Yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.

Morning at the Temple, Dinner at Yatai

To the Temple

Last night I had returned from late dinner at the yatai, the distinctive Fukuoka ramen stands, to find all my roommates drinking some liquor they had found at the local shops.

I was staying at the Fukuoka Hana Hostel. Everyone else in my room was part of a group from Taiwan who were there for a special service at their Buddhist sect's regional temple. Then they would contine northwest to the sect's home temple on the lower slopes of Mount Fuji.

They had invited me to accompany them to the service.

Morning was here. They were ready to go. They got me out of bed. Time to go to the temple!

That's me on the right, in the front passenger seat of the van they had rented.

On our way to the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.

Buddhism was founded in India between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, based on teaching attributed to the historical Buddha.

Today there is Theravada Buddhism, in southern and much of southeast Asia; Vajrayana Buddhism, in Tibet and Mongolia; and Mahayana Buddhism, in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.

My roommates from Taiwan were of the Nichiren Shōshū sect. That is part of the larger Nichiren branch of Buddhism, which is in turn a part of the Mahayana branch found throughout eastern Asia.

Nichiren Shōshū teaches that you can reach personal enlightment in your present form and lifetime. It's based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222-1282), spread through his disciple and secretary Nikko Shonin (1246-1333).

Nikko Shonin then founded Sōhonzan Taiseki-ji in 1290. It's now the head temple of Nichiren Shōshū Buddhism. It's near Mount Fuji, a short distance west of Tōkyō.

At the temple my new friends bought locally made prayer beads and votive plaques, and signed up to get certificates of their participation in the coming service.

At the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.

The service largely consisted of an hour and a half's chanting of Nam-Myōhō-Genge-Kyō. It's done to expiate bad karma and, one hopes, achieve enlightenment. But the primary point is that in the process, you hope to lead others to an enlightened state of being.

So, a Taiwanese Chinese speaker used Japanese katakana phonetic transcription to write down what I was supposed to be chanting. After a while, I was acceptably close. There was plenty of time to work on it.

I attended a teaching by the Dalai Lama in New York's Central Park in 1999. Yes, that was the Vajrayana Buddhism of Tibet, entirely different in some ways. But, with many parallels.

His teaching expounded on a Tibetan scripture with very obvious parallels to the Sermon on the Mount in Christian scripture. In his conclusion, he said that that had been why he had chosen that specific scripture for the teaching.

The Tibetan Buddhist teaching back then, like this east Asian service, shared an ultimate goal of helping others.

The home temple on the lower slopes of Mount Fuji is home of the Dai Gohozon, the sect's supreme object of veneration. It's a plank of Japanese camphorwood inscribed with Sanskrit and Chinese characters forming a calligraphic mandala image.

At the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.

After the service we left the fairly nondescript temple and went to the adjacent lunchroom.

Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.
Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.
Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.
Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.
Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.
Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.
Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.

Here we are after lunch. I'm at the upper left. That is, your left. In the brown and white flowered shirt.

They dropped me off near the train station, then swung past the hostel to pick up their bags and head north to the main temple near Mount Fuji.

I wandered central Fukuoka some more.

Lunch at the Nichiren Shoshu temple in Fukuoka.

To the Tachinomiya

Late in the afternoon, I went back to the tachinomira, the stand-up bar near the hostel where I was staying.

Tachinomiya or stand-up bar in Fukuoka.
Tachinomiya or stand-up bar in Fukuoka.

The left-most of these menu strips on the top row offers <kanji><kanji> ウイソナー, or uisona–, for 二〇〇円 or ¥200.

Then there's some all-kanji mystery for ¥300.

Then ハバネロ<kanji><kanji> or ha-ba-ne-ro-something for ¥300. Mmm, habenero.

And then, ウイフイ or wi-fi, with the serious WPA2 pre-shared key d614a906ad124d.

And so on, on down the wall. I see おぶソいねし or o-bu-so-i-ne-shi and so on. I see, but I don't understand...

I had えだまめ and ハイボール, or edamame and ha-i-bō-ru.

Edemame and highball at the tachinomiya or stand-up bar in Fukuoka.

To the Izakaya

Then I went farther up the side alley to a different izakaya for another light starter.

Izakaya in Fukuoka.

People worry that these taverns are frequented by ruffians. Not so much.

Izakaya in Fukuoka.

The proprietor recommended something, and I agreed. She explained it, confused me, and gave me a written label.

カマボコ
ka-ma-bo-ko

Izakaya in Fukuoka.

Kamaboko is cured surimi. It's pureed deboned white fish, steamed, pressed into loaves and sliced, then served with dipping sauces.

It's a little like the pressed "sea leg" crab-like product we have in supermarkets in the US, but with way less corn-based sweetener.

To the Yatai

Back to the riverbank yatai for a late dinner!

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.
Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

I got a seat at the end of the front counter, looking down the cooler case.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.
Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

I got yakitori and Kirin.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.
Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

Soon I moved on, searching for the best soup stand.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.
Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.
Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

Here's a stand with a back-corner seat.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

The large pots have the broth that's been boiled for hours.

The small screen baskets let them heat previously boiled ramen noodles.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

Above those pots is a grill.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.
Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

My tonkotsu rāmen arrives.

Yatai or ramen stand in Fukuoka.

Later I cross one of the bridges over a branch of the river.

Walking back to the hostel from the yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.
Walking back to the hostel from the yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.
Walking back to the hostel from the yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.
Walking back to the hostel from the yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.
Walking back to the hostel from the yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.

This building has bars and clubs on floor B1 up through 7F.

Walking back to the hostel from the yatai or ramen stands in Fukuoka.

The above is specific to Fukuoka. Or maybe you want to explore other places in Japan.

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