I was invited to Kyushu University in Japan to make a presentation on “Sri Lanka, Toward Peace Keeping” by the Asian Symbiosis Society in Fukuoka in November 2011. In fact, Mr. Horikawa from the same organization had visited Horizon Lanka with Mr. Preethi Sumanasekara of Sri Lanka Port Authority a few years ago and the former donated a few used laptops and English-Japanese dictionaries to the students. He was greatly impressed by Horizon Lanka.
I went to Japan via Bangkok, Hong Kong and Taipe using Cathay Pacific airline. Once I reached the Fukuoka Airport, it was close to midnight and Professor Ozawa from Kyushu University was already there in the airport to accompany me to the hotel. The ride on a highway was exciting. To my surprise, none of the staff members in the reception table of the hotel understood any English. But it was a fairly big hotel.
The next day morning Mr. Horikawa came to the hotel to take me to the University but I was still asleep due to jet lag. After the call to the hotel room from my friend, I had to dress up and skip the breakfast to go to the presentation. We arrived at the university very early in the morning amidst a drizzle. Few people from Japan, a professor from South Korea and another Professor from India made presentations. They all did their presentations in Japanese and mine was the only English language presentation. Mr. Horikawa translated it to Japanese paragraph by paragraph. There was an interesting interactive session after the presentations and a load of questions were thrown to the presenters.
There was a cocktail party after the presentations. We went directly to a karaoke parlor after the party and Mr. Horikawa, Professor Ozawa and many others sang with karaoke music. Though most of the Japanese do not speak English, they sing in English perfectly well. We spent some good time in the karaoke parlor and left for the hotel.
I enjoyed the high definition TV in the hotel. Most of the channels were in Japanese but there were few English channels too.
The next day we went to see Mount Aso, an active volcano. In fact, I was given the two options of Hiroshima Memorial or Mount Aso. For some reason, I selected Mount Aso. The ride to Aso through rural settings was very enchanting. We reached the crater of the volcano around 10 am but the whole carter was covered with mist as it was raining. It was disappointing. I should have selected the Hiroshima tour.
We went to a museum close to Mount Aso and spent some time there. Then we came back passing the huge caldera of the Mount Aso. It is one of the biggest calderas in Japan.
We went to an ancient palace in the evening. We saw some beautiful architecture and carvings in the palace. The palace was surrounded by a moat and guarded against the ninjas yet they were able to penetrate into the palace by walking on water it was said! Modern Japanese don’t believe that. They said that the ninjas must have come under the water by keeping a pipe or something to the noses to breathe.
Then we went to see a beautiful botanical garden. There were beautiful trees, grass, ponds and fish there. It was a nice place but it was not as big as Peradeniya Botanical gardens in Sri Lanka.
In the evening we went shopping. I bought some clothes and souvenirs to take home but every time I selected items either Professor Ozawa or Mr. Horikawa paid the bills. It was nice of them but I felt guilty and didn’t shop anymore.
We had Hakata Lamen for dinner as I wanted to taste it after reading about it on the internet. Internet said that eating Hakata Lamen by the riverside was a nice experience one can have while in Fukuoka. But I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to due to the effect of a drug I had taken. But my two friends enjoyed the food a lot. As soon as I came to Sri Lanka I changed the drug into some other drug, to enable me eat more.
I stayed in another hotel for the night and left Japan the following morning and it was past midnight when I reached Sri Lanka.