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A Quick Rest Outside
Price: 0 yen
Kego Park is right next to Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station at the west side.
This is a nice meeting place outside of the crowded station and malls, on the Daimyo side of the station, between the Joyfull and Solaria Stage. There is also a shrine south of the park, with the same name (Kego Shrine).
The trees are all wrapped with Christmas lights so they make a cute illumination at night. In the evenings, there will often be bands playing between the park and station, sometimes getting in trouble with the police.
Kego Park isn't very big, but it's proximity to so many other things makes it really convenient when we need a break outside. There's a small playground and mostly step stones and grass, perfect for sitting with a friend or a book. When you're done, you're still just a couple hundred meters from at least three Starbucks and five shopping malls.
In the Area
Nishitetsu is more popular and convenient than JR trains in Fukuoka Prefecture. They also operate buses all over Kyushu. I took advantage of their 1 Day Pass recently. If we're planning to spend more than the cost of the 1 Day Pass in one day, it's worth it to buy the pass in advance and use that instead. It isn't limited to tourists or foreigners. The cost for adults is 2060yen and 1030 for kids. We can ride trains on the Nishitetsu Omuta line between Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station and Yanagawa Station, plus the train from Futsukaichi Station to Dazaifu (Tabito) and the train from Kurume to Amagi. All regular Nishitetsu bus service within a designated area is also included, which extends to Saga City in Saga Prefecture. Passes can be purchased with cash or credit card at the larger stations on Omuta line. They are designed to be used within a year, from April-March, and we scratch off the month and day we will use the pass. We then show the pass to the station attendants instead of going through gates at stations and show the pass to the bus driver when leaving the bus. There is only so much you can see and do in one day, but it's a good deal if you aren't rushing around too much while taking advantage of the Day Pass. I was able to get in 3240 yen worth of traveling while using my pass. While use of buses is convenient, it can take a lot longer than using the subway because of traffic. All the Nishitetsu buses in Fukuoka show bus stops in hiragana and romaji so with even a basic understanding of Japanese and how riding a bus works, it's quite convenient. You can see where you are from a bus and sometimes stop closer to where you're headed than using subways. I'd recommend planning ahead a little, but also taking advantage of the information centers. They give you very clear instructions on where to catch your bus and recommend the cheapest and fastest way. They will give you a printout of the schedule for your destination which has the return trip on the back. Fukuoka city also has several 100yen buses that go between Hakata and Nishitetsu Fukuoka stations and main points of interest.
Literally 'underground street,' the chikagai over the subway Nanakuma line in Tenjin connects the Tenjin Minami subway station with the Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station and the bus terminal area at Showa Dori. It takes 10 minutes or so to walk from one side to the other and can be as crowded as the street on the ground level. I was introduced to this shopping street by local friends as a way to stay out of the hot or cold weather. There are a lot of stores and cafes including Starbucks and Kaldi Coffee.The Tenjin Chikagai connects with the department stores from Showa Dori to Keyaki Dori and the Tenjin Minami subway station at the basement second floor level. We can enter Daimaru, Parco, Tenjin Core, and other department stores directly from the shopping street. Each 'block' of the Chikagai is marked with a number and direction (east or west) to refer to where you are on the map / floor guides posted around the shopping street. Similar to a street we drive on, there are two sides, although walking traffic doesn't follow one direction or the other. It's a good place for window shopping, taking a break in a cafe, or just walking through to avoid any not ideal weather. It seems to be mostly commuter traffic between stations and most of the stores close by 8pm. I find the Chikagai a bit easier to navigate than some department stores – there is only one floor and each shop is a similar size. There aren't many restaurants although it looks like the continuous renovation will include at least one new restaurant soon. It's also really easy to detour into one of the department stores to eat a meal.
I had heard about Beard Papa years ago. There are several locations in the US, but I had never tried it out. I thought I didn't really like cream puffs and definitely am not a sweets addict. I like snacks, but sweets are only occasionally and usually with strong coffee to balance out the sweetness. Even for the Japanese level of sweetness. (In the US, the level of sugar saturation is over the top for me, so I actually feel sick after eating most sweets. )After passing this little store several times I thought it was finally time to give it a try. There is no seating area for this store location, so I got my cream puff to go rather than standing against a wall to eat in a crowded station area. I got one "Pai-Shu" (the standard) for 160 yen. I was given a tiny ice gel pack and instructed to put my cream puff into a fridge if I didn't eat it within an hour or so. There were two other options, Cookies and cream flavor and “Paris Brest Shell” which is a donut shaped version. Unavailable 'shiro' and ice cream versions of cream puffs were on their menu as well. Supposedly there are several seasonal flavors and there were more options in the bigger Los Angles store I had peeked into before. I sat down to eat later on. The outside, or shell of the shu cream (the Japanese name for cream puff, シュークリーム) was crispy and only mildly sweet. The creamy custard filling was not overly sweet but balanced the flavor of the shell. The shell was not at all soggy or spongy like supermarket mini shu cream I had tried in the past. Very nice flavor and texture. The powdered topping sprinkled onto my shirt a little but I barely noticed. It turns out I like cream puffs, if they're good ones. This one did not leave me wishing I had a black coffee. It's just the right amount of sweetness, for a sweet. Find a location near you: http://www.beardpapa.jp/shop/
Iwataya is west of Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station, near Kego Park and Solaria Plaza. One of a million shopping malls in the Tenjin Area, Iwataya is a chain department store in Kyushu, really high end, where you'll see housewives out shopping to stay fancy. The basement level depachika supermarket is also fancy with an Anderson Bakery and several omiyage stalls. If you go into the 'honkan' (本館 original building, as opposed to the new building or 'shinkan' 新館 across the street), go down to the basement supermarket, and head towards the restroom signs, you'll find a Tomiz section! I had heard about this but didn't know this one existed – it's so convenient. Tomiz is dedicated to baking needs, like when you have a good cornbread recipe but need corn flour, or need a Tomycar candle for when the car nerd in your life has a birthday. I was really tempted to buy shredded coconut for no apparent reason.Everything is Not Cheaper than Kaldi, but some things definitely are. Plus way more of a selection for nuts and seeds and dried fruits. Most items have several options for sizes. There are some other import foods, and I was halfway expecting to find really strange things like nutritional yeast and frozen Armenian foods, but nope. I'm still excited about this discovery for the oats and nuts options, and I'm not even an oven owner. Almost makes me want to get an oven for the winter season.
In the IMS (イムズ) building near Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station, there are small boutique style shops with a focus on local products. It's a lot less crowded than Tenjin Core or Parco, which makes for a better window shopping experience. When it was lunchtime, I saw this bookstore cafe and decided to try it out. There are lots of cute design products and stationary, a lot of it coffee related, on the bookstore side. The cafe had photos of a shiba-ken puppy and a video projected so guests could be entertained watching the puppy playing. Maybe I'm the only one who was interested. Plenty of seating and a comfortable space. There are set menus to choose from and good portion sizes. I got a crispy chicken curry which was on special for 500 yen, (originally 780 yen) and made it a drink set for an extra 250 yen – for a latte, about 250 ml. Soup, salad, gratin, sandwiches, and desserts are also available.The food wasn't overly fancy or pretentious, but had more of a home made feeling. The homemade curry roux had no visible vegetables and was served over a few pieces of kara-age. It was topped with one almond and a couple dried cranberries. I wish the curry had more almonds and dried cranberries, as it was a little on the spicy side, and that sweetness helped. The curry also had a bit of a tomato flavor, which I didn't love, but I could still eat it. Good relaxing environment and nice food for the price, I'd go there again.