest thing in the world as people pay £15 - £20 to sit in a cafe and stroke cats, I just don't understand why anyone would pay to do that! Back in Korkura we got ready for another night out, this time to eat Okonomiyaki and go to karaoke yayy!!!
Colettes Japanese friends joined us which was really nice, and they also helped us chose which Okonomiyaki we wanted as there is no way we would understand the menu. Okonomiyaki is like a big crispy pancake made out of cabbage and filled with anything that you want like meat or vegetables its then topped with Okonomiyaki sauce, you even cook it yourself on a big hot plate, and it was gorgeous!! I'll definitely be making some at home. After our lovely meal we all went and got some pictures taken in one of the arcades, and made our way to Karaoke. We were shown to a huge room with leather couches and a massive screen and it was all ours! Definitely not what I expected Karaoke in Japan to be like. We even got all you can drink with it, so we had a phone in our room and we could order as many drinks as we wanted which they then brought to our room. I dont think they were very strong though as we drank A LOT and no of us were particualy drunk, but we did stay on the karaoke till 6am, we were just having too much fun to leave :)
We slept for most of the day after getting back from karaoke and after having something to eat we went to Kokura castle to meet some of Colettes friends and sit under the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossom season in Japan is like a bit of a festival, everyone brings food, drink, BBQ's and sit under the cherry blossoms listening to music or sometimes there are even events going on, it's really nice, like one big picnic. The only downside was that again it was freezing, but the atmosphere made up for the coldness, one group of people even gave us a mat to sit on and another gave us a load of crisps to share, Japanese people are the nicest people we have met on our travels. As it started to get dark all the lanterns around the gardens and the castle came on and it looked so pretty, but soon after we were all feeling a bit numb so we went to the supermarket to get some tea before heading back to Colettes were we watched some Towie.
It was Colettes last day off so we got the train to Hakata to see some sights. When we arrived the weather was lovely, it made such a change to the cold. We bought some lunch then took it to a nearby park and sat under the cherry blossoms again, we then got an ice cream and had a walk around the river, it was a nice relaxing day after such a busy weekend.
Me and Jane wanted to make the most our of our rail pass so we walked with Colette to the station the next day so she could go to work and we could get on the shikansen to visit a few more places. But the weather in Kokura was really bad that day and the winds were really strong, so will all trains delayed and no with key to Colettes we had to wait for her to finish work. So we had a walk around the shops and killed a lot of time in the 100 yen shop, I really think me and Jane could live in there. We managed to do our trip the next day as the weather was back to normal, it was then back to Colettes to sort our bags out as we were moving onto Osaka the next day, but before bed we managed to watch some more Towie.
We left Colettes the next afternoon and got the Shikansen to Osaka. I really enjoyed our week in Kokura and staying with Colette and meeting all her friends made it even better! Our trip to Osaka was mostly to just break up our train journey to Tokyo. We checked into our hostel and had a walk around before getting an early night before our 8am train to Tokyo. Excited!!!