This has to be one of Fukuoka's best-kept secrets. Over 150 wisteria at Kawachi Fujien come into bloom from the end of April through to early May. It is a truly breathtaking sight, with tunnels, domes and a large wooden trellis draped in flowers. Tucked away in the mountains of Kitakyushu, the garden doesn't receive many foreign visitors, but it's definitely worth making the journey if you have the opportunity. To reach it, take the Nishitestu bus number 56 from JR Yahata station. Get off at Kawachi Elementary School and then walk the last ten or fifteen minutes, passing Ajisa-no-yu onsen along the way.
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I spent three years living in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET Programme, not knowing what to expect but with images of Tokyo, geisha and Mount Fuji in my mind. I was placed in Yamagata prefecture in a small rural town that I couldn't find in any guidebook. I learnt to snowboard, climbed mountains, tried my hand at ikebana and kyuudo and koto, dressed up as a samurai, karaoked til the early hours, become obsessed with onsen, and had countless other adventures and experiences. For a relatively small country, Japan has so much to offer, and I love nothing better than exploring - particularly heading off the beaten track and into the beautiful countryside. I set myself a personal challenge to visit each of the 47 prefectures, which gave me a great excuse to do a lot of travelling. Although I've now ticked them all off, there's still so much I want to see. Japan will always be my second home and and I'm looking forward to discovering and learning more for a long time to come.