Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tour d' Excitebike: Fukuoka 2010

This morning I had an appointment downtown. And guess what I brought with me? 5 copies of Excitebike of course.

I like the Famicom Excitebike cart. Bright red cart. Gold label with a flash of blue on it. Couple of random, but excited, dirt bikers. Brilliant. The game ain't bad either.

I have 5 copies of Excitebike. I don't just go out and hunt these things down, mind you. They find me. I like to buy big lots of games (cheaper that way) and I inevitably get duplicates. Which I needed to find something constructive to do with. So, on my way back from my appointment, I took the scenic route home and gave them a little tour of the city.

I figure it is possible that somebody at some point in the past may have photographed a Famicom Excitebike cart somewhere in Fukuoka. But five? Nah, this has to be a first. So I can claim some measure of originality here, even though the general concept of what I did with them is more or less the same thing people do with garden gnomes.

Excitebike is way cooler than garden gnomes though.

Anyway, Tour d'Excitebike began at the moat to Fukuoka castle:
This is in a central part of town next to the courthouse. Its a 17th century castle, though the original wood parts of it are long gone and all that remain are its imposing stone walls:
The top of these walls, which formed the outer defences, is now lined with trees:
And the occasional concrete bench under a cherry tree:
Moving in towards the centre of the defences we come to a stone stairway that samurai in full armor must have had a hell of a time getting up:Its rather a pleasant place now, with lots of greenery up there:
Coming around a corner, more stairs:
That last set of stairs leads up to the site of the castle keep. Its interesting to note that historians aren't sure if Fukuoka castle ever even had a keep or if they just built the massive foundations and left it unfinished, . No contemporary documents refer to the existence of the keep, though it would have been strange to lug all these massive stones up the hill and then not finish the thing. This is what a feudal Japanese castle keep (in Himeji) looks like if you wonder what I am talking about:Anyway, there is a very commanding view of the city from up there, looking out over Ohori park:
If you are ever up there on a windy day and you've got five Famicom Excitebike carts you are trying to line up for a photograph, my advice is to be careful. The second after I snapped the above shot a gust of wind knocked three of them over and they almost fell over the edge into the abyss below.

Coming down from the keep we find some rubble piled at the base of one of the walls. The Red Excitebike carts fit in rather well with the smattering of fallen leaves:
Leaving the castle we head back into the city:
And towards Hakata Bay until we arrive at the docks.

We may for a moment here digress to consider a subject that perhaps only tangentially relates to the Famicom Excitebike cart: Chuck Norris movies that involve lots of kicking. You know those scenes where he kicks a lot of anonymous bad guy thugs? And after the kick, the bad guy flies into a big pile of crates or boxes that are lying stacked up for some reason? I always thought those places were fake - that they just existed in movies. Not so. Fukuoka's port would be the perfect location for a Chuck Norris kicking scene. Lots of empty boxes stacked up for kicked bad guys to land on:
Anyway, to take this digression even further from the topic of Famicom Excitebike, if you are familiar with Japanese history then you know that the above is where, in the 13th century, the Mongol empire under Kublai Khan sent a massive fleet to invade Japan. The fleet landed in Hakata bay in 1274 but the army was driven back by Japanese defenders and the fleet scattered in a storm. 7 years later the Mongols returned with an even larger army, but by then the Japanese had constructed a huge stone defensive wall along the shore and once again defeated the Mongols. That wall once existed near where the above photo was taken but there isn't anything left today. Well, if you go to the suburbs west of town some of the wall remains, but in the city proper its pretty much gone. In fairness though, creating the perfect stage for Chuck Norris to display his kicking prowess is probably a more effective defensive strategy than some stone wall, so I really can't criticize this fact.

No such earth-shattering historic events were in progress during my visit. Smaller ships that ply their trade along the Seto inland sea or around Kyushu are tied up:
While larger, ocean going vessels such as the "Clipper Aki" sit nearby having repairs done:
A massive ocean-going container vessel is being constructed at the Fukuoka shipyards:
And the expressway soars high into the sky above my head:
Heading back inland we pass through the entertainment area of town, Nakasu:
Two Excitebikes brighten up the statue of the three Hakata Ningyo:
And we see the orange buoys laid out for.....what, I don't know. Anyway:
We now stop off at Canal City, the cathedral to consumerism that is one of Fukuoka's most noted sites:
Excitebikes overlooking the ampitheatre:
And in front of the Muji department store:We then leave the clutter of the city and enter the sprawling alleyways of the Shofukuji temple.
Its one of the more tantalizing areas of town. So many beautiful gardens and ancient buildings shut off to the passersby with "not open to the public" signs subtly displayed here and there. The cracks in the doorways give you a hint of the beauty which you aren't allowed to see:
Famicom Excitebikes, the constant lovers of Japanese gardens, wait in vain for the gate to open:
Chastened, they hop into my basket and we head home:


  1. Ha! This is too funny. I'd have loved to see the faces of anyone near you as you set up and took these shots :)

  2. LOL. Yeah, I got some odd looks, especially at the docks and Canal City. The castle offered the most secluded areas to do the shots without a bunch of people around which is why there are more with all five lined up there. Downtown I was just whipping one or two out and taking the shot as quick as I could!