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Sunday, January 28, 2018

DAY 1: Honolulu to Kyushu

It's almost 4,000 miles from Honolulu to Tokyo, while the distance approaches 5,000 miles if going to Washington, D.C.  So you ask, why is it only 6,771 miles from Tokyo (Narita--NRT) to DC (Dulles--IAD)?  This is why planes sometimes take the polar route.

When you travel from Tokyo to Fukuoka, a distance of 675 miles, there is a sense that you are going from north to south.  Actually, it's more east to west:

Map from Tokyo, Japan to Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan

Seoul is 335 miles to the north of Fukuoka, while Shanghai is 545 miles west, both closer than Tokyo.

Fukuoka is the capital of Kyushu, and has a population of 1.54 million (versus 1.48 million for for Kyoto) with a relatively high growth rate for Japan.  Fukuoka is one of the few major cities not particularly bothered by major earthquakes and tsunamis.  The city is sometimes referred to as Hakata (name of the main train station), but it was the merger of both in 1889 that created the city of today.  There is some debatable evidence that this was the prehistoric capital of Japan, and that the Imperial Family lived there.

In 1274 Kublai Khan (his grandfather Chinggis is also known as Genghis) invaded Kyushu with 900 ships.  The effort failed because of weather and bad planning.

Donald Trump take notice:  around 1276 samurai built a stone wall around the city of Fukuoka, about ten high and ten feet wide for a length of 12 miles.  It kind of worked. Kublai sent another envoy to Japan in 1279, but all five were beheaded.  Infuriated, KK in 1281 sent another 4,000 ships and 140,000 soldiers, and succeeded in this invasion.  However before actually getting to Fukuoka, another typhoon decimated the Chinese.

This is the storm that is referred to as the Kamikaze (Divine Wind).  This term, kamikaze, was used to indicate suicide attacks by planes in World War II.  Saturation bombing destroyed much of Fukuoka.

Jumping to today, a survey in 2017 found 217 homeless people.  The peak was 1,237 in 2009.  Hawaii, with 1.4 million residents, has around 8,000 today.  Tokyo, with a population of over 9 million has around 5,000 homeless.

The region's cuisine features mentaiko (Pollack roe), Hakata (broth of pork bones, with thin noodles--the green onions and Japanese pickles are free toppings, but there is usually a charge for char siu and egg slices, I hear) ramen and motsunabe (a stew made of beef or pork guts and offal...yikes, I'll know what to avoid).

While Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi is the home of fugu (blowfish), Fukuoka calls it fuku, and does not charge as much.  The following five restaurants were recommended:

  • Hakata Bote
  • Ajidokoro Izumi
  • Tatsuki Sushi
  • Hakata Izumi
  • Teraoka
Why am I spending so much time on fugu?  I ate two fugu testicles  (here to the left called sperm sacs) in 1991 and for the next two years envisioned the future of Humanity.  The Blue Revolution, Rainbow Pearls, Hawaiian Onsen and many other ideas originated during this period.  When I come back from Japan I'll be really smart again.


Kyushu University began as a medical college in 1867.  According to Wikipedia, this former Imperial University is one of the most prestigious in the country:  
  • There are 12,000 undergraduate and 7,000 post-graduate students, and 5,000 staff.  
  • Their color is red wine.  
  • Was the first Japanese university in 2000 to integrate research with education and undergraduate with graduate, to provide a more flexible and progressive program.
  • They are partners in the Global 30 Project to expand international relations, where 300,000 students from abroad are expected to be attending universities in Japan by 2020.
  • I begin my official visit with a plenary talk on the Kyushu University Ito Campus, followed by a discussion panel.  The red area to the left is the "new" flagship Ito campus, opened in 2005.

My flight from Honolulu to Japan began at Japan Airlines' Sakura Lounge, which is also American's Admiral Club:


Not too many people here.  I fixed myself a Bloody Mary and am finishing my posting for today.


I would say that this lounge is better than the United Club.  Maybe even much better.  Next, from the Kyushu University Campus.

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I should mention that there is a looming monster ocean storm in the Indian Ocean.  Now already up to 110 MPH, Tropical Cyclone Cebile will attain Category 4 strength, but thankfully, head nowhere:



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