Hostel Review: Guest House Kaine

Location:

Fukuoka, Hakata, Japan

Review:

Guest House Kaine is exactly what a good guest house should be: intimate, inexpensive, and indispensable. It is situated two brief subway stops away (Nakasukawabata) from Hakata Station – Fukuoka’s main terminal – in what one could easily get away with calling a “precisely quaint, immaculately clean” Fukuoka neighborhood.

The treasure map from the station to the hostel is extremely easy to follow, taking about two to three average length pop songs on foot. You enter the guest house through a familiar Japanese noodle shop (right, you have to go through a noodle shop to get to the guest house! Question everything, don’t question anything.), and are immediately greeted by friendly personnel ready to help sort out your evening.

The warm tones of the place are immediately noticeable as you creep around its tight corners, slipping your shoes off to enter narrow hallways and an oh-so cozy common room. The personnel show you all the basics: toilet, shower (all soaps provided, but bring a towel), internet terminal, and your tatami spot, which is up a tapered, ladder-like staircase. Again, the intimate glow to this place is its charm. Explore diligently.

Recommendations:

Hakata style outdoor ramen shops in the neighborhood → Delicious ramen and perhaps a chance to chat with the locals.

Kirin, a table, and some origami → Guest house staff will teach you origami as you drink ¥500 giant bottles of Kirin. You could be doing worse things with your life.

Ask the staff if this sounds incredibly boring to you → There is no shortage of entertainment options in the area.

Price:

¥2600 for a night. Worth every yennie.

To Book:

Kaine Guest House

Picture it:

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In Perspective: 広島と長崎


There really is no proper way to compare Hiroshima and Nagasaki – each has its own unique flavor, with a catastrophic story that will bind them forever in thoughts, conversations, museums, history books, and web entries.

The unspeakable tragedies of 1945 have been racking my brain for quite some time now, especially after visiting both sites where the bombs fell from the sky. How can I possibly translate the feelings I experienced in these two sorrowfully historic places? Yet alone, compare them? Impossible. Lost in any type of translation. Not going to happen. One has to be in the moment, experience the moment, live the moment, and breathe the moment for themselves.

However, I can offer two pieces of writing that sum up my experiences in each city the best I can. The former is a letter I wrote to my father last October after I came back from travelling in Japan. It attempts to explain what I felt on that very day of visiting the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. It was the first time in my life I felt that forgiveness can be real. The latter is a letter written by the Mayor of Nagasaki that is posted atop a monument at the hypocenter in Nagasaki. It is beautifully written and is a summation of how you can turn a devastating event into one that shines positivity, without forgetting the past.

Both experiences deeply moved me, brought tears to my eyes, and peace to my heart. May there never, ever be another nuclear weapon used, and may peace continue to bless the world.

おはようございます(Good Morning) Dad,

On my recent trip to Japan, I spent roughly 22 hours in Hiroshima. I’m quite sure now that I made this stop subconsciously to make some sort of peace with what happened there the morning of August 6, 1945. The sheer magnitude of this tragic event never really bothered me before. Sure, our high school history courses may have sugar-coated the events of that mortal day, as it was always taught that these new nuclear toys were used to put an end to the Second World War. And fair enough, it did end the war, surely saving the lives of many people, Americans or otherwise. One could obviously argue until the wee hours the decision Truman made to nuke the daylights out of Japan’s mainland. America came out the victor and in many eyes the heroes of the world.

Enough about history, though — I’ve never been the most scholarly in the subject and won’t pretend to understand all of it. All I know after visiting this historic site is that 200,000 innocent lives vanished by the flick of a switch. Being at the site really drove this home. I could not help the tears in my eyes. I walked around the site aimlessly for a good two hours, snapping photos, trying to make sense of it all. I watched countless school groups as they passed through the site. The kids were happy; this brought a smile to my face. During my last few moments at the A-Bomb site I listened to some anti-war music on my iPod, closing with “Let It Be.” I made the sign of the cross and left.

I soon found myself wandering the streets of what seemed to be downtown Hiroshima. I ate lunch. I went to a golf store and hit golf balls into a net. I visited an art museum; the beauty of a real live Picasso painting also brought a tear to my eye. I proceeded to wander, almost hoping to get lost, as I thought it would erase the memory of August 6, 1945. It did not, of course, and I actually ended up back where I started. It was as if a magnet was pulling me back to the site. I did not fight it.

Across from the A-Bomb site stands the old Hiroshima Carp baseball stadium. The gates were open. I walked in. As I entered the stands just behind home plate on that beautiful October day, I was greeted by the sights and sounds of children playing baseball. Fathers and sons were tossing the ball back and forth, kids were taking batting practice, yelling the sounds of baseball in a universal tongue. It felt like home. And made me realize that Hiroshima – as a unified body – had moved on. There was zero hatred in this city towards the United States, a city of International Peace. I no longer felt any sense of guilt. If the people of Hiroshima can pick up and carry on, even become forgiving and welcoming, after the events of that tragic day, well, then this world is a pretty great place. Forgiveness is a powerful, powerful thing. Never forget that!!

Love,

Kyle

“Atomic Bombing 50th Anniversary Commemorative Projects Monument”

When considering the present prosperity and peace of Japan and the development of Nagasaki, we must never forget that about 70% of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, which exploded over this city at 11:02 a.m., August 9, 1945, were children, women and senior citizens.

Created by Nagasaki-born sculptor Naoki Tominaga, this monument expresses the horror of the atomic bombing, prays for the repose of the souls of the victims from whose noble sacrifice buds of peace grew, and – through the form of a stricken child sleeping in her mother’s warm embrace – reaches with great motherly compassion and pleas for eternal peace toward a prosperous Japan of the 21st century.

Embodied in the monument is the sculptor’s reminder that the child is like Japan on the day of the atomic bombing, while the mother represents the support provided by the countries of the world in Japan’s effort to build the peaceful nation that it has become today.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing, the hypocenter area was refurbished and designated as a “prayer zone” a place to pray for the repose of the atomic bomb victims, to inform the world about the horror of the atomic bombing and to appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for the realization of lasting world peace.

This monument was erected here as the “Atomic Bombing 50th Anniversary Commemorative Projects Monument” to enhance and strengthen the hypocenter area’s role as a “prayer zone” and a hub for world peace.

Mayor of Nagasaki
July 1997

From Nagasaki and Hiroshima,

Peace Always.

In 長崎: Peace


Recent trip: Nagasaki via Fukuoka.

Essentially speechless. Indescribable city. Amazing friends. Much Japanese conversation practice. Missing Yamaguchi. Wandering without a map. Kirin at Thomas Glover’s. Asahi on top of Inasa. Tears and AA Bondy at Peace Park. Chinese temples. Cozy trains.

Visit here. Please.

Up next: a side-by-side comparison of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through potentially two completely different writings. I can only hope it sums whatever it is I am trying to get across.

From the Cubicle of:

Date: Tues, November 3, 2009 10:43:27 AM
Re: Letter of Recommendation
From: Kyle Undem “Kyle.Undem@atcoitek.com”
To: “undisclosed recipients”

Hello All,

I plan to put my name in an enormously large hat for the chance of teaching English in Japan next fall.

I figure reasoning is necessary for my decision to try this, so here goes: On my recent trip to Japan and South Korea, I was somehow affected by the people there, which I’m still trying to figure out. It’s not something I can easily explain, but I feel now is the time in my life to at least try and give back in the form of helping people with their English skills. I realize this is a brief explanation, but hopefully it makes sense.

The application is a very arduous process, and requires two letters of recommendation from people who have supervised you in the past or present. I would be extremely grateful and honored if two of you could write me a letter of recommendation. If you can commit to this, I will provide detailed reference letter instructions as well as synopsis of the JET Programme. It is a four-point reference letter, which seems pretty straight-forward.

I understand that everyone is very busy right now with year-end commitments. Please let me know if you can help me out (no worries either way, just need to get this sorted by November 27 – ideally I’d have the letters by mid-November to ensure the deadline). I can supply coffee, beer, dinner, etc. for your help.

If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me in whatever means necessary.

Thank you kindly,

Kyle Undem