Hiking in Tachibanayama・立花山: Sunrise Edition

There’s a first time for everything, and today was the day I woke up at 3:00am to go chase the sunrise. A few of us avid hikers drove up and made the quick hike up. Full disclosure! Most of these are my incredibly talented friend’s pictures from his amazing camera and the boring unedited ones are mine.

The sun rises very early in the summer so it was a little brighter than we planned on the way up, but incredibly beautiful.

Even at such a low elevation we were above the clouds, which in this sunrise pic look like the ocean I think.

I’ve been to this area a few times, it’s a pretty popular hike because if it’s accessibility and being beginner-friendly. It was really nice to have the place to ourselves.

It was such a nice start to the day and I would definitely go on another sunrise trek again.

As always, here is my hike on Yamap!

Trip to Tugi

Welcome to one of my favourite shops in Fukuoka, Tugi! It’s so beautiful and their innovation equally matched by the deliciousness of their sweets. They have monthly specials and I always look forward to checking out their new items. Here is the daily selection of ohagi (sweet rice and bean paste), namagashi (bean paste, flour, sugar sweets) mushigashi (steamed sweets) and monaka (rice wafer and bean paste).

I don’t usually have drinks that aren’t plain coffee or tea but if I see something unusual I can’t help myself. Tugi has あんこソーダ・anko soda, or read bean soda! It’s smooth red bean paste with simple syrup and a splash of lemon topped with soda. It was so good! Definitely happy I tried it.

I took my sweets home and sat down to my matcha set. I got one of the monthly specials, black sugar walnut mochi・黒糖胡桃餅 made with black rice. Really everything they do is incredible, this one was no exception.

Fruit Salad

A huge departure from the norm! I am typically a matcha purist but decided to shake things up and have a blended blueberry, almond milk and matcha latte. It was fun and tasty but I might prefer the classics. The sweet is from Tugi, one of my favourite places in Fukuoka. Everything they do is breath-taking. This one is a dried pineapple, jasmine and smooth red bean paste wrapped up in a little package.

It’s hard to beat their treats. I couldn’t help myself and got this funny little guy! Those are little rosemary sprigs popping out and is filled with rosemary paste! It was one of the best and most unique wagashi I’ve ever had. But, I think I always say that when I go there.

Hiking in Daizaifu: Sangunsan・三郡山 (935m) and Waterfall Edition

One of the most popular hikes in Fukuoka is Hōmanzan, which I’ve done a few times but never added Sangunsan・三郡山 to the route. Between the two summits there are a lot of little waterfalls and streams I wanted to check out.

The summit of Sangunsan is a lot like Sefuri. Wrapped with barbed wire and quite industrial. Oh well, it was nice to check it off the list and there was a nice spot so sit and have lunch.

Just beyond there, I climbed down to see the waterfalls. It was so cute! The tsubaki flowers had recently fallen and the ground was covered with them. Against the green mossy rocks and sounds of water trickling everywhere it was pretty magical.

A familiar view, at the top of Hōmanzan. The only surprise here was how quiet it was! It was a nice surprise as it’s often quite crowded at the top.

The way down to the shrine is always really lovely.

I’ve done this hike a few times but had somehow forgot it was a touch of a challenge, so I’m a bit more tired and sore than I thought I would be today. But good practice for my hike coming up this week!

Of course here is the course I took on Yamap.

Cherry Blossoms Inside and Out

Inside, I had sakura dorayaki with red bean paste. Dorayaki is like a fluffy little pancake. It was lovely. I have some sakura branches for my home and I love to look at them every second.

But outside! Very early, we went out to see the sakura near my place by the castle ruins in Ohori Koen. It was the perfect weather, and the perfect blossoms and perfect morning.

The mountain in the background is Aburayama, where I’ve been hiking and will try to go again this weekend to see even more blossoms, should I be so lucky.

Hiking The Tallest Peak in Fukuoka: Mount Sefuri・脊振山 Edition

At just 5 minutes shy of 8 hours, I think this was my longest hike since moving here. The Sefuri mountains are on the Fukuoka/Saga border and are the highest in Fukuoka prefecture (1,054.6 m). The path I took up was a little long, but without a doubt the prettiest I have taken up in Fukuoka. Every 5 minutes I was walking by or in a new little stream or waterfall.

There was one of the funniest trail heads (or ends) I have ever seen, a huge, long rope to pull yourself up on with a swimming pool ladder to get out of the path! I loved it, it was really fun without being difficult, and popping up at the top felt like I was coming from a different world.

The views of the city were pretty amazing, but I can’t say it was my favourite summit. Although there is a nice shrine and tiny shelter, it is also home to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force so there was barbed wire and lots of buildings complete with parking lots. I was the only person up there but still, it was more relaxing to only face away from the barbed wire fences.

This was from near Mt. Kana・金山 where the surrounding mountains were particularly beautiful. I sadly didn’t get that many good pictures because I was focused on my timing. I will definitely go back so I can spend more time in the waterfalls though so it’s fine by me.

Finally at the end of the day I got to see some pretty blossoms along the way. From the bus stop I could see the Air Self Defense Force at the top of the center mountain in the distance. It was very fun to see how far I had come, it looks so tiny!

And of course here is my whole 8 hour trip hike on Yamap.

Valentine’s Day Sweets

It was uncharacteristically sunny and warm on Valentine’s Day so we got to sit on a little rooftop patio to enjoy little pink sweets. I went to Kichi-Zoh because I knew they would have the heart sweet, but when I saw the set I there was no way not to get it. In Japan on Valentine’s Day women give chocolate to their partners, crushes (本命チョコ・honmei choco・true feeling chocolate), male coworkers (義理チョコ・giri choco・obligation chocolate) and friends (友チョコ・tomo choco・friend chocolate). On March 14th men will give chocolate to their romantic partner or crush. It can be quite an expensive day for women having to buy obligation chocolate for every an in the office but with all the remote working that seems to have changed.

Back to the sweets! I did give my honmei choco but of course did not stop there. Kichi-Zoh had the pink rose with white bean in the center, a white heart with pink & white bean paste, and a white bean paste with black bean ‘snow-topped mountain’ (left plate) and also plum jelly and soba flour yōkan (right plate). They were perfect and I loved them. I’m eagerly awaiting candy sales in the week to come.