After Osaka we went to Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu. We were supposed to go by Shinkanzen but the tickets had been sold out - no tickets for seating places but we could take the non- reserved cars so we decided to take that anyway. However the earliest train would be at 1.50pm and we had already checked out of our hotel so we had to take whichever train that was traveling south that was earliest, and it happened to be the Hakata Express. Express is actually a misnomer. Once on the train
we realised this was like a mail train - it would stop at every station, big or small, passenger or no. So it took us all of 4 hours and 30 minutes to reach Hakata whereas the normal Shinkanzen would have taken us only 3 hours. Anyway it was a good experience and we could see much more of the countryside.
Japan is really very developed and even though Kyushu, when we studied Geography in school, was an island off Honshu, in reality it was almost part of the main island of Honshu. We could not even see where Honshu ended and Kyushu began - it was all one smooth track, with lots of bridges and tunnels linking one island to another.
Hakata, or its old name Fukuoka was quite a large city. There are many canals linking different parts of the city and gardens. The hotel where we stayed was the New Otani, about 10 minutes away from the station. After checking in and refreshing ourselves we decided to take a look at the shopping centre which we saw was very near the hotel - just a stop away by subway.
The shopping centre was actually part of the subway - everything was underground and you could practically walk from one end of the town to another without getting out. And it was all shops along the way, shops, restaurants, cafés and even a small garden!