After two exciting evenings in Japan, New Years day was our last day here. We were catching a flight around 8pm so we had all day to do whatever we wanted.

I’ll admit, I love traveling, but I’m not the type to plan everything out and bring Lonely Planet guides with me. Rick is better at spur of the moment plans but he doesn’t like to over plan a trip either, which is probably part of my attraction to him: the adventure!

In any regard, we woke up January 1st, 2012 in a hotel in Fukuoka, Japan without a plan of action. We left the hotel, hopped on the subway, and randomly decided together to get off 3 stops down. There was no particular reason for this, and I suppose it might sound foolish, but boy was it ever a good decision!

Upon exiting the subway and could see Tochoji Temple right across the street. Score!!!!! YAY! It ended up being a totally awesome experience, because not only is this a really cool temple to visit, but New Year’s Day is a special day to see Japanese experiencing the temple.

Tochoji Temple in Fukuoka, Japan sits right on one of the main streets of the city. There is no fee to enter. The first observation I made right away was how different the architecture of this temple in Japan was compared with temples in Korea. Korean temples can be very colorful, and the Japanese temples seemed a lot more neutral and elegant. There were also several distinctly styled buildings within the temple grounds. There were big garlands of Buddha beads that people could pull on. I’ve never seen these in a Korean temple. It had a big cemetery inside of it, with huge sort of head stone sculptures. The courtyard was surrounded by little shrines that were draped in red. People tied their prayed on wires right by the entrance. The diversity of the grounds was significant considering how small the area actually.

The biggest difference, however, might have been the enormous gold pagoda. I’ve never seen anything like it, whether in Korea or anywhere else.

Lesson learned: sometimes it’s just better to let the wind take you in whatever direction it deems instead of planning a trip. You never know what you might find when the wind dies down.